Congressman Scott defects from Hillary, Lewis on the fence

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Hat Tip: Yahoo, Associated Press, story by David Espo

In a fresh sign of trouble for Hillary Rodham Clinton, one of the former first lady’s congressional black supporters intends to vote for Barack Obama at the Democratic National Convention, and a second, more prominent lawmaker is openly discussing a possible switch.

When Israel was in Egypt’s land,
let my people go;
oppressed so hard they could not stand,
let my people go.

Rep. David Scott’s defection and Rep. John Lewis’ remarks highlight one of the challenges confronting Clinton in a campaign that pits a black man against a woman for a nomination that historically has been the exclusive property of white men.

Go down, (go down) Moses, (Moses)
way down in Egypt’s land;
tell old Hillary
to let my people go!

“You’ve got to represent the wishes of your constituency,” Scott said in an interview Wednesday in the Capitol. “My proper position would be to vote the wishes of my constituents.” The third-term lawmaker represents a district that gave more than 80 percent of its vote to Obama in the Feb. 5 Georgia primary.

“Thus saith the Lord,” bold Moses said,
let my people go;
“if not, I’ll smite your re-election dead,”
let my people go.

Lewis, whose Atlanta-area district voted 3-to-1 for Obama, said he is not ready to abandon his backing for the former first lady. But several associates said the nationally known civil rights figure has become increasingly torn about his early endorsement of Clinton. They spoke on condition of anonymity, citing private conversations.

No more shall they in bondage toil,
let my people go;
let them come out with Egypt’s spoil,
let my people go.

In an interview, Lewis likened Obama to Robert F. Kennedy in his ability to generate campaign excitement, and left open the possibility he might swing behind the Illinois senator. “It could (happen). There’s no question about it. It could happen with a lot of people … we can count and we see the clock,” he said.

We need not always weep and mourn,
let my people go;
and wear those slavery chains forlorn,
let my people go.

Clinton’s recent string of eight primary and caucus defeats coincides with an evident shift in momentum in the contest for support from party officials who will attend the convention. The former first lady still holds a sizable lead among the roughly 800 so-called superdelegates, who are chosen outside the primary and caucus system.

But Christine Samuels, until this week a Clinton superdelegate from New Jersey, said during the day she is now supporting Obama.

Two other superdelegates, Sophie Masloff of Pennsylvania and Nancy Larson of Minnesota, are uncommitted, having dropped their earlier endorsements of Clinton.

On Wednesday, David Wilhelm, a longtime ally of the Clintons who had been neutral in the presidential race, endorsed Obama.

The comments by Scott and Lewis reflect pressure on Clinton’s black supporters, particularly elected officials, not to stand in the way of what is plainly the best chance in history to have an African-American president.

“Nobody could see this” in advance, Rep. Jim Clyburn of South Carolina, the highest-ranking black in Congress, said of Obama’s emergence. He is officially neutral in the race, but expressed his irritation earlier in the year with remarks that Clinton and her husband the former president had made about civil rights history.

One black supporter of Clinton, Rep. Emanuel Cleaver of Missouri, said he remains committed to her. “There’s nothing going on right now that would cause me to” change, he said.

He said any suggestion that elected leaders should follow their voters “raises the age old political question. Are we elected to monitor where our constituents are … or are we to use our best judgment to do what’s in the best interests of our constituents.”

In an interview, Cleaver offered a glimpse of private conversations.

He said Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. of Illinois had recently asked him “if it comes down to the last day and you’re the only superdelegate? … Do you want to go down in history as the one to prevent a black from winning the White House?

“I told him I’d think about it,” Cleaver concluded.

Jackson, an Obama supporter, confirmed the conversation, and said the dilemma may pose a career risk for some black politicians. “Many of these guys have offered their support to Mrs. Clinton, but Obama has won their districts. So you wake up without the carpet under your feet. You might find some young primary challenger placing you in a difficult position” in the future, he added.

