- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 10, 2008

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Bill and Hillary Clinton are undermining Barack Obama by fanning the flames of division within the Democratic Party rather than being advocates for unity. This is evident in Bill Clinton’s Aug. 4 ABC interview in which he brought unwarranted attention to the racial issues that were raised during the Democratic primary and caucuses. Simultaneously, Hillary Clinton has been negotiating her role at the Democratic convention: She declared at a California fundraiser that it would be a “catharsis” for her supporters to have an open vote on the convention floor. Having dominated the Democratic Party for many years, the Clintons are behaving badly — as if the Blue Team is the Clinton Party instead of the Democratic Party.

In Mr. Clinton’s ABC interview, he did not provide strong and convincing statements to bolster the party’s presumptive nominee. Instead, Mr. Clinton focused on his favorite topic: himself.

Mr. Clinton was defensive when reporter Kate Snow asked about his comments during the South Carolina primary in which he compared Mr. Obama’s victory to the victories of the Rev. Jesse Jackson in 1984 and 1988. Obama supporters and many analysts rightly perceived this as Mr. Clinton’s attempt to paint Mr. Obama as the “black” candidate instead of the candidate that he is. In the ABC interview, Mr. Clinton declared: “I am not a racist.” Yet, this begs the question: Who called Mr. Clinton a racist?

As an American statesman and party leader, Mr. Clinton should be focused on the Party’s nominee. To dwell on the race issue again only further fuels it. Mr. Clinton is an expert at dodging questions he does not wish to answer. Hence, even though he stated at first that he did not wish to address the issue in the interview, he then proceded to do so. Why? Because this further undermines Mr. Obama and continues to fester the racial wedge that he and his wife deliberately created during the primaries and caucuses — a wedge between black voters and voting blocs historically tied to the Democratic Party.

The former president’s reluctance to help the Illinois Democrat was even more apparent when asked, in the same interview, whether he thought Mr. Obama was ready to be president. He replied: “Well, in the — you can argue that no one is ever ready to be president. I mean, I certainly learned a lot about the job in the first year. He’s shown a keen strategic sense in his ability to run an effective campaign. He can clearly inspire and motivate people and energize them, which is a very important part of being a president. And he’s smart as a whip, so there’s nothing he can’t learn.” Is that the best endorsement Mr. Clinton could give?

Mrs. Clinton is also being mischievous. According to the Democratic Party convention rules, regardless of the outcome of the caucuses and primaries, delegates and superdelegates are free to vote for whomever they wish at the convention. No delegate is safely in one camp until the votes are cast; and they can even change their mind on a second ballot.

Mrs. Clinton has not ruled out placing her name on the convention ballot: “I happen to believe that we will come out stronger if people feel that their voices were heard and their views were respected. I think that is a very big part of how we actually come out unified.” She insisted that this is the way to heal the party: “Because I know from just what I’m hearing, that there’s incredible pent-up desire. And I think that people want to feel like, ‘OK, it’s a catharsis, we’re here, we did it, and then everybody get behind Sen. Obama.’ That is what most people believe is the best way to go.”

Some of Mrs. Clinton’s staunchest supporters are hoping that if her name is on the ballot and there is an open vote, there is still a possibility — however slight — of electing Mrs. Clinton as the Democratic nominee.

Mrs. Clinton has developed an increasing sense of entitlement. In 2000, she declared she would support Al Gore in whatever capacity she could: “I want to do whatever will help.” She was nonetheless bargaining for a role that would augment her profile for her bid to become senator of New York. In 2004, she was not on the Democratic convention roster until late in the planning stages: This was an attempt to build more “buzz” for her 2008 run for president. In 2008, she is encouraging a roll-call vote on the convention floor in order to increase her visibility and sabotage Mr. Obama’s electoral prospects. This, even though she is not running - or is she?

Shame on the Clintons.

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