The campaign that cried ‘wolf’!

February 25, 2008 at 11:10 pm | Posted in Barack Obama, Democratic Party Presidential Primary, U.S. Politics | 1 Comment

Barack Obama, dressed as a Somali elder

Whilst he might have all the ethics and integrity of a Jayson Blair, there’s no denying that Matt Drudge is a genius at manipulating the media, either through headline-stealing exclusives, an ability to dictate the narrative of the latest political developments or… simply making shit up.

At the time of writing, it’s not clear which category this story falls into, but even if the ‘anonymous Clinton staffers’ who allegedly emailed the picture turns out to be a mischief-making falsehood aimed at stoking further divisions in the Democratic Party, the self-righteous denials from Hillary’s camp ring a little hollow in the context of some of the other lowbrow attacks she and her supporters have launched at Barack Obama. In no particular order:

Attacking him for a Kindergarten essay he wrote about wanting to be President; smearing him as a Muslim; publicly asking whether he’d ever dealt drugs; playing down his South Carolina victory by noting that Jesse Jackson won there too (and therefore any old black guy could win the state)…

I could go on, and it all makes the furious insistence from the Clintonistas about being pure as driven snow (another race-baiting pun?!) a little hard to take. Whether it truly came from a Clinton staffer or is another example of Drudge’s Dem-baiting bad behaviour, the most damaging thing for the Clinton campaign is that such a stunt doesn’t seem out of character.


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  1. See, this is what I like about you David; in over 1000 words you never mentioned the fact that – among other gaffes – the author you’re linking to can’t even spell the word ‘appalling’. I clearly nearly upgrade my coffee intake.

    I don’t know whether you were referring specifically to me, but I want to reiterate that I haven’t said that Nader or Pilger made racist remarks. I will contend that phrases such as ‘Uncle Tom’ and ‘talking/acting white’ are part of a discourse which presupposes difference between races, and I’ll stand by my earlier statement that such a discourse is inherently racialist (the difference between the two terms is important). Do I think that these two antagonists intended the interpretation I’ve offered? Of course not – your rewording of Nader’s remarks was entirely accurate. But the unfortunate nature of distanciation is that we can’t ever control how others interpret our words, and it was stupid of Pilger and Nader to choose phrases with such negative pre-existing meanings.

    I think this:

    What is this talking white? Could it be an attempt to pretend that racial issues don’t exist, or that where they do they don’t have anything to do with structuralised poverty?

    Was mostly covered in the debate we had a few weeks ago, but if the inference is that Obama himself tries to pretend that racial issues don’t exist or have anything to do with structuralised poverty, then I’m afraid this is a characterisation I don’t recognise. The following is from his ‘race speech‘:

    Legalized discrimination – where blacks were prevented, often through violence, from owning property, or loans were not granted to African-American business owners, or black homeowners could not access FHA mortgages, or blacks were excluded from unions, or the police force, or fire departments – meant that black families could not amass any meaningful wealth to bequeath to future generations. That history helps explain the wealth and income gap between black and white, and the concentrated pockets of poverty that persists in so many of today’s urban and rural communities.

    A lack of economic opportunity among black men, and the shame and frustration that came from not being able to provide for one’s family, contributed to the erosion of black families – a problem that welfare policies for many years may have worsened. And the lack of basic services in so many urban black neighborhoods – parks for kids to play in, police walking the beat, regular garbage pick-up and building code enforcement – all helped create a cycle of violence, blight and neglect that continue to haunt us.

    Also, whilst this interview was recorded prior to his national political career, I don’t think it’s irrelevant to note that his main criticism of the civil rights era was that it focused on judicial activism rather than “redistributive change.” He’s never been a Marxist, but nor has he been ignorant or dismissive of the structuralist aspects of Marxist theory. I should’ve probably been clearer in my post, but I consider Nader’s comments to be substantively wrong, as well as symbolically troubling.

    Anyway, I should really sleep before I continue today’s trend of schoolboy spelling errors, but I’ll just finish by restating the point of that post: America isn’t spoiled for choice when it comes to positive black male role models, and in the absence of achieving the seismic social & economic shifts which we both know are necessary, I’m quite comfortable hurling spitballs at people who’re too clumsy & out of touch to know that the language they use – however good their intentions are – implies that the guy in the Oval Office isn’t one of them.

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