Thursday :: Jan 10, 2008

Jesse Jackson Jr. Could Use Some Kleenex


by eriposte

Given how African-Americans in this country have been devastated year after year for centuries, he must be crying every minute of every day for them. He should move permanently to Nevada if he's not already there - he might be able to turn the arid desert into a sea with his tears.

Turkana posted the video below and I'm trying hard to be polite by not following the textbook of the Politics of Hope, Change, Optimism, Politeness and CourteousnessTM, but this is offensive garbage from Jesse Jackson, Jr., Sen. Obama's national campaign co-chair. Todd Beeton at MyDD rightly refers to it as "Obama's Dog Whistle Politics" (emphasis mine):

[Jesse Jackson Jr.:] ....Her appearance brought her to tears but not Hurricane Katrina.

[...]

The more I think about this, the more I get what's at work here. They know exactly what they're doing. Notice the repeated reference to Hurricane Katrina. He's using some odious dog-whistle politics here, trying to send the message to African Americans (in other words: South Carolina) that, to borrow a phrase, Hillary Clinton doesn't care about black people.

I understand this is a political campaign but this is pretty egregious nonetheless. I had assumed that Sen. Obama does not condone the beliefs of the fever swamps and that he has only been exploiting their irrational hatred for Clinton in his campaign - as politicians are often inclined to do - but this is the kind of stuff that makes me question giving him the benefit of the doubt. (Remember this, Sen. Obama?"...I told my staff that if I catch you guys doing any kind of stuff like this you're fired. Period."... "And I think what we need to do -- and I told this to senator yesterday -- is that we need to send a strong message to all of our surrogates and all of our staffs, that we don't play that.")

There are two obvious reasons I can think of to explain why they trotted out Jesse Jackson Jr. to make a case for why he deserves a user account in the Free Republic or deserves to write a Recommended Diary at Daily Kos. One has to do with money and the other has to do with race.

Perhaps the Obama camp is just a bit concerned that unlike the claim of the almost always wrong Joe Trippi who's been successfully running Sen. Edwards' campaign into a ditch - I'm talking about Trippi's George-Bush-like claim that "I can guarantee you [the Clinton campaign's] money is drying up. I don't think anyone is contributing to them" - the Washington Post is reporting that:

Hillary Clinton's fundraising team raised more money than Democratic rival Barack Obama in the final three months of 2007, staking claim to the biggest fundraiser in the presidential race for the second straight quarter.

Clinton's campaign was scheduled to tell major donors and fundraisers in a conference call late this afternoon that her campaign raised more than $24 million between October and December, hoping that news, coupled with Clinton's upset win in the New Hampshire primary, will motivate them to keep growing the campaign's war chest, according to a senior campaign aide who spoke only on condition of anonymity.

(McAuliffe also claims to have secured "another $5 million in financial commitments in the last 48 hours".)

Let's talk about the racial element - since this is probably the larger dynamic they are concerned about. There are some good reasons why African Americans have a great fondness for the Clintons - even if some or many of them might choose to vote for Sen. Obama. Let's go back to this 2002 interview of DeWayne Wickham by Suzy Hansen in Salon.com "Why blacks love Bill Clinton" (emphasis mine):

DeWayne Wickham's "Bill Clinton and Black America," mostly a collection of interviews he conducted with such African-Americans as NAACP president Kweisi Mfume, actor Tim Reid and columnist Betty Baye, fills in both gaps. The book specifically illuminates how blacks responded to Clinton and just how different his presidency was from every other one in American history. The latter might be Wickham's more important point.

Clinton, despite some notable blunders (especially welfare reform), impressed blacks with his policies -- particularly his many appointments of African-Americans. More famously, Clinton radiated a certain style. As Bill Campbell, former mayor of Atlanta, notes, "We know when white folks are comfortable around us and when they're not." And while some of that convincing style had to do with Clinton's genuine interest in black culture, much of it had to do with -- as Morrison and many others have pointed out -- his poor, Southern roots.

Wickham went on to say:

The amazing thing about government is that the White House, the president and his staff at best can control about 10 percent of what happens in government. When they send appointees over to Treasury or Agriculture or Labor or wherever, they can focus in on the top two or three issues from the White House. The rest they have to leave to the appointees. When you have a large number of African-Americans in those positions, you can understand why in the Clinton administration, black unemployment went down, black home ownership came up, black business ownership grew. You had so many people in place dealing with a broad range of issues that impacted the ability of African-Americans to achieve in those areas.

[...]

Oh, absolutely. [Clinton] broke the mold. The mold from Lyndon Johnson to George Bush I was one black in your cabinet at a time. Every president from LBJ forward had at least one: "OK, we appointed all the important people, now let's find one black who can be secretary of HUD or of HHS." Clinton, on the other hand, had many blacks in major positions in the White House. The chief of White House personnel, his budget director, his director of public outreach, his deputy chief of staff were all African-American. His liaison between the White House and the Congress -- Thurgood Marshall's son -- was African-American.

And:

I would say that what is accurate about LBJ is that LBJ is unsurpassed in the efforts that he made to enact laws that uplifted African-Americans.

[...]

...LBJ, for all that he did for African-Americans, is better known for telling crude racial jokes than he is for having close and intimate relations with black people.

We give a lot of credit to people who show up and stand with us, who come into our community, who come into our homes. That's real important to us and I'm not sure that we're unlike any other race of people in that regard. Clinton showed up early and often, and did things that were quite unusual, like getting in his limousine and driving across town to have soul food dinner, eating chitlins with black folk.

[...]

Bill Clinton is someone who is cut out of the Democratic mold. Since 1936, a majority of African-Americans have voted for Democratic presidential candidates in increasing numbers. We believe that our political fate rests most comfortably in the hands of Democrats. Yes, we also hold Clinton in higher esteem than we do Jesse Jackson, which is kind of fascinating.

I can see why Jesse Jackson Jr. and Sen. Obama might be getting just a bit nervous.

eriposte :: 6:25 AM :: Comments (33) :: Digg It!