Obama vs. Hillary

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 Hat tip: The Fix by Chris Cillizza, Washington Post

In one of the first public contretemps between the two Democratic presidential frontrunners, Sen. Hillary Clinton of New York is calling on Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois to break ties with David Geffen after the movie mogul made a string of comments critical of the former first lady.

“If Senator Obama is indeed sincere about his repeated claims to change the tone of our politics, he should immediately denounce these remarks, remove Mr. Geffen from his campaign and return his money,” said Clinton communications director Howard Wolfson.

Over the years the movie producer has given hundreds of thousands in donations to the Democratic Party and its candidates. Geffen gave Obama’s Hopefund PAC a $5,000 contribution in 2006, and he gave Obama’s campaign $2,000 in 2004, according to FEC records (presidential campaign contribution data is not yet available).

Geffen’s comments — made to New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd — were spoken on the same day that he, along with film tycoons Jeffrey Katzenberg and Stephen Spielberg hosted a major Hollywood fundraiser for Obama.

In the interview with Dowd, Geffen made derogatory comments about Sen. Clinton and her husband, former President Bill Clinton.

Geffen said Republicans believe Hillary Clinton is the “easiest to defeat” in the Democratic arena. He also skewered the senator’s unwillingness to apologize for her 2002 vote favoring the use of force resolution in Iraq.

”It’s not a very big thing to say, ‘I made a mistake’ on the war, and typical of Hillary Clinton that she can’t,” Geffen told Dowd. ”She’s so advised by so many smart advisers who are covering every base. I think that America was better served when the candidates were chosen in smoke-filled rooms.”

Geffen also took a verbal swing at her husband: “‘I don’t think anybody believes that in the last six years, all of a sudden Bill Clinton has become a different person,” Geffen said, appearing to refer to the controversies surrounding the former president’s private life.

Geffen’s animosity toward the Clintons is traced by Dowd to Bill Clinton’s decision in the final days of his administration not to pardon Native American activist Leonard Peltier. Peltier had been convicted of the murder of two FBI agents on the Pine Ridge Indian reservation in the late 1970s. Geffen political adviser Andy Spahn had strongly pushed for Peltier’s release, with the approval of his boss.

Since that pardon decision, Geffen has made a number of anti-Clinton comments. In 2005, he said Sen. Clinton couldn’t win the presidency because she was too “polarizing,” adding that “ambition is just not a good enough reason.”

Geffen’s commentary and the ensuring hubbub reveals the risks that any candidate runs when wooing high-dollar donors to their campaigns. These extremely wealthy individuals are used to speaking their minds whenever and however they see fit. It is a difficult task for any campaign to try and rein them in.

In publicly blunting Geffen’s remarks, Clinton is trying to box-in Obama. Obama faces either to keep Geffen on his finance team and run the risk of watching his reformer credentials tarnished in the eyes of party insiders and activists, or jettison him and risk the ire of the well-heeled Hollywood community.

Obama’s campaign didn’t shy away from the fight. “It is ironic that the Clintons had no problem with David Geffen when he was raising them $18 million and sleeping at their invitation in the Lincoln bedroom,” said Obama communications director Robert Gibbs. Gibbs also pointed out that Hillary Clinton had not condemned the comments of South Carolina state Sen. Robert Ford. Ford, a Clinton backer, said the Democratic ticket would be “doomed” if Obama was the party’s presidential candidate.

Update, 3:26 p.m. ET: Clinton Communications Director Howard Wolfson issued the following statement today:

“By refusing to disavow the personal attacks from his biggest fundraiser against Senator Clinton and President Clinton, Senator Obama has called into serious question whether he really believes his own rhetoric. How can Senator Obama denounce the politics of slash & burn yesterday while his own campaign is espousing the politics of trash today?

7 thoughts on “Obama vs. Hillary

  1. Skeptical Brotha says that some Black leaders have been “bamboozeled this week into the promised land of Hillary Clinton’s Presidential campaign.” Before taking any issue with that, I want to thank everyone in the Blackosphere who has supported me in my struggle over the last year to either open up the apartheid whitosphere to Blacks or to thoroughly discredit the whitosphere so that their political opinions will be ignored, as every apartheid blog ought to be ignored. No group of “progressives” with a 1.5-2.5% Black membership ought to have ANY role in deciding who our party’s candidate will be in 2008.

