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October 21, 2005

Put Down The Race Card

This is absurd. Hillary Clinton's lack of support for Fernando Ferrer's mayoral campaign can be construed as a lot of things, from a conviction that Ferrer isn't a good candidate to an a cravenly opportunistic decision to avoid a sinking ship. But you know what it isn't?

Racist.

For Armando to label Clinton's tepid backing for Ferrer as a lack of commitment to minorities is beyond nonsensical, it's wrong. Contemporary politics includes a number of pitched battles that have real, resonant effects on underprivileged ethnic groups, and if Clinton is fighting against Section 8 housing, Medicaid funding, or financial aid, you've got your case. But she's not. After hosting Ferrer's largest fundraiser and having Bill Clinton record robocalls for him, her support for an underwhelming candidate is being called lackluster. And, compared to her support for other, better, candidates, the description's apt. But she's in good company, since, so far as I can tell, New York's response to Ferrer is substantially less enthusiastic than even Clinton's.

So if you want to tag Clinton for her lack of party fealty, go do your thing. But unless you're willing to criticize her bigoted decision not to raise money for Maryland's Michael Steele -- a black man! -- leave race out of this. Ferrer's a poor candidate and politicians have the right to offer lukewarm support to mediocre, clearly losing campaigns. Call it bad strategy if you want, but it's not race-related.

October 21, 2005 in Electoral Politics | Permalink

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Comments

Great post. I feel the same way.

Posted by: thrillhous | Oct 21, 2005 12:09:21 PM

Freddy's not a great candidate, and everyone feels lukewarm about him... except his ardent supporters, mostly hispanic and mostly in the Bronx. And yes, they tend to see this as racial in a way others don't. I don't think Clinton's doing more or less than she should, and I'm sure race isn't driving her calculations, but... this is one of those things that Democrats need to acknowledge, and it may be uncomfortable. I don't think it's enough to just criticize the way the word "racist" is thrown around somewhat indiscriminately (Republicans have made no hay with this particular line of reasoning either); this is about what it really takes to defuse the power of calling someone "racist" which is acknowledging that not every crticism is racist or sexist when someone is simply messing up. At the same time, it's admitting that we still don't do enough to try and level these playing fields and be consistent on matters of race, gender,... and heck, I'll throw in sexual preference for good measure. I don't think a Democrat should feel that every discussion requires reiterating one's bona fides on race, but the way to not have to do that is to remain aware that perceptions from different people may differ. It's also realizing that we may alienate some black and hispanic voters in the process of having this discussion, and that may be all to the long term social good. Prejudices of all sorts could use some confrontation, including those of some minority groups.

Posted by: weboy | Oct 21, 2005 12:19:54 PM

I certainly wouldn't call Clinton racist.

But -- the self-fulfilling consensus that Ferrer is a weak candidate, and is therefore doomed? That's kind of racist. I've had more Democrats say to me in the last couple of weeks, "How can we vote for Ferrer -- what does he know about running a city?" This is idiotic: he's the Bronx Borough president, he's been in NYC government approximately forever, and he has a hell of a lot more relevant experience than Bloomberg had when he was elected. People are very willing to assume that a dullish white guy, like Bloomberg, is supremely competent, and a dullish minority guy is a hapless stooge. That doesn't make people who feel this way about Ferrer racists, but the tendency is a racist one.

I have to admit, I don't understand why the Clintons, Bill more than Hillary, aren't out there stumping hard for Ferrer. While Bloomberg isn't the disgusting low-life Guiliani was, and so looks good by comparison, he's not great, and there's not a thing wrong with Ferrer as mayor -- he's a good, solid Democrat. NYC is a Democratic city, and it's shameful that we've let the mayor's office be bought by a Republican. Bill Clinton has enough personal force that if he threw himself into this campaign, he could turn it around for Ferrer -- what's he doing this month that's more important than winning NYC for the Democratic party?

I'm not saying that the Clintons are responsible for supporting any Democrat, no matter how awful, over any Republican, no matter how good. Bloomberg isn't that great, though, and Ferrer is a perfectly decent candidate -- at that point party loyalty should take over.

Posted by: LizardBreath | Oct 21, 2005 2:14:38 PM

And I hate that "the race card" term. If you mean 'Don't accuse people of racism when you don't have strong evidence for it" say that, but talking about the 'race card' suggests that it's illegitimate to talk about race issues at all. It's Republican language, and plays into their hands.

Posted by: LizardBreath | Oct 21, 2005 2:16:18 PM

The race card has, until now, been used almost exclusively against the conservatives. I think it is hilarious that detractors of Hillary would use this weapon designed for others against one of their own.
I have had a good laugh!

