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January 15, 2008

Where My White Soul First Kissed the Mouth of Sin

The Democratic Party's race issues were coming home to roost this week, as Hillary Clinton hastily-fired Clinton campaign staff and Clinton supporters continued to alternate between assertions and insinuations that Obama is either not black enough to be "in touch" with Democratic voters or disqualified for being a former (wink, wink) drug user. The Obama campaign is hitting back:

AP: Obama Criticizes Clinton Allies for Lawsuit to Prevent Minorities From Voting
I don't think we discussed it here yet, so here's a little background. Back in March, the Nevada Democratic Party approved new rules which will allow Las Vegas Strip employees to caucus at locations inside nine of the casinos. The DNC approved in August. The point of the new rules is to let employees who would not be able to make it to other, presumably off-strip, caucus locations on Saturday take part in the voting.

On Wednesday of last week, the 60,000 member Culinary Union endorsed Obama. The union is almost 40 percent Hispanic, and together blacks and Hispanic voters make up a third of Nevada's electorate. On Friday, the Nevada teachers' union, with a Clinton supporter at the helm, filed suit to block the new rules. Of the six plaintiffs, four of them were on the Democratic committee that approved the new rules last year.

I'm sure you see where this is headed. Obama is questioning the timing and calling foul on the race aspect of the story. Personally, I doubt that Clinton gives a hoot about the race of the voters involved. She just believes that they plan to vote against her.

Asked about the lawsuit while campaigning in Reno, Clinton said she was aware of it and hopes it "can be resolved by the courts and the state party because, obviously, we want as many people as possible to be able to participate."

Uh huh.

Meanwhile, the New York Times is fanning the race flames and, of course, Al Sharpton makes an appearance:

Mr. Obama confronts a history of often uneasy and competitive relations between blacks and Hispanics, particularly as they have jockeyed for influence in cities like Chicago, Los Angeles and New York.

“Many Latinos are not ready for a person of color,” Natasha Carrillo, 20, of East Los Angeles, said. “I don’t think many Latinos will vote for Obama. There’s always been tension in the black and Latino communities. There’s still that strong ethnic division. I helped organize citizenship drives, and those who I’ve talked to support Clinton.”


The Rev. Al Sharpton of New York, who has been on the front line of many of the black-Latino battles in New York politics, said the tension would be a problem for Mr. Obama across the country and in New York, which also votes on Feb. 5. He said Mr. Obama would be at a disadvantage because of his choice to be a “race-neutral candidate.”

“It’s going to be a challenge that he has got to deal with,” Mr. Sharpton said. “There’s a natural history, and we’ve made some progress. But he has not been part of those efforts to make progress.”

The type of racial issues that have embarrassed Democrats during the past week have been faintly uncomfortable for me to watch. On the one hand, they're getting what they deserve out of a political philosophy that embraces responding to people as identity groups rather than individuals. On the other, how sad is it to see Clinton trying to get votes by eating a taco in East L.A. or hear Obama trying to get past his particular identity group's issues by chanting in Spanish?

This is the stuff presidents are made of?

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posted by Gabriel Malor at 03:59 AM

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