Is It Enough?

Last night, Senator Clinton did what she seems rarely inclined to do and actually apologized for the racially charged comments that have come from her campaign through this overly long and painful primary season. Specifically, she apologized for the particularly tone deaf comments from her husband in South Carolina, as well as those made by Geraldine Ferraro which have sparked a firestorm among the press and among many Democratic voters.

But the question remains, is this enough?

While Clinton’s South Carolina comments were incredibly insensitive, I do not think they in and of themselves were the most damaging to this primary season. Nor, believe it or not, Geraldine Ferraro’s comments. These are individual events, building blocks for a darker whole that has made of this contest the last thing I hoped would come to pass.

The greatest transgression that Clinton still needs to apologize for is what this election has become; in many ways a contest between who was wronged worse, and who deserves retribution more. A contest that at one time held the potential of being truly historic not by the fact that a woman and a black man were running for president, but instead by the fact that they would be judged on their merits and not by the color of their skin or their gender has become in some way a vitriolic contest of which focus group is more entitled.

It is incredibly difficult to see the bulk of the responsibility here lying anywhere but firmly in the Clinton camp. These comments that she apologized for are only a fraction of the story, one that omits Billy Shaheen, and Bob Johnson, that omits “Shuck and Jive”, and “Kenneth Starr”. Now, keep in mind, I can be described as an Obama partisan, but I’m also not cherry picking, nor am I stretching. I defended Bill Clinton on the “fairytale” remark when people twisted and stretched themselves to possibly tint it as a racist comment. And my personal thoughts on the darkened image of Obama were such that I didn’t even feel it was worth commenting upon; that particularl bit of finger-pointing was in my opinion rooted in either paranoia or intentionally trying to paint the Clinton campaign as racist.

But one doesn’t need the stretches to make the case that the Clinton campaign has pulled the tone of this campaign through the mud. They began way back in the late fall of last year, and it continues to this day. This is the rough and tumble of politics, some may say, and that Obama needs to prove he is tough enough to withstand such things if he wants to have a hope of beating the Republican nominee in the fall. This is true, to a point, the election in the fall will be rough, but Obama has not shown any inclination of shying away from a fight with Republicans, and this does not give the Clinton campaign an excuse to toss aside Democratic principles in order to engineer a hit campaign against another fellow Democrat.

This was the point to Keith Olbermann’s comments last night; he wasn’t attacking her, he was begging her to stop, to take her considerable influence and force the tone of this campaign to become one that focuses on the issues and the qualities that makes these candidates ready to be president. But it is highly disturbing that John McCain seems more forceful in setting a reasonable standard for debate than Hillary Clinton.

The worst part of all this is not what is happening within the campaigns, though, but what happens among the supporters. We are now locked in mortal combat with each other, fighting this pissing contest of which focus group has hurt the most. Who’s suffered the most? Have blacks, or women? As though the winner of that particularly heinous contest should by right be made president.

Have we lost our damn minds?

I’ve seen the attacks against the Clinton campaign; the darkened Obama image, and the claims that the red phone ad may be racist, and shake my head that these people are trying to make hay out of nothing. And I see the most militant Clinton supporters who can’t take a single beat of criticism without calling it sexism.

A prime example of this comes in Taylor Marsh’s slamming of Keith Olbermann’s special comments last night, concluding that, “Evidently Mr. Olbermann can only see through his zipper.” The punchline is that Olbermann’s special comments last night were not typical of the segment, a wrath filled tirade against those stock bad guys we love to hate so much. As Dustin (in his shiny new blog) points out, this was not an attack, this was the pleading advice of someone who expects better of Senator Clinton, who wants Mrs. Clinton to live up to the principles of the party:

She couldn’t be farther from the truth if she tried. These were not some sort of boyz clubremarks. No, they were the tirades and pleas of a heart-broken man. You could tell that Olbermann wasn’t attacking Clinton; he was begging her to cut the Republican tactics and live up to the principles of what it means to be a Democrat. Tell me, does this sound like someone “out to get Clinton”?

(snip)

Those are NOT the rantings of a Clinton Derangement Syndrome sufferer. No, that’s what we in the real world call advice. You would never know it by listening to the likes of Big Tent Democratover at TalkLeft though.

I am reminded of France and Germany, close friends and allies who, in the run up to the Iraq war warned us not to invade, warned us to be patient, and we proved to be terrible friends and ignored their advice and made a mockery of them. We laughed and assailed them for performing the most solemn duty a friend can perform; saying the things you don’t want to hear, and giving you the tough advice you need to follow. Keith Olbermann did that last night, and the thanks he received from another ardent Clinton supporter was a call to boycott his show.

We have entered a strange world of hysterics in this election, and while it is true that no candidate can be expected to have control over all of his or her supporters, it is important to note that the candidates set the tone, that the candidates are from whom their supporters take their cue.

It was not the Obama campaign that decided to haul out the kitchen sink, nor is it the Obama campaign that has developed a pattern, yes a pattern, of having high level surrogates inject over the line attacks, letting them linger for a few days, and then conducting cursory casualty control after the damage has been done. It was not the Obama campaign that called this the “fun part”, and to this day those Obama supporters in the press and in blogotopia are still holding back, still unwilling to actually dip into the realm of employing right wing talking points.

That is not to say that the Obama campaign has been one hundred percent pure, nor the Obama partisans void of going overboard. I’ve set out examples earlier where they have crossed the line. But my point is this; the Clinton campaign chose negativity, and its supporters have followed suit with unmatched enthusiasm. The end result is that what should have been an historic election is fast becoming an historically ugly election in its bigoted undertones and propensity to open wounds that are not likely to heal any time soon.

That is what I want to hear an apology for. I don’t want an apology about being sorry that someone said something stupid which means that people won’t like Clinton anymore. I want an apology for turning this race into the circus it has become.

Then it will be enough.

2 Responses to “Is It Enough?”

  1. Dynamic says:

    This is only somewhat related, but I thought you’d like to know – a Kossack has put together a great viral “Truth About Obama” email to help counteract the ridiculous “did you know he’s a Muslim in disguise?” emails floating around out there. Worth checking out, and I forwarded it to everyone in my contact list.

    http://www.dailykos.com/story/2008/3/13/12313/0258/149/475809

  2. I appreciate that. Gonna post it now.

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