Nixon and Bush in Female Form?
Two days ago I wrote a post blaming the media for the flap about race in the Democratic primary contest. I thought there was nothing there but an attempt to fill slow news days. I was wrong.
Last night Mark Shields, the perennial Democratic pundit on the Lehrer News Hour, reported a darker view. He said that six leading Democratic analysts, not aligned with any campaign, believe Hillary Clinton is playing the race card. She is trying to get voters to support her because she is all white, while Senator Obama is of mixed race.
It was not just Shields’ report of experts’ views that convinced me. Consistent conduct of Hillary and her supporters leads to the same conclusion. By their acts ye shall know them.
First Hillary herself belittled the contribution of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to the cause of civil rights and racial equality. It took, she said, the legislative skill of Lyndon Johnson as president to pass the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and start the long process of making Dr. King’s dream come true.
While that statement has a germ of truth, it neglects a larger truth. Without Dr. King, the dream would never have entered our national consciousness. It was he who dreamed the dream, gave the speech, brought the dream to life with courage on the streets, and let the rest of us see it. It was he who worked tirelessly behind the scenes to get hardened pols like Johnson to see it, too. And four years later, it was Dr. King who gave his life for the cause, becoming our first secular American saint.
Anyway, why make the comparison if not to bring up race? Could Hillary seriously compare herself with Lyndon Johnson?
Before becoming president, Johnson served twelve years in the House, twelve years in the Senate—six of them as Senate majority leader—and nearly three years as Vice President. Two historians consider him the most effective Senate majority leader in history. For Hillary to compare herself with Johnson, even by implication, would be a far more egregious lie than the four myths that Hillary has spun so assiduously to inflate her résumé.
Soon afterward, Robert Johnson, former CEO of BET, made oblique reference to Obama’s confessed drug use while a youth. He did so while stumping for Hillary at her own rally. Later he tried to explain that remark away, but his explanation fell flat. What he was really doing was raising the same sort of nameless fear of crime, as associated with race, that Dubya's father used in the famous Willie Horton ad to defeat Mike Dukakis in 1988.
The last straw came last night. News broke that Clinton supporters have gone to court to prevent maids, busboys, and waiters—mostly Latinos—in Las Vegas’ casinos from having the right to caucus where they work.
Yes, you read that right. Folks who call themselves Democrats are seeking to disenfranchise low-income, minority voters just as Karl Rove and Alberto Gonzales’ legions have sought to do for the last eight years.
Hillary’s campaign did not file the lawsuit. But her supporters did. And her own husband reportedly approved of it. In his inimitable Orwellian logic, Bill called it a quest for equality.
As James Bond once said, “Once is coincidence. Twice is happenstance. Three times is enemy action.”
These three consistent stories all show what the Clintons or their supporters are prepared to do to slake their boundless ambition. They will turn to the Dark Side to win the caucuses in a single, small state. Their tactics are all of a piece with Hillary’s true motivation for approving the war in Iraq. For her it is all about ambition. The ends justify the means—any means.
Hillary is exploiting, or at least failing to condemn, modern variants of the Willie Horton ad and the politics of racial division and disenfranchisement used by Nixon, Reagan, Tom DeLay, Karl Rove and both Bushes.
I never thought I would see the day when a leading Democrat took advantage of these despicable and divisive tactics. But that day has come. All who call themselves progressives and believe in the cause for which Dr. King gave his life should take note.