CAMPAIGN 08 OPINION & EDITOR’S COMMENT: Betraying black America

A blacklash?

Since January, the Clintons have pummeled Barack Obama with racially tinged comments and questions about his character.

Hillary Clinton has questioned why he didn’t walk out on the Rev. Jeremiah Wright Jr.; why he “denounced” but didn’t “reject” Louis Farrakhan; and whether he is too chummy with the former radical Bill Ayers. She chastised his characterization of white working-class voters as being highfalutin and chided him for not agreeing to a street-fight-style debate.

Bill Clinton has called Obama’s stance on the war a fairy tale, dismissed an early primary win as mere Jesse Jackson redux and recently claimed that Obama was playing the race card against him. Some of this is valid, the result of Obama’s own missteps, but some of it is baffling.

The rhetoric appears to be trafficking in old fears and historic stereotypes. The unspoken (and confusing) characterization of Obama is that he’s militant yet cowardly; uppity yet too cool for school.

The question is this: Have white Democrats soured on Obama? Apparently not. Although his unfavorable rating from the group is up five percentage points since last summer in polls conducted by The New York Times and CBS News, his favorable rating is up just as much.

On the other hand, black Democrats’ opinion of Hillary Clinton has deteriorated substantially (her favorable rating among them is down 36 percentage points over the same period). [complete article]

Editor’s Comment — The calculus for Superdelegates seems to come down to this: Will it be easier for Obama to win over disappointed or wary white Clinton supporters, or for Hillary to win back angry and alienated black voters (along with first-time voters inspired by Obama)? Building trust with those you’ve betrayed takes more than a fighting spirit and a candidate already perceived as untrustworthy hardly stands a chance.

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