Sharper than a Serpent’s Tooth
Let me start out by saying this column is going to really piss some people off. But I am calling it how I see it. And this is how I see it.
A couple of hundred years ago, back in the old South, white folk made a distinction between “good” negroes and the not-so-good negroes. “Good” negroes stayed in line, were deferential to whites and didn’t make trouble. Those were the negroes whites assigned jobs in and around their houses, rather than in the fields. They even had a term for them — though I have to clean it up a bit: “house negroes.”
White’s of the old South took it for granted that their house-servant slaves were grateful, loyal and even held genuine affection for their masters. So it was a rude awakening when, after Lincoln freed the slaves, those freed house servants packed up and left to strike out on their own.
Many whites were genuinely surprised, even hurt that their former servants, nannies and groundskeepers had turned their backs on them.
A kind of grieving process then played out. First many former white slave owners were hurt at what they felt was a shocking display of ingratitude. Then came dismay. After all, who was going to raise the kids, cook and clean now?
Then, as that reality sunk in, they became angry, striking out, saying and trying whatever they could to assure that lives of freedom their former servants sought would be as miserable, unfulfilling and unsuccessful as possible.
That was then. Now, 150 years later, we’re watching a similar drama play out on the political stage.
The Clintons and their institutional Democratic Party old guard shocked, insulted, even hurt that black Americans might prefer upstart Barack Obama over the next in line, Hillary Clinton. The national Democratic Party machine had other plans for this election cycle. Democratic Party insiders were fixing to put the first white woman in the White House, not the first black man.
But then guess who came to dinner. Barack Obama, a smart, attractive and inspirational young black man stepped up and announced he’d like a shot too. Imagine their chagrin when blacks, joined by millions of white Americans, started voting for the black guy.
Until then the Democratic Party pointed with pride at the Obama candidacy as proof that the party was more racially open than the all-white GOP line up. That all changed when people actually started voting for him in alarmingly high numbers. Particularly worrisome was the growing number of black voters switching from Hillary to Barack.
No machine Democrat was more hurt and dismayed by this turn of events than the party’s heir apparent, Hillary Clinton. After Barack Obama beat her in Iowa, she let go of the hurt and moved straight on to anger. It was time to remind African-American voters not only which side their bread has been buttered on, and just who had buttered it “for them” in the first place.
“Dr. King’s dream began to be realized when President Johnson passed the Civil Rights Act,” she said, adding that “it took a president to get it done.” (Hillary Clinton)
What she left out of that remark was inferred; “and it took a white, Democrat President to get it done for y’all.”
The same week Hillary dropped that bomb husband Bill took his own swipe, describing the Obama phenomena “the biggest fantasy I’ve ever seen.”
The Clintons realized that they were losing their grip on a constituency they believed they owned. So Hillary quickly put her remaining black supporters front and center to put a black face back on the Clinton campaign, and to defend both her and Bill from the black backlash their remarks last week caused.
Black Entertainment Televsions Founder Slams Obama
COLUMBIA, S.C. â€” Robert L. Johnson, the founder of Black Entertainment Television, who is campaigning today in South Carolina with Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, just made a suggestion that raised the specter of Barack Obamaâ€™s past drug use. — 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 wonâ€™t say what he was doing, but he said it in the book â€“Â when they have been involved.â€ (Full Story)
During those remarks — which, had they made by a white businessman, would have caused a monumental uproar — Hillary Clinton sat on stage expressionless. Had she disagreed with the thrust of Johnson’s remarks she could have disassociated herself from them. But she didn’t. Instead, when he was done she applauded and hugged him.
And why not. After all, he, a successful black man, had just reinforced the subliminal message her campaign would not dare articulate itself. A message that went something like this:
- -360 While blacks have moved into the American mainstream, they largely have white Democrats, like Hillary and Bill, to thank for it.
- -360 And that while blacks have made a lot progress over the years, they are still not “ready” to run the nation.
- -360 And, in case that didn’t get you back on the Democratic Party plantation, remember — Obama was a druggie when he was younger.
