It's integrity versus sleaze, stupid. And the Clintons are sliding down a slimy slope, going from bad to worse. When voters have a choice between competence and integrity, there is usually no issue.
Frank Rich has some interesting observations in his latest column, on the Clintons and their surrogates and race-baiting:
In October, seven months after the two candidates' dueling church perorations in Selma, USA Today found Hillary Clinton leading Mr. Obama among African-American Democrats by a margin of 62 percent to 34 percent. But once black voters met Mr. Obama and started to gravitate toward him, Bill Clinton and the campaign's other surrogates stopped caring about what African-Americans thought. In an effort to scare off white voters, Mr. Obama was ghettoized as a cocaine user (by the chief Clinton strategist, Mark Penn, among others), "the black candidate" (as Clinton strategists told the Associated Press) and Jesse Jackson redux (by Mr. Clinton himself).
The result? Black America has largely deserted the Clintons. In her California primary victory, Mrs. Clinton drew only 19 percent of the black vote. The campaign saw this coming and so saw no percentage in bestowing precious minutes of prime-time television on African-American queries.
That time went instead to the Hispanic population that was still in play in Super Tuesday's voting in the West. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa of Los Angeles had a cameo, and one of the satellite meetings was held in the National Hispanic Cultural Center in Albuquerque. There's nothing wrong with that. It's smart politics, especially since Mr. Obama has been behind the curve in wooing this constituency.
But the wholesale substitution of Hispanics for blacks on the Hallmark show is tainted by a creepy racial back story. Last month a Hispanic pollster employed by the Clinton campaign pitted the two groups against each other by telling The New Yorker that Hispanic voters have "not shown a lot of willingness or affinity to support black candidates." Mrs. Clinton then seconded the motion by telling Tim Russert in a debate that her pollster was "making a historical statement."
It wasn't an accurate statement, historical or otherwise. It was a lie, and a bigoted lie at that, given that it branded Hispanics, a group as heterogeneous as any other, as monolithic racists. As the columnist Gregory Rodriguez pointed out in The Los Angeles Times, all three black members of Congress in that city won in heavily Latino districts; black mayors as various as David Dinkins in New York in the 1980s and Ron Kirk in Dallas in the 1990s received more than 70 percent of the Hispanic vote. The real point of the Clinton campaign's decision to sow misinformation and racial division, Mr. Rodriguez concluded, was to "undermine one of Obama's central selling points, that he can build bridges and unite Americans of all types."
If that was the intent, it didn't work. Mrs. Clinton did pile up her expected large margin among Latino voters in California. But her tight grip on that electorate is loosening. Mr. Obama, who captured only 26 percent of Hispanic voters in Nevada last month, did better than that in every state on Tuesday, reaching 41 percent in Arizona and 53 percent in Connecticut. Meanwhile, the Clinton campaign's attempt to drive white voters away from Mr. Obama by playing the race card has backfired. His white vote tally rises every week. Though Mrs. Clinton won California by almost 10 percentage points, among whites she beat Mr. Obama by only 3 points.
The question now is how much more racial friction the Clinton campaign will gin up if its Hispanic support starts to erode in Texas, whose March 4 vote it sees as its latest firewall. Clearly it will stop at little. That's why you now hear Clinton operatives talk ever more brazenly about trying to reverse party rulings so that they can hijack 366 ghost delegates from Florida and the other rogue primary, Michigan, where Mr. Obama wasn't even on the ballot. So much for Mrs. Clinton's assurance on New Hampshire Public Radio last fall that it didn't matter if she alone kept her name on the Michigan ballot because the vote "is not going to count for anything."
So, we have race-baiting, cheating on the rules already agreed to... and let's not forget that the DNC is overloaded with DLC Clinton supporters.
I've been saying, for years, that the Democratic party needs major cleanup-- a literal assault upon the old machine. That machine, which helped Kerry get the 2004 nomination, probably cost the dems the 2004 race. And the right wing DLC dem (led by the Clintons,) could destroy the Dems 2008 chances, not just for the Whitehouse, but also for the congress.
But there's a difference between conservative, cowardly policy, like fear of ending the war by cutting off funding, or fear of opening impeachment hearings, because widdle congress is afwaid it will make the mean, nasty wepublicans angwy.
But the Clintons are going beyond cowardice. The race baiting and cheating on DNC rules, (Michigan and Florida) is sleazy, dirty politicking. I don't think the American people are going to put up with it.
The question is, will the superdelegates who have already publicly announced they are supporting Clinton, and those who have privately committed (if too many superdelegates showed their cards too early, Hillary would have such a lead, her supporters might not turn out as strong) stay with Hillary, even after she, with the major help of Bill, loses the trust and respect of America. It appears that she is following the advice of her handlers, (at best, or worst, making these decisions herself,) to get dirty and ugly, playing the race game, lying about latino polling, etc.
It is ironic that David Schuster ( a creepy smart-alec who chronically makes mean jokes at others' expense) who I've never liked, who deserves to be in trouble, is being chastised by the Clintons over his "pimped out" comment about Clinton daughter Chelsea. It may be inappropriate to talk about pimping Chelsea. But the Clintons seem to be willing to use some pretty obscene approaches to getting the victory they seek.
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