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When You Go All In

myiq2xu's picture

How did the Unity Pony become the most divisive Democratic Politician in recent history? The Scary Smart One explains:

What happened to the potential on display at the 2004 convention? A decision both explicable and execrable - to accuse another Democrat of being racist. With that claim, Obama placed himself in a box that is becoming a coffin for more than just his campaign. His coalition was never enough to secure him the nomination unless he turned out super majorities within those groups. He did not have to do much with the wine track voters who enjoyed their fauxgressive rejection of Hillary, enthralled with the talking heads and blogger insider gossip. But with the AA vote, the challenge for Obama was to overcome Hillary's substantial appeal to that group. This was uniquely a problem with Hillary, as none of the other candidates enjoyed that kind of support. The weapon he chose was to smear the Clintons as racists.

Who would have thought this would be the tool employed, given the early themes of the Obama campaign? It wasn't just warm-fuzzies and unity ponies. The spousal unit was an early Obama supporter, and thought there was something really valuable to way in which Obama used a rhetoric of struggle and completion to recast race relations and the Democratic task of fulfilling the dream. I have seen it put cynically (hell, I have put it cynically myself) that Obama was just promising the (mostly white) comfortable class of the party that he wouldn't insist on looking at those nasty claims of justice if they would just elect a black dude and redeem their souls. Sure, we could, but it is better, and perhaps sustains a spark of hope in the savage rhetoric of the last few weeks, to see him as sincerely arguing the role of Joshua as our proper charge. In this reading, we have a narrative of struggle that succeeded, we have made it over the hump, we are walking into the promised land. The sacrifices of Moses are to be honored in the fulfillment of his task, and that we gratefully and joyously celebrate what we have achieved. The worst is past, we have come through the wilderness, and we will not lose our people again.

To have remained within that argument, even in the absence of more substantive and wonky offerings, would have provided a powerful and necessary force to the Democrats' claim upon the body politic. It would have built up the coalition by insisting on its common cause. The older arguments about race, as exemplified by the preaching of people like Wright, would have been rejected without being demonized. As Maya Angelou said a decade and more before - our passage has been paid for.

Instead, he chose a high stakes political strategy to maximize his constituent turnout in an attempt to remove his chief rival with a devastating and unanticipated blow, and has ended up more firmly enmeshed in one of the most divisive rhetorical modes imaginable on the left. The price Obama is paying for having reached for crude racial politics is to be joined at the hip to Wright and others like him. The speech Obama gave after the first big revelations about Wright was his last attempt to reclaim that original rhetoric, and it failed because there were no deeds to back up his words. Without deeds, there is nothing upon which to moor the call for transcendence. Today, in his brief, weary appeal to what he has written for 20 years, Obama merely ended up highlighting the shortcoming of that appeal - writing and talking are fine, but at some point you must act and embody your words. It would have meant rejecting the rhetoric of resentment presented by Wright. It would have meant refusing to use politics in that mode to build up margins. He is paying for launching the racism attacks because now he has no ground on which to stand to defend himself against older modes of race thinking and their corrosive, divisive politics. The longer the race goes on, the more he is caught in the net.

Upstart challengers need to win big early, and then use that momentum to carry them on to victory. But the upstarts have to knock-out the establishment candidates, otherwise the frontrunner's money and organization will grind down and defeat them.

At the beginning of the year, Obama had more money and a better organization than anyone except Hillary. She also beat him in name recognition, even though he was the media favorite. Edwards and the rest of the Democratic pack were virtually blacked-out of news coverage and had anemic fundraising.

Some people have suggested that Obama entered this campaign mainly to boost his name recognition for a future run. Even if that was true at the inception, by the beginning of the year Obama was poised to win the nomination and probably the White House.

There was only one obstacle: Hillary Clinton.

He needed to knock her out of the race early with some decisive wins, before her strength reasserted itself on Super Tuesday. He got the first big win in Iowa, and appeared to have momentum going into New Hampshire.

But that's where he suffered a stunning defeat. Then Hillary won again in Nevada. Obama needed a big win in South Carolina or he was done.

So Obama took a huge gamble that nearly paid off. He went "all in" and played the race card. Had it worked and Hillary been forced to end her campaign, the party would still be united and looking to victory in November. But instead it backfired.

