Saturday, January 26, 2008

Race Constrained Hillary in South Carolina, and Rep. Clyburn not "Neutral" as New York Times states

Sunday's New York Times calls Rep. James E. Clyburn "neutral" in the primary. From the article on Obama's win in the South Carolina primary: “The criticism of Obama ended up really helping him going forward, I think,” said Representative James E. Clyburn of South Carolina, an influential black Democrat who remained neutral in the primary. “If he ends up winning the nomination, he will definitely face an onslaught of attacks this fall, and he may look back on South Carolina as the place that toughened him up.”

First of all, how can Clyburn be deemed neutral by the New York Times? His name has been all over the press because a few days ago, on the 21st, he said Bill Clinton "needs to chill a little bit" in his criticism of Obama.

He also criticized Hillary Clinton's comments about President Johnson and Dr. King. As asked him, "What was wrong with the statement that it took a president as well as Dr. King to achieve progress on civil rights?"

James Clyburn: "I didn’t say there was anything wrong with the statement. I said that all of us should be careful about what we say about that particular historical period because again a number of people--people I rely on to keep me up on what people are saying and thinking--called me to say that it seemed like she was saying President Johnson, a white male, was needed for Dr. King, a black male, to move on civil rights. Almost like it took a white person to get the job done. Which is not what she says she meant. So I was just saying it’s important that we be careful about that history."

So here is this prominent black U.S. congressman, one of the most powerful African-Americans in Congress, telling Hillary and Bill to watch their speech, because race
is not someone we can easily talk about. Hillary couldn't even defend herself, or criticize Obama, or mention Martin Luther King, whom Obama makes frequent mention of to boost his allure, without offending someone or drawing public rebuke.

So, back to Clyburn's quote in the New York Times. Did South Carolina really toughen Obama up even though Hillary Clinton was warned publicly by this prominent black congressman to watch her criticism of Obama, dare she seem racist?

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