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Monday, August 4, 2008

“I Am Not a Racist”

posted by on August 4 at 11:00 AM

So says Bill Clinton.

Is it overly cynical to think that the timing of this statement might be a subtle bit of Clinton revenge—a way of him helping out McCain by adding to current meme about Obama playing the race card? (And against respected old white people, no less!)

Meanwhile, for a great analysis of why McCain is now trying to exploit white resentment for electoral gain, see this new piece in The American Prospect:

The McCain campaign’s apparently race-neutral approach, and its subsequent accusation that the Obama campaign is playing the race card, is a well-thought-out strategy — it is pure Nixon. In his recent chronicle of conservative political history in The New Yorker, George Packer describes Pat Buchanan’s plan for exploiting political divisions, particularly ones of a racial nature. Buchanan’s assessment was that they could “cut the Democratic Party and country in half; my view is that we would have far the larger half.”

In a dispute about race, the McCain campaign knows it will end up with the larger half. For the most part, most white people’s experience with race isn’t one of racial discrimination. They can only relate to racial discrimination in the abstract. What white people can relate to is the fear of being unjustly accused of racism. This is the larger half. This is why allegations of racism often provoke more outrage than actual racism, because most of the country can relate to one (the accusation of racism) easier than the other (actual racism). For this reason, in a political conflict over race, the McCain campaign has the advantage, because saying the race card has been played is actually the ultimate race card.

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The correct question for Bill Clinton is not "Are you a racist?", but "Are you willing to encourage the racism of others for your own gain?"

Posted by Christian | August 4, 2008 11:13 AM

Bill Clinton is a fucking asshole. He ought to be sticking up for Obama right now, not pulling this shit. What a fucking asshole.

Posted by carlos | August 4, 2008 11:17 AM

I don't think either Bill Clinton or John McCain (but not Cindy) are racists.

They just use race-based fear attacks to win elections.

Posted by Will in Seattle | August 4, 2008 11:18 AM

"Pat Buchanan’s plan for exploiting political divisions, particularly ones of a racial nature. Buchanan’s assessment was that they could “cut the Democratic Party and country in half; my view is that we would have far the larger half.” "

Pat Buchanan simultaneously reveals how much he sucks at analogies and math in one statement. Bravo.

Posted by Zelbinian | August 4, 2008 11:27 AM

Why won't Bill Clinton just STFU and go away?

Posted by Roberta | August 4, 2008 11:31 AM

It's interesting that Bill Clinton uttered that statement in Monrovia, Liberia. It's been noted and is correct that the wrong question was posed to him (what is he going to respond "Yes, I'm a racist" in Africa?).

I highly doubt Cindy McCain racist. She co-founded American Voluntary Medical Team and has done volunteer work in Rwanda & Bangladesh. She also has an adopted daughter from Bangladesh.

Posted by lark | August 4, 2008 11:42 AM

Fact: Anyone who feels they need to say "I am not a racist" is a racist.

Posted by Just Sayin' | August 4, 2008 11:43 AM

nothing proves you're not a racist like saying "i'm not a racist!" without being prompted.

Posted by brandon | August 4, 2008 11:48 AM

3: Number of angels that can dance on the head of a pin.

Posted by jebus h. xst | August 4, 2008 11:51 AM

Why don't y'all Odrama worshipers just accuse everyone not licking Odrama's balls and kissing his asses racists and be done with it.

Posted by Odrama | August 4, 2008 12:03 PM

Here's the thing. Bill Clinton is *not* racist. He's prejudiced, and that's different. I remember in the book Blink, Gladwell talked about this test that you can take to find out how intrinsically prejudiced against race you are . . . and even if, on an intellectual level, you know it's wrong to treat black people different from anyone else, we still do it. We've been programmed to, particularly those from previous generations. Heck, Obama mentioned that in his speech.

His Jessie Jackson remark was made while he was on the defensive and simply revealed some of that reactionary prejudice so many of us have.

So let's not call the kettle black, people. (Forgive the pun.)

But at the same time: fuck you, Odrama.

Posted by Zelbinian | August 4, 2008 12:09 PM

We won't support race-card playing NO-Bama and will re-defeat him in November!!!

Posted by clintonsarmy | August 4, 2008 12:11 PM

Two words: Sister Souljah.

Posted by James Probis | August 4, 2008 12:13 PM

Eli, have you stopped beating your wife yet?

