The stone that the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone. This is the Lord's doing; it is marvelous in our eyes. Psalm 118:22-23 NRSV

Sunday, January 13, 2008

C'mon Hillary

No, this post is not a passionate endorsement of Hillary Clinton over Barack Obama. I have not yet jumped so thoroughly off the fence I have been riding. What this post is is my cry into the blogosphere for Hillary Clinton and her campaign to get some sense. I have been telling my friends that I find that I like the campaign best when neither Clinton nor Obama is the running away with it. I think that ultimately makes the race more interesting and actually may produce dividends for those constituencies that the competitors reach out to.

When I say that I want the Hillary Campaign to get some sense, I am referring to their inability to see that Obama's camp is running away with the war of rhetoric by simply portraying themselves as above the fray of the politics itself. Now anyone with sense knows that you don't get as far as Obama has come in politics without having some sort of machine. The problem for Hillary is that her machine looks like a machine. She's got to work on that. I would advise that she take the advice offered by Frank Rich in the Sunday NY Times. I would also advise that she go back to the focus on what she is rather than spending time finding people who will say what Obama is not. And for God's sake, she needs to stop trotting out silly Black people like Bob Johnson,founder of BET, who is not exactly a paragon of moral authority. Hillary, stick with Maya Angelou.

As for the Martin Luther King, Jr. comment, I think that the reaction to it is overblown. She never said that LBJ (read the white man) was more important than King (read the Black man). What she said is that inspiring rhetoric and outsider activism (Obama's claim to fame) must be accompanied by legislative action and insider political work. "You need a president." We all know that is true. And how many black people have remarked that Adam Clayton Powell's in Congress work deserves more recognition than it has received, some even arguing that his legislative successes ought to be viewed as equally important as civil rights marches in transforming the material reality of Black life in the 1960s. To say that the dramatic changes of the civil right struggle depended on various actors, including but not limited to MLK, SCLC, CORE, SNCC, NAACP, the Supreme Court, the Congress, and the sitting President, is not to diminish the public face of the movement orthe sacrifices of those who lived their lives and even sacrificed them for the cause.

I am disturbed by the way that racial politics is being played in this phase of the race, principally because of the demographics of the South Carolina Democratic party. (Gender too, but that is a point for another post.) This back and forth where every criticism of Obama from the Clinton camp is automatically assumed to be racist is ultimately harmful not only to Clinton but also to Obama. Mind you, I do believe in the pervasiveness of racism in this nation, but I am convinced that Bill's "fairy tale" comment would have been directed at any candidate offering the kind of idealism that characterizes Obama.

The truth is that there is very little that distinguishes the platform of the Dems, somewhat in contrast to the Republicans, and all of the remaining contenders should give attention to making the strongest case for their approaches to their policies. I am saying that for the sake of the eventual nominee, they should play fair. Fight about issues or don't fight at all.


fahwblount said...

The legislative successes of Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. while in Congress were overshadowed by his womanizing escapades. I continue to be so proud of your intellect and evidence of the breadth and depth of your educational experience. I know that you were just a toddler when Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. died! Remind me to share a funny story about a conversation that I had with a student before he was buried. I was just made aware of this blog, but I will be a faithful reader now that I know that you have it!

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