He’s done it again. No doubt you remember the video above. The egregious statement
that Clinton didn’t cry after Katrina was bad enough, the implications obvious.
But in the hunt for a win for Barack Obama, which depends on superdelegates,
Obama’s national co-chair Jesse Jackson Jr. takes it a step further and floats a nakedly offensive suggestion
to his African American colleagues. He takes his racist Katrina insult to the point of an out and out threat leveled at African American
lawmakers currently supporting Hillary Clinton.
He said Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. of Illinois had recently asked him “if
it comes down to the last day and you’re the only superdelegate? … Do you
want to go down in history as the one to prevent a black from winning the
“I told him I’d think about it,” Cleaver concluded.
Jackson, an Obama supporter, confirmed the conversation, and said the dilemma
may pose a career risk for some black politicians. “Many of these
guys have offered their support to Mrs. Clinton, but Obama has won their districts.
So you wake up without the carpet under your feet. You might find some young
primary challenger placing you in a difficult position” in the
future, he added. … ..
Segue to Mark Halperin who is hyperventilating about the civil right’s hero Rep. John Lewis switching his support to Obama, with a Drudge like “earthquake” headline. The New York Times report, however, is being rebutted in the Washington Post.
… .. But the Clinton campaign reported having no word from Lewis on the subject, and a spokeswoman for Lewis, Brenda Jones, said the Times story and a similar one by the Associated Press, saying he was contemplating such a switch, were inaccurate. Both the Times and AP stories quoted Lewis directly after speaking with him; he was not available for comment later Thursday. The Obama campaign also said that Lewis and Obama had not talked recently about a change of heart.
“It is plain there is a lot of enthusiasm for Barack Obama,” Jones said. But, she said, “those things are observations,” not statements of preference. She said Lewis has left the option of changing his superdelegate support for Clinton on the table, but made no decisions. Still, it is clear that Lewis has had misgivings about the Clinton campaign in recent weeks, especially after the racially charged campaign in South Carolina, during which former Pres. Bill Clinton was perceived to have made racially insensitive comments.
That, however, didn’t keep the Obama campaign from sending around the Times link to the media, as well as Obama bloggers everywhere, who immediately posted on it, complete with frothing commentary, which is exactly what Obama’s team hoped would happen.
It’s understandable that Rep. Lewis would be influenced by the district he represents, which went overwhelmingly for Obama.
I’m sure Mr. Jackson will feel the same about Senators Kennedy and Kerry, both
of whom will now have to switch to vote for Clinton given that she took Massachusetts
by a mile, right?
But the story being told through the Obama campaign is that Lewis and others should be influenced to lean towards Obama out of racial solidarity.
However, they don’t stop there. Vote for Barack Obama, or you just might “find some young primary challenger”
stepping in to take your job. It’s hard to know where to start, but considering
Jesse Jackson Jr. has done this sort of race baiting before for the Obama campaign, I cannot say that
I’m surprised. There is, however, something so offensive about his threat that
it smacks of the same type of hierarchical control African Americans, especially John Lewis, have always
fought against, only this time it’s a black man in the position of power telling
people how they must use their vote or else.
This will make the average voter recoil. The damage it can do to Obama’s candidacy is unquestioned, especially looking into the general election.
Seeing Rep. Emanuel Cleaver of
Missouri pressured by Jackson, with Cleaver’s response: “There’s nothing
going on right now that would cause me to” change his support from
Clinton, brought me back to growing up in Missouri. This is a state with quite a bit of history regarding
race. It’s a troubled past, like much of the country. The veiled threat coming from Jackson hits
that dangerous strain in Missouri politics, which few native Missourians will miss. Others beyond the Show Me state will sense it too.
Never in a million years would I vote for Hillary Clinton only because she’s a woman. She happens to be the most competent person in the field of candidates. Jackson’s suggestion that his colleagues switch their votes to vote for the African American, or face the threat of a primary challenge, is not only anti-democratic, but racist. It’s not the first time the race card has been played by the Obama campaign. They sent out a memo in South Carolina pushing it. But not until things got tight did they overtly threaten African American lawmakers directly.
It’s understandable that a lawmaker vote his constituents’ will. However, what the Obama campaign has done through Jesse Jackson Jr.’s audacious threat is make race the reason to do so. It’s a deadly decision.