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Obama's Hope and Change Leads to the Same Old Tactics

The dustup over HRC's "MLK/JFK" remarks is still causing quite a stir a full week later.

Obama is telling his primarily younger supporters that he's "new school" not "old school", but here he is letting the "Old School" black power brokers -- Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, etc -- dictate these old school race-based tactics.

Just another example of Obama turning the power over to anyone who he perceives can help him win the nomination - how "old school" is that!

First, here's what Clinton said, in context:

The exchange began with Fox's Major Garrett reading Clinton an Obama quote:

False Hopes. Dr. King standing on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial looking out over the magnificent crowd, the reflecting pool, the Washington Monument, sorry guys, false hopes, the dream will die, it can't be done, false hope, we don't need leaders who tell us what we can't do, we need leaders to tell us what we can do and inspire us.

Her response:

I would point to the fact that that Dr. King's dream began to be realized when President Johnson passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, when he was able to get through Congress something that President Kennedy was hopeful to do, the president before had not even tried, but it took a president to get it done. That dream became a reality, the power of that dream became a real in peoples lives because we had a president who said we are going to do it, and actually got it accomplished.

Here's how the Obama camp spun her remarks (quoted from an Obama camp internal memo)

Clinton, Criticizing Obama For Promising "False Hope" Said That While MLK Jr. Spoke On Behalf Of Civil Rights, President Lyndon Johnson Was The One Who Got Legislation Passed: "It Took A President To Get It Done." Clinton rejoined the running argument over hope and "false hope" in an interview in Dover this afternoon, reminding Fox's Major Garrett that while Martin Luther King Jr. spoke on behalf of civil rights, President Lyndon Johnson was the one who got the legislation passed. Hillary was asked about Obama's rejoinder that there's something vaguely un-American about dismissing hopes as false, and that it doesn't jibe with the careers of figures like John F. Kennedy and King. "Dr. King's dream began to be realized when President Johnson passed the Civil Rights Act," Clinton said. "It took a president to get it done."

Clinton Introducer Said JFK Gave Hope, But Was Assassinated. Clinton introducer: "If you look back, some people have been comparing one of the other candidates to JFK and he was a wonderful leader, he gave us a lot of hope but he was assassinated and Lyndon Baines Johnson actually did all his work and got the republicans to pass all those measures."

Clinton's remarks were clearly aimed at her ongoing criticism of Obama that "hope" alone is not enough; that it takes hard political savvy and know-how to get critical change such as the 1964 Civil Rights Act past the republican opposition and passed into law.

For Obama's folks to spin this and scream foul is bizarre, but not surprising given his recent track. It's emblematic of the old school African-American political power brokers operate in America today, so where's the friggin' change Obama?

Obama was supposed to change the way politics were done in America. Bullshit. This isn't change, this is the same old crap done the same old way...

The New York Time has an article out this morning with Hillary's reaction to the Obama campaign's recent attacks over her remarks relating to Martin Luther King:

Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton on Saturday accused Senator Barack Obama's campaign of distorting her remarks to suggest that she had cast aspersions on the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

She said she was "personally offended" by the way her statement had been portrayed, and accused Mr. Obama's campaign of being divisive.

Mrs. Clinton made her comments to reporters here after she was asked if she had spoken to Representative James E. Clyburn, the South Carolina Democrat who is the highest-ranking African-American in Congress. Mr. Clyburn had expressed disappointment in the Clinton campaign.

Mrs. Clinton said she had spoken with him. She suggested that she had told him her comments were distorted.

"I was personally offended at the approach taken that was not only misleading but unnecessarily hurtful," said Mrs. Clinton, Democrat of New York. "And I have made that clear to many people in the last several days."

Asked to whom she was referring, Mrs. Clinton responded, "I think it clearly came from Senator Obama's campaign, and I don't think it was the kind of debate we should be having in this campaign."

A spokesman for the Obama campaign, Bill Burton, did not back away from its original criticism of Mrs. Clinton.

"People were offended at her words, and she can explain them however she'd like," Mr. Burton said. "However, I think that Congressman Clyburn and other leaders across the country would take great offense at the suggestion that their response was somehow engineered by this campaign."

Prominent black supporters of Mr. Obama, Democrat of Illinois, have been criticizing Mrs. Clinton over her remarks last week that some have interpreted as giving President Lyndon B. Johnson more credit than Dr. King for civil rights law.

Mrs. Clinton quickly clarified her comments with effusive praise for Dr. King, but the criticism has worried her advisers because of the potential impact it might have in the Democratic presidential primary on Jan. 26 in South Carolina, where up to half of the electorate could be black.

Mr. Clyburn said he was disappointed by what Mrs. Clinton had said and by former President Bill Clinton's use of the phrase "fairy tale" in talking about Mr. Obama's views on the war in Iraq.

Comments by Mr. Clyburn have raised concerns in Mrs. Clinton's campaign that he might abandon a pledge of neutrality and endorse Mr. Obama later this month. Mrs. Clinton said Saturday that he had told her he would remain neutral.

This was what Mrs. Clinton said on Monday: "Dr. King's dream began to be realized when President Lyndon Johnson passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964. It took a president to get it done." At a later stop, she said that her remark had not captured what she had sought to portray.

Mrs. Clinton seemed prepared to address the question Saturday the second she stepped in front of reporters, and she went into the attack as soon as she was asked about Mr. Clyburn.

The back and forth in recent days has pushed race to the front of the Democratic nomination contest in the way it has not been.

Asked what role she thought race would play in her contest with Mr. Obama, Mrs. Clinton responded, "I hope none."

"I don't think either Senator Obama or myself want to see the injection of race or gender into this campaign," she continued. "We are each running as individuals. I think it's absolutely extraordinary that the two leading candidates for the Democratic nomination for president are an African-American and a woman."

Here, in her final quote, we see Clinton taking the higher ground, while the Obama camp tries to drag her back into the mud.

If Obama truly wants to change the way politics is done, he can start with his closer advisers.

Note: Wizbang Blue is now closed and our authors have moved on. Paul Hooson can now be found at Wizbang Pop!. Please come see him there!

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Comments (2)

Steve Crickmore:

I agree Lee...That was a perfectly legitimate remark in defending her more instrumental approach to politics. That was perhaps LBJ's greatest accomplishment, passing the Civil Rights Act. Her real gaffe was the false hopes line..But people in the company of Al Sharpton have a temptation to 'sharpen' their barbs.

Sen. Hillary Clinton celebrated Martin Luther King Day, January 24, 2006 at Canaan Baptist Church in Harlem by telling the crowd at an Al Sharpton event that Republicans run the House of Representatives "like a plantation--and you know what I'm talking about."

Let's hope Barack Obama avoids the temptation in South Carolina to make many easy racial inferences, if his campaign is really going to be different.

Obama would have been better served to use the Scrappleface parody: "It took men to give women the right to vote."

Despite the professed desires of the candidates to now "keep race out of it" in the name of unity, Rasmussen finds white Democrats favor Hillary 41-27%, while black Democrats choose Obama 66-16%.

Obama's great promise as a statesman and a candidate was to rise above the limitations of the past in a visionary way. It's not so much a personal defect which causes him to fail, but rather the low and common battle that is politics. You can go to a mud-wrestling contest in a white suit, but if you intend to win it, your suit won't be spotless at the end.


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Publisher: Kevin Aylward

Editors: Lee Ward, Larkin, Paul S Hooson, and Steve Crickmore

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