    Some of you know that I was banned from DailyKos last year for demanding an end to the “43-term white male monopoly of the American presidency”, founded in and supported by the persistent “white male supremacy paradigm” and for asserting that efforts to elect yet another white man would perpetuate an historical “white male supremacy paradigm” http://www.dailykos.com/search?offset=0&old_count=30&string=francislholland&type=diary_by&sortby=relevance&search=Search&count=30&wayback=525600&wayfront=0&search_archive=yes

    But America seems to agree with me about one thing: It’s time to seriously consider whether it’s the liberal Democratic white woman or the liberal Democratic African-American man or the liberal Democratic Latino Governor of the state of New Mexico who should be the next President of the United States. Or somebody else. We have come a long way in our advocacy since the days when Jesse Jackson was called a “symbolic candidate” and “dark horse”!

    Certainly, America, with only a 30% white male population, cannot continue to be governed indefinitely almost exclusively by white males. It didn’t work indefinitely in South Africa and it’s not going to work indefinitely here. Neither gender, nor skin color nor ethnicity should not prevent Clinton or Obama or Richardson from assuming the Oval Office.

    But which of these candidates, all of whose election would break the white male lock on the presidency, has the best chance of breaking through?

    Even though I live in Brazil now, I’ve ordered both of Barack Obama’s books from Amazon and read “Dreams from My Father” and “The Audacity of Hope”. I have loved autobiographies of successful Black people since I read autobiography of Frederick Douglas, when I was nine or ten years old. Like Frederick Douglass’ autobiography, “Dreams from my Father” inspires and encourages me while also pointing out ways of thinking and being that can improve our chances of making the greatest possible contributions in life. Dreams from my father is so beautifully written and honestly lived that it convinces me that Barack Obama must be a genius, and not just because he graduated magna cum laude from Harvard Law School, as Editor of the Harvard Law Review.

    I am impressed that, after graduating from college, Barack Obama worked for three years at low pay as a community organizer and then returned to Chicago to practice Civil Rights Law and work with the people-friendly Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights when he graduated from Harvard University, even though he could easily have committed himself exclusively to enriching himself at a private firm.

    In “The Audacity of Hope”, Barack agrees with the Clinton’s prescriptions for growing the economy, providing jobs and opportunity, and Barack also add newer issues to the mix, like his advocacy for a move to gasohol in cars to create new industrial jobs and increase America’s competitiveness internationally. Judging by his amazing books, Senator Barack Obama, again, is certainly a genius, and will make an excellent president if he gets elected.

    But, there are a lot of reasons to believe that Hillary Clinton is the candidate most likely and best-placed to end the white male monopoly in 2008.

    I think political experience and seasoning on the national level may end up playing a crucial role. If we Hillary supporters were “bamboozled”, we were “bamboozled” into supporting the Clintons way back in 1992, when the alternative was George H.W. Bush. (George H.W. Bush was the Republicans President who appointed Clarence Thomas to the US Supreme in his first term and probably would have done worse in a second term, had Bill Clinton not come to the rescue.)

    Along with 90% of Blacks who voted for the Clintons in their elections, we were bamboozled into supporting Bill and Hillary back in 1993, when we saw them being skewered and fried for trying to implement national health care. I’ve supported them since they appointed Ron Brown the first Black Secretary of Commerce, First Black Secretary of Energy; First Latino Ambassador to the United Nations; first Jewish woman member of the US Supreme Court . . .

    I’ve always been impressed by the vision that the Clintons showed integrating the federal government by appointing Deval Patrick to Civil Rights Enforcement and Bill Richardson as Secretary of Energy. With the breaks that these men got to show their leadership skills in the Clinton Administration, they are now Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and Governor of New Mexico respectively. Both are trailblazing firsts in these jobs.