He got the win in South Carolina, but Hillary hung on to win on Super Tuesday. Then she persevered through a horrible February to win in Ohio and Texas. Despite two months of WWTSBQ meme, she again won big in Pennsylvania.

Obama, his advisors, and the OFB are starting to realize they shouldn't have gone all in. The dealer is turning over the cards and it looks like they have a busted flush. They don't seem to be taking it well.

"He fears his fate too much, or his desserts too small, who fears to put it to the touch, to win, or lose it all." - Montrose

No votes yet


Submitted by lambert on

I'm a Hillary supporter, so I'm a racist.

[x] Any (D) in the general. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

willyjsimmons's picture
Submitted by willyjsimmons on

But as soon as Jesse Jackson Jr. opened his mouth I knew something was afoot.

There's nothing like yelling 'Uncle Tom' to get black people to fall in line.

I will not forget. No sir. Not a chance.

Lost in Space's picture
Submitted by Lost in Space on

But also threatening Hillary's supporting SDs (see John Lewis), making comparisons to slave plantations (calling Hillary and Bill "Massa", her AA supporters "House Slaves" - well, the N- Word here; and Obama and his supporters are supposed to be the "Field Slaves" - again the N- Word.)

At the same time, the Clinton campaign made it easier for Obama to continue its gas-lighting early on. At the very start, when the Clinton campaign tried to send BET Founder Bob Johnson in an attempt to diffuse the race-based attack, his talking point made things worse. The reason why is because it was all insinuation - on drug use.

Admittedly, if Bob Johnson were more specific about Obama, specifically his lack of any real legislative in Chicago or his lack of any real "community activism" that he likes to take credit for, the charge of Johnson being "an Uncle Tom for Massa Clinton" would have still been thrown, but slightly less likely to have stuck.

Then came the LBJ/MLK comments. Unfortunately, not many people understand why this gas-light resonates so brightly with many AAs. This is because of the history of AA-based achievements, especially since the 1800s, being ignored, downplayed, or purposely "removed from the context of history." When Senator Clinton attempted to show a "bridge" using LBJ and MLK, my first reaction was to slap my forehead - and the blowback was swift and predictable.

I don't excuse the Obama campaign for their behavior in the slightest (since, apparently, I'm an "Uncle Tom" for thinking about supporting someone other than Obama), just (hopefully) providing a little more background on the noise of SC.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
The enemy of my enemy is STILL my enemy. Those who forget this end up being Vulture scraps.

amberglow's picture
Submitted by amberglow on

being done by Obama himself--Clinton tried and tried (which was what the drug stuff was) and it didn't stick because the media was still building Obama up and protecting him--and finally his losses and his gaffes and his non-performing the way they wanted (he was supposed to be the Clinton-killer/dragon-slayer, etc, and supposed to be a winner with all voters) did it.

Submitted by lambert on

I'm not getting some of the references. Why not forget?

[x] Any (D) in the general. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

willyjsimmons's picture
Submitted by willyjsimmons on

From a mile away. (the clusterfuck that is Obama's candidacy)

Let me set the scene.

2007. State of The Black Union. Barack Obama is supposed to appear via satellite to address the attendees.(anniversary of Jamestown, natch)

On the panel, the usual suspects. Cornel West, Jesse Jackson, Sharpton (no Farrakhan, no Dyson, more back story to that). Also on the panel was Lerone Bennet Jr..

During the panel, Tavis finds out that Obama is currently at the tomb of Abraham Lincoln announcing his candidacy.

Lerone Bennett Jr. - Abraham Lincoln's tomb

doh! convergence? whatever.

Tavis announces to the crowd that unfortunately Obama will not be appearing...

Booooooooo! Hisssssss! (not sure which session it happened in, guessing afternoon) but if you care, watch for yourselves.

morning session


Cornel West was puzzled by Obama's decision to announce at Lincoln's Tomb and not to the crowd watching the SOTBU.

It was at that instant that I realized Obama was a salesman of the 'snake oil' variety.

Fast forward to 2008, Obama MIA from the SOTBU again. Post South Carolina. Clinton shows up, the panel talks slick the entire time about the Clintons. Hillary comes out, gives her spiel. Dyson and others who had just spent the day poking fun at the Clintons (and half-assed standing up for Tavis) are FRONT AND CENTER afterwards trying to shake her hand and talk to her...Dyson especially. Snake Oil!

