Hillary Wins West Virginia

Carol Platt Liebau
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Posted: May 13, 2008 9:59 PM
Surprise, surprise.  Hillary Clinton wins West Virginia by a hefty margin.  The New York Times helpfully informs us that 

The voter surveys showing a strong racial component to the West Virginia voting suggest that Mr. Obama would still face pockets of significant Democratic resistance if he does become the party’s first black nominee.

In other words, the Times suggests, many of those voting against Obama are doing so for racist reasons.

If I were part of the Obama team, I'd tell entities like the Times to stop the friendly fire.  Back in March, Dianne Feinstein (a Hillary supporter), blamed some of her candidate's problems on sexism.   I wrote at the time:

The problem with the "gender bias" approach, of course, is that it's hard to win over potential supporters by telling them that they'll be deemed to harbor invidious motives if they don't support your candidate.  Not surprisingly, people don't enjoy being characterized as bigots.

The same applies to the racism argument.  Sadly, no doubt some people are voting against Barack because of his race.  But it does no good to accuse them of it.  That's because other Hillary supporters -- who might be won over -- are likely to be offended (and with good reason) at the implication that their support for a candidate that they may prefer for perfectly acceptable non-racial reasons (maybe they believe she has more experience, or they liked her husband, etc., etc.) is actually covert racism.

Barack Obama says he can unite the party.  Maybe he can -- but it won't be because he, his surrogates or his supporters (and yes, that includes most of the press) has bullied people into saying they'll vote for him, lest they be characterized as racist.  That's not the way to win . . . that's the way to create a massive Bradley effect.

Barack is a very smart guy, and he no doubt knows this.  What's more, at least when I knew him, he seemed willing not to view everything through a racialist lens (here's hoping that hasn't changed, given his associations in the interim).   That's helpful, because sometimes, it really isn't about race -- it's about ideology. Ultimately, he'd be well-served to get race out of the discussion . . . if he can.