Deeper in the bowls of the Clinton campaign, where hurt has turned to anger, a more dangerous strategy was emerging — one designed to send a message to white Democratic voters. If you thought only Republicans like Karl Rove still played the racist card, forget about it. When the chips are down — and they are down now for Hillary Clinton — the Clintons and their surrogates know how to push those buttons too.
Many pundits wondered why the Clintons would risk alienating the black community on the eve of the South Carolina primary with their slaps at MLK and Obama. Others suggested that Bill told Hillary she needed her own Sister Soulja moment to show white voters, particularly in South Carolina, that she is not in the pocket of African-American interest groups.
And, in the process, also rekindle white working class fear and resentment towards a black candidate. Such a tactic might also appeal to the now disaffected working class Reagan Democrats who, after years of being screwed blue by the GOP were looking for a “safe” Democrat to vote for next November.
So last week the Clintons pulled out all the stops, sending their surrogates out to spread their subliminal-message attacks against Obama. Democratic New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo waded in on Hillary’s behalf last week as well, using language that could hardly have been accidental from a guy whose father is one of America’s great orators:
“It’s not a TV crazed race. Frankly you can’t buy your way into it,” Cuomo said, according to Albany Times Union reporter Rick Karlin. “You can’t shuck and jive at a press conference,” he added. “All those moves you can make with the press don’t work when you’re in someone’s living room.”
“Shuck and jive” is a term once used to describe blacks behaving innocently in the presence of an white authority figures, so as to lie and get out of trouble.
(Irony alert: Of course Hillary Clinton is married to the biggest shuck and jive artist ever to grace the Oval Office — as displayed in his greatest hits — “Now listen to me. I did NOT have sex with that woman….” and the all time classic — “it depends what the meaning of ‘is’ is.” It’s a political art form Hillary herself is no stranger to. Just ask her to explain her vote to give George W. the right to attack Iraq and her more recent vote on Iran if you want to hear some world class shucking and jiving. But I digress.)
Nothing happens by accident in a Clinton campaign. Last week was all about raising doubts about Hillary’s young black opponent. More and more black voters are — if you’ll excuse the term — taking a shine to Obama. The national polls show voters moving his way, at her expense
When things go wrong in a Clinton campaign the first thing they do is crunch and dissect the numbers. They now know that if Hillary is going to have a chance at beating Obama, they will have to beat him —beat him up. They will have to say and encourage others to say, whatever it takes to scare as many of their now wavering black supporters back onto the Clinton plantation.
But they also know that many black Americans, likely a majority, will jump at the chance to make history. Not the first white woman President kind of history, but the first African American President kind of history. So, the numbers say to they also need to round up enough white voters to dilute Obama’s surge among African Americans.
And how do you convince whites to shun a black candidate? Well some whites are already so inclined. For the rest the Clintons understand they need to cunningly leverage old racial stereotypes in order to raise doubts about Obama’s character and abilities. To do that requires great skill and even greater deception and deceit. It requires a social/political witch’s brew of connivance and hypocrisy:
- -360 Repeatedly chant “he’s not ready.”
- -360 Add a dash of “they (black Americans) couldn’t have done it if we white liberals hadn’t done it for them.”
- -360 Throw in some racially evocative slang like, “He’s just shuck and jiving you.”
- -360 Drop reminders, as Clinton campaign manager, Mark Penn did on Chris Matthew’s show of past drug use while denying it matters: “We are running a clean campaign,” Penn told Matthew’s, “We are not, for example, going to bring up Sen. Obama’s former cocaine use.”
- -360 Wink and nod to white voters that Hillary is one of them and not in the pocket of African-American interest groups. And what better way to do that than to diminish the role of Martin Luther King.
Are the Clinton’s really that ruthless, that cunning, that conniving?
Yes. Yes they are. You can bet the plantation on it.
Stephen Pizzo is the author of numerous books, including “Inside Job: The Looting of America’s Savings and Loans,” which was nominated for a Pulitzer. His web site is News For Real.
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