- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 1, 2008

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Hillary Clinton’s inflammatory comments on May 23rd to the editorial board of the Sioux Falls Argus Leader Newspaper are part of her larger strategy to race-bait and divide the Democratic Party. She and her husband began pursuing this course prior to the South Carolina primary on January 26. The result is a media backlash, diminishing prestige and further erosion of support from superdelegates and former prominent supporters.

In the interview in Sioux Falls, Mrs. Clinton tried to make the case that she should not be pressured to quit her pursuit of the Democratic nomination despite her long odds. She sought to remind voters that other Democratic nomination battles have been lengthy: “My husband did not wrap up the nomination in 1992 until he won the California primary somewhere in the middle of June, right? We all remember Bobby Kennedy was assassinated in June in California. You know, I just don’t understand it.” When her remark about an assassination in the middle of a campaign was condemned, she apologized. In her defense, she stated that the Kennedys have been on her mind due to the fact that Sen. Edward Kennedy has recently been diagnosed with a brain tumor. Yet she did not explain why she had previously referred to Robert Kennedy’s assassination in a March 6 interview with Time magazine - that is, before the recent diagnosis of Mr. Kennedy.

Her comments set off a firestorm - even within the liberal media. For example, the host of MSNBC’s “Countdown with Keith Olbermann” summarized why her statement was offensive: “Those words, Senator?…You actually used the word “assassination” in the middle of a campaign with a loud undertone of racial hatred - and gender hatred- and political hatred?…You actually used those words, in this America, Senator, while running against an African-American man against whom the death threats started the moment he declared his campaign?”

Mrs. Clinton’s comments were not merely “taken out of context” as some of her defenders claim. They fit a recurring pattern in the Clinton campaign - either by her or her surrogates - of race-baiting and then apologizing for it. Bill Clinton began this in South Carolina by referring to Barack Obama as the “black candidate” and mentioning Jesse Jackson’s failed nomination battle. Geraldine Ferraro also set off a furor when she stated that Mr. Obama would not be in the race if he were a white man. “If Obama was a white man, he wold not be in this position,” Mrs. Ferraro told California’s Daily Breeze newspaper. Mrs. Clinton sparked a slew of criticism when she stated in May: “Senator Obama’s support among, working, hard-working Americans, white Americans is weakening again.” She has repeatedly suggested that Obama cannot win a general election because he will not win the majority of the white vote.

Mrs. Clinton’s latest gaffe was particularly offensive because it appears as though she tried to link the nomination of Mr. Obama to the turbulence of the 1960s. She also appeared to imply that she is staying in the race just in case something terrible happens to Mr. Obama.

Even for the Clintons - who are well known for their utter lack of scruples - this campaign strategy marks an all-time low.

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