Obama and Clinton are in a competitive race for convention delegates. Overall, he has 1,276 in The Associated Press count, and she has 1,220. It takes 2,025 to clinch the nomination.

The New York Times is reporting that John Lewis has left Hillary’s plantation, a notion rebuted today by his press spokeswoman.

Hillary’s Handkerchief Heads: Call Them Out

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Rep. Corrine Brown (D-Fla.)
Del. Donna Christensen (D-V.I.)
Rep. Yvette Clarke (D-N.Y.)
Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.)
Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-Fla.)
Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas)
Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.)
Rep. Kendrick Meek (D-Fla.)
Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-N.Y.)
Rep. Donald Payne (D-N.J.)
Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.)
Rep. Laura Richardson (D-Calif.)
Rep. David Scott (D-Ga.)
Rep. Edolphus Towns (D-N.Y.)
Rep. Stephanie Tubbs-Jones (D-Ohio)
Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.)
Rep. Diane Watson (D-Calif.)

If any of the listed Negro members of Congress supporting Hillary belongs to you, they need to hear a word from the people. I propose the following letter.

Dear Handkerchief Head:

You have been unconscionably silent in the face of Bill Clinton’s racially divisive tactics on behalf of Senator Clinton’s presidential campaign. I can only surmise from your silence that you either approve of Bill Clinton’s tactics or are too gutless to publicly register your opposition. Whatever the case may be, I have taken the liberty of writing to formally register my unbridled indignation and to withdraw whatever support I may have given to your re-election campaign.

Pretending that the President’s comments were somehow taken out of context or don’t mean what they plainly imply simply will not do. Burying your head in the sand or defending the indefensible won’t do either. It’s time to do-you know what-or get off the pot. You can delay addressing these comments if you want to, but you do so at your peril.

The Sunday morning talk shows were universally caustic against the Clintons.

On “Meet the Press,” Byron York of the right-wing National Review said, “You know, I don’t think you can overstate the amount of, of anger in–created in Democrats by Bill Clinton’s tactics. I mean, they were very, very unhappy with him. I was talking to a Democratic strategist the other day who said, “My wife just got in the car. She’s driving to South Carolina to volunteer for Obama.” They were that angry at what Clinton had done. And he also said, you know, Clinton is trying to turn him into Jesse Jackson. And sure enough, after Obama wins big, what does Bill Clinton say about it? “Well, you know, Jesse Jackson won here, too.”

Neo-Con Fox News Contributor and NY Times Columnist Bill Kristol wrote, “What do Jesse Jackson’s victories two decades ago have to do with this year’s Obama-Clinton race? The Obama campaign is nothing like Jackson’s. Obama isn’t running on Jackson-like themes. Obama rarely refers to Jackson.”

 

“Clinton’s comment alludes to one thing, and to one thing only: Jackson and Obama are both black candidates. The silent premise of Clinton’s comment is that Obama’s victory in South Carolina doesn’t really count. Or, at least, Clinton is suggesting, it doesn’t mean any more than Jackson’s did.”

“But of course—as Clinton knows very well—Jesse Jackson didn’t win (almost all-white) Iowa.  He didn’t come within a couple of points of prevailing in (almost all-white) New Hampshire.  Nor did he, as Obama did carry rural Nevada. And Saturday, in South Carolina, even after Bill Clinton tried to turn Obama into Jackson, Hillary defeated Obama by just three to two among white voters. So Bill Clinton has been playing the race card, and doing so clumsily.  But why is he playing any cards.?

