Both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton seem eager to move beyond the racial mud-slinging. The mud-slinging that the Clinton campaign has led. The Clinton campaign (until it started to yield diminishing returns) seemed to have calculated that they could sacrifice black votes during the primary to win over white independents and undecideds because once Clinton is the nominee — where else are black voters going to go? And it’s true. Clinton’s “performance” on Meet the Press on Sunday convinced me not to vote for her during the California primary. Her interview revealed her as dishonest, cynical, evasive, finger-pointing and whining. A short-sighted follower rather than a leader – at least when it came to the Iraq war. I think the word “shrill” is sexist and in her case, not even accurate. I prefer just plain old “annoying” and “humorless”. But if she wins the nomination, I would absolutely vote for her over whichever fascist fumbling jackass the Republicans select in their primaries. I might vote for her without much enthusiasm, but I would certainly choose her.

And that’s what the Clintons are banking on. That they could racially rough-ride over Obama right in front of us — over and over and using sneering, paternalistic barbs — and that African-Americans would come crawling back anyway in the general election. If it’s at all close in key states, though, they’d need a strong black turnout and if this race-baiting behavior continues and black dis-affection with the Clintons spreads, is that guaranteed? They’ve been taking a big chance, pointing to scared strategy.

I switched off Meet the Press thinking: Where was Hillary Clinton after 9/11, before the War in Iraq, when the Patriot Act was passed? When the country desperately needed alternative vision and leadership, she went along for Bush’s ride. Conditions in America have not improved under Bush, but he didn’t create problems like education, healthcare and the environment. The Clintons had 8 years to do something about these afflictions in America and improved things just around the margins. They may have alleviated some of the pain but these certainly weren’t cured. This is not to diminish accomplishments like a balanced federal budget, prosperous high tech economy, maternity leave, the Americans with Disability Act and the Family Medical Leave Act. But frankly, he Clintons had their chance. Maybe it’s time for someone else with new ideas to take the reins.

Regarding Clinton surrogates, there seems to be a lot of confusion out there about how black people feel about Robert “Bob” Johnson. Look people, BET has long been hated by many, many black people and its content actually became less of a national humilation after Johnson sold it to Viacom. Bob Johnson is a highly controversial character, who despite his laudable philanthropy, generates almost automatic revulsion among many African-Americans. Karen Hughes and Quincy Jones launched TVOne in part just to provide a positive, alternative anti-BET. To position Johnson as a black leader to spout unfortunate words about Obama means that the Clinton campaign looks desperate and ill-advised. It looks like scraping the bottom of the barrel. Don’t understand what I mean? If you want to look for a businessman that is a hero to blacks, I give you: Magic Johnson.

Finally, on surrogates Charlie Rangel (D-NY) and James Clyburn (D-SC). I found it interesting that Clyburn felt the need to say publicly that the Clintons should back off since that conversation could have been had over the phone. Which means that they had those conversations, she continued the race-baiting and he felt the need to step in gently. Good for him. He’s right:

“People are talking about race versus gender when we ought to be talking about Democrats versus Republicans,” said Mr. Clyburn, who as the Democratic whip is the highest-ranking African-American in Congress.

Re: Charles Rangel — love ya, but saying things like this just don’t help us elevate the conversation. So please, STFU.

“How race got into this thing is because Obama said ‘race,’ ” Mr. Rangel said on the NY1 cable channel. “I would challenge anybody to belittle the contribution that Dr. King has made to the world, to our country, to civil rights, and the Voting Rights Act. But for him to suggest that Dr. King could have signed that act is absolutely stupid.”

I didn’t get the sense that Obama was suggesting any such thing. What makes name-calling ok? Why the needless attack on a brother?

I would love to think that Hillary Clinton is sincere when she says:

“We may differ on minor matters,” Mrs. Clinton said of Mr. Obama, “but when it comes to what is really important, we are family. Both Senator Obama and I know that we are where we are today because of leaders like Dr. King and generations of men and women like all of you.”

“Family”? Hmm. With African-Americans, uh not anymore, we ain’t.

I have a feeling that if Obama wins more primaries, this is not the last time race will be injected into this campaign among Democrats. Clintons — know that we are watching, taking notes and won’t forget. I hope you are planning some way of making this up to us if you win. You can start with slavery and Jim Crow reparations.

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