Race Baiting

RACE BAITING….I got an email on Saturday from a regular reader asking why I hadn’t said more about the controversy over all the racially-charged anti-Obama remarks coming out of the Hillary Clinton campaign. I told him that, actually, I had written more, but I hadn’t been happy with what I wrote and ended up deleting a couple of posts on the subject before I published them. Then, since I needed to leave the house around noon on Friday but didn’t want to ignore the subject entirely, I gathered up some of the offending quotes (plus one extra one) and opened up the floor to comments.

I didn’t have time over the weekend to write more about this, but now I do. So what do I think? For the most part, it strikes me that each of the individual offenses has been blown out of proportion. Steve Benen runs down all of the remarks here, scoring them on a “Willie Horton” scale, and aside from the second and third quotes on his list, where I think he was too harsh, I mostly agree with his assessment.

But as I told my correspondent on Saturday, “it’s unquestionably a helluva coincidence that they all popped up at once.” And that was before Sunday’s odious (and non-disavowed) attack from BET Founder Robert Johnson. Ezra Klein elaborates:

It’s hard to imagine this many sophisticated, liberal political operators making this many mistakes, of this type. Not saying it’s impossible, merely hard to imagine. And so it’s worth wondering if there’s not a coordinated strategy among the Clintons to force a conversation over race. Not a conversation that will be harmful to Obama — the Clintons have, after all, had to spend a fair amount of time apologizing, and clarifying — but a conversation that will be harmful to his message. If Obama has to spend a lot of time talking about race, it’s hard for him to be the post-racial candidate. If he has to spend a lot of time on divisive topics, it’s hard for him to make an appeal for unity. And if he gets thrown off message at this point in the campaign, it will be exceedingly hard for him to blunt Clinton’s momentum. And, whether it’s a coordinated strategy on the part of the Clintons or not, it’s definitely what’s happening.

Yeah, it’s worth wondering, all right. And the “coincidence” theory is looking pretty ragged. All I can say is: from where I sit this looks both deliberate and revolting. Another few days of comments like the ones we’ve seen over the past week and my mind will be firmly made up about who to vote for. And it won’t be Hillary.