For Yahoo News, Matt Bai writes: So now it’s out there. After five years of studied reticence (unless they were talking privately to one another or their supporters), Democratic leaders in Washington finally went public last week with what they really think is motivating Republican opposition to Barack Obama. As Steve Israel, one of the top Democrats in Congress, told CNN’s Candy Crowley, the Republican base, “to a significant extent,” is “animated by racism.”
Just to make himself clear, Israel did allow that not all Republicans were the ideological descendants of Bull Connor. To which I’m sure his colleagues across the aisle responded, “Oh, OK. Cool then.”
But it’s not the reaction of Republicans that Democrats should probably have some concern about. It’s the way American voters, and a lot of younger voters in particular, may view a return to the polarizing racial debate that existed before Obama was ever elected.
Note: one of Matt Bai‘s silly sentences:
“…Still, a lot of Americans who voted for Obama probably find the racism argument at least somewhat persuasive.”
A “lot”? Really? Any chance you can be more specific? Then, the deadly trio: “probably”, “at least”, and “somewhat”. Smothered in qualifiers, so weak and blurry, it undermines the author’s point. Imagine a voter thinking, “Wellllll…The Democratic Party’s opportunistic race-baiting and divisive name-calling is probably… at least….sommmeeewhat persuasive….I guess…”
Coming in an election year, and in the wake of sporadic campaigns to solidify support among women and gay voters, the sudden Democratic focus on race felt like an orchestrated talking point. Israel’s comments came just a few days after Nancy Pelosi, the House minority leader, suggested that racism was keeping Republicans from voting on an immigration bill. And Pelosi was reacting to a speech by the attorney general, Eric Holder, who complained to a civil rights gathering in Washington of “ugly and divisive” attacks against the administration.
“What attorney general has ever had to deal with that kind of treatment?” Holder, who is African-American, pointedly asked. “What president has ever had to deal with that kind of treatment?”
As far as I can tell, though, this eruption on race actually wasn’t born in the kind of strategy session where consultants lay out which issues will move which voters. What seems to have happened was something rarer: Washington Democrats, unable to suppress their frustration for a minute longer, simply blurted out what they have always believed to be true but had been reluctant to say. One catharsis emboldened the next. Read the rest of this entry »
Violently ill, strapped to a hospital bed, under psychiatric observation, Robert Shrum writes:
Handicappers in the presidential race abhor the opposite of a vacuum—a campaign two years out where one candidate seems to blot out the entire field. Thus a mini-chorus now rises, and may swell, questioning Hillary Clinton’s apparent lock on the 2016 Democratic nomination. It’s a predictable reflex, but in cold, hard reality, logic suggests that the lock is authentic, not just apparent. And in modern history, or virtually all American history, Hillary’s inevitability is unprecedented for a non-incumbent.
First, the logic. Who can seriously challenge her march toward a closing night acceptance speech at the next Democratic convention?
With a deft touch of humor more enjoyable than enlightening, Matt Bai suggests that Hillary is “no more likely to clear the Democratic field and avoid a primary … than Dennis Rodman is to become her Secretary of State.” Her fundraising advantages and her strength among “party regulars” make “her vulnerable to another grassroots challenge.”
But history doesn’t metronomically repeat itself. There is no Barack Obama waiting in the wings this time—and the last time, he wasn’t exactly in the wings. He had captured the party’s attention and admiration from the moment he commanded the national spotlight with a stunning keynote speech at the 2004 convention. It’s utter mythology that he came out of nowhere in 2007; some of the smartest Democrats, including Clinton loyalists like Greg Craig, who had defended the president during impeachment proceedings, signed on with Obama early on.
If President Obama loses this election, the Democrats will need a scapegoat. The obvious scapegoat would be Obama himself. But he’s been getting free passes all of his life, and the left-liberals who comprise the Democratic mainstream will think long and hard about holding him accountable now. For one thing, he’s manifestly one of them. For another, he’s African-American.
Accordingly, the need for a different scapegoat would arise. That scapegoat would have to be someone significant enough to be plausible in the role and someone not strongly associated with the Party’s left-liberal faction. Someone like Bill Clinton…