The last time I commented seriously about presidential politics, I weighed in on Delaware Sen. Joe Biden's "compliment
" that Illinois Sen. Barack Obama was a clean and articulate guy.
As you may recall, Biden caught heat from folks who asked this hypothetical: if Obama had been a well-spoken, clean cut, 40-something white Harvard educated attorney and freshman U.S. Senator, would Biden have still felt the need to compliment Obama's appearance and speech, or would he have taken them for granted?
I don't like thin skins, and if you read this blog regularly you know that already. Nor do I toss bombs like "racist" too often. But that hypothetical struck a raw nerve with me, 'cause I've been on the receiving end of such code-worded compliments - the kind that read between the lines "I'm impressed with you, 'cause I wouldn't expect someone like you to be so (fill in the blank)."
So keeping in mind that I don't do partisan politics, 'cause I think don't think donkeys are funny and elephants are only cool on the Discovery Channel, and
I don't have a horse in this presidential race...other than Dave Barry
, don't get mad at me if what I'm about to write is a shot at your candidate:
Anyone who is delusional enough to believe that crusty, old school Republicans are the only politicians, or even the predominate politicians, who condescend to ethnic minorities with coded language has not been listening very closely to the words of former Pres. Bill Clinton in reference to Barack Obama's potential abilities to run the country.
I can't fault the former president for vigorously advocating for his wife, Sen. Hillary Clinton's presidential run. But when he does it by dropping between-the-lines hints that many minorities support Obama just because he's half black, then Clinton is essentially suggesting that black people are not smart enough to pick a candidate because they simply like his positions more than his opponent's.
When asked by a TV reporter to comment on Obama's South Carolina primary victory, Clinton replied in part that Jesse Jackson had also won the South Carolina Democratic primary in 1984 and 1988. Hmmm. Why mention Jackson's victory? Why didn't Clinton compare Obama's victory to his own South Carolina primary wins in 1992 and 1996? What about Al Gore's South Carolina primary win in 2000, or John Edwards' in 2004? Clinton singled out Jesse Jackson's victories, in my opinion, to diminish Obama's win as being significant only because he is half black, to suggest Obama's win was a "black thing."
Bill Clinton, the guy who gladly accepted the label of being the "virtual first black president" from some numbnut who didn't get a good look at the former president before making that assessment, would never dare scoff at blocs of white voters and suggest they support a particular candidate just because that candidate is also white. He'd never dismiss a white candidate's victory as being the result of that candidate's skin color.
Why, you ask? I don't know. You'd have to ask Clinton. Maybe he gives white voters the benefit of the doubt that they have sense enough to pick candidates for the right reasons. What kind of credit he gives white politicians to whom he's not married, I don't know.
It all sounds very racist and non-Democrat to me, at least according to how the TV talking heads have described the Democratic Party's collective tender heart. And to all the preachers, retired politicians, and former peddlers of self-defeating music video channels aimed at black people, who have publicly suggested Obama isn't black enough or "real" enough because he hasn't made a career out of his race, shame on you for perpetuating that sort of stereotype.
Remember, I'm voting for Dave. And if I were to simplify my beliefs and concerns to a 10 point scale, I'd say that none of the candidates from either major party get more than a few points. So I don't care if you love Obama, hate Obama, love Clinton, hate Clinton, love McCain, hate Romney, sort of like Huckabee, etc.
But the actions of some of Obama's rivals remind me that subtle, deceitful racism is alive and well, and not always from the people the pundits warned you about.
Labels: Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, code words, racism