On “Meet the Press,” Chuck Todd, NBC News Political Director, provides a blunt answer to Kristol’s  rhetorical question,  “But, you know, it does feel like, though, that what Bill Clinton is doing is he reads a poll, and he said, “OK, when am—how am I going to get her to 51 percent.  OK. We’ve got to figure out how to drive white men away from Barack Obama. We’ve got to figure out how to drive Latinos away from Barack Obama.” That’s what works on February 5th.  And, you know, he may not ever say that, but it feels like it’s a very tactical thing that they’ve done, and I think that’s what, you know, is going to offend the Beltway corridor, the Amtrak corridor, and, and you’re seeing a lot of, sort of, the New York and Washington Democrats who are probably going to keep coming out against Clinton on this…”

Some of us were raised to believe that members of the Congressional Black Caucus were among the best Black public servants in the country.  Your actions belie that notion and constitute a slap in the face to those that came before you in the Reconstruction era.  They fought valiantly for a seat at the table for African Americans before they were disenfranchised through the white supremacist tactics of mob violence, grandfather clauses, literacy tests, and poll taxes. 

Continuing to languish on the Clinton plantation in light of these racially divisive tactics is a betrayal of the progressive ideals of the Democratic Party and to the many unsung heroes of the civil rights movement who fought to make America a functioning and pluralistic democracy.  As for me, I am through with the Clintons and I am too through with you.

Sincerely,

Skeptical Brotha, a Negro who has some damn self-respect.



 

Michigan Exit Polls: Hillary Clinton alienating black voters, one state at a time

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According to exit polls taken today, more than two thirds of African American voters voted against Hillary Clinton and for the Uncommitted slate in the Michigan Primary.

Category % Total Clinton Dodd Gravel Kucinich Unc.
White 72 63 0 1 5 31
Black 23 30 1 0 0 68

The Michigan Democratic Party moved its presidential primary up into the pre-window period, which was only to include four states: Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina. As a result, Michigan was stripped of all of its convention delegates and its primary tonight is nothing more than a non-binding beauty contest which will not count toward deciding the Democratic nomination for President.

After being stripped of its delegates, all major candidates removed their names from the Michigan ballot and only Hillary Clinton and a few also rans remained. Her 56% showing tonight is nothing short of anemic. Fewer than a third of African American Democrats voted for her. When its all said and done, I believe that fewer than a quarter of African American Democrats nationwide will pull the lever for the Borg Queen of American Politics despite her heavy investment in securing high profile black endorsements.

Amateur Hour in the Obama Camp

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The above is a photo of a white Obama organizer canvassing the beauty shops of Horry County, South Carolina.   This is in the New York Times.    Uh, PROBLEM.  This B.S. is not gonna do.   South Carolina is among the most racially polarized places in the nation and as such, sending a white woman to do a sistah’s job is simply insane-especially when people believe Obama will be assassinated should he be elected.

This photo underscores the skepticism that I’ve been feeling for some time towards his candidacy and his campaign organization.   They knew they had to do the church thing and have done that.  They knew they had to organize the whole state and have done that. They have even reached out to white voters, even though that is largely a waste of time in the Deep South when your candidate is black. 

They knew what had to be done and still managed to have a white woman photographed as an organizer in black beauty shops.   While this photo may make the career of this chick, it will do nothing for Barack Obama’s quest for the White House. It shouldn’t have been allowed to happen given the fact that Obama has a sistah running his operation in South Carolina.    The sistah running Hillary’s South Carolina operation must be laughing hysterically because it proves which sistah is on top of her game.  

Finally, this picture reveals that despite the massive amounts of organizing they’ve done, it is still amateur hour in the Obama camp.   Having a white woman become the face of your campaign, when you’re in a fight to the death for black voters already skeptical of your chances against the most powerful political machine on earth, ain’t never a good idea.

Hat Tip to Thought Merchant for posting excerpts of the Times article and bringing this to my attention. 

 

Roland Martin: Oprah could be a kingmaker

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Hat Tip: By Roland S. Martin
CNN Contributor

(CNN) — It’s big news that the goddess of talk, Oprah Winfrey, is throwing a huge shindig for U.S. Sen. Barack Obama at her California estate that is expected to bring in $3 million.

art.martin.cnn.jpg

Oprah Winfrey should go all out in her support for Sen. Barack Obama, says Roland S. Martin.

That is more than what Hollywood honchos Steven Spielberg, David Geffen and others raised in separate fundraisers for Obama and his chief rival, Sen. Hillary Clinton.

