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Clyburn tries to put the toothpaste back in the tube

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goldberry's picture
Submitted by goldberry on

... that Clyburn's remarks about blaming voters' inner racism for criticism of Obama would have been taken out of context and misconstrued?

"QUESTION: What do you think of Obama's election prospects?

CLYBURN: I think they're improving every day. I think the president has been a good president, a great commander in chief. I think when people allow themselves to — you know, I'm 70 years old. And I can tell you; people don't like to deal with it, but the fact of the matter is, the president's problems are in large measure because of his skin color. All you got to do is look at all the signs they're carrying out there and look at the mail that I get. As I said, I'm 70 years old, I been going through this kind of stuff all my life. I know what kind of mail I get, I know what kind of phone calls I get, I know what people are saying who call the office."

Racism is ugly and wrong and disgusting. But if you run your campaign and whole raison d'etre on your skin color, it should not be a surprise when ignorant people start equating skin color with accomplishments.

What about the rest of us who don't give a flying f&*( about skin color and just want him to do his job? Are we racists because we are holding him to high standards? Wouldn't it be racist to *not* hold him to the standards of, oh, I don't know, Bill Clinton, at least? That would be like saying he needs a four year handicap because he has to overcome accusations that he's african american. That's the weirdest fricking thing the Democrats have rolled out yet. They must think we're stupid.

Backlash is coming. As far as I know, racism is not illegal in thought, even if it is in practice. It's a sorry situation but not at all surprising.

Come together at The Confluence

Submitted by admin_hipparchia on

But if you run your campaign and whole raison d'etre on your skin color, it should not be a surprise when ignorant people start equating skin color with accomplishments.

obama did not make his skin color the basis for his campaign, nor has he made it his "whole raison d'etre." if i read you wrong and you meant to say something else, maybe you could clarify...

goldberry's picture
Submitted by goldberry on

He ran on Change! and Hope!, two of the most overused words in the Propaganda Vocabulary Greatest Hits.

BUT his biggest weapon and threat was his skin color. He broke it out early against that Hillary supporter dude in New Hampshire and used it as a cudgel throughout the entire campaign. He used it frequently, indiscriminantly and without mercy.

So, yeah, you could say that the official narrative was the change, hope, blah, blah, blah, gag me with a spoon, c'mon, who really bought that crap(?).

The unofficial narrative and the one he won on was calling anyone who dared to criticize him a racist. You can split hairs if you want but the whole left blogosphere in 2008 was full of many examples. Let's be honest about it.

Come together at The Confluence

Submitted by admin_hipparchia on

So, yeah, you could say that the official narrative was the change, hope, blah, blah, blah, gag me with a spoon, c'mon, who really bought that crap(?).

millions of people did. and justly so - we needed some serious change in this country and the david axelrod marketing machine did a splendid job of (1) promising it, and (2) glossing over obama's corporatist record.

The unofficial narrative and the one he won on was calling anyone who dared to criticize him a racist.

he won on this? oh, hardly.

You can split hairs if you want but the whole left blogosphere in 2008 was full of many examples. Let's be honest about it.

yes, the lefty blogosphere was full of this. i doubt the left blogosphere had as much impact on the election as they like to think.

goldberry's picture
Submitted by goldberry on

It's still not cool to admit we were right about Obama. The stench hangs around like a nasty fart. And now that some idiot Republican has said that a lot of Obama voters voted for him because he was African American, that makes us tainted again. Nevermind that cornel west admitted that obama was the black mascot for the plutocrats.
Look, we're not Republicans. But if you shy away from us because you think there is some guilt by association and that we are republican or tea party sympathizers , then you are doing the Republicans' work for them.
Obama ran on a "historical moment" campaign. The hopey changer thing wasn't working before the crash. He got the nomination by flinging poo at anyone who dared to criticize him.
After the crash, the Democrat was going to win no matter what. Too bad he is not a Democrat.
And we are not using coded racist language anymore than criticism of the way fanny mae was run was a coded message for not wanting poor people to own their own homes.
Don't put us in the wrong category or you will lose a lot of potential allies.

Come together at The Confluence

Submitted by lambert on

True or false [assuming the condition "if" is removed, and this is a statement about how Obama ran his campaign]:

.... if you run your [Obama ran his] campaign and [his] whole raison d'etre on your [was his] skin color....

Hipparchia, if I read her correctly, says not true. I say partly true.

Last I checked, truth and falsity have nothing to do with coolness or lack of coolness. Am I wrong?

First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win. -- Mahatma Gandhi

Submitted by admin_hipparchia on

i just got to the 'coded racial signals' in the huffpo article that lambert linked to. ugh. i'm going to go bleach my brain now.

