The Clintons civil rights remarks offend James Clyburn


Suffering from foot in mouth disease, due in part to their fear of losing their imperial grip on the Presidency to someone else, the Clintons have managed to piss off a power broker in their most loyal constituency-African Americans. Congressman James Clyburn, the House Majority Whip and the most influential and highest ranking African American on Capitol Hill, ain’t a happy camper at all. He is so displeased that he is seriously considering changing his neutrality in the Presidential nomination free for all.


The New York Times reports, “We have to be very, very careful about how we speak about that era in American politics,” said Mr. Clyburn, who was shaped by his searing experiences as a youth in the segregated South and his own activism in those days. “It is one thing to run a campaign and be respectful of everyone’s motives and actions, and it is something else to denigrate those. That bothered me a great deal.”

“In an interview with Fox News on Monday, Mrs. Clinton, who was locked in a running exchange with Senator Barack Obama, a rival for the Democratic presidential nomination, over the meaning of the legacies of President John F. Kennedy and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., tried to make a point about presidential leadership.”

“Dr. King’s dream began to be realized when President Lyndon Johnson passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964,” Mrs. Clinton said in trying to make the case that her experience should mean more to voters than the uplifting words of Mr. Obama. “It took a president to get it done.”

“Quickly realizing that her comments could draw criticism, Mrs. Clinton returned to the subject at a later stop, recalling how Dr. King was beaten and jailed and how he worked with Johnson to pass the landmark law. Clinton advisers said her first remark had not captured what she meant to convey. And they said she would never detract from a movement that has driven her own public service.”

“She has spent the majority of her life working for poor families, poor children, fighting for the principles that Martin Luther King stood for,” said Minyon Moore, a senior adviser. “The Clintons have a track record.”

“Mr. Clyburn, reached for a telephone interview Wednesday during an overseas inspection of port facilities, also voiced frustration with former President Clinton, who described Mr. Obama’s campaign narrative as a fairy tale. While Mr. Clinton was not discussing civil rights at the time and seemed to be referring mainly to Mr. Obama’s stance at the Iraq war, Mr. Clyburn saw the remark as a slap at the image of a black candidate running on a theme of unity and optimism.”

“To call that dream a fairy tale, which Bill Clinton seemed to be doing, could very well be insulting to some of us,” said Mr. Clyburn, who said he and others took significant risks more than 40 years ago to produce such opportunities for future black Americans.”

I think that the Congressman is sending a warning to the Clintons that they had better heed. If they don’t, he will use his considerable clout against them and could bring the rest of the undecided membership of the Congressional Black Caucus with him.

On the other side of the ledger, Black Congressional surrogates are turning up with regularity to chew the fat on MSNBC.   Gregory Meeks and Stephanie Tubbs Jones appeared today to defend the Borg Queen and her consort.  Congresswoman Jones was aggressively negative saying that while Barack Obama talks about change, Hillary makes change.   She also defended the Clintons foot in mouth remarks that pissed off James Clyburn.   I like Stephanie Tubbs Jones and Gregory Meeks, but I have a deep seated mistrust of lawyers hooked up to the criminal justice system.  Both Meeks and Jones have been prosecutors and I ain’t got no love for that.

It’s one thing to criticize Barack Obama, as I’ve done, for his departures from the progressive black consensus, its quite another to be a flack and volunteer handkerchief head defending the indefensible Clinton juggernaut.


21 thoughts on “The Clintons civil rights remarks offend James Clyburn

  1. rikyrah

    I was so pleased to see that about Clyburn. You know it. I know it. If a Republican had done what the Clintons have done ALREADY, there would be blood in the streets.

  2. Bay

    That’s what I don’t understand. All I keep hearing from black folks is, “if they don’t quit, I won’t be voting for her!”. What does it take, do they have to call Obama a nicca for people to wake up?

    And where is that fool John Lewis? Yes, I called him a fool. Supporting this broad while she talks down to Obama like he’s a dog.

    I swear, sometimes I don’t understand my people. I really don’t.

  3. We ‘misunderstood’ Bill…..

    Listen to his patronizing explanation on the Sharpton show.


    English is Black folks’ primary language….we didn’t misinterpret ANYTHING.

