Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Protest, too much "me thinks"

New depths of absurdity (or is that cynicisim?) from the Clinton campaign and its support as another day's news arrives and we hear new call for delegates from Michigan and Florida to be seated at this year's Democratic Convention and to have them counted in the nominating process for chosing the party's presidential candidate. This is from the Associated Press:

In a Feb. 8 letter to the DNC's chairman, Howard Dean, NAACP chairman Julian Bond expressed "great concern at the prospect that millions of voters in Michigan and Florida could ultimately have their votes completely discounted." Refusing to seat the states' delegations could remind voters of the "sordid history of racially discriminatory primaries," he said.

I've written in the past on this subject, both satirically and seriously (as in seriously angry) but the issue is the same no matter how you approach it: Fairness.

Those Michigan delegates Clinton is so nobly defending —saying she only wants them "to be heard"— they would be "heard" supporting her candidacy alone because she "won" the January 15th "election" —unopposed!

She was the only name on the ballot!

She went on to "win" Florida as she openly mocked the prior pledge her campaign (along with all the other campaigns) had made not to actively run in either state!

The DNC has offered to revisit the notion of giving these states "a voice in the process" with a new round of caucuses that might be conducted on level ground. This doesn't satisfy the Clinton camp. They argue that such an approach would leave those who have already voted "disenfranchised"!

There's a line from Shakespeare that comes to mind: "The lady doth protest too much, methinks!"

Now that Obama has made a strong showing, these prior flawed contests are suddenly civil rights concerns. There were no such calls from Clinton, or the NAACP for that matter, when she was the front runner and presumed inevitable nominee. But now the Clintons and Mr. Bond acting on their behalf don't want to see us "reminded of sordid history."

It is truly disheartening to see people of Bond's stature so blatantly played for effect in this maneuvering. But as this campaign has gone on, the notions of gender and race have indeed become playing cards. The sad irony comes in observing just who has been dealing them.

In another AP report we find Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell, arguing for Clinton votes in his state with this sordid and cynical logic:
"You've got conservative whites here, and I think there are some whites who are probably not ready to vote for an African-American candidate. I believe, looking at the returns in my election, that had Lynn Swann been the identical candidate that he was - well-spoken, charismatic, good-looking - but white instead of black, instead of winning by 22 points, I would have won by 17 or so."

When Bill Clinton dismissed Obama's victory in South Carolina as "just like Jesse Jackson in '84 and '88" the campaign claimed he was being taken out of context (and did their best to find Bill another context —a muzzle). This wasn't Bill spinning race, they argued, besides as our friend Andrew Young points out, Barack isn't even all that black!

Each race since has been tirelessly analyzed in demographic —as opposed to democratic— terms to dismiss or discount the results in one way or another. To place very plain results in a new context, states become too black or too affluent, too rural or urban or suburban —to really show Clinton's campaign at its best.

It's all about context...

The context has really become something altogether very plain: Claiming to champion democratic principle and civil rights to garner the gains of flawed elections —discounting race as an unfair advantage in one breath and citing it as a liability with the electorate the next.

That "context" is the overriding concept of the Clinton campaign: There's one thing that matters —winning.

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