Democratic congressmen walking through Saturday’s antiObamacare rally at the Capitol have charged that they were subjected to racist and bigoted epithets by protesters. Andrew Breitbart does a great job of summarizing the circumstantial evidence that these charges are bogus.
At the center of these charges over the weekend was Rep. James Clyburn of South Carolina, who now accuses Republicans of aiding and abetting terrorism. Subtle he is not.
Rep. Clyburn is a member of Nancy Pelosi’s House leadership team, the highest ranking black House member, and a past master of deploying the race card. In 2008 Clyburn was a key participant in the Obama team’s efforts to racialize the primary campaign. Princeton Professor Sean Wilentz provided this useful account at the time:
Once again — and for the last time — the Democratic primary campaign has moved into a southern state, North Carolina, with a large African American population as well as a considerable university and college town liberal vote. Once again, the Barack Obama campaign and its supporters, fresh from a stinging defeat, are trying to stir up false accusations that Hillary Clinton and her campaign have cynically injected racial animosities into the campaign.
The latest round of charges about the Clintons have come from a familiar source, Representative James Clyburn of South Carolina, the highest-ranking black leader in Congress. In January, after the Obama campaign suffered stunning defeats in New Hampshire and Nevada, Rep. Clyburn, although nominally uncommitted, joined a chorus of concerted complaint about Hillary Clinton’s supposed denigration of Martin Luther King, Jr. and his contributions to the 1964 Civil Rights Act because of her observation that President Lyndon Johnson had played a crucial part in guiding its passage. (Clinton’s actual remarks, rarely reported, praised King enormously and were historically accurate.)
Clyburn then jumped on flimsy accusations that former President Bill Clinton had supposedly made subtle racial remarks by calling Obama’s claim to unwavering opposition to administration policy in Iraq a “fairy tale,” and by likening Obama’s eventual victory in South Carolina to those of Jesse Jackson in 1984 and 1988. (The first had nothing whatsoever to do with race: Obama had said in 2004, 2005 and 2006 that he didn’t know how he would have voted on Authorization for the Use of Military Force in Iraq because as a state senator he had no access to the intelligence, and Obama voted consistently for war funding as a U.S. senator. On the second matter — again, rarely reported in full — Bill Clinton’s remark was delivered as part of his praise of Obama’s campaign in every state, and Jackson himself publicly deemed it inoffensive.) Clinton had apparently done his wife’s campaign a lot of good with his work in New Hampshire and Nevada; but the targeted attack on him had the double effect of marginalizing him while advancing the race-baiter charges.
In a radio interview Bill Clinton defended himself and said the Obama campaign had “played the race card on [him].” Wilentz’s 2008 post has more on Clyburn, all of it worth reading in light of current events.
As Wilentz notes, Clyburn was a protagonist in dealing the race card on behalf of Obama against Clinton in 2008. When Clinton complained about having the race card played on him, he himself was an expert on its use and knew what he was talking about. Breitbart demonstrates that Clyburn et al. are at it again, this time against the opponents of Obamacare.