    But new jobs weren’t just for the political class. When Bill Clinton grew the economy, a lot of Black people who hadn’t had access to jobs before suddenly found jobs. Meanwhile, Clinton put more money into the hands of Blacks with the earned income tax credit, increased college funding. In spite of the pressure to abandon affirmative action, Clinton convinced America to “fix it, not end it”, proving that he was a master of compromise when the alternative was a total rout.

    We want to make historical strides in 2008, as a preparation for a new and better and more inclusive America for everyone, and the Clintons have quite a bit of experience at that. Hillary Clinton is the first First Lady to win elective office, she’s the first woman Senator from the State of New York, and she’s the first woman elected statewide there, winning re-election with 67% of the vote. We have a real opportunity to break the 43-consecutive term white male monopoly of the presidency in 2008.

    Although I strongly support Blacks who supports Barack Obama, I think calling Black Hillary supporters “Jemimas” and “not Black enough”is counterproductive. (You’ve got a right to say it, but it will hurt Barack Obama’s candidacy, because it turns the debate into a “race thing”, with “really dedicated” Black people supporting Barack Obama. But, Barack is going to need white votes to win and Lord knows white people don’t do ANYTHING that “real” Black people think is important.

    If Barack’s Black supporters seem militantly Black, then for every additional “Black vote this wins for Obama he will lose three white votes on the other side. The best way to get Obama elected is to let white American continue to have the “Tiger Woods” image of him that they now have – non-threatening. Calling people Jemimas will make his supporters look like “real” Black people and thereby alienate real white people.

    There’s another strategic angle to consider: We need to select both a presidential and vice presidential nominee in 2008. I’ve already communicated to the Clinton camp that if they want to have any chance of winning the Black vote in September and November of 2008, they’ve got to keep it clean in their fight against Barack Obama, to avoid alienating you, his supporters. If she gets nominated, she can’t win the general election without your support.

    I think that Clinton and Obama would make an excellent ticket, if they don’t hack each other to pieces before the get to that stage, and if they maintain the peace while conducting the war.

    I think Blacks who support the Clintons do so because of loyalty to long-established political relationships as well as simple pragmatism. They want to be on the winning side in the primaries and they want the Democrats to nominate the candidate whom they believe has the best chances of beating the Republicans. They believe that if a white woman is elected president in 2008, perhaps with a Black running mate, that will break open the doors for everyone in successive elections.

  2. Told ya Capitol Hillary would fire the first shot in taking down someone whom she was virtually joined at the hip.

    The time for Obama to start distinguishing himself from Hillary IS NOW…and it really was YESTERDAY.

  3. siropmiel

    So, we don’t have free speech in American anymore?? Geffen can say whatever he wants and Obama should keep that money! I think it is outrageous how the Clintons want to manipulate Obama into giving up those milllions. Da Nerve!

  4. Is YearlyKos an Overwhelmingly, Disproportionately, White Gathering?

    http://www.mydd.com/story/2007/2/23/10128/2945#commenttop

    by francislholland, Fri Feb 23, 2007 at 10:12:08 AM EST

    I watched the promotional video from last year, and I saw six Black people among 1,500 participants.

    Cross-posted at Culture Kitchen and the Francis L. Holland Blog.

    Today, I came across a link to a publicity video for YearlyKos and I watched the entire video to confirm a suspicion: That YearlyKos is an overwhelmingly white gathering -disproportionately white considering the number of Blacks in the Democratic Party. http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid= -1234580617661540850&q=Mark+Bowllan Watch the film for yourselves and tell me if my perceptions are in error.

    Here’s what I saw: Watching a thirty-nine minute video of “1,500” “progressive” Democratic Party bloggers at a hotel in Las Vegas, in all of the shots where the camera panned the crowds, the hallways, the hotel rooms, and speakers diases, I saw two Black women and four Black men among 1,500 people. If accurate, this would mean that YearlyKos was about .03% Black in a Democratic Party that has 20% elected and appointed Black delegates at the Democratic National Convention. What is it about DailyKos and Yearly Kos that makes it so white in a Party with so much Black participation?

    Read the rest here:

    http://www.mydd.com/story/2007/2/23/10128/2945#commenttop

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