Billary

by Michael O. Allen on January 22, 2008

I have said previously (as have others) that I believe Barack Obama is Bill Clinton’s truest heir.

The New York Times has a curious story today that I am still thinking about. I am not sure what I think about the strategy.

I know that I am happy that the Clintons are not ceding the ‘black’ vote’ to Obama. The most gratifying aspect of this campaign to me has been Obama’ run as a candidate who happens to be black, rather than as the ‘black candidate.’ For that reason, he has had to work hard to earn black support, which he still doesn’t have, not totally. Black women, for instance, may still end up supporting Hillary (because I may not return to this subject, consider this in the meantime).

Hillary, at first, did not think she would have to contest for the ‘black vote,’ such was the reservoir goodwill built by Bill Clinton over the course of his political career. Bill Clinton was no less exploitative of African-Americans in his political career than other Democrats. And the party during his reign still took African-Americans for granted. But, even if short of tangible gains for blacks, Bill Clinton was at least empathetic.

That was a change from the open hostility that Ronald Reagan in particular and Republicans in general have exhibited, something that continues today in some of the coded and overt gestures that the current crop of Republican candidates are making on the campaign trail.

Which is why Obama should have to explain better his apparent Nevada apostasy regarding Reagan and the gibe about the Republican Party being the ‘party of ideas.’

Reagan and those ‘ideas’ that the Republican Party continue to traffick in demonized African-Americans and devastated cities, preyed on communities of color , and the imperiled the poor during the past generation. It is not enough to say “I want me some’ Obama Republicans.’ ”

I remember some of the reasons the so-called “Reagan Democrats” deserted the party to vote with Republicans. I am not going to discuss them here but the consequences of that decision are still being felt today.

In any case, Hillary knows she’s in a race now and she’s truly fighting. I hope to take the cudgel to Obama some more on this subject but the person I want to talk about is Bill Clinton and his struggle for a tone against Obama.

Clinton has been too emotional, too hot, and some of his language too freighted for me not to wonder why he seems so bothered by Obama. This is a contest and Bill, of all people, should enjoy the arena and this battle. But he does not seem to.

Ok. I have to run now. I want to think more about this.

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