Friday, March 21, 2008

Campaign 08: Mrs. Clinton and the Disown-Distance Dance

We all recall how concerned Mrs. Clinton was, in the recent debate, that Barrak Obama reject and denounce the racially charged rhetoric of Louis Farrakhan. Said Clinton:
There's a difference between denouncing and rejecting. And I think when it comes to this sort of, you know, inflammatory — I have no doubt that everything that Barrack just said is absolutely sincere. But I just think, we've got to be even stronger. We cannot let anyone in any way say these things because of the implications that they have, which can be so far reaching.
Obama graciously conceded to the childishly opportunistic hair-splitting and rejected and denounced Farrakhan. But Clinton's self-righteous tone in the matter reminded me of one of her husband's controversial last-minute pardon recipients, a man who was caught on a 1984 police surveillance videotape spewing racial epitaphs toward African-Americans:
Some junior high n***** kicked Steve’s ass while he was trying to help his brothers out; junior high or sophomore in high school. Whatever it was, Steve had the n***** down. However it was, it was Steve’s fault. He had the n***** down, he let him up. The n***** blindsided him.
I am not aware that anyone has ever asked Mrs. Clinton if she believes her husband did the right thing by granting a pardon to his own half-brother, Roger Clinton, while ignoring the clemency petitions of hundreds of others who were more deserving and had waited much longer. Has anyone ever asked Mrs. Clinton to unequivocally condemn Roger's patently racist speech? Has she ever apologized to the African-American community for it? Is it possible that she did not know that Roger was a racist, after having been married to his brother for a decade? Has she ever clearly, explicitly denounced, renounced, rejected, disavowed, distanced herself from and disowned Roger Clinton? When does all of this vetting stuff actually begin for Mrs. Clinton anyway?

"Ah, " one might say, "But doesn't Mrs. Clinton's public life and character suggest that she is neither responsible for such language nor in agreement with it? And, given its highly offensive nature, doesn't she deserve the benefit of the doubt - absent stark compelling evidence to the contrary - and an exemption from anything so elaborate and demeaning as an apology?"

Perhaps. And could we not say the exact same thing with respect to Mr. Obama?

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