Kathleen Parker

Obviously, and gratefully, Clinton will accept the woman vote and Obama will accept the black vote while professing a unified, color- and gender-blind vision. But to win, each has to borrow from the other's camp -- Obama needs women and Clinton needs blacks.

And each risks losing the prize by going too negative, as Clinton recently learned when she dared trespass on the sacred territory of Dr. King. In trying to neutralize Obama's success as an orator and underscore his short list of accomplishments, she effectively said that Obama is no King.

Then she went too far and, noting that no matter King's own contributions, the Civil Rights Act required the signature of a president, in this case the Democrat Lyndon B. Johnson.

Whatever she meant -- fair or not -- that's a hole deep enough to bury Hillary's nomination and her husband's legacy.

We can be certain that Obama's surrogates will milk that mistake even as he and Clinton declare a public truce. And Clinton will continue to insist that she's not interested in defining her campaign as a gender issue even as she continues to invoke the glass ceiling, as she did yet again Sunday on "Meet the Press."

In the end, the Democratic Party may be hostage to its own noble intentions. By co-opting equality as their party's identity and making victimhood their rallying cry, the battle for race and gender necessarily has become a fight between race and gender.

If a Clinton victory is viewed as a victory for all women, then her defeat can only be viewed as a defeat for women. The same goes for Obama and African-Americans.

It shouldn't be about race and gender, but it is. And the Democratic Party made it this way.


Kathleen Parker

Kathleen Parker is a syndicated columnist with the Washington Post Writers Group.
 
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