  4. Nedsdag

    Meeks and Tubbs-Jones are so drunk on the Clinton Kool-Aid that they need rehab. Although I understand Meeks’ devotion (NY ties), Tubbs-Jones’ devotion is pretty pathetic. I’m glad Maxine Waters is neutral for now. She sees what’s going on and she isn’t as malleble as aformentioned congresspersons.

    Enough with “plantation politics.” Do we need to continue to support Massa Bill and Miz Hillary’s antibellum political mansion. I think not.

  5. Bay

    Michael Eric Dyson made Tubbs-Jones look like a fool on tv the other day. She’s pathetic. I could literally see the hankerchief convering her head. I was just disgusted with her to the point that she was turning into an ugly racist minstrel character right in front of my eyes!

  6. candace

    Now, Now, Bay,

    I wouldn’t go as far to say that Tubbs-Jones is drinking the Clinton koolaid or that she’s a minstrel. The choice b/w Obama and Clinton is a tough one for a lot of blacks, and I respect the intellect they bring to their choice.

    Blacks, like the rest of the democratic party and some independents, ONLY WANT TO ELECT THE MOST ELECTABLE DEMOCRAT!!!WHAT’S WRONG W/THAT?

    Personally, I didn’t find anything that offensive about Clinton’s comments. If you listen carefully, he was referring to Barack’s support of the Iraq war, not his candidacy!!! That’s a big difference!!

    Bay, you’re not being objective about the situation. You have a right to your opinion, but Clinton has also paid tremendous respect to Barack. I dunno, just for the record, I’m supporting Barack, but I’m not ANTI-HILLARY, either.

    There’s nothing wrong w/vigorous debate around the pertinent topics, but attempting to blow this comment by Bill out of proportion is silly, to me.

    And, you’re attributing her husband’s comment to her. YOU said she’s talking down to Barack, really? When, where?

    I beleive this, should Barack win, he’s going to need the support of Hillary and her loyal supporters to win the general. Should Hillary win, she’s going to need the support of Barack and his loyal supporters to win the general!!

    I personally, feel good about the position of the democratic party as far as the primary is concerned. I’m concerned w/the general.

    BTW, i think Waters and some other members of the CBC is neutral, as this primary is becoming too BITTER! A CBC member is almost DAMNED if he/she does or doesn’t. And, i think the CBC members are also thinking about the general, esp. the unity that will be needed to win!! I really don’t see the need for all of the bitterness!!!

  7. Like so many in the media, until Donna Brazile and Rep. Clyburn brought it up, the MSM chose to ignore it.

    There are plenty of us, on Black radio, Black talk radio, in the Black Blogosphere, who have been bringing this up.

    We brought it up, after it became obvious that it was a PATTERN.

    The disingenousness of the ‘media’ to connect the dots is what has disgusted some of us out here.

    These are not ‘Isolated Incidents’.

    They are neither ISOLATED nor INCIDENTAL.

    They begin with Sheehan.
    Then his false apology; Clinton’s fake apology – fake, why? Because PENN was on Hardball shuffling the same swill not an hour after the debate.

    Then there were the THREE Iowa organizers that had to resign because of the Madrassa LIE.

    Then came the Bob Kerrey endorsement of Clinton and his ‘it’s great Obama can relate to the Black Youth/Islamic Manchurian Candidate/Secular Madrassa’ SMEAR…followed by oops, an apology.

    Then came the Charlie Rose interview, which dripped with ‘Who-Does-This-Negro-Think-He-Is?’

    The MLK insult….which supposedly The Community ‘ Misunderstood’.

    The Mandela insult….which supposedly The Community ‘ Misunderstood’.

    Hillary – the Country going ‘ backwards’ by electing Obama

    Then, we have the comments by Donna Brazile:
    For him to go after Obama using “fairy tale,” calling him a “kid,” as he did last week, it’s an insult. And I tell you, as an African-American, I find his words and his tone to be very depressing.

    BOTH Clyburn & Brazille are from the SOUTH – they know what KID means when referencing a Black Man…it’s first cousin to BOY- and I assume, even with all your deliberate cluelessness, you get why THAT is offensive.

    Then, we have the Cuomo ‘ Shuck and Jive’ – yet another ‘ misinterpretation’ of the English Language.

    And finally, we have today’s ‘ Isolated Incident’ from The Guardian:

    In the words of that Clinton adviser: “If you have a social need, you’re with Hillary. If you want Obama to be your imaginary hip black friend and you’re young and you have no social needs, then he’s cool.”

