International Writers Magazine: US Politics
in Chinese Handcuffs
obvious after the South Carolina primary that Chicago politician
Barack Obama has the lock on the African-American vote. They now
have a national leader that they are comfortable with.Thats
as it should be. Every group needs to coalesce around a core leadership
to represent its interests at the table. That way you know whom
to negotiate with.
This brings to mind
the ascendancy of the Parti Quebecois in Canada of the 1970s,
when French Quebeckers split off from the Liberal Party and formed into
a national bloc. Canada benefited from the leadership of Prime Minister
Pierre Eliot Trudeau, who, being half-French and half-English himself,
managed to balance national interests and keep Quebec as part of the
The more-or-less even dispersal of African Americans throughout
the U.S. precludes any move for black separatism, but this writer believes
that Obama will serve as the instrument that irredeemably fractures
the fragile Democratic coalition the same as one blow of a chisel can
shatter a carefully sculpted marble statue. Its obvious that black
political aspirations cannot be contained within the current structure
of the Democratic Party.
The big winner of the South Carolina primary is New York City mayor
Michael Bloomberg, whose presidential ambitions have been resuscitated
by hopes that enough disenchanted Democrats will flee into his waiting
arms. This calculation may be realized if Obamas strength continues
to snowball going into Super Tuesday.
While a Bloomberg third party candidacy may siphon off considerable
support from the Democrats, it will probably not have any effect upon
Republican voters, who have got to be figuratively dancing in the streets.
They can probably be counted upon to maintain unity around a McCain
The latest news now is that in a suicidal paroxysm in total conformity
with past Democratic behavior, Sen. Edward Kennedy has thrown his support
behind Obama. A few weeks ago the Democrats seemed to have a sure winner
against a fragmented Republican field. But like a Super Bowl game, the
dynamics have shifted in midfield to the other team. The Republicans
have a new dynamism with McCain, while the Democrats are fighting among
The damage has been done. Regardless of the results of Super Tuesday,
the Democrats will never be able to put themselves back together again.
If Clinton wins, the black vote will never support her in the general
election. If Obama manages to attain the nomination, enough Democrats
will flee, either to the Republicans or to Bloomberg, to ensure a Republican
The country seems to be entering a new phase of smaller parties that
will form coalitions around issues of mutual interest and will only
work together as long as those interests are served, similar to Europe
(Kenya is not a good example of that working- Ed)
Jan 29th Update:
Lets go back to this Barack Obama situation. It keeps eating
away at my mind like battery acid. When I was a child I had a
toy called Chinese handcuffs. It was a tube of woven
straw. You put one finger of each hand in the ends of the tube
and pulled. The more you pulled, the tighter the tube squeezed
The Republicans are habitually complaining about the Clintons
dirty tactics, and with good reason, because they have always been at
the losing of the end of their Machiavellian scheming. They fear
and loathe the Clintons for always being several steps ahead of them,
like a chess game.
I am prepared to concede the devilish cleverness of the Clintons, who
map out their coordinated strategies with a meticulous attention to
detail heretofore unprecedented in the sloppy world of American politics.
They live in a Chinatown of the mind that would do credit to Bobby Fisher.
They are a Forbidden City of the spirit, a Byzantine court of intrigue
that ensnares and ultimately destroys the unwary courtier.
At first consideration, Hillary Clintons ungracious remarks about
how president Lyndon Johnson deserved credit for the civil rights legislation
of the sixties seemed to be a major political blunder of gross insensitivity,
coming as it did over the weekend of Martin Luther King Day. How
could she be so maladroit, it was thought. Additionally, Johnson
has gone down in history as one of the most reviled presidents, presiding
as he did over a nation wracked by assassination, conflict and riots,
whose expansion of the Vietnam war began the long decline of American
power, in relative terms, that continues to this day. She must
be out of her mind, I resolved.
I should have realized that the Johnson statement was a carefully calibrated
lure extended by the Clintons to provoke Obama and his organization
to scream bloody murder and define him as the Black Candidate.
Which just shows that my original assessment about him was right.
Obama fell into the trap just as he was supposed to. All week
long, goaded by the Johanson statement, his campaign issued rebuttals
about the Clintons racial insensitivity, culminating in a landslide
Obama primary victory in South Carolina owing to the monolithic black
vote in that state. Obama is now perceived by the mass electorate,
the resounding majority of whom are white, as a strident, vociferous
spearhead of black political ascendancy. Never mind that Clinton
did not even attempt to campaign in South Carolina (they didnt
even have one telephone line in the whole state), and that the Obama
organizations superb organization was punching against thin air.
Obamas strident reaction to the dig by Hillary Clinton seeming
to give Johnson credit for Kings accomplishments, combined with
Obamas massive win in South Carolina, have actually put him behind
the eight ball with the mass electorate going into Super Tuesday.
Even I fell for it.
This is where the Chinese handcuffs come in. The more strength
Obama demonstrates with the black electorate, the more he is hamstrung.
He might be a slick dude on the South Side of Chicago (where I was born,
incidentally), but the Clintons have demonstrated how far he has to
go before he can be ready to deal with such smooth operators as themselves,
Vladimir Putin or Nicholas Sarkozy.
The Clintons are additionally helped by the Kennedy familys endorsement
of Obama, an extra little bonus for them. Most Democrats, this
one included, long ago discounted the Kennedys as an eccentric, tragedy-prone
family not to be taken seriously. They are actually digging Obama
deeper into his hole.
For the Clintons to engage in such short-term destructive tactics demonstrates
how seriously they take Obama as a threat, and who can blame them?
When he started his campaign, as a constructive player in strengthening
the Democratic coalition, they surely welcomed his presence. But
as he became more personally aggressive and abusive, they decided that
he had to be shut down.
The Clintons obviously determined that this is a poison pill they have
to swallow, that they stand to hemorrhage black votes in November.
But getting the nomination is right now Job One, and later there will
be time to manage the fallout.
© Dean Borok Jan 29th
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