“Our first black president” has been trying to make sure that Barack Obama isn’t our first actual black president. Obama’s never really faced a tough election challenge, so if he wants to make it through the brutal general election, he’s gonna have to stand up to this stuff. This is all sleazy politics, but Obama’s set himself up for some of it.
For example, the spat over a 2004 quote by Obama about the war. Clinton’s using only part of the quote out of context. Here’s the full quote:
In a recent interview, he declined to criticize Senators Kerry and Edwards for voting to authorize the war, although he said he would not have done the same based on the information he had at the time.
”But, I’m not privy to Senate intelligence reports,” Mr. Obama said. ”What would I have done? I don’t know. What I know is that from my vantage point the case was not made.”
Apparently Clinton’s been quoting only the “I don’t know” bit of it. So like Greg Sargent says, “So, clearly, Obama was pointing to the fact that he wasn’t in the Senate at the time as a way of tactfully avoiding criticizing his party’s presidential and vice-presidential nominees.” And Clinton’s hitting him on it. Obama shouldn’t have left himself open to attack like that. But still, what a sleazy move by a fellow Democrat. Hopefully Obama can turn this around on him.
The other thing going around is a quote from a Hillary adviser: “If you have a social need, you’re with Hillary. If you want Obama to be your imaginary hip black friend and you’re young and you have no social needs, then he’s cool.”
Huh. Guess all those innocent people on death row in Illinois didn’t have legitimate social needs. I guess all those US soldiers fighting and dying in Iraq don’t have legitimate social needs. I guess victims of racial profiling don’t have a legitimate social need. I guess people thrown into prison for selling small quantities of drugs don’t have legitimate social needs.
For all the good Bill Clinton did black people, he also did a lot of harm. And if Hillary is trying to run on her husband’s record, she has to take the good with the bad. She’s gotta take the escalation of the drug war, the lack of progress on the death penalty, and three strikes – all of which was extremely harmful to minorities. Much like I won’t let Ron Paul off the hook for his own bad race related policies because he’s good on the drug war and the death penalty, I can’t let the Clintons off the hook for their bad choices.
Barack Obama’s not perfect by any means. His position on the drug war is moderate at best, and he doesn’t really go far enough in his anti-death penalty rhetoric. But he’s the best we can really hope for in a politician: mostly harmless.