Update: Hill gets a less-than-enthusiastic reception at the MLK event in NYC today.
Over the weekend, Black Entertainment Television founder Robert L. Johnson took the stage next to Hillary Clinton and smeared Barack Obama twice. (Video of Johnson’s comment here.) The Clintons–she and The Big He–and their operatives have been under fire for their race-baiting tactics and suggestive remarks about Obama’s admitted drug use.
Judging from Johnson’s remarks, the down-and-dirty Clintons have no intention of backing off.
Johnson’s obvious allusion to Obama’s drug use got the most attention yesterday, but there was something else:
Dr. King had led a “moral crusade,” Mr. Johnson said, but such crusades have to be “written into law.”
“That is the way the legislative process works in this nation and that takes political leadership,” he said. “That’s all Hillary was saying.”
He then added: “And to me, as an African-American, I am frankly insulted that the Obama campaign would imply that we are so stupid that we would think Hillary and Bill Clinton, who have been deeply and emotionally involved in black issues since Barack Obama was doing something in the neighborhood – and I won’t say what he was doing, but he said it in the book – when they have been involved.”
Moments later, he added: “That kind of campaign behavior does not resonate with me, for a guy who says, ‘I want to be a reasonable, likable, Sidney Poitier ‘Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner.’ And I’m thinking, I’m thinking to myself, this ain’t a movie, Sidney. This is real life.”
Hillary’s black supporters are old-school race-hustlers–not embarrassed to show bigoted contempt for non-militant, achieving blacks. Whatever you think of Obama’s politics and qualifications to be president, he is a successful person and he has led an impressive campaign.
Without having to bow and scrape at the foot of racial demagogues like Al Sharpton and his ilk.
Which is apparently what earned him the Sidney Poitier remark from Robert L. Johnson. This is how they view Obama–as the unbearably, too perfect, too presumptuous, accomplished black doctor character in “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner.”
If Obama is Poitier, then Johnson and Hillary’s black demagogues are the real-life analogies of Spencer Tracey and Katharine Hepburn’s racist black maid, Tillie, who derides Poitier and treats him as a traitor to his race.
A bit of movie trivia:
The film also attempted to touch upon black-on-black racism, as when both the doctor’s father and the household cook Matilda ‘Tillie’ Binks, played by Isabel Sanford in a small but memorable role, take the young man to task for his perceived presumption…
…The original version of this film that played in theaters in 1967 contained the sarcastic one-liner “The Reverend Martin Luther King!”, issued by the sassy black maid Tillie in response to the question, “Guess who’s coming to dinner?”, which is the key line of dialogue from which the film got its title. However, after the assassination of Martin Luther King on April 4, 1968, this line was removed from the film, so by August 1968, almost all theater showings of this film had this line omitted. As early as 1969, the line was restored to many but not most prints, and the line was preserved in the VHS and DVD versions of the film as well.
Late yesterday, Johnson issued a disingenuous press release about his remarks–laughably claiming that he wasn’t referring to Obama’s drug use:
My comments today were referring to Barack Obama’s time spent as a community organizer, and nothing else. Any other suggestion is simply irresponsible and incorrect.
“When Hillary Clinton was in her twenties she worked to provide protections for abused and battered children and helped ensure that children with disabilities could attend public school.
That results oriented leadership — even as a young person — is the reason I am supporting Hillary Clinton.”
Obama’s response: “Unfortunate” and “ill-advised.” More:
“His tortured explanation doesn’t hold up against his original statement,” said Obama campaign spokesman Bill Burton. “And it’s troubling that neither the campaign nor Senator Clinton . . . is willing to condemn it.”
Forget about the Bradley Effect.
It’s the Clinton campaign’s exploitation of the Tillie Effect that’s news.
Condescending She of Forked Tongue:
An hour after slamming Sen. Barack Obama’s voting record on national television, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton went positive and declared herself “proud” of him.
The shift might have had something to do with the audience. After appearing on Meet the Press from Columbia, she spoke at Northminster Presbyterian Church here, a small African-American congregation — part of her ongoing effort to court a group of voters who have to choose between Clinton, a politician they like and admire, and Obama, who would be the country’s first black president.
Talking about the historical significance of a woman and black man competing for the presidency, she said, “I am so proud of my party, I am so proud of my country and I am so proud of Senator Barack Obama.”
She added later in the speech, “I am standing here, Senator Obama stands before you, as a result of the generations of men and women who protested and picketed.”
…“We are all in this struggle together,” Clinton said.
Where is Hillary headed today? An MLK birthday celebration.
Here’s the Obama campaign’s memo on the Clinton race card strategy.
Michelle Obama strikes back.
Question: What will Oprah do?
The latest poll…
The first contests of the 2008 presidential campaign have led to a dramatic shake-up in public opinion nationally, with Sen. John McCain now leading the Republican field and Sen. Barack Obama all but erasing Sen. Hillary Clinton’s once-overwhelming advantage among Democrats, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll published Monday.
Clinton had dominated in national polls from the outset, holding a 30- point advantage as recently as a month ago, but the competitiveness of the first two contests appears to have reverberated among Democrats across the country.
In the new poll, 42 percent of likely Democratic voters support Clinton (New York), and 37 percent back Obama (Illinois). Clinton’s support is down 11 percentage points from a month ago, with Obama’s up 14. Former senator John Edwards (North Carolina) held third place with 11 percent.
Victor Davis Hanson weighs in on Hillary’s LBJ/MLK race ploy:
She and Bill obviously think that they’ve so cemented the issue of the Clintons as our first Black Presidents that their racial fides is above suspicion. It isn’t; and the Obama the soul speaker vs. Hillary the brainy insider is a lose / lose / lose /lose proposition. I’m surprised that her handlers haven’t muzzled altogether the Clintoni on this issue.
Obama and the old civil rights guard: No love.
The most amazing thing about the 2008 presidential race is not that a black man is a bona fide contender, but the lukewarm response he has received from the luminaries whose sacrifices made this run possible. With the notable exception of Joseph Lowry, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference veteran who gave a stirring invocation at Obama’s Atlanta campaign rally in June and subsequently endorsed him, Obama has been running without much support from many of the most recognizable black figures in the political landscape.
That’s because, positioned as he is between the black boomers and the hip-hop generation, Obama is indebted, but not beholden, to the civil rights gerontocracy. A successful Obama candidacy would simultaneously represent a huge leap forward for black America and the death knell for the reign of the civil rights-era leadership — or at least the illusion of their influence.
The most recent example of the old guard’s apparent aversion to Obama was Andrew Young’s febrile YouTube ramblings about Bill Clinton being “every bit as black as Barack Obama” and his armchair speculation that Clinton had probably bedded more black women during his lifetime than the senator from Illinois — as if racial identity could be transmitted like an STD. This could be dismissed as a random instance of a politician speaking out of turn were it not part of an ongoing pattern.
Last spring, Al Sharpton cautioned Obama “not to take the black vote for granted.” Presumably he meant that the senator had not won over the supposed gatekeepers of the black electorate. Asked why he had not endorsed Obama, Sharpton replied that he would “not be cajoled or intimidated by any candidate.” More recently Sharpton claimed on his radio show that the candidates’ recent attention to issues of civil rights was a product of pressure from him.
Although Jackson is not entirely unfamiliar with the kind of thing that’s happening to Obama — Coretta Scott King endorsed Walter Mondale over him in 1984 — he also got into the act. He criticized Obama for not championing the “Jena Six” cause — the case of six young black men in Louisiana charged with beating a white classmate — vigorously enough. After Obama’s Iowa victory, Jackson demanded that the senator bolster “hope with substance.”