Bloggers on playing the race card.

Bloggers on playing the race card.

Bloggers on playing the race card.

The latest chatter in cyberspace.
Jan. 14 2008 6:12 PM

It's Getting Racy

Bloggers are accusing the Clinton campaign of race-baiting and debating the New York Times public editor's comments that he considers Bill Kristol's introduction to the paper's op-ed page a mistake. They also wonder about the decision to exclude amputee Oscar Pistorius from the 2008 Olympics.

It's getting racy: Campaigning for Hillary Clinton in South Carolina yesterday, BET founder Bob Johnson remarked that the Clintons have been supporting black issues since "Barack Obama was doing something in the neighborhood –and I won't say what he was doing, but he said it in the book." Bloggers take Johnson's statement as a reference to Obama's admitted drug use in his first memoir, and they scoff at Johnson's later attempt to deny it. They also assert that when Johnson compared Obama to Sidney Poitier, the actor who played a black doctor engaged to a white woman in Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, in a separate comment, he purposefully engaged racial stereotypes.

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"Now, the clear logic of this statement is that the Clintons were fighting the good fight back when Obama was just off goofing off," Talking Points Memo's Josh Marshall declares. "… So Johnson should just shut up or be a man and admit that it was a reference to Obama's admitted youthful drug use." At the New Republic's Plank,Jonathan Chait observes that "on the list of morally questionable things Johnson has done, his latest comments rank very low."

John Aravosis at liberal AMERICAblog writes: "I'm really astounded that the Clinton people are interested in dredging up dirty laundry about Obama because there's an awful lot of dirty laundry to go around, some of it fresh. I suspect the Clinton people are counting on Obama being too nice to 'go there.' They'd better hope they're right, because they keep opening the door, and some day Obama might finally walk through."

"Whatever you think of Obama's politics and qualifications to be president, he is a successful person and he has led an impressive campaign," writes conservative firebrand Michelle Malkin, then continues, "If Obama is Poitier, then Johnson and Hillary's black demagogues are the real-life analogies of Spencer Tracey and Katharine Hepburn's racist black maid, Tillie, who derides Poitier and treats him as a traitor to his race." Fellow conservative Sister Toldjah points to a post by Democratic blogger Taylor Marsh that says Obama himself has played the race card and wonders about the implications: "[B]ecause Obama is a likeable guy in general, and so many Republicans despise Hillary, I worry that many of them would/will naturally jump to criticize Hillary over this because she is so disliked, rather than look at what the Obama campaign is doing, as well. The fact is that both campaigns are playing dirty at this point and, in my opinion, neither should be able to claim the high road."

 "I think the Clintons have looked at Obama's growing black support and made a simple calculation," offersAndrew Sullivan with a larger-picture analysis. "If they can ratchet up their white votes by a constant drum-beat of Obama drug references then they can eke out a victory. A close victory - you know, the kind of margin Karl Rove prefers. Small, tilted to your base, and with your opponent slimed for good."

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Read more of the kerfuffle over Johnson's remarks. In Slate, Christopher Hitchens makes the case against Hillary.

Kristol clear: In his Sunday column, New York Times public editor Clark Hoyt admitted that the paper's hiring of Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol to its op-ed page was "a decision I would not have made." Bloggers react to Hoyt's column and Kristol's second week on the job. 

"Is there anything that better represents the folly of 'reaching out' to conservatives than the New York Times deciding that Kristol would be a good conservative voice for the paper?" wondersBrilliant at Breakfast's liberal Jill.  "Believing that William Kristol will somehow turn into William Safire is sort of like Barack Obama believing that his sheer force of personality will turn intransigent Republicans into happy furry puppies panting at his feet to compromise on policies on which he's running."  Lefty Steve Benen at Carpetbagger Report snipes, "The NYT's editors, if they're paying attention, should realize by now that offering a sloppy, predictable demagogue one of the most prestigious opportunities in American media was a mistake. If they don't, one assumes another column or two ought to do the trick." 

"Now the Times's obligation is to publish articles designed to mislead the Times's audience? Really?" scoffs Matthew Ygelesias,as he focuses on Hoyt's report of NYT publisher Arthur Sulzberger's justification of the hire. "And we're supposed to pay to acquire a product that's dedicated to publishing 'all the news that's fit to print plus some stuff that's in line with the conservative Republican movement.' Why would we do that?"  Too Hot for TNR'sSpencer Ackerman protests Hoyt's classification of the argument against Kristol:  "Hoyt pretends that the objection to Kristol is about him being an Iraq hawk rather than, say, Kristol's role as a GOP apparatchik."

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Read more on Hoyt and Kristol. In Slate, Jack Shafer wonders  why liberals are so afraid of Kristol.

Not-so-special Olympics:  The IAAF has ruled South African sprinter Oscar Pistorius ineligible for the 2008 Olympics because the prosthetics he runs on give him a competitive advantage. Bloggers ponder the fairness of the ruling.

Ergonomenon understands "the comittee had an extensive, scientific study of the drag and the energy return of his angles that would propel Mr. Pistorius down the track. Regardless, I'm not sure if anyone ever bothered asking a very simple question: What advantages does Mr. Pistorius lose with the absence of his feet?" SportsFrog sarcastically notes, "I am sure this was all part of his plan. Let's see if I cut off my legs the can rebuild me, they have the technology..... Better, stronger, faster." 

"Carbon fiber blades could totally be a competitive advantage. You have different tensions and whatnot. It's not like a pair of running shoes which all other runners wear and have access to," points out GripeBoy at RightThinking, "This guy is physically unique and technology (and his will) has made him able to run like hell. No other runner on the track benefits from technology in this way."

Read more on the Oscar Pistorius ruling.

Morgan Smith, a former Slate intern, is a law student in Austin, Texas.