What is wrong with this statement?

From Newsweek: Clinton has started mentioning race more frequently. In an article published yesterday in USA Today, Clinton said she would have a larger group of voters to draw a winning coalition from because “Senator Obama’s support among working, hard-working Americans, white Americans, is weakening again.” 

The phrase “working, hard working Americans, white Americans” is old southern strategy code, introduced by Richard Nixon, to appeal racist whites. Has Clinton forgotten the she is running for the “Democratic” nomination for President? It is deplorable that she would say to West Virginia voters, and others, that a her opponent cannot win against McCain because he is black?

Disgusting Senator Clinton. Just disgusting!  As a white man who grew up in the south and western Pennsylvania, I remember the code that implied “black men” are lazy and don’t work hard like “white” folk. I didn’t like it then and I don’t like it now.

No wonder she has such a lead in the West Virginia polls.

John Dickerson has a good article on the topic over at SLATE.

White Voter Trap
Why Clinton wasn’t intentionally playing the race card.
By John Dickerson

When Hillary Clinton told USA Today that she was winning the white vote, she opened herself up to the charge that this was the latest gambit in her attempt to use Barack Obama’s race to defeat him. It fit somewhere between Bob Johnson’s ham-fisted attempt to argue that Obama wasn’t black enough (while also bringing up his past drug use) and Bill Clinton’s reference to Jesse Jackson after Obama’s South Carolina primary win, which many saw as an attempt to dismiss Obama as a candidate with limited mass appeal.

I don’t interpret Clinton’s latest remarks that way. Instead, I see Sen. Clinton trapped in an unforgiving episode of Iron Chef. Time is almost up, and she’s got to make a meal out of the spare ingredients left. She’s in too much of a rush to check if those mushrooms are poisonous. She grabbed the AP story listing the demographic groups that she is winning and ran down the list just as pundits have been doing for months. 

  12 comments for “What is wrong with this statement?

  1. Put a sock in it!
    May 10, 2008 at 12:39 pm

    OMG! When is she going to shut up? May 13, May 20?! Not soon enough…

  2. May 10, 2008 at 1:18 pm

    I’m giving Hilary the benefit of the doubt. I don’t believe racist code words from the late 1960’s really work any more. I think what she MEANT to say was “working Americans (meaning blue-collar) and white Americans.” That would be an accurate description of recent exit poll data.

  3. May 10, 2008 at 2:22 pm


    Thank you. I’m glad you’re not giving in to the sensationalism over “race”.


    Bolsavik has a good point. Hillary was simply pointing out her support among blue-collar voters. You’re really trying to read too much into that statement.

    So should I claim that the Obama campaign is full of sexists when surrogates try to compare Hillary to Glenn Close’s character in “Fatal Attraction”? And are you calling all West Virginia Democrats supporting Hillary “racists”? Come on, Chris! You’re making too much adieu about nothing…

    And if you’re trying to get us all to unite behind Obama, you’re not helping your candidate right now.

  4. May 10, 2008 at 2:53 pm


    I am not talking about what Hillary’s surrogates said. I am talking about what she said. And Bolsavik. If Hillary meant blue collar workers, she would have said so. She is not George W, Bush, she does have command over the English language. There is no reason to suggest to a reporter that you are more electable as the party nominee because you have more support among “white” voters.

    When you place had working and white in the same sentence in the same phrase, you are talking in racist code. The same code in fact that she and her surrogates used when describing Senator Obama as “elitist.” If you haven’t figured it out, “elitist” is the new PC way of calling him “uppity.” As in “that uppity Negro doesn’t know his place.”

  5. demmother
    May 10, 2008 at 3:59 pm

    The race and gender cards have been played. It is divisive and McCain & Rove are hoping ‘that dog will still hunt’ in November.Race is the purple cow in our living room that no one wants to discuss.

    I think the question Dems are currently pondering and will be the marquee for November is are we going to vote based on fear, or on hope.

    The remark is the DUMBEST thing Hillary has said. Is she tired? Getting bad advise? Desperate? I do not know. I will add that there is no excuse for that remark. It was wrong PERIOD.

    IF hard working white American support is weakening Obama’s chances, North Carolina would have been a narrow Obama or Clinton Victory and Indiana a blow out for Clinton. If Obama did this well after Rev Wright came out of the woodwork again, I do not think he has lost that much support.

    I will with hold any cheap shots for the time being. There are strategic arguments for both Democrats. At this juncture, why not take a breath and rejoice that the final two contenders ARE a black man & a woman! Together, they blew away all of the white boys.

  6. May 10, 2008 at 4:46 pm


    Thanks for the more level-headed response. Belive me, I’d like to just take a breath and rejoice. But when almost every single statement of Bill & Hillary Clinton has to be construed as “racist” while these same folks making the “racism” accusations overlook the sexist swipes at Hillary, I sniff a double-standard in use. So please, please, can your fellow Obama supporters refrain from the wild accusations?

    Thanks. 🙂

  7. anon
    May 10, 2008 at 5:04 pm

    Andrew, there’s a big difference between what the candidates say and what their supporters (many of whom are beyond the moment by moment control of the candidate, unlike the candidate’s actual mouth), say. Bottom line…to hear this kind a racial code language coming out of Mrs. Clinton’s mouth is extremely disappointing.

  8. demmother
    May 10, 2008 at 5:55 pm


    I would love to have a dialogue with you. I won’t do that here.

    Both sides are sniffing double standards. It is either racist or sexist.

    Let’s get the white boy! AKA Cracker from AZ!

  9. May 10, 2008 at 7:06 pm

    anon 5:04-

    I understand what you’re saying, but I still don’t think one campaign should be critiquing the speck in the other’s eye while ignoring its own log. I didn’t appreciate Obama’s past swipes at Hillary’s record by dismissing it as “tea parties with diplomats” or his remarks about “the claws coming out” as if Hillary Clinton were some she-devil that didn’t know her place. But you know what? I’d rather not take the leap of calling Obama a sexist. I’d appreciate it if Obama supporters would do the same and stop calling Bill & Hillary Clinton “racists”.


    OK, I’d rather not talk about this stuff any more. I’m getting weary already. Hopefully when the primary’s over and the party has a nominee, all these painful wounds will heal.

  10. Too funny!
    May 11, 2008 at 8:45 am

    “thank you for your level-headed reponse.” That is hilarious, Andrew, when just a couple of days ago you were gasping at how “stupid” Tim Russert was. I guess weekends are more “level-headed” for you…

  11. Bladerunner
    May 11, 2008 at 8:56 am

    Mr. Prevatt:

    The answer to your question is: nothing.

    Now please go back to applying your creative talents to the 1st Supervisorial District campaign. Anxious and inquiring minds look daily to the Liberal OC for your latest take on the race.

  12. another answer
    May 11, 2008 at 9:14 am


    The answer to your question is also: history.

    As discourse “Senator Obama’s support among working, hard-working Americans, white Americans, is weakening again” plays to a still very active racism in American culture–whether the candidate intends it is not my point and not what is most important. The old race-politics works this way and it is part of how Nixon’s Southern Strategy operated in rhetoric. Such implied white/black positive/negative coding has been the structure of much political discourse in places like Kentucky for generations. Again, it matters little to me whether Clinton meant to play to this history. It’ll play anyway. The counterpart of the “hardworking white American” is the figure of the “black welfare queen.” Both are stereotypes. Many people outside the South will have relative difficulty seeing it even though the stereotyped opinions can be found in the electorate of every region. But in the South such discourse will have a settling familiarity to many white and black voters.

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