No one knows for sure what the effect will be with Oprah backing Obama because she has never thrown her full support behind a political candidate.

The Washington Post made it plain as to her influence on the general public, courtesy of her massive media platform: “the television program that reaches 8.4 million viewers each weekday afternoon, according to the most recent Nielsen numbers. Her Web site reaches 2.3 unique viewers each month, ‘O, the Oprah Magazine,’ has a circulation of 2 million, she circulates a weekly newsletter to 420,000 fans and 360,000 people have subscribed to her Web site for daily ‘Oprah Alerts’ by e-mail.”

Although Oprah is a billionaire, by law, all she can contribute to the Obama campaign is $4,600 — $2,300 for the primary, and if he wins the nomination, he can use the other $2,300 for the general election campaign. Video Watch analysts talk about Winfrey’s influence »

On CNN’s “Larry King Live,” she said that her support is bigger than any check she could write.

Not quite.

Although The Post reported that Oprah is in talks with the Obama campaign about taking an active role — appearing at rallies or cutting campaign commercials — she could instead choose to launch her own 527 political group that wouldn’t have any spending restrictions.

Imagine this scenario: Oprah chooses to create the “O for Obama” 527 group. She then seeds it with $5 million, and plans a series of radio and TV ads touting Obama in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Arizona.

In Iowa, she might shoot a commercial in a cornfield. In New Hampshire, the setting might be outside the state capitol. How about the Geechee islands in South Carolina? And for Arizona, the infamous — only because of its sheriff — jail in Maricopa County.

She could tailor each ad for residents of that state, and flood the airwaves as Obama is doing the same.

Now, the laws says the 527s can’t coordinate their messages with the campaign, and there are other restrictions. But it could be a huge boost to a campaign lagging Clinton in national polls.

You don’t think they matter? Ask Sen. John Kerry. The Swift Boat Veterans launched a 527 group that developed devastating ads that helped derail his message, and the campaign.

Oprah may get some heat for trying to buy the election, but many rich benefactors have used their money for partisan purposes.

The talk show diva has been on record that Obama is the first, and likely last, candidate she publicly backs. If that’s the case, why not simply go all out?

Michelle’s mystique

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Michelle Obama 

Hat Tip: By Carly Zakin, NBC News 

WASHINGTON – Since he stepped onto the national political stage, Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., has been compared to a rock star, a superstar, and even an NBA all-star.

“I’m LeBron, baby,” he told Chicago Tribune reporter and biographer David Mendell, referring to LeBron James of the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers.

But if the Cavaliers’ loss in this year’s NBA finals proves anything, it’s that even NBA all-stars aren’t always perfect.

And if Michelle Obama has shown voters one thing this campaign season, it’s that neither is her husband. He has big ears, she has said. A funny name, too. He doesn’t put the butter away. He has trouble making beds. He’s not the “next Messiah who’s going to fix it all. In the end, he’s just a man.”

Michelle Obama — a Princeton graduate, Harvard-educated lawyer and, until recently, vice president of the University of Chicago Medical Center — is the least famous spouse of the Democratic front-runners. Former President Bill Clinton is his wife’s biographer of her qualifications to be president and would be a roaming ambassador in a Hillary Clinton administration. Elizabeth Edwards, meanwhile, essentially serves as a second campaign manager to her husband and has made headlines by delivering punches to rivals and opponents.

But so far in this presidential race, it’s clear that Michelle Obama is playing a different kind of role in her husband’s campaign. She makes no qualms about checking Obama’s ego, appearing politically hesitant, and acting as an enforcer of sorts. But one facet remains a mystery: What kind of first lady would she be?

This question is something rarely asked of the better known and understood Bill Clinton and Elizabeth Edwards.

Despite their checkered marital history, the Clintons have publicly emerged as a true partnership on the campaign trail. At the Iowa State Fairgrounds earlier this month, he kept his arm around his wife’s shoulders, as she wrapped one arm around him.

