I could not disagree more with Barack Obama’s pork spending, tax raising, and defeat-embracing liberal agenda, but a recent attack by the Clinton campaign on Mr. Obama was the worst sort of the politics of personal destruction. It was one based on racial stereotypes. Such an attack is racism in all of its ugliness. Though the Congressional Black Caucus has yet to condemn this vicious racial smear, I can’t help but respond.
Perhaps the Black Caucus’ silence is concrete evidence of the silliness of the Left’s notion that racial identity is determined by ideology. You know the logic. Clarence Thomas is conservative, therefore not black. Perhaps Caucus members are victims of this mindlessness and believe the Clintons are incapable of waging racist attacks on blacks because they are “black.” Excuse me, I digress.
Hillary Clinton has a big problem. It’s not because her Christmas ad was perhaps the single worst political ad in this presidential primary season. It’s instead that Mr. Obama has put Mrs. Clinton on the ropes, and so in desperation her New Hampshire co-chairman insidiously suggested that Mr. Obama was a former drug dealer.
Mr. Obama confessed in his earlier writings that he used recreational drugs as a young man.
Not able to stop his momentum, the Clinton camp latched onto his drug use. When that failed to get traction, Clinton’s co-chairman Billy Shaheen said—without evidence—that Obama may have been a cocaine dealer.
It’s hard to believe in an operation as professional and tightly disciplined as the Clinton campaign that such an attack was unauthorized. Mr. Shaheen was deliberately testing that attack. It blew up in their faces, Mrs. Clinton publicly denounced him, and he resigned in disgrace. He’s the fall guy for one of the most despicable political attacks in modern presidential politics.
The Clintons have always decried the politics of personal destruction. Labeling any accusations about Bill Clinton’s personal life as the lies of “a vast right-wing conspiracy,” the 1990s saw the President and First Lady constantly denouncing rumors of past personal misconduct. These condemnations of the politics of personal destruction have continued throughout Mrs. Clinton’s Senate years and in her presidential campaign.Yet in a classic case of the pot calling the kettle black, the Clintons have again dived into the politics of personal destruction themselves, suggesting that a black male who once used drugs must have been a dealer. They make this baseless charge with the full confidence of impunity.
If Mr. Obama was white and grew up in the suburbs, would anyone accuse him of being a cocaine dealer? Probably not. The Clinton campaign is accusing him of being a drug dealer because of his skin color, and makes the attack against him nothing short of alarming.
These attacks turn back the clock on race relations. How terrible to see the wife of “the first black president” playing the race card in a ruthless effort to crush the man who may become our first African-American president.
As the primaries heat up, these attacks are only going to get worse. Mrs. Clinton is worried right now, but not yet desperate. Though this attack is a desperate act, it’s only a foretaste of what’s coming if Mr. Obama wins in some of the early states.
Mrs. Clinton knows that 2008 is the only chance she’ll ever get in her life to become president. She’s the frontrunner, with every advantage possible. If she is derailed by the eloquent community activist from Chicago, the party will pass her by. Right now she is the “co-president,” painting herself as a key player in the Clinton White House, and fully able to take the reins of power.
If she doesn’t prevail now, the conventional political wisdom will instead be that the only reason she was ever a possibility was because of who she married, that she never had the gift herself. Once that becomes the narrative, she’ll never come close to the nomination again. By 2012 or 2016, she’ll be like Ted Kennedy, the famous family member of a former president who had her shot but could not close the deal. That would be the end of the Clinton era.
Decent people of every ethnicity should reject degrading racial stereotypes regardless of politics, and the Congressional Black Caucus should join the ranks of those speaking out against this outrage.
This is the worst kind of politics of personal destruction. Instead of bringing Americans together, it drives us apart.
It is slanderous and shameful, and degrades our national discourse. But Mrs. Clinton is so obsessed with her hunger for presidential power that she shows herself willing to go to any lengths to seize the White House. And all Americans—regardless of color—are devalued if we fail to speak out against her political sleaze.