Jeralyn sees a double standard:
Michelle Obama spoke today in South Carolina at the Trumpet Awards, an event celebrating black achievement. After commenting on Bill Clinton's fairy tale remark she said:
We had a miraculous victory in Iowa," Michelle Obama said. "Ain't no black people in Iowa! Something big, something new is happening. Let's build the future we all know is possible. Let's show our kids that America is ready for Barack Obama right now."...
She then wove the women issue into her comments:
She launched into her remarks recalling a meeting with Coretta Scott King, who died two years ago this month. She called the meeting "an extraordinary moment."
"That's a woman who knows what it means to overcome," Michelle Obama said to applause, and also mentioned Rosa Parks as another example....
Obama denies he's injecting race into the campaign. With his wife's comments today, I have to say they are both not just reacting to the Clintons' comments, but playing the card themselves....
But Jeralyn is missing the point. Michelle Obama is raising race in an affirmative way -- she's not attacking anyone. You can say that nothing like that whatsoever belongs in the campaign, but it's also true that Hillary Clinton has made affirmative appeals to female solidarity a huge part of her own campaign. And no one -- not the Obama campaign, not Obama supporters, not pundits or bloggers -- has said that crosses a line into moral offense.
The Clinton campaign and its surrogates are making veiled -- and not-so-veiled -- negative references to Obama's race. They're tapping into white stereotypes of blacks. If the Obama campaign starts hinting that Hillary Clinton shouldn't be president because she'd be a whimpery, teary girl in a crisis or starts making comments about her that tap into ugly cultural stereotypes of women -- I'd include veiled references to her appearance in that category -- then that would be an appeal to sexism. That would be analogous to "shuck and jive" and "hip black friend" and suggestions that Obama dealt drugs. But that's not happening.
Both are playing identity-politics cards in non-insulting ways. And let's not forget that quite a few of the other candidates in the race are doing the same thing: Not only does John Edwards allude to his working-class roots, but so does Mike Huckabee; Huckabee regularly tries to inspire evangelical group solidarity (occasionally in code); Fred Thompson has left the rented pickup truck behind, but his folksy aphorisms are meant to be a dog whistle to rural voters; and, no doubt, Rudy Giuliani has worn a Yankee cap once or twice while campaigning among retirees in Florida.
All that is OK. What's not OK is playing on negative images of a group to which your opponent belongs. The two are not analogous.
UPDATE: Kathy's right -- Jesse Jackson Jr. did launch attack Hillary in precisely the sexist way I described -- video here. No excuse for that. But so far it's an isolated incident. If there's more of this, then the Obama campaign will also have sunk into the gutter.
And just in case it's not clear why I'm upset, I have to quote (again) dnA:
The idea behind the racialized attacks is not to mobilize black voters against Obama. They know that we get it. The idea is to convince white voters that Obama is the kind of person who will play the race card at the first opportunity, and to demoralize black voters who question whether Obama can win. Once white people start turning on Obama, black people may give up hope and either not vote or vote for their second choice, who is probably Hillary Clinton.
I can't find a flaw in that theory, and it goes way beyond "politics ain't beanbag." It's incredibly destructive.
YEAH, AND: This, from the New York Post:
PRESIDENTIAL hopeful Barack Obama claims to run a clean campaign, but someone in his camp took a swipe at Hillary Clinton through the candidate's theme song.
As Obama and his wife, Michelle, strolled triumphantly into his victory party in Des Moines, Iowa, on Jan. 3, Jay-Z's "99 Problems" was blaring. In it, Jay raps, "I got 99 problems, but a bitch ain't one."
Some listeners took it as a not-so-sly reference to Hillary....
I dunno. It's a dumb move whether it was somebody's idea of a joke or just someone putting on a huge hit that seemed likely to pump up the crowd. What do I know -- maybe the Obama campaign will give as good as it gets, and we'll all wind up in the gutter. That would certainly be fitting in a year that's looking just awful for those of us who are desperate to see Republican dominance of our political life at an end after thirty years.
UPDATE: A Kos diarist says the song was never played.