Clinton & Racebaiting

by Shannen W. Coffin

Let’s call it what it is.  Bill Clinton’s comment yesterday that Jesse Jackson won the 1984 and 1988 South Carolina primary is a remarkably cynical attempt to remind white Democratic voters in the South that a black man has a chance to steal the nomination (because black Democrats are voting in lock step (he’s not using criminal jargon yet, but larceny is almost certain to creep into his vocabulary if Hillary doesn’t win).  But Bill didn’t mention yesterday that he took nearly 70 percent of Democratic voters in the 1992 South Carolina primary (and ran unopposed in 1996).  Did Bill feel it necessary to point out Jesse Jackson’s success in the Palmetto State when he was cruising to victory in 1992?  I don’t recall hearing it.  But of course, the difference lies in the Clintons’ equally cynical view that Bill was the first “black President.”  Whatever the origins of that phrase, it is hard to imagine a more insulting notion to the black community.  Bill and Hillary Clinton successfully manipulated minorities to their benefit for a decade, and now that they (yes, they) are running against a minority candidate, they are playing a sickening game of racial innuendo against him.  One would hope that the black community and the rest of the American public would take note.  The Jesse Jackson observation is part of a programmatic effort at racebaiting, all while maintaining plausible deniability.  But as the evidence mounts, it cannot be denied.

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