First, Barack Obama absurdly claimed in a New Hampshire debate earlier this month that the reason we are seeing much less violence in Iraq is because Iraqis were spurred into action after Democrat threats post-election 2006 to pull troops out of Iraq.
MR. RUSSERT: If General Petraeus says, “Senator, in September you called the surge the suspension of belief. It has worked, and you know it’s worked”–let me finish–“you can see on the ground. I’m saying to you, Senator, or president-elect Clinton, don’t destroy Iraq. It’s working, the surge is working. Keep troops there just a few more months to get this reconciliation complete.”
SEN. CLINTON: …The point of the surge was to quickly move the Iraqi government and Iraqi people. That is only now beginning to happen, and I believe in large measure because the Iraqi government, they watch us, they listen to us. I know very well that they follow everything that I say. And my commitment to begin withdrawing our troops in January of 2009 is a big factor, as it is with Senator Obama, Senator Edwards, those of us on the Democratic side. It is a big factor in pushing the Iraqi government to finally do what they should have been doing all along.
Remember Hillary’s quote from September about Petraeus and the surge?:
Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.), frontrunner for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2008, opened her questioning of Petraeus and Crocker with the standard “I honor you for your service.” And then she let the two of them have it.
“You have been made the de facto spokesmen for what many of us believe to be a failed policy” in Iraq, Clinton said. “Despite what I view is your rather extraordinary efforts in your testimony both yesterday and today, I think that the reports that you provide to us really require a willing suspension of disbelief.”
Today, what requires a willing suspension of disbelief is the Democrats’ taking credit for progress in Iraq when they know damn well it didn’t happen immediately after the 2006 elections as a result of their “warnings” to Iraq about a troop pull-out. It happened after Bush implemented Petraeus’ surge strategy, a strategy that top Democrats like Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama opposed.
In related news on the Obama/Clinton wars, things are getting really ugly, as talk of the memo the Obama camp is circulating about the alleged “racist remarks” coming from the Hillary campaign is catching fire in the blogosphere. Watching it all go down, where Democrats are using gutter tactics on each other that they normally reserve for Republicans, has been somewhat amusing.
On top of the Obama memo making waves, a prominent Hillary supporter Bob Johnson – a billionaire and founder of the Black Entertainment Network, who is now owner of the Charlotte Bobcats – had this to say about Obama this weekend in South Carolina while campaigning for Hillary:
At a rally here for Mrs. Clinton at Columbia College, Mr. Johnson was defending recent comments that Mrs. Clinton made regarding Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. She did not mean to take any credit away from him, Mr. Johnson said, when she said that it took President Johnson to sign the civil rights legislation he fought for.
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 â€“Â and I won’t say what he was doing, but he said it in the book â€“Â when they have been involved.”
Moments later, he added: “That kind of campaign behavior does not resonate with me, for a guy who says, â€˜I want to be a reasonable, likable, Sidney Poitier â€˜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.”
There’s no doubt in my mind that what Johnson was talking about was Obama’s drug use, which the Senator mentioned in his Audacity of Hope book. Johnson denied later that’s what he was talking about, but that, too, would require a willing suspension of disbelief.
But was what Johnson said here by bringing up Obama’s drug use in a thinly veiled reference really race-baiting? I don’t think so. No more than it was when the 11th hour rumors about GWB’s alleged cocaine use made headlines shortly before the 2000 elections. Was it a cheap shot? Yeah. Could Johnson’s Sidney Poitier comments be construed as race-baiting? Absolutely. Because 1) Regarding how he conducts things within the Bobcats organization, rumor has it that he’s not above playing racial games in order to get what he wants – and in that goes for hiring practices, too, and 2) Johnson was in SC, where the black vote will come into play big time for either the Clinton camp and Obama camp, and he’s clearly trying to appeal to black voters by invoking a popular black actor whose most famous movie had him playing the boyfriend of a white girl at a time when interracial relationships were taboo.
That said, I oddly find myself agreeing with Democrat Taylor Marsh on the issue:
Make sure you read the last paragraph in the [NYT blog] article above, which immediately tries to connect what Johnson, an African American, said with what Shaheen said a while back. It’s ludicrous to tie the two together. Are we really ready to say that African American Robert L. Johnson, the founder of Black Entertainment Television, isn’t allowed to make criticisms and draw his own references towards another African American without being called out?
Are we ready to start censoring everyone?
This is the first campaign we’ve had like this where gender and race are front and center and so far no one is handling it very well, least of all the traditional media that’s pushing the story lines. Obama’s own campaign was caught pushing the race card on Friday, so let’s get real on who’s playing who, shall we? Some people are trying to paint Hillary Clinton as a racist, and they’re doing it for political gain.
I wrote about the Obama campaign’s use of the race card here, and believe Marsh is right. In that earlier post she mentioned, she noted that, with one exception, these allegations about alleged racism in the Hillary campaign didn’t come until after Barack Obama lost New Hampshire. Coincidence, especially knowing they were going into SC in a few weeks? I think not. Partial disclosure: I think Marsh is a Hillary supporter, but I don’t know for sure as I don’t read her blog enough to know.
