And indeed, Bill Clinton followed the script with his reference to Jackson.
But there's much more to this.
Hillary Clinton is playing with black psyches as well as white ones.
Black consciousness has always been defined by a sense of vulnerability. The painful realities of black American history have always posed a barrier for many blacks to buy into American ideals or the American dream.
Moments, such as in King's famous speech, when he called "the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence ... a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir," or Jordan's appeal in 1976 to transcend interest-group politics, have been, unfortunately, exceptional moments.
The more common political appeals to blacks have played on fears that the country is incorrigibly racist and that their only hope is to salvage a piece of the pie through political power and protection.
Nothing can be more threatening to these politics than a successful, talented black man like Obama running as an American candidate rather than as a black candidate.
But a black off the plantation is the last thing that Sen. Clinton wants. She wants blacks to feel impotent and vulnerable and in need of a political patron to hand them the goodies they need.
Nothing could speak more clearly to the differences than Oprah Winfrey coming out for Obama and Clinton rolling out Robert Johnson, founder of Black Entertainment Television, to speak on her behalf.
Winfrey is a mainstream success, with a daily TV audience of millions of women, mostly white. Johnson made his fortune through black sexploitation.
At a Democratic Party candidate debate last summer at Howard University, Sen. Clinton was asked about the prevalence of AIDS among young black women. Her response was to first attribute this to racism and then talk about government programs. Can anyone imagine her telling blacks the truth that the solution starts with responsible personal sexual behavior?
I certainly don't buy into Obama's liberalism. But I am not surprised one bit that so many see him as a breath of fresh air over Clinton's hacked plantation politics of fear, dependence and patronage.
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