Since Senator Obama’s win in Iowa, pundits, politicians, candidates and grassroots people have really been talking. Senator Hillary Clinton’s reference to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and President Lyndon Johnson a few weeks ago has elevated the chatter.
During the debate on Jan. 15 in Las Vegas between senators Obama, Clinton and Edwards, it seemed the racial rhetoric had been put to rest and a truce called. Oh, but it didn’t last long. On Jan. 21, the three candidates met again for a debate co-sponsored by CNN and the Congressional Black Caucus Institute on the national holiday celebrating the birthday of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. in Myrtle Beach, S.C.
Former president Bill Clinton in recent days had made the rounds to every black-oriented radio show in the country. Michael Basden, Tom Joyner, Rev. Al Sharpton and WVON/CNN’s Roland Martin. At times I forget who really is running for president. It appears President Clinton has morphed into his wife. Even Sen. Obama alluded to this when he said, “I can’t tell who I’m running against sometimes.”
President Clinton found himself on the “black hot seat” after referring to Sen. Obama’s campaign rhetoric as a “fairy tale.” Oops, big mistake, Bill. This brought a litany of negatives about your presidency-the apology for slavery you promised, the Telecom Act of 1996 that resulted in an almost 50 percent loss of black-owned media in a year’s time, welfare reform, more black men going to jail. And who can forget his remarks about rapper Sister Souljah during his first campaign, accusing her of hatred because she called upon blacks to stop destroying their property and turn their efforts instead to the white power brokers. Or the execution of Rickey Ray Rector, a mentally retarded man. During Clinton’s first campaign, he traveled back to Arkansas to oversee the execution of Rector who was so mentally ill that while being escorted to his execution, he told guards he would eat his pecan pie when he returned. Black folks also have not forgotten how Bill abandoned Lanie Granier and Jocelyn Elders.
During the King celebration in Atlanta on Jan. 21, Mayor Shirley Franklin told former President Clinton, who was seated in the front row about 20 feet away at Ebenezer Baptist Church, that the country is on the “cusp of turning the impossible into reality. Yes this is reality, not fantasy or fairy tales.” And it wasn’t a fairy tale that while Bill Clinton was seated at Ebenezer Church that day, the KKK was holding a King protest march in Jena, La.
Black reporter Joe Johns asked Sen. Obama to comment on former President Bill Clinton being called the “first black president.” Obama was asked if he shared that opinion. First, said Obama, he would have to investigate Bill Clinton’s “dance abilities” to more accurately judge “if he is a brother.” Sen. Hillary Clinton said that could be arranged. What needed to be arranged is that Johns needs to find another career if he considers this question “cute.” I find it personally insulting, and Nobel Prize-winning author Toni Morrison (1993) didn’t do any favors for black folks by making that black president statement in the first place.
I’ve tried to figure out for some time what’s with black folks and Bill Clinton? I would hate to think that his playing the saxophone lulled the black community to sleep. I know many black folks have questioned this relationship over the years just as I do. But as we watch this presidential campaign unfold, it is crystal clear that when the going gets tough, Bill Clinton gets whiter. Yes indeed, Bill and Hillary Clinton love black folks as long as they obey and do what they are told. The nerve of Sen. Obama actually making a serious run for the presidency. The Clintons had planned on a cake-walk and underestimated Obama.