Posted by snarky | August 4, 2008 12:13 PM

#11 Fuk you too and keep making excuses for Odrama.

Posted by Odrama | August 4, 2008 12:15 PM

I didn't say Cindy was, just that I'm not that sure about her.

And, contrary to popular belief, you can adopt kids from a different racial group than your own and still be racist towards an entirely different racial group.

People also get whacked out over language groups, nationality, you name it.

Posted by Will in Seattle | August 4, 2008 12:16 PM

I think exploiting race to divide the American people is pure evil. That goes for both sides. I think Bill Clinton's feelings were hurt. He is human. Sometimes it's better to forgive for the greater good to be achieved.

Posted by Vince | August 4, 2008 12:26 PM

Pls. explalin why "downplaying" Obama's SC victory by saying J Jcakson won SC too is racist.


Don't you think Billdawg would've downplayed Obama's SC victory if Obama had been white, too? Or Asian? Isn't downplaying of other candidates normal? Does clinton have to praise Obama in order to not be viewed as racist? And if you think this kind of comment is racist, aren't you stretching the word to include everything from lynching to de jure second class status (what y'all accept for DC residents it seems, with no objections) to de factor racism in jobs, to "comments" and "failure to properly respect the achievements of a minority group when mentioning the achievements of someone else" (the LBJ comment) to "downplaying someone's accomplishment when they're black, even in a context where you would downplay their accomplishment no matter what race they are."

I'd appreciate a thoughtful response that includes a definition of what racism is. IS there an objective definition or is it up to the minority group to define it the way they like, and anyone else who doesn't accept that definition is.....racist??
I assume this is something that can be discussed conversationally. Thanks in advance.

Oh and btw doesn't the definition of sexism include making fun of someone because they don't have a penis? So why was it okay for Slog to repeat the Mecca joke about barack's caucus is bigger than hillary's?

Posted by PC | August 4, 2008 12:52 PM

The deliberate painting of the Clintons as racist by liberals and the Obama campaign was deplorable. Simultaneously you have Jesse Jackson Jr. saying sexist stuff such as Hillary cried to play the gender card, and yet she didn't have any tears for Katrina.

Why don't you "outraged" Obama supporters STFU already and take off your sensi (sensitive) pants. You have all jumped the shark and left your common sense at the door. You all sound like the bottom-feeding whiners at a right-wing blog...and sadly, you both hate the Clintons enough to sound the same.

Posted by Jewalden | August 4, 2008 12:53 PM

I agree with @11 - racism happens far more often that white people think it does. [I'm white,btw] My totally unfounded guesstimate would be that racist acts are two to three times more common than whites admit - but only half to three-quarters of what blacks believe. [Sometimes the asshole treats you bad 'cause he treats everyone bad.]

Posted by Schweighsr | August 4, 2008 12:55 PM

Susan, you need to shut up you fucking liar. We've all seen the McCain ad you've lied about.

Posted by James Probis | August 4, 2008 1:05 PM

good god [susan-un]PC, when are you going to let that stupid "barack's caucus bigger than hillary's" thing go?

what clinton said was racist because he was minimizing obama's win, saying in effect it was an empty win because other black candidates who failed nationally won that state. in other words, obama won SC *only* because he is black, and not due to any other charcteristics or qualifications.

this does not make bill clinton a racist, just that he *said* something racist. stupid, clumsy, offensive, and racist. and then to make matters worse, he attempted to dismiss it later by saying he was with 2 black guys when he said it, and continues to dig himself deeper by bringing it up over and over again, months after the fact. not very bright.

there. now can you please explain how "barack's caucus bigger than hillary's" is sexist?

Posted by brandon | August 4, 2008 1:13 PM

now can you please explain how "barack's caucus bigger than hillary's" is sexist?
While Susan is a racist liar, to be fair that was not only a terrible pun but a fairly sexist joke.

Posted by James Probis | August 4, 2008 1:30 PM

McCain, Clinton(s), PC are all playing the same fucking game. It's the "look they called me a racist, those fucking blacks" game. It's exaggeration for the purposes of catering to the white mainstream.