Submitted by admin_hipparchia on

i very much favored hillary over obama, but i think you may have mistaken the reasons i'm offended by that article.

goldberry's picture
Submitted by goldberry on

The accusations of racism were directed at anyone who didn't immediately worship Obama. They were intended to force "unity" on us.
Hillary was just the vehicle through which they delivered that message.
But yeah, she would have been a better president.

Come together at The Confluence

Submitted by lambert on

First was the con. That was the "hope and change" part, and no, not all who bought into that used racist smears as a weapon. However, there was also a category of fan (as opposed to supporter) who had drunk so deep of the Kool-Aid that they could literally conceive of no other reason to oppose Obama except racism.

Second was the thuggery and intimidation. Partly caucus fraud (e.g., TX), and partly the false smears of racism. Now, it is true that bloggers had less influence than they like to think, but it's also true that bloggers were over-represented in the class of persons who could have punctured the bubble of the con through critique. (Always assuming the Rs hadn't simply written 2012 off, which I've always rather thought they did.)

So, "won on it"? Not as Clinton did with "It's the economy, stupid!" But certainly an important, indeed indispenable element of the victory. Witness the bloggers who reach for racism is the totalizing explanation even today.

UPDATE One might also think of 2008 campaign as a high road/low road one. For the high road (the con) we had the unity Pony, hopenchange, etc. For the low road (the thuggery), we had Clyburn (see again the Wilentz article). Both necessary but only sufficient together. The high road won Obama the votes. The low road took out his opponents.

First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win. -- Mahatma Gandhi

Valhalla's picture
Submitted by Valhalla on

Haw, McClatchy.

Anyway, nice summary -- both the con and the thuggery were essential to Obama's nomination and election. Not sure it's helpful to whittle it down to just one. Some things are so bad that arguing about which is worse is useless -- all you need to know is, they're both odious.

Although I do quibble over whether you've identified 2 categories or 3 -- since the relentless racism accusations weren't nearly all just KA-sodden fans who could not conceive of other reasons to oppose him. There was plenty of intentionality around by people who knew better (as Wilenz documents). And perhaps the racism smears can be marked up under the broader heading of thuggery, too, but such a particular species of thuggery deserves its own grouping, I think.

But good to know they're starting early! Of course, the con is gone (not counting those who still buy into the con, there's plenty of those left out there). Not that I doubt there's more thuggery coming, but I can't see it having quite so much momentum without quite the same number of adoring, analytical-free fans behind it.

Because the problem is not that we have too little condescension from our tribe. -- okanogen

Submitted by lambert on

even if I expressed it badly.

Some were KA-sodden, but yes, there were definitely cadres who "should have known better."

First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win. -- Mahatma Gandhi

mass's picture
Submitted by mass on

I agree with goldberry. How many people would have bought hope/change from Obama if he were a white dude? I'd say zero.

The liberty of democracy is not safe if people tolerate growth of private power to a point where it becomes stronger than their democratic state itself. That, in its essence, is fascism.---FDR

Submitted by lambert on

... on material that's just as gauzy as hopenchange. Warren Harding. Heck, Obama's idol, Ronald Reagan. So I don't buy what you're saying.

On the other hand, there was also a contingent of Obama supporters who thought a "community organizer" with black skin just had to be a liberal. (I think such people are numerically small, but important in the activist community. So if Clyburn thinks such people are the main cause of Obama's problems, that would indeed mean that Obama's skin color was the problem, and that isn't about racism, making Clyburn right and me wrong. But I can't believe Clyburn means that.)

First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win. -- Mahatma Gandhi

Submitted by admin_hipparchia on

thank for reminding me of that one. not.

probably you and clyburn are both right. or correct. :) where i live, nobody on the left is criticizing obama from the left [or even criticizing him at all], and all the righties are flat-out racists. and there are more of the latter than the former.

Valhalla's picture
Submitted by Valhalla on

Or, you're both right. Certainly the hopenchange got more traction and credibility coming from someone whose election in and of itself represented a historic (sorry) change. And Obama's marketing scripts, with coy references to his funny name and so on, played that up. Certainly the bullying fan base made that connection. Plenty of white dudes have failed with hopenchange type messages, too. More than have succeeded, I'd guess, since really, hope and change are stock political messages of just about every politician (and partly why Obama's sloganeering did so much better with younger people who hadn't heard them a million times before).

That doesn't mean that thousands of starry-eyed liberals and superficial liberals didn't, as you say, fool themselves that skin color equated with their preferred political orientation. Both can be true.

As an aside, I remember about a year after Toyota introduced the Prius, I read a study that determined that the top reason people bought a hybrid was not because they were concerned about the environment, but because they wanted others to perceive them as being concerned about the environment. Voting for Obama became a similar class- and political-orientation badge of post-raciality. (ok, that's probably not a real word).

Anyway, Obama's race figured into his popularity in multiple, not-mutually-exclusive ways. They're aggregate factors, not zero-sum ones.

Because the problem is not that we have too little condescension from our tribe. -- okanogen