Thursday, May 8, 2008

Race in the Race

In case you don't know, here's an oversimplified wrap-up of the recent goings on in the democratic primary.

Last week, Clinton joined John McCain in calling for a summer gas tax holiday, only she put a twist on it by proposing that oil companies pay the tax rather than just getting rid of it. Obama's counter was that it's a gimmick, not a solution. Then earlier this week, Obama won North Carolina by about 14 percent, and lost Indiana by about two. North Carolina was a bigger win, not only because of the margin of victory, but also because there were more delegates.

In the aftermath, the talking heads on cable declared Obama the nominee. Their reasoning: at this point, Clinton would have to win every remaining race 65% to 35% in order for the math to add up for her. She hasn't won a single race by that margin so far. In protest, Clinton flew in a huff to West Virginia to campaign. In an effort to stem the growing chorus of commentators who say she can't win and should concede, she has begun trying to make the argument that Obama's support is defective because it is too black.

The argument goes like this: you have to have white people to win the election, and white people like me more than they like Obama. A less charitable reading is that she is simply playing off of the racial prejudice of older white voters and concealing it with some nonsense about electability. But whatever her intentions, she sure is being explicit about the racial lines she's drawing. After boasting of her white support in several states, she comes right out and says "there's a pattern emerging here." Paul Begala, a one-time advisor to Bill Clinton and current Clinton supporter put it more bluntly, saying that the democracts can't win with just "eggheads and African-Americans."

Ironic that this comes from the woman whose husband once had almost rock-star status among African Americans, and who was once dubbed the nation's first black President by Toni Morrison. And conveniently, Ms. Morrison has recently explained what she really meant when she called Bill the first black President: not that he was culturally black, but that the nation was treating him as the cops treat a black man on the street: guilty from the start. And, by the way, she supports Obama.

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