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Even as she continues her longshot presidential bid, Hillary Rodham Clinton faces a political rift in New York, where black leaders say her standing has dropped due to racially charged comments by her and her husband during the campaign.
African American elected officials and clerics based in New York City say Clinton will need to defuse resentment over the campaign’s racial overtones if she returns to New York as U.S. senator.
State Sen. Bill Perkins, who represents Harlem, said constituents recently phoned him because they wanted to demonstrate outside Bill Clinton’s Harlem office against comments by the former president.
Michael Benjamin, a state assemblyman who represents parts of the Bronx, said his wife removed a photograph of Bill Clinton from her office wall — an expression of the misgivings that some black New Yorkers feel.
Assemblyman Karim Camara of Brooklyn contributed $500 to Hillary Clinton’s Senate reelection campaign in 2006 and described Bill Clinton as a political hero. He said: “Once the campaign is over there has to be a lot of work to heal the wounds. She needs to go back to the black churches she visited in the course of her campaign and have a frank conversation about who she is and how much the support of the black community means. There would not have been a first Clinton presidency in 1992 if not for the African American community.”
Many of the officials back the presidential bid of Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, Clinton’s rival for the Democratic nomination, though they say they have long supported the Clintons, defending him in the past and supporting her Senate run.
Their sentiments reflect the peculiar arc of the 2008 campaign. Black voters were once central to the Clinton family’s political identity and base of support. But that relationship has been strained by the emergence of a charismatic African American candidate who has been propelled by black voters.
“The Clintons have their die-hard fans who would never abandon them,” said Eric Adams, a state senator who represents Brooklyn. “But there are those New Yorkers who feel there was a lot of insult, slight and disrespect toward an African American candidate, and it translated as a slight to the African American community.”
I should note that I’m not feeling any sympathy for either Clinton, because they’ve been guilty of race-baiting before – not against the black community but white Republicans. But the double standards in the black community on this issue need to be called out.
I don’t remember hearing the howls of outrage from these “black leaders” during time some of their own were really race-baiting and demagoguing President Bush’s Hurricane Katrina response, do you? In fact, some NY “black leaders” were leading the effort to make the administration’s response to Hurricane Katrina look like a deliberate attempt to kill black people in New Orleans. One of those black leaders was none other than Al Sharpton, who was also quoted in the LAT piece:
African American leaders said she could repair frayed ties by visiting black churches, backing legislation that shows she is sensitive to conditions in black neighborhoods, and apologizing for comments she and her husband made that seemed to polarize voters and marginalize Obama.
“She has a problem,” said the Rev. Al Sharpton, a New York-based civil rights activist. “If she doesn’t aggressively deal with the problem — rather than sit in denial — it will haunt her at home in her Senate race.”
Uh – pot, kettle anyone?
Now get this: There is speculation that if Hillary doesn’t get the presidential nomination, or doesn’t win the presidency, that in 2010 she may run for governor of NY. But Gov. David Patterson, who is black, has said he will run in 2010, and some black leaders are suggesting now that Hillary not challenge him … because she is white:
That prospect unnerves some black leaders. They said they didn’t want to see her challenge Paterson, who plans to run in 2010. With Paterson in the job, some black leaders want a definitive statement from Clinton that she would not subject him to a primary challenge — and say they haven’t gotten it yet.
Benjamin said: “I was pretty much appalled when supporters said one of her options was to run for governor. We have a governor. He’s a black Democrat. It’s not wise for them to challenge a black Democrat for governor.
“She should have come out and said a flat no, that folks were wrong, but I did not see that or hear that coming from her.”
Excuse me, but why should she say “no”? Just because the Democrat governor happens to be black? What happened to judging people by the content of their character rather than the color of their skin? Isn’t that what a legendary real black leader once said back in the 60s?
Once again, we see blatant, in-your-face hypocrisy coming from “black leaders” in this country. Not only have they taken any legitimate criticism of Barack Obama’s campaign from the Clintons and portrayed it as a “racial smear,” not only have they been fooled (or perhaps the more accurate word is “complicit?”) by the race-baiting that the Obama campaign carried out against the Clintons, but they’re also suggesting that just because NY has a black governor, the white Democrat should immediately rule out challenging him in 2010, regardless of what his record looks like.
Yet working class white voters still get all the negative publicity because they supposedly refuse to vote for a black candidate. Where in the hell is the outrage?
Cross-posted to Right Wing News, where I am helping guestblog for John Hawkins on Sundays.