    But, of course, I know….tomorrow, the Clintons will explain how THIS TOO, was ‘ misinterpreted’.

    Funny how many times the ENGLISH LANGUAGE has to be ‘ reinterpreted’ and ‘explained’ to folks for whom English IS THEIR FIRST LANGUAGE.

    I will say it again:

    When ‘Isolated Incidents’ are neither




    They form a PATTERN.

    You either choose to accept what the PATTERN tells you and go on accordingly.

    It’s ‘Dogwhistle’ politics, and Black folk understand the call of that whistle better than anyone..

    Because our SURVIVAL in America depends on it.

    But, it’s ok. I know. It’s all in my ‘ imagination’.

    Uh huh.

  8. This is a great reply that I found at Marc Ambinder. Just wanted to share.

    These Clinton supporters in here disgust me just as much as Bill and Hillary. bell hooks said be wary of the white liberal. This disgusting pattern of events and the response by many liberal whites has finally made me understand what bell meant.

    The Clintons have accused him of having dealt drugs. Their campaign workers were twice caught spreading the madrassa lie about Obama. On and on and on up until this very day. Now he’s not presidential material, but an “imaginary black friend” who’s cool! It’s disgusting and their response was disgusting.

    I’m pissed that those radio show hosts fell into the “fairy tale” trap and didn’t get down to the nitty gritty. The “fairy tale” comment was the least offensive of them all. But it’s what’s made the news and now white people are going to try to turn this around on Obama, an honorable man having to walk a tight rope because some whites still can’t honestly confront race. He’s doing a hell of a job and I support that man 100%. He’s complete class and dignity! Bill isn’t half the man he is and he knows it.

    That said, the one encouraging thing was that after all three of Bill’s interviews on black radio, I heard not one caller say they were satisfied with his explaination. Not one. They all said it was just spin and they remain disappointed and no longer trust the Clintons.

    I am young so I don’t feel any kind of loyalty to the Clintons. But as horrible as all of this has been for our community, it’s almost healthy, because the reverence we had for the Clintons was completely UNHEALTHY. We were a bunch of loyal lap dogs and that is a pathetic position to be in. And this is what allowed Bill and Hillary to be so bold, because they actually believed we’d side with them. That we’d let it slide and turn the other cheek because we loved them as much as we love Jesus. Well, it’s not working out that way. And especially not with blacks under 30, who’ve never been enamored with Bill and Hillary because were children when he was elected.

    But what they’re doing to Obama makes my blood boil. The way they’ve taken advantage of the real love the black community felt for them disgusts me. I am heartbroken for Obama because he is just the epitome of what a black man in this country can do if he is given the opportunity and works his butt off. He’s what every little black boy should aspire to be. And to have him slandered and belittled by two corrupt,entitled, and morally bankrupt trolls like the Clintons just burns me up!!! No matter how hard you try, no matter how brilliant you are, no matter how sucessful you are, you’re still just a “boy”. Oh, wait, I mean “kid”.But he is strong and I believe he will come out on top.

    The Clintons have ruined their relationship with the black community. They know it and that’s why they were on damage control today.

    I hope all decent hearted people come out and send a signal to Bill and HIll. Vote against her. This country deserves better.

    Posted by Kelley | January 11, 2008 11:35 PM

  9. candace


    Why do the Cintons have to explain every comment a supporter/adviser makes about Obama? You mentioned Cuomo’s statement. Why does Hillary have to explain that?

    By the same token, why does Barack have to expalin evry comment made by his church?

    My point is, Barack is not responsible totally for every comment that some of his people make and others may take offense to. And, Hillary is not responsible for every comment some of her peo. make that others may find offensive.

    I make this point, as there’s already talk surfacing that Blacks are using a double-standard regarding Barack. If some one attacks Barack’s positions/ideology, then it’s racist. But if he attacks his opponents’ positions/ideology, it’s ok.

    I guess I can see where that type of thinking will tend to turn off some non-blacks!! I opined in like manner regarding the comment PJ made about hillary after the NH debate. i responded by saying that PJ making reference to the fact that a Black man humiliated Hillary prob. wouldn’t set well w/white women. I’m sure her victory in NH had nothing to do w/anyone reading htis blog, but I noticed several pundits surmised that women(white) took offense to a piling on against Hill and made the difference in NH.