In an update, she wrote this:
Like I said in the post, this righteous indignation about what Bob Johnson allegedly meant and all the tut-tut-tutting about it comes from people who seem not to remember that this ball swings both ways. Where does that leave us? It’s political war. If you think the Republicans will do any less you are mistaken. If you write about politics and are aghast at what Johnson might have meant you shouldn’t be in this business because you’re simply too naive to be trusted. But again, paint me amazed. To think this wasn’t going to come up boggles the mind. Considering Obama’s camp was calling the Clintons racist, what did he think supporters of hers in the black community would do in response? Is it right? This is politics. People have a right to be incensed, but that’s assuming Johnson didn’t mean what he said he meant, though I always thought it was 50-50. But even if he did, so what? Obama’s proven himself through the life he has led and what he has achieved, but he doesn’t get to whitewash the rest as he attacks others, expecting nuggets of his past not to be used in rhetorical volleys. The rest is all a political game of gotcha, with the flip side indignation. Again, paint me amazed, because I can’t say color me amazed because that would be racist.
There seems to be a concerted attempt at glossing over Obama’s record, attempts that are being made not just by the Obama campaign, but his supporters and the mediots alike. The only thing they want to talk about is the future, not the past, not the history of experience, leadership, qualifications, and judgement (or lack thereof) that make a man or woman fit (or unfit) to hold the highest office in our country. And as I wrote yesterday, there’s a reason this is happening: there’s not much experience there, and not many examples of leadership and good judgement, and the qualifications are a bit on the skimpy side – to say the least.
All that being said, I don’t want anything I write about Obama to be viewed as a staunch defense of Hillary Clinton (nor Bill, for that matter). I have not one ounce of compassion for her, as should be well known after reading this post. And we all know she is not above using underhanded tactics of her own (same same for her husband) in order to advance her political career. My interest in this has everything to do with the false allegations of racism that are hitting her campaign that are coming directly from Barack Obama’s campaign. White Republicans know what it feels like to be hit with false allegations of racism coming from Democrats whose agenda behind the allegations is not to advance the discussion when it comes to race, but instead to get elected – to obtain power and to hold on to it.
In this instance, it’s the campaign of a prominent black politician who – up until last week – seemed to be above playing the race card for political gain. But we know now that he’s not above it, and furthermore has not retracted his campaign’s allegations against Hillary and Bill Clinton. Keep in mind that Bill Clinton has been considered the first US “first black president” by many because of his “understanding” of the black community’s concerns, so much so that he was officially honored as the nation’s “first black president” at a Congressional Black Caucus awards dinner in 2001, as well as inducted in 2002 into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame, so for the Obama campaign to throw down the race card when they have to know how Bill Clinton is viewed so favorably in the black community makes no sense. Apparently not only are they trying to erase any negative from Obama’s history while embellishing his “leadership qualifications,” but they want to erase the perceived positive from Bubba’s (and Hillary’s) history, too. Helping out in this are the mainstream media, who have attempted to play just about every criticism leveled against Obama as a “dirty trick” or “smearing” and/or blamed it on “racism.”
As a sidenote, because Obama is a likeable guy in general, and so many Republicans despise Hillary, I worry that many of them would/will naturally jump to criticize Hillary over this because she is so disliked, rather than look at what the Obama campaign is doing, as well. The fact is that both campaigns are playing dirty at this point and, in my opinion, neither should be able to claim the high road.
All of this is important because if Obama does happen to get elected as president, detractors of his policies need to be able to feel like they can criticize him without fear of rampant false allegations of racism. To be sure, there will be people who criticize him solely on the basis of race, but the vast majority of scrutiny and criticism he has rec’d and will continue to receive from both white and black people alike has been on his record, experience, and political accomplishments – or, rather, lack thereof.
There are numerous examples of Democrat race-baiters and race hustlers in this country, like Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, and Julian Bond, just to name a few (and there are many, as I’ve noted before – see here for more). We don’t need the president of the United States to be among them. It is imperative that if Obama become president that he establish the precedent of being able to tackle criticisms of his record without resorting to leveling charges of racism where they don’t exist. Presidents are supposed to lead by example. His examples, should he be our next president, should take us forward not backward.
Related: Don Surber has a good suggestion for angst-filled Democrats who are unsure of whether to support Hillary because she’s a woman or Obama because he’s black:
Instead of judging people by their chromosomes or pigmentation, why not judge them by the content of their character?
C’mon now, Don. Don’t you think you’re asking way too much?
Update 1: Jeff Taylor notes some pretty blatant liberal media bias in how the McClatchy news outlet portrayed the Hillary/Johnson campaign stop.
Update 2: Now-former Obama supporter Brendan Loy is on the same page re: the Obama campaign’s race-baiting:
At a conference call with reporters this morning, somebody asked Barack Obama about the Clintons’ recent controversial remarks and Hillary Clinton’s response to the kerfuffle. Thus, Obama had a golden opportunity to make clear that he does not believe the Clintons’ remarks were racist or racially insensitive — and he chose not to do so. Instead, he said a bunch of other stuff that I have no problem with, but failed to do the one thing he needs to do, which is to unambiguously disassociate himself from this race-baiting nonsense.
He is, it turns out, perfectly willing to let this racial stew fester, so long as he thinks it will work to his advantage — even though the controversy is totally baseless, and he knows it. That suggests to me that, as president, he would let any racial controversy fester if he deems it politically advantageous. After all, if he won’t distance himself from allegations as obviously insubstantial as these…
Anyway, this whole thing makes me genuinely sad. I thought maybe Obama was different. I guess not. I’m back to being thoroughly undecided. Congrats, senator, you’ve just lost a supporter.
(Hat tip: Instapundit)