Dousing The Fire, And When’s The Next?

Being officially on vacation until today means that I thankfully missed much of the racial back and forth that has gone on between the two leading Democratic campaigns.  Tragically, I can only say “much” and not “all” as the entire episode not only marked a pretty lame low for the party, but was on the verge of getting ugly… like, split upart the party ugly.

It would be Obama, not the Clintons, however, who would call for the cease fire.  If you’re an idealist, this only goes to prove the graciousness of the Illinois Senator, but if you’re more realistic, or even a cynic, it at least points out his political guile.  He didn’t start the entire exchange, and if he played it just right, could have stood to gain considerably from it, but the best play was simply calling for it to end.  Here, the idealists get to dream, the Clintons and the Democratic party gets to save face, and the entire debacle is stopped before too many members of the party jump ship.

Thus the stage was set for Obama to make his statement that not only should the he-said-she-said be put to rest, but that the Clintons have in fact had a pretty good record on civil rights.  Thankfully for the Clinton campaign, people were hardly given the chance to wonder if she would actually accept the cease fire before she also made a call for the race bating to come to an end.

A note about this entire mess.  As I mentioned in my post earlier this morning, I think that there was not quite as much there there as a lot of folks seemed to want there to be.  Yes, there was a little fire to all that smoke, but much of the events over the past week have been severely blown out of proportion, and really, this is a great time to drop it (actually, right when this started would have been a good time to slap around some surrogates, take back a remark or two, and move on as if nothing happened).

And all sides get some blame, though not evenly.  The Obama staffer in South Carolina got a little too enthusiastic in fanning the flames, the mainstream media treated this a little too much like a Paris Hilton arrest.  And yes, the Clintons do get a good chunk of the jeers for all of this, for, as I also pointed out in my earlier post, while I don’t think there was a lot of racial insensitivity going on, the entire mess still fit just a little too neatly into the Clinton attack pattern that has developed since September.

So if all parties involved are willing to drop it, then let them I say.

But here’s the real question.  I know there were some folks out there, prior to the Hillary statement, wondering whether or not she would accept to the cease fire.  The answer to that is obvious.  While Clinton may have shown us that she’s not as politically astute and nimble as some would believe, she’s not that slow not to take a free pass when it’s offered to her.

The real question is if this terrible week of racial tension was enough to sour Clinton and her considerable machine on the personal attacks completely or if she’ll just go on looking for mud of a different type to throw using more of her ham-handed surrogates.

One would hope so.  I’ve said it several times now; Clinton would be sitting a lot better if she just shook off the bruising she took in September and continued on with the campaign that brought her to the dance in the first place.  Pre-September Clinton was cool, disciplined, and played her role as above the fray perfectly.  Post-September Clinton, on the other hand, continues to swing wild like a boxer who took one a little harder on the chin than expected and is trying to get back in the fight.

If we begin this week with Obama and Clinton calling truce on a dirty fight about race, but end it on some other bit of mud flying through the air, the Democratic front runner risks punching herself clean out of the race.  Tragically for her, the only people that seem to not understand this are the Clinton’s and the campaign.

On the other hand, I’m pretty unimpressed with Clinton on a myriad of substative levels, so if she wants to shoot herself in the foot, by all means, be my guest.

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