Frank Rich: Ruthless, Race-Carding Hillary
[A] synthetic product leeched of most human qualities. -- Frank Rich, on how Hillary Clinton is being marketed, Feb. 10, 2008.
If Frank Rich is the voice of elite liberal opinion, Hillary Clinton is in deep, deep trouble. How many folks on the Upper West Side and reasonable facsimiles thereof from Boston to Madison to LA will be opening their hearts -- or credit cards -- to Hillary after reading Rich's stunning indictment of Clinton and her campaign this morning?
The jumping-off point for Rich's column is the live prime-time special the night before Super Tuesday that the Clinton campaign conducted. Flashing his theater-critic roots, Rich panned it as a "boring" "pseudo-event," noting that "some in attendance appeared to trance out." But if the staging was bad, the substance was much, much worse in Rich's view. For he claims that it reflected nothing less than Clinton playing from a "thick deck of race cards."
Writes Rich [emphasis added]:
In its carefully calibrated cross section of geographically and demographically diverse cast members — young, old, one gay man, one vet, two union members — African-Americans were reduced to also-rans. One black woman, the former TV correspondent Carole Simpson, was given the servile role of the meeting’s nominal moderator, Ed McMahon to Mrs. Clinton’s top banana. Scattered black faces could be seen in the audience. But in the entire televised hour, there was not a single African-American questioner, whether to toss a softball or ask about the Clintons’ own recent misadventures in racial politics.
The Clinton camp does not leave such matters to chance. This decision was a cold, political cost-benefit calculus. In October, seven months after the two candidates’ dueling church perorations in Selma, USA Today found Hillary Clinton leading Mr. Obama among African-American Democrats by a margin of 62 percent to 34 percent. But once black voters met Mr. Obama and started to gravitate toward him, Bill Clinton and the campaign’s other surrogates stopped caring about what African-Americans thought.
I must say, the fact that the tightly-scripted Clinton campaign didn't permit a single question from a black viewer during an hour-long event is nothing short of shocking.
Additional excerpts [emphasis added]:
[T]his show was a dramatic encapsulation of how a once-invincible candidate ended up in a dead heat, crippled by poll-tested corporate packaging that markets her as a synthetic product leeched of most human qualities.
Less than two weeks ago she was airlifted into her own, less effective version of “Mission Accomplished.” Instead of declaring faux victory in Iraq, she starred in a made-for-television rally declaring faux victory in a Florida primary that was held in defiance of party rules, involved no campaigning and awarded no delegates. As Andrea Mitchell of NBC News said, it was “the Potemkin village of victory celebrations.”
The Clinton campaign might be an imploding Potemkin village itself were it not for the fungible profits from Bill Clinton’s murky post-presidency business deals.
[T]he wholesale substitution of Hispanics for blacks on the Hallmark show is tainted by a creepy racial back story. Last month a Hispanic pollster employed by the Clinton campaign pitted the two groups against each other by telling The New Yorker that Hispanic voters have “not shown a lot of willingness or affinity to support black candidates.” Mrs. Clinton then seconded the motion by telling Tim Russert in a debate that her pollster was “making a historical statement.” It wasn’t an accurate statement, historical or otherwise. It was a lie, and a bigoted lie at that, given that it branded Hispanics, a group as heterogeneous as any other, as monolithic racists.
The question now is how much more racial friction the Clinton campaign will gin up if its Hispanic support starts to erode in Texas, whose March 4 vote it sees as its latest firewall. Clearly it will stop at little. That’s why you now hear Clinton operatives talk ever more brazenly about trying to reverse party rulings so that they can hijack 366 ghost delegates from Florida and the other rogue primary, Michigan, where Mr. Obama wasn’t even on the ballot. So much for Mrs. Clinton’s assurance on New Hampshire Public Radio last fall that it didn’t matter if she alone kept her name on the Michigan ballot because the vote “is not going to count for anything.”
[A] Clinton combine so ruthless that it risked shredding three decades of mutual affection with black America to win a primary.
A race-tinged brawl at the convention, some nine weeks before Election Day, will not be a Hallmark moment. As Mr. Wilkins reiterated to me last week, it will be a flashback to the Democratic civil war of 1968, a suicide for the party no matter which victor ends up holding the rancid spoils.
Coming as it does the morning after Hillary absorbed the blow of devastating defeats from Louisiana to Nebraska to Washington State, has Frank Rich administered the knock-out punch?