    It’s just analytical thinking. Several whites believe that the Clintons were loyal and somewhat beholding to Blacks, and should Blacks turn on them for seemingly petty reasons, than that’s going to have a negative effect on Barack. Afterall, the black vote alone will not get Obama elected!! That’s all I’m saying!!

  10. candace

    Also, Rikyrah,

    For the most part the media has been friendly towards Barack. Therefore, i just think it wise that the Black pundits like Brazile keep comments about racial attacks to a minimum.

    The same way we’re trying to impugn Hill for any comments about Barack, is the samemanner in which Barack’s opposition is trying to impugn him regarding his name, heritage and religious beliefs.

    I just read a blog in which a mass email is being sent out saying Barack is a muslim, he doesn’t honor the flag, and he attends an ALL BLACK CHURCH THAT DOESN’T ALLOW WHITE FOLKS!!!

    It was disgusting to see the number of commenters who seemed to believe 1 or more of these allegations!!That said, I guess I’m suggesting that we not try too hard to connect dots, villanize every off-color comment made from the other camps, because if non-black voters sense that that’s where blacks are coming from, then their going to feel justified when they take Barack to task for some loose associations!


  11. Rick


    And, you are, Candace.

    This notion that blacks have no right to be offended by comments that Hillary and Bill Clinton are making — out of THEIR own mouths — denies the basic right to human expression you make allowances you make for non-black people.

    Case in point: When white women NH voters switched their votes at the last second because Hillary cried on “cue” and/or it seemed like the world was ganging up on her, you understood that totally. That passed as “analytical thinking” from your perspective, in line with how white people vote more generally — unlike blacks, who vote “emotionally.” well, the NH case sounded like it was pretty emotional to me, but you as a woman said you understood it.

    Yet when the Clintons clearly and routinely insult African-Americans and our ancestry, to you we’re being “emotional” and “sensitive” and not as “calculating” as white people if we say something about it (note the negative connotations embedded in your assumptions).

    Even worse…

    And, by extension, if we do say something about it (and we are) then we risk pissing off white people because they will say WE are being racist and besides…WE don’t want to ALIENATE them. This idea that blacks are turning on our former masters, the Clintons for “petty reasons”, and we risk pissing off white people because in their view the Clintons have been good to us is White Supremist Logic cloaking itself as 2008 presidential politics.

    First, just as a ground rule, going forward can we strip ourselves of the white supremist mentality and agree that black people have the same humanity we make allowances for with non-black peoples? If not, name a single gender, ethnic, rational group out there that would not be PISSED off by similar comments being directed at them. There is Not a One.

    More importantly, when the Clintons make stupid comments like the ones they are making, it is HEALTHY to hold them or anyone else ACCOUNTIBLE for those statments: 1) for respect and to put them on notice and 2) so that those who come after us, who are watching, don’t INTERNALIZE this and pass black self-hatred and white supremist thought to future generations.

    Personally, I find the logic embedded in the idea that we have to be united with any platform that devalues black people to be dangerous.

    But I also take comfort that the Clinton by their own actions and statements have caused many older black people in particular to see the light. Yes, my mother to this point had been a Clinton supporter and was going to vote for Hillary Clinton because she related to her as a woman and she liked that Hillary was “tough.” But these demeaning comments have caused her to re-think that position and now she is voting for Obama.

    But Candace, maybe you are right about one thing. Maybe blacks and Obama don’t have to say anything. It seems like the Clintons by their own statements are shooting themselves in the foot.

  12. candace


    Again, Bill is not hillary, (just as michelle is not Barack) and hillary is running, but I’m sure you’re RIGHT!!! Forgive me for bringing up the point.

    BTW, Rick i never said that you don’t have the right to be offended! As a matter of fact I explicitly said you are entitled to your feelings.

    You totally misread my written words, i can now see how you could also misinterpret Bill Clinton’s spoken words!!!

    But, you’re right, and I’m wrong!!!

    And, Rick, I’m not trying to be antithetical, but i know several older blacks who do not feel the way you do about the Clintons. They didn’t particularly like the fact that he used the word ‘fairy tale’ when talking about Barack’s positions, but they don’t view the Clintons as an enemy to Black folks!