“Who do you think will be the best president?” he asked the crowd — before answering his own question that even if she weren’t his wife he would still be campaigning for her.

“In 2008, I will celebrate my 40th year as a voter,” he said, “and in those 40 years… she is by a long stretch the best qualified non-incumbent I have ever had a chance to vote for in my entire life.” After his introduction, Hillary embraced her husband, only to then remind voters of their prevailing partnership. “We’ve traveled a lot of miles together over the last 35 years,” she told the crowd.

Elizabeth Edwards also has done the campaign drill before, and this time around has taken on a more active — and more outspoken — role as his fiercest protector and adviser. According a recent New York Times Magazine piece by Matt Bai, it was Elizabeth who told her husband not to listen to his advisers and to choose poverty as his primary focus. She also set off a national media frenzy by calling into MSNBC’s “Hardball” to ask that guest Ann Coulter stop attacking her husband. And most recently, in a not-so subtle shot at Hillary Clinton, she said in an interview that her husband would be a better advocate for women than Clinton would.

While Elizabeth Edwards takes on the role of a mother bear protecting her cub, the source of Barack Obama’s most frequent affronts — when they don’t come from his rivals — is his wife. First lady author and commentator Carl Sferrazza Anthony says that “she has been trying to kind of take [her husband] down a peg or two in public, not to so much emasculate him, but to say, ‘Hey, he’s a regular guy.’ She obviously loves him. Barbara Bush used to do that too.”

But her efforts to make Obama real also have attracted criticism. New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd wondered back in April why she didn’t like this realness with Michelle and Barack.

“I wince a bit when Michelle Obama chides her husband as a mere mortal — comic routine that rests on the presumption that we see him as a god,” she wrote. “But it may not be smart politics to mock him in a way that turns him from the glam J.F.K. into the mundane Gerald Ford, toasting his own English muffins. If all Senator Obama is peddling is the Camelot mystique, why debunk this mystique?”

Also, unlike Bill Clinton and Elizabeth Edwards, Michelle Obama has made it clear that she’s not a strategist for her husband’s campaign.

“My job is not a senior adviser,” she has said. ”I am here as a wife.”

Her spokeswoman, Katie McCormick Lelyveld, adds that Mrs. Obama serves as her husband’s “surrogate ear. Her expertise is who he is as a person,” and she relays that to voters and brings back their concerns to the senator. 

Michelle Obama has avoided offering details on what she will focus on as first lady. Her spokeswoman said that her first priority would be as a mother, wife, then “really assessing what the country needs” and “rising to the occasion.” For someone who does not hesitate to offer her opinion, Michelle will not interfere with her husband’s policies, McCormick Lelyveld said.

Sferrazza Anthony finds it interesting, however, that seeing as “they both met through the legal profession… there are going to be issues that they discuss. She has sort of said she doesn’t influence his policy. I have found it interesting the press hasn’t looked deeper into what she means by that? Perhaps that means there is legislation they disagree on.”

McCormick Lelyveld maintains that the Obamas keep politics out their home.

But inside her home, Michelle Obama has also become something of an enforcer. As her smoking husband has tried to quit the habit, per his wife’s demand, Michelle’s brother Craig Robinson joked to The New York Times in May that Obama didn’t need a nicotine patch. “Michelle Obama! That’s one hell of a patch right there!”

At a May ice cream social in New Hampshire, Michelle Obama stood on what seemed to be a figurative and literal pedestal to introduce her husband. “I’m the better looking one. I’m smarter, too,” she said.

As the crowd laughed, her husband nodded, offered a half-smile, and looked down, rocking his body as if waiting for his wife’s latest ego-knockdown to end. When she finished, there was an awkward half-hug and kiss embrace, with neither spouse seeming to know how to interact with the other.

Spokeswoman McCormick Lelyveld said that when “she teases him, there is a method to her madness.” She shows that “ he is a real person, he is reachable, he is human and he is just one man.”

In other words, he’s not LeBron James after all.