Friday, December 14, 2007

Race Card

Mike Huckabee apologized to Mitt Romney.  No he didn’t think Mormons see Jesus and the devil walking hand in hand.  Hillary Clinton apologized to Barack Obama, and this time the issue was drugs.  The first apology was just another manifestation of the ongoing religious drama in the Republican race; the second is far more disturbing.  Clinton has been under the gun in recent weeks and for the second time she is having husband problems.  The first husband of course was Bill Clinton whose claim of being opposed to Iraq from the beginning was just a reminder of the couple’s predilection to shade the truth to meet their own needs.  The second husband was Billy Shaheen, not her own but that of New Hampshire’s former Governor and present Senate candidate Jean.  Shaheen’s “unauthorized” musing to reporters about Obama’s youthful drug use – self-confessed in his book, contained explosive innuendo, and I would argue not so subtle racism.

Reported on the Washington Post’s website, Mr. Shaheen speculated about a possible vulnerability for a candidate who is known to have used drugs. He said, “It’ll be: ‘When was the last time? Did you ever give drugs to anyone? Did you sell them to anyone?’ There are so many openings for Republican dirty tricks. It’s hard to overcome.”  Speak about dirty tricks.  No I’m not talking about reminding us that Senator Obama did inhale in his youth, but of what followed, the sharing and selling, read “dealing”.  An African American, drug dealing – could we have a more overt appeal to racial stereotypes?  The only thing that’s surprising about this event is that no one seems to have picked up on its insidious nature.  Let’s remember, Mr. Shaheen’s resignation from his campaign role notwithstanding, who put this particular piece of dirt out there when Nominee Obama faces the predicted dirty tricks that are such an inevitable part of our politics.

Obama’s candidacy will inevitably put America’s attitude toward race to the test.  There are many who are already convinced that a person of color can’t be elected to our highest office.  I don’t share that view, but neither to I underestimate the prejudice that lies just beneath the surface in this, the world’s greatest democracy.  So, too, as the Huckabee-Romney flap shows does religious prejudice.  With our reputation in the world so badly tarnished, we would be well served to prove that our better instincts will prevail.  Billy Shaheen should be ashamed of himself.  This was much worse than kindergarten essays.  As Bill Clinton would say, Hillary can do better than that.  Or can she? 

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