January 31, 2008

On Jan. 28, Christopher Hitchens went through the litany of Bill and Hillary’s long history of “€œrace baiting”€ in Slate. The extent of Hitchens’s charges were that:

“€¢ Clinton occasionally played golf at a Country Club with no black members.
“€¢ Dick Morris once worked for Jesse Helms.
“€¢ Clinton signed a death warrant for a black double murderer who had attempted suicide. (This makes Clinton far to the right on crime than the other governor from Hope )

This sordid history has culminated in Clinton’s comment that Barack Obama’s success in South Carolina was largely due to his carrying the black vote and that South Carolina’s democratic electorate is predominantly black. Clinton noted that Jesse Jackson also won South Carolina for the same demographic reasons.

Hitchens rhetorically asks, “€œDid Jackson come south having already got himself elected the senator from Illinois?”€ Well, of course, Jackson did not get himself elected to the Senate. His sole qualification for president was his experience as a race huckster and extortionist, but he still managed to carry 11 states almost solely due to his monopoly on the black vote. That Obama, the Senator who supposedly transcends race, didn”€™t do all that much better than Jackson proves Clinton’s point.

Hitchens also asked, “€œAnd, come to think of it, was Jackson so much to be despised and sneered at when he was needed as Clinton’s “€˜confessor,”€™ along with Billy Graham, during the squalor of impeachment?”€ Well, Clinton didn”€™t say anything bad about Jackson. He said, “Jackson ran a good campaign. And Obama ran a good campaign here.” So now “€œour first black president”€ is a racist fore uttering “€œJesse Jackson”€ in an adjacent sentence about our next black president.

Hitchens contrasted the racist Clintons to Obama who has made “€œno sectarian appeal to any specific kind of voter.”€ But then he doesn”€™t have to. Now that he has proven his blackness, virtually all African American voters are behind Obama.

Unlike Jesse Jackson, Obama is not overtly offensive and talks in platitudes rather than with vitriol. Liberals, and many conservatives, now beam about how great it would be to have a “€œnew face for America”€ and what a great a step forward it would be to have a black president. Even if Obama doesn”€™t use race as an issue, his success has been almost solely due to the fact that he’s black.

It would be easy to engage in schadenfreude now that Clinton’s great “€œInitiative on Race“€ is catching up to him. Were it to stop with the Clintons, I”€™d be happy to watch them hoisted by their own petard, but it will not stop with them.

In one of his few moments of insight, Jonah Goldberg laid bare an implicit assumption surrounding Obama’s campaign: “€œGiven recent events, it seems that if you’re not with the Obama program, you’re fair game for tarring as a crypto-racist.”€ We certainly got a taste of this when many in the chattering class whispered that Obama’s loss in New Hampshire was due to “€œracism”€ in the granite state. Goldberg asks, “€œIf Obama becomes the Democratic nominee, imagine what hairballs will be coughed up at the Republicans.”€

Many of Obama’s supporters hope that if he’s elected, it would prove how non-racist America is. Instead, it would prove how race can shield a candidate from any kind of serious criticism.  


Sign Up to Receive Our Latest Updates!