  13. Denise

    A couple of observations:

    First, with all due respect, why didn’t the brother just bounce? I mean, c’mon. If he is offended – as he should be – why not sever the relationship altogether? Lord knows I have done just that in instances where I felt that racism or, hell, even black elitism – another fucked up entry barrier that WE use to gain or retain TOP DOG status against each other – was over the top.

    Seriously, other than being a CYA move to protect Mr. Clyburn from a political backlash, what exactly does he gain with this?

    Second, I got the point about the Clinton’s tossing a healthy does of racism to their Bubba base. Yes, the move was triflin’ as hell, and thanks for calling them out, but I got the message. This is not getting any more political mileage from me.

    What else is going on to earn the trust, confidence, and ultimately, the support of Southern black voters? Is anyone pushing a specific message on the impact of unchecked illegal immigration on the SC labor market? Has anyone found the courage to address the subprime mortgage tsunami threatening black home ownership in SC?

    I’d like to hear more about those issues.

  14. candace


    That’s a good point. I feel the same way. Clyburn isn’t anymore offended by Bill’s comment than I am. He’s protecting himself from any possible political backlash.

    And, i also predict that he will remain neutral unless this issue continues to spiral out of control. Then he’ll endorse Obama out of necessity.

    I ain’t mad at him though. It’s politics, and all of these guys & gals are politicians!!

  15. I see Clyburn giving his support to Obama…he’s putting his comments out there with a veiled threat to the Clintons: DIAL BACK YOUR RHETORIC ON OBAMA OR I GO ELSEWHERE.

    Let’s see if the Clintons get Clyburn’s message, because if they don’t, South Carolina goes into the Obama column, because Clyburn’s #3 in the Congressional leadership, and his say-so might swing the Democratic primary in his home state, House Negro or not.

  16. Rick

    you are entitled to your views and opinions and to express them freely, Candace.

    Hope everyone had a nice weekend,

  17. Rick

    I’m curious if Hillary pulls this “switch-er-round” stuff with Bill?

    “Senator Clinton made an unfortunate remark, an ill-advised remark, about King and Lyndon Johnson. I didn’t make the statement,” Mr. Obama said. “I haven’t remarked on it, and she, I think, offended some folks who felt that somehow diminished King’s role in bringing about the Civil Rights Act. She is free to explain that, but the notion that somehow this is our doing is ludicrous.” – 1/13: Obama explaining that he didn’t start racial stir

    But what do I know? Some would have us believe Hillary didn’t even make the remark from HER mouth in the first place!

  18. Lucia Akech

    (a) Donna Brazil was quoted as saying that Bill Clinton has championed issues that Black Community care about.
    Can someone enumerated what those issues have been. I mean, what did Bill Clinton accomplish on behalf of the African American community? Please, do not include those token appointments given to elites and clergy for encouraging millions of black voters to show up at the polling stations.

    (b) Candace has just implied that non-whites will be turned-off if blacks continues to be critical of the patronizing remarks by Hillary and Bill Clinton.
    Well, Candace, I would like to remind you that the number of Black people who will be harmed by those turned-off non-whites voters is 0.1% of black population in this country. Those are the community members who are given token gratuities or appointments so that they become the channels through which black voices must be filtered by those who select them. Any complaint that is not channeled through this group of black folks is considered radical by the so called people in the “mainstream”. They are those black congressmen whose campaigns are financed by the Democratic Party or those organizations them and “their people” to toe the line, otherwise, they may find themselves by the wayside like 99.9% black folks.

    The role of this minority (0.1%) has made it difficult, if not impossible, for African Americans to form a united front so that those issues many blacks paid the ultimate prize for are realized not only by them (0.01% of black population), but also by remaining 99.9%. They have become the mouth pieces through which attacks on blacks are channeled.

  19. Drexel

    Its one thing for the media, to misinterpret a comment. It’s another thing to continually put forth statements, being of the same connotation as the “so called,” misinterpreted statement. Its hard to believe highly educated Political figures such as the former President and First Lady, who are out spoken critics of the media wouldn’t think their words would be dissected or scrutinize. Look, It doesn’t take a Genius to come to the realization that the statements where intentional. Politicians know the power/ potential of the media as shown forth with all the opinions of the public, on this website. The statements were put forth to provoke a situation. So come on now, give me a break with this though of a misinterpretation.

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