Neither Clinton was called a racist in any particular great quantity. I'm sure there were fringe comments but that's just not how things went. What happened is that the love affair between Blacks and Clinton soured. People didn't like the Jesse Jackson comment. People didn't like the Johnson comment. But is this a surprise? Blacks weren't meant to. Again, without being particularly racist Clinton was throwing blacks under the bus. She treated blacks *EXACTLY* the same way that her deadenders in the PUMA community feel the dems treated women: as people w/options who would vote democratic no matter what and therefore not worth courting. She was courting WHITE working class voters. Which is her privilege not a reason to say: "she's a racist" but it's not exactly going to maintain your saintedness in the black church speaker's circuit.

And no matter how little Obama mentions race the attacks will come unless he just comes out and says what the white mainstream wants to hear which is: "like rape, most discussion of racism is just a tool to oppress the angry white male."

The worst thing I heard in the campaign was not Clinton's "working class...white working class" stuff but Ferraro's op-ed which was again trumpeting the line of the most pertinent thing to discuss about racism is about how much the topic unfairly oppresses angry white males, with their trusty side kicks angry white women.

The issue of race in the primary and the general is of course anti-Obama. 90% of the discussion will be about the idea that talking about race is a big unfair fucking burden for white america and that the major role of race is to tar white men with more shit.

That being said, Obama should shut the fuck up about it. He should be smart enough to realize there's no upside in it for him and he shouldn't have given McCain an opening. Especially he shouldn't have brought it close to McCain unless he was ready to back it up.

And what would that accomplish? There's absolutely no upside on race for liberals, nonwhites, whatever, because even if McCain were a proven racist, Americans wouldn't care. All they care about is for black people to shut the fuck up already.

Actually Obama knows this. This whole stupid kerfuffle is because of some poor rhetoric. He's trying to disarm the whole image thing, not just his being Black but his weird name, his being young and hot, etc. He needs to be more careful though.

Posted by daniel | August 4, 2008 1:33 PM

please pardon my OT diversion, but james, WHY is that sexist? pointing out that men have penises and women do not -- even in terrible pun form -- is sexist? it's the explanation i'm after, and it's an honest question, i'm not just for the sake of being argumentative. why is this sexist?

Posted by brandon | August 4, 2008 1:52 PM

According to Webster's II New Riverside University Dictionary "racism" is defined as "n. the notion that one's own ethnic stock is superior" and "prejudice or discrimination based on racism".

Posted by lark | August 4, 2008 2:03 PM

Actually, that's your definition.

In Canada it's expanded to race, sex, nationality, ethnic origin, language group, and a number of other things.

Posted by Will in Seattle | August 4, 2008 2:34 PM

please pardon my OT diversion, but james, WHY is that sexist? pointing out that men have penises and women do not -- even in terrible pun form -- is sexist? it's the explanation i'm after, and it's an honest question, i'm not just for the sake of being argumentative. why is this sexist?
It's the suggestion that Obama is better because he has a cock. Having the larger caucus is a good thing, to punningly change that good thing into something one candidate lacks due to gender seems a bit sexist. It takes the stament "Obama should win because more people support him" and makes it "Obama should win because he has a cock and his opponent doesn't."
To deny the sexism of that lame joke is exactly the same thing the Clintons and McCain do when they claim it's playing the race card to point out what they're doing.

Posted by James Probis | August 4, 2008 2:40 PM

fair enough, james. i get that.

FWIW, my take on the mecca sign is that it was a cheap, easy play on words that shouldn't be taken too seriously, given that it was posted on a sign in front of a bar, and not delivered as legitimate campaign spin by a former president of the united states. it's sexist in the same way clinton's comments were racist, but in terms of scale, the two are not comparable, which is why i call bullshit on unPC's attempts to equate one with the other.

Posted by brandon | August 4, 2008 3:13 PM

Fair enough, and I certainly would rather not defend the lying racist Susan unPC.

And again, never mind the bullshit Clinton pulled on Obama. Even those willfully blind to attacks on Obama should remember that Bill Clinton rode to the presidency by trashing sister Souljah in a move intended to endear him to the racist voters.

Posted by James Probis | August 4, 2008 3:42 PM

The Jackson Two (Rev. Babydaddy and bloodsucker the 2nd) have committed far more racist transgressions then the Clintons. Obama is not without flaw either (remember him calling his racist grandma just a typical white person). They all have a little dirt on their hands. The Jacksons take the crown for destroying the lives of people by demonizing them as racist. Yet these "racists" are always far less racist then these two. The Jacksons along with Sharpton are the McCarthys of the 80's to the present.

Posted by jane doe | August 4, 2008 7:11 PM

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