May 3, 2008
By CHARLES M. BLOW
Since January, the
Hillary Clinton has questioned why he didn’t walk out on the Rev. Jeremiah Wright Jr.; why he “denounced” but didn’t “reject” Louis Farrakhan; and whether he is too chummy with the former radical Bill Ayers. She chastised his characterization of white working-class voters as being highfalutin and chided him for not agreeing to a street-fight-style debate.
Bill Clinton has called Obama’s stance on the war a fairy tale, dismissed an early primary win as mere Jesse Jackson redux and recently claimed that Obama was playing the race card against him. Some of this is valid, the result of Obama’s own missteps, but some of it is baffling.
The rhetoric appears to be trafficking in old fears and historic stereotypes. The unspoken (and confusing) characterization of Obama is that he’s militant yet cowardly; uppity yet too cool for school.
The question is this: Have white Democrats soured on Obama? Apparently not. Although his unfavorable rating from the group is up five percentage points since last summer in polls conducted by The New York Times and CBS News, his favorable rating is up just as much.
On the other hand, black Democrats’ opinion of Hillary Clinton has deteriorated substantially (her favorable rating among them is down 36 percentage points over the same period).
While a favorable opinion doesn’t necessarily translate into a vote, this should still give the
If Hillary Clinton should defy the odds (and the current math) and secure the nomination, she would be hard-pressed to defeat John McCain without the enthusiastic support of black voters, stalwarts of the Democratic base.
Getting that support could now be tricky.
Many blacks are aghast that their extraordinary support of Bill Clinton in the past would be repaid by the Clintons with racial innuendo (in a Times/CBS News poll after the salacious 1998 Starr report was released, his unfavorable rating among whites climbed to 52 percent; among blacks it was only 10 percent). Some who stood by him then now apparently feel betrayed.
It is no wonder then that McCain is making a place at the table for possible defectors, however unlikely. He began his “forgotten places” tour in
Remember that moment if you ever see a bumper sticker that reads, “Repulsed into voting Republican.”
Charles Blow's column will appear on alternate Saturdays. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.