Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Bill brings out worst in Clinton Camp

Shortly after the Iowa caucus, a Fox News panel mused on how
the campaign would evolve after Sen. Barack Obama’s surprising victory. They
came to the consensus that the contest would get ugly, with the Clinton camp
turning to backhanded racial conflict to solidify its base. I was sure they
were wrong ? the panel had a clear disdain for the Clintons, and the Democratic
Party was surely above shameless wedge politicking.

That the Clinton camp purposefully sought to create a racial
narrative is doubtful. The string of misunderstandings that led to the current
state of dialogue between the campaigns was too subtle and built too slowly.
The Clintons may be good, but nobody is that good. Now that the racial subtext
to this primary has emerged, there is little doubt left that Bill Clinton and a
number of top aides have run with it.

Many Democrats and Republicans are having a Kumbaya moment
over their mutual disgust of Clintonian politics. The Clintons have dedicated
their lives to public service and uplifted the poor and downtrodden with
uniquely American ideas for decades. But even I couldn’t help but think,
“No wonder conservatives can’t stand these people,” after hearing
days of dismissive remarks by Bill being replayed on every news outlet.


It is certainly unfair to blame a candidate for everything
surrogates say, but that doesn?t absolve a campaign from taking responsibility
for irresponsible tactics. BET founder Bob Johnson ? along with a number of
prominent Clinton campaign representatives ? denied raising Mr. Obama?s race as
an issue, then placed the blame squarely on his camp. All the while, the
Clinton campaign reaped the supposed benefits.

?They say they believe the fallout has had the effect of
branding Obama as ?the black candidate,? something he has worked to avoid,? an
Associated Press article said of Clinton strategists.

While Hillary?s campaign continues to deny using race as a
wedge, Bill has belittled the intelligence of black voters by writing off
Obama?s win in South Carolina and equating it to Jesse Jacksons? in 1984 and
1988. Video of the incident makes it clear that Mr. Clinton volunteered the
information, and the reporters? original question had no racial subtext and
nothing to do with Rev. Jackson. Ms. Clinton has said everyone on her team is
worn out from the intense schedule, but it?s hard to believe people race-bait
because they?re sleepy.

Make no mistake about it, and expect no apologies for the
beloved former president: No matter where you stand in this race, it must be
acknowledged that Mr. Clinton is attempting to brand all black presidential
candidates as fringe niche offerings. It was deliberate and is further proof
that the former president consistently values his ego over truth. Once he
failed to manipulate the black vote in South Carolina, Mr. Clinton dismissed
them as a herd of mindless sheep. The implication has been clear and

The bottom line is that Bill diminishes Hillary by making it
seem as if she needs him to fight her battles, and that?s unfair to her. There
is no doubt Mr. Clinton has a feel for the political winds that can?t be
underestimated, and his attempt to brand Mr. Obama as a niche candidate nearly
worked. The price of party unity was none too steep. It?s become painfully obvious
his principal objective is to get his wife elected at all costs, rather than
put his party in the strongest position to win.

Oddly enough, the fracas may help the Democrats? White House
aspirations should Mr. Obama win the nomination. On the night of his South
Carolina win, Fox News panelists ? including Weekly Standard executive editor
Fred Barnes ? couldn?t help but gush about him for taking the Clinton ?machine?
head on. For more anecdotal evidence, a cursory search of online news comment
boards shows he?s seen as a principled, if misguided, politician among many
conservatives. He certainly can hope to capture a larger share of independents
than John Kerry in 2004.

Democrats are beginning to see the writing on the wall ?
Sen. John McCain will likely be the nominee, and he’ll be tough to beat. The
guy’s pores ooze machismo and beside the Baghdad market incident, he’s got an
unparalleled reputation for ?straight talk.?

How could Hillary defeat him if the perception is that her
husband needs to fight her battles? Ms. Clinton is stronger than that. Now
someone needs to break the news to Bill.


Bassey Etim
([email protected]) is a senior
majoring in political science and journalism.

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