We have witnessed, over the last week, seismic shifts along both the racial and economic fault lines of the American Political landscape. The Federal Reserve Board held its scheduled meeting on Tuesday, the 18th, after having already lowered interest rates a quarter of a point in an unusual move on Sunday, and further reduced the prime rate by an additional three quarters of a point. This made two reductions in the prime lending rate in three days. By taking these actions the Federal Reserve, in addition to putting another two hundred billion dollars into the money supply, hopes to stabilize jittery markets by making more money available at lower interest. The stock market, which has been bouncing around like a pogo stick dropped from an office building, immediately rallied, but the jury is still out. Whether this will be enough to stop the free-fall of housing prices, or ease the credit crunch is as yet undetermined. Ol’ Two-Cows, however, demonstrating his deep understanding of the crisis, implored the Federal Reserve to not go too far. We cannot, under the firm but blissfully ignorant hand of the ‘great decider’, let the course of events stampede the ideological imperative. We will stand by our so called ‘free-market’ ideology or be damned—and damned if we aren’t.
While the ground trembles beneath the economy the racial question continues to boil. “Of course it’s all about race”, shouted Rusty Limbaugh-- the corpulent bullet-headed Saxon mother’s son—into his megaphone as the Reverend Wright’s tirades were played in an endless loop by Limbaugh and Seen Hannity. With mendacity having altogether too much free time the Idiot Right has been in full throated howl in an effort to marginalize the Jedi. But America seems not to be listening, or is getting its news from somewhere else. The latest national polls have Barack back ahead of both Hillary and John McCain.
There has been some back peddling of sorts. Speaking before the National Newspaper Publishers Association, “a group of more than 200 black community newspapers across the country” (1) , Hillary apologized to black voters for the tone of her campaign saying “I want to put that (remarks made by husband Bill after the South Carolina primary) in context. You know I am sorry if anyone was offended…we can be proud of both Jesse Jackson and Senator Obama”. (1) She also repudiated Geraldine Ferraro’s comment saying that “obviously she doesn’t speak for the campaign.”(1) Ferraro had resigned from her position writing Hillary that “I am stepping down from your finance committee so I can speak for myself and you can continue to speak for yourself about what’s at stake in this campaign. The Obama campaign is attacking me to hurt you. I won’t let that happen”. (2) Such is the nature of apology coming from the Clinton camp. When all else fails—an all else has failed—blame the victim.
The Clinton camp, caught as it was in the crosshairs, tried to shift ground. With a little help from her friends, the McCain campaign came charging to the rescue by releasing the thirty second tape of the Reverend Wright compelling Obama to confront the racial divide. What has followed was a 10 day flap in which the Clinton’s took a back seat and watched as the idiot right launched its assault. The tape made its way from the McCain camp to You Tube to Hannity and Limbaugh and then out into the networks producing the desired effect. But the Jedi rose to the occasion speaking to the nation by delivering a 40 minute primer on race relations that moved Andrew Young to the ‘edge of tears.’ Many said that such words have not been spoken since Martin Luther King. By taking the crisis in hand and using it as an opportunity to speak honestly about black anger and white resentments, Obama spoke hopefully about our ability as a nation to overcome our past and about the pressing need for this nation to be about the business of honoring our ancestors by “creating a more perfect union”.
Out of this act of wisdom, out of this act of courage, Barack not only stopped the hemmorage of his campaign but demonstrated his ability to stand at the vortex of a firestorm and calmly manage the crisis. Once again the Clintons’ albeit with a little help from their friends, had come up empty and the nation has been better for it.
Because playing the race card did not produce the much-needed immediate effect, the Clinton campaign was forced to shift ground once more. Speaking in North Carolina, hubby Bill said “I think it would be a great thing if we had an election year where you had two people (here openly referring to Hillary and McCain) who loved this country and were devoted to the interest of this country, and people could actually ask themselves who is right on these issues instead of the all the other stuff that seems to intrude itself on our politics” (3). Here is the former president once again drawing distinctions between his wife, Senator McCain and Barack Obama in which the junior Senator from Illinois is unfavorably compared to both Hillary and her Republican counterpart. Last week Bill had said that only Hillary and John McCain had crossed the threshold to be ‘commander-in-chief’. Now, after expressing how much respect Hillary and John have for each other and how well they have worked together, he is here caught implying that only these two of the three remaining candidates love this country and are devoted to its interests. By having Hillary as the nominee, he held, we won’t have “all the other stuff that seems to intrude itself on our politics”.
One cannot listen to these words by the former president without drawing two painfully obvious conclusions. First he is here openly questioning the patriotism and love of country of the man who will likely be the nominee of the Democratic Party for president. Secondly by questioning, in the heat of the Reverend Wright controversy, Barrack’s love of country and by obliquely referring to “the other stuff that seems to intrude itself on our politics”, the former president has once again chosen to make yet another attempt to wrap the Reverend Wright about the neck of the young Jedi and throw him off the ship of state. Here is Bill Clinton, once again, dealing from his cufflinks the race card. Everyone understands what was meant by “all the other stuff”, just like we understood what Richard Nixon meant by ‘law and order’ and the ‘Silent (white) Majority’. Yes, Virginia there is a Santa Claus; and yes, Rusty it is all about race—just ask your friend Bill Clinton without whom you would never have become a star in the long Republican night.
The truth is, Rusty Limbaugh and the Idiot Right need the Clinton’s like a needle needs a vein; and for all those fellow-travelers there is but one card left to play.