Fast forward again to Tavis getting thrown under the bus. Later resigning from the Tom Joyner morning show in the aftermath of Obama skipping out on the MLK anniversary.

2007 I could see it coming.

So when I say I 'will not forget', what I'm referring to is the two-faced nature of my supposed 'Black Leadership' and their institutions.

Bamboozled indeed.

How long it takes for blacks to in turn throw Obama under his own bus? I can't call it. (saint today, sellout tomorrow)

But I'm feeling meta so...


Submitted by lambert on

I see the point of the "Lerone Bennett" thing, but never would have in a million years, if you hadn't mentioned it. I guess this is the takeaway?


[x] Any (D) in the general. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

murphy's picture
Submitted by murphy on

Willyjsimmons, your comment is v. interesting -- I had heard about Obama "skipping MLK day" but wasnt sure what it was about.

it would be understandable I think for may black voters to throw Obama himself under the bus. He doesnt seem too good at the loyalty thing. If I were a black supporter proud to be behind a native son, I just might start having my doubts that my guy was going to remember where he came from.

Where did Obama come from anyway?

Thanks for the background.

I was wondering yesterday if Obama hasnt put himself into a truly untenable campaign position -- abandoned by white working class because of elitism and abandoned by black working class because of betrayal.

Submitted by lambert on

Let's wait and let those voters speak for themselves, remembering that this election, nobody knows anything. Field Negro, as always, is terrific. "In fact, at this point in time, the blame falls squarely on the shoulders of a certain crab." Jack and Jill Politics, OTOH, is into changing the subject. I wish CD wasn't gardening, and Xenophon wasn't off in RL. From my ignorance of Lerone Bennett, I don't even have the scorecard that would let me tell the players apart...

[x] Any (D) in the general. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

willyjsimmons's picture
Submitted by willyjsimmons on

Call it the "L" in honor of Chicago.


What made Cornel West, Dyson and all the rest miss what happened in 2007? I will never know. I doubt they will ever tell.

The 'conventional wisdom' (jack and jill politics, etc etc) is that Obama knows he can't run as a 'black man' and simply has to play the game. But once he gets elected, magically, Obama will become the modern version of MLK.

Of course, now they're hedging their bets.

Add to that their reaction to Obama denouncing Wright:

But, but, what about McCain and Hillary!!!!

Some seem to be willing to sink with the ship at all costs. Out of principle, misguided probably.

Now ain't that a bitch, principle. All the while overlooking and excusing Obama's multiple breaches of principle?

"Am I my brother's keeper?" - New Jack City*

*Sitting on the stand during his trial, notorious drug dealer Nino Brown snitches on his associates and blames the government for enabling his enterprise

murphy's picture
Submitted by murphy on

Just wondering. Of course the voters will speak for themselves. I'm a Clinton supporter but I hate the idea of Obama selling out his base. When he does it to the Kos Krowd some leisure class liberals lose their unity pony and I dont really care. When he does it to a representative of the black working class and poor, well then the people who might feel hurt are a lot less dismissable.

Field Negro does seem to be consoling supporters who feel worn-down. If some in Obama's AA base are in fact feeling weary what the reasons are are probably unknowable. As you and Krugman say, no one knows anything.

I actually hope Obama does NOT lose any support in the black community. I find that prospect quite sad. Not for Obama but for the AA voters who quite rightfully have projected a native pride in his candidacy.

Although I object of course to FN's intimation that not voting for Obama makes me an A-merry-can racist.

willyjsimmons's picture
Submitted by willyjsimmons on

And call him a 'crab in a barrel' now?


ye te he!

Like I said:

Saint today, sellout tomorrow.

And when Obama loses his luster...

Black people are so in love with feeling good for five minutes, they are happy to dismiss an opportunity to have a black man in the Oval Office who understands our issues. Just like all those handkerchief head buffoons who were clapping and cheering during Wright's Monday speech. Cornell West was in the front row. Thank you for confirming my distaste for that phony Negro.

Now Cornel get's tossed too.

Too rich for words.

Handkerchief head buffoons...

whaleshaman's picture
Submitted by whaleshaman on

Sob, watching disaster unfold is powerful sorrow.

I can only bear to watch humanity's breaking heart for so long, then seek my 5 minutes of relief:

Go drink deep come back.