Posted by: Fred Jones | Oct 21, 2005 2:33:48 PM

But -- the self-fulfilling consensus that Ferrer is a weak candidate, and is therefore doomed? That's kind of racist. I've had more Democrats say to me in the last couple of weeks, "How can we vote for Ferrer -- what does he know about running a city?" This is idiotic: he's the Bronx Borough president, he's been in NYC government approximately forever

I can see how it might be racist, if you didn't know anything about New York City politics other than what you just wrote. But life isn't that simple.

You say that Ferrer has been in NYC government "forever". That isn't a good thing. The Democratic machine dominates NYC politics. That may mean that you need the party to get a lot accomplished. But New Yorkers don't want a party man to lead the greatest city in the world. They want a transcendant mayor.

Bloomberg, a former Democrat with business cred, has a non-partisan aura that elevates him above mere local pols.

Despite their differences, Guiliani played the same role. He was a relatively liberal Republican and then he was "America's mayor". Sure, he got all pro-Bush and partisan after 9/11. But then, so did Ed Koch. What are you going to do?

To top it off, accusing Clinton of racism is the type of dirty, clumsy, cheap-shot attack that people associate with mediocre politicians. No doubt it hurts Ferrer. It is hard to imagine Obama levelling a similar charge on such flimsy evidence. Even if Obama knows that people will expect him to prove himself above and beyond what they would expect from a white guy, he has enough class to quietly break trail and slowly change people's prejudices.

Posted by: space | Oct 21, 2005 6:04:12 PM

Bloomberg strikes you as trancendent? The man is a stiff, who has managed not to screw much up visibly and is less likely to horribly offend people than his predecessor was. If someone transcendent shows up, I'd think about voting for him. If I'm offered some rich guy who won an election by spending an insane amount on his campaign, I'm voting my party loyalties, and any other Democrat worth their salt should do the same.

Despite their differences, Guiliani played the same role. He was a relatively liberal Republican and then he was "America's mayor". Sure, he got all pro-Bush and partisan after 9/11. But then, so did Ed Koch. What are you going to do?

I don't know if you're a New Yorker, but let me break it to you -- people hated Giuliani. I haven't looked it up lately, but if he got five percent of the black vote, I'd be surprised. He treated poor and minority New Yorkers with incredible disrespect, and was despised for it. He squeaked in twice against weak opponents with barely more than 50% of the vote, but the man was not and is not popular.

To top it off, accusing Clinton of racism is the type of dirty, clumsy, cheap-shot attack that people associate with mediocre politicians. No doubt it hurts Ferrer.

Ferrer hasn't made any such accusation. Heck, Armando didn't make any such accusation -- he just said it looked bad. This kind of smear is why I dislike the term 'race card'.

Posted by: LizardBreath | Oct 21, 2005 8:14:12 PM

Who wrote this post? Ezra? For crssakes please do read more carefully next time.

I accused the Clintons of nothing.

What an irresponsible post by you. Please retract or correct it AFTER you carefully read my post.

Posted by: Armando | Oct 23, 2005 6:27:57 PM

BTW, You must mean Kweisi Mfume, the Black DEM in the race.

And of course the Ferrer is the ONLY Dem in this race.

The more I consider this post, the more aggravated I get.

I won't say more.

Posted by: Armando | Oct 23, 2005 6:41:02 PM

I think Armando is right to be peeved, there is not hit of any accusation about racism in the post, and such a charge is, well, rather inflammatory and needs to be backed up with some solid eviddence.

Armando, I do think your statment, "I think the sourcing behind this story does in fact come from Clintonistas, but I believe they have done the Clintons no favors. In my mind more doubts on their commitment to the Party, to minorities and to a progressive agenda is what results from this. As someone who greatly admires the Clintons, this is a disappointment" is a bit on the weasel side.

Clearly you were not implying the Clintons were racist. But what exactly did yo mean by doubting their commitment to minorities? Your other comment, "So the Clintons are portrayed as willing to do more for the white candidate than the Latino candidate" is another example of bomb-throwing without owning up to it. Clearly, they are being "portrayed" as such, but the question is whether you are endorsing the portrayal, challenging it, or, as seems to be the case, passing it along with tacit endorsement but without ascribing your seal of approval.

In short, bad post Ezra, a poor reading or Armando. To Armando, please post what you think and don't try to hide behind double-talk when someone misinterprets what you were trying to say, when confusion was part of your plan in the first place.

Posted by: abjectfunk | Oct 24, 2005 2:32:36 AM

abj:

To me the Times portraying the Clintons being willing to do more for Green than for Ferrer, and they say that expressly, is exactly correct. That is how they were PORTRAYED. What is your beef there?

As for the 3 prong questioning of the Clinton commitment - I'll cop to overstating the minorities one. There is very little of that. I should have said and creating a new perception.

That was an error on my part.

Posted by: Armando | Oct 24, 2005 11:22:52 AM

CORECTION - My writing that the Times portrayed that the Clinton;s were willing to do more for Green than Ferrer was accurate.

I think the statement is false.

I think the statement was propagted by Clintonistas and could harm the Clinton image with Latinos.

That was my point in the post.

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