Bigotry in Black and White

I have been appalled to watch the relentless attacks leveled against Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) by the Clinton campaign/sympathizers in recent days. I am further incensed that so-called black leaders have been deafening in their silence as Obama endures one vicious attack after another by the Clinton loyalists. You can bet your bottom dollar that if a Republican candidate/sympathizer had unleashed the same vitriol against Obama, we’d be hearing about racism in politics. I guess if you’re black and hoping for a top slot in a Clinton administration, racial attacks be damned.

We all watched this sordid tale start the other week when the husband of former New Hampshire Gov. Jeanne Shaheen (D) made some ridiculous comment about Obama’s experimentation with drugs in his youth. Mr. Shaheen, of course, was the former chairman of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s (D-N.Y.) New Hampshire operation. I’m thinking the less-than-subtle message here is: Black man, black drug user — bad man. Then we were told by former President Bill Clinton that electing Obama would be a “roll of the dice.” My take? Black drug-using politician would be a roll of the dice — Hillary is better.

Then we move along to former Sen. Bob Kerrey (D-Neb.) and his comments the other day about Sen. Obama. For some reason, Kerrey thought it would be interesting to dwell on the senator’s middle name (Hussein) and mumble something about Obama’s Muslim upbringing. Yes, the message offered by Kerrey, a supporter of Clinton’s candidacy, could be summarized as follows: Do you really want a black, drug-using politician with the same name as a raving Middle Eastern madman running the country? That would be a roll of the dice we (Bubba voters) can’t afford.

What really galls me is the level and length to which the Clinton apologists will go in trying to explain that the Clintons aren’t doing exactly what they are doing. I respect and admire former Clinton counsel and fellow Pundits Blogger Lanny Davis a great deal, but his appearance on “Hardball” last night troubled me. Mr. Davis would have us believe that Sen. Kerrey’s comments were not meant to be racist and we shouldn’t infer from them such a message. I like Lanny and I like former Sen. Kerrey, but when stacked up against comments by the former president (her husband), the former top official from Sen. Clinton’s New Hampshire campaign and Kerrey himself, the coincidence seems suspicious at best.

While I am a partisan Republican, I genuinely admire Sen. Obama and his campaign. He is the most dynamic, intelligent, articulate and inspiring candidate running on the Democratic side of the aisle. You can’t listen to the guy and not think of the fervent enthusiasm former Sen. Bobby Kennedy (D-N.Y.) inspired while on the campaign trail.

What really hacks me off is the silence from the so-called leaders, the Revs. Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson. Where are they? When Tookie Williams, a murderer facing execution in California, was about to be put to death, Sharpton and Jackson were all over the story. Williams had changed, they assured us. What about the innocent people he gunned down?

This time, the Clinton apologists are engaging in the worst form of character assassination and the two men who purport to speak for Black America are missing in action. If Sen. Clinton has such a great record, with 35 years of experience, let’s hear about that and let voters make their own informed decisions. But if the best the Clinton camp can do is level murky, suspiciously racist charges to break Sen. Obama down while trying to bolster her candidacy, someone needs to call them out on their game. Apparently the leaders of Black America (in their view) are too busy fighting injustice elsewhere. What a disgrace.