Obama, Clinton: Watch Out For Republican Attack Dogs

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Senator Barack Obama’s campaign was an unexpected bonus for the Republicans. As much as the United States likes to think of itself as color blind, it most certainly is not. Republicans know this and won’t hesitate to play the race card as they did with Congressman Harold Ford of Tennessee in the 2006 mid-term election-Republicans have a history of using race when they need to pull out a close race (see Southern Strategy).

OP-ED: REPUBLICAN ATTACK DOGS


Senators Hilary Clinton and Barack Obama are the most intriguing presidential candidates we’ve seen in years.


The press certainly seems to love them. Who can blame them? The possibility of either the first African American president, or first female American president is the sort of thing reporters dream of. If either is elected to the White House, reporters would look outside of the normal presidential issues such as foreign and domestic policy, battles with Congress and crisis management.


Correspondents covering President Hilary Clinton or Barack Obama would write about how sex and/or race impacts certain decisions. Op-Ed articles would second-guess as to whether or not Clinton or Obama were pandering to certain constituencies. Reporters would also watch very closely to see how leaders of foreign countries react to a female or African American Commander in Chief.


Unfortunately for the Democrats, it’s also what Republicans dream of. Almost immediately after the 2004 election, Republicans, usually averse to saying anything positive about Hilary Clinton, started talking about what a formidable candidate she would be. They stopped just short of promoting her candidacy. The funny thing was, at that time, Hilary had never announced her intention to run.


Even now, as Hilary leads Democrats in the polls, you never see the vaunted Republican Attack Machine let loose on her. No charges of being a “flip-flopper” like Senator John Carey, or “having problems with the truth” the way Vice President Al Gore did. Imagine, Hilary Clinton, the woman that Republicans love to hate because of her influence and involvement as First Lady in the Clinton White House is running for the Democratic presidential nomination and the Republicans are complimenting her. Hilary Clinton, the wife of former President Bill Clinton, Republican’s “public enemy number 1”, and no attack dogs?


With the election two years away, one might think that it’s too early to start attacking Hilary. Don’t be fooled. The Republicans are merely holding their fire until Hilary secures the nomination. They are not attacking her now because they don’t want to inflict damage on her campaign too early.


Republicans know that the Bush Administration, along with the former Republican led Congress and Senate lost the trust of the American people because of their corruption and deception. The only way the Republicans can win in 2008 is for the Democrats to nominate a candidate so objectionable that she/he polarizes the country and rallies a Republican base that has lost faith in its party. Hilary Clinton is that polarizing figure.


In the past year, I’ve spoken with many political Independents that have expressed strong anti-Hilary sentiments. When I ask them to elaborate on their dislike for Hilary, many can’t articulate the basis for their disdain. They just don’t like her. Add these Independents to the Republican base and the many Americans that would never vote for a woman, regardless of party or credentials, and you get a Republican president in 2008.


While I don’t agree with her on all issues, Hilary Clinton is a politically astute and thoughtful woman who is to be admired for her strength and intellect. It’s not her fault that she is such a polarizing figure. I do believe she was the victim of a “vast right-wing conspiracy”.


Once the Republicans controlled the House and Senate in 1994, they kept independent prosecutors investigating the Clintons. From Whitewater in 1994, to Travelgate, Paula Jones, campaign finance and finally, Monica Lewinsky, Republicans used the independent prosecutor to create an air of distrust between the Clinton White House and the American people. While the Clintons were never found guilty of any allegations leveled against them, the strategy worked in large part.


Senator Barack Obama’s campaign was an unexpected bonus for the Republicans. As much as the United States likes to think of itself as color blind, it most certainly is not. Republicans know this and won’t hesitate to play the race card as they did with Congressman Harold Ford of Tennessee in the 2006 mid-term election. Republicans have a history of using race when they need to pull out a close race (see Southern Strategy).


Obama is icing on the cake for the Republicans. As with Hilary, you do not hear Republicans attacking Barack Obama for the same reasons they are not yet attacking Hilary. Should either Hilary Clinton or Barack Obama win the Democratic nomination, you’ll see the Republican Attack Machine again. Only it won’t be quite as nasty as in years past. It won’t have to be and it won’t want to be accused of sexist/ racist behavior.


There is one Democrat that the Republican Attack Machine is already gearing up for, former Vice President, Al Gore. The possibility of Al Gore running again scares the hell out the Republicans. Gore is more popular now than he was as Vice President or as the Democratic presidential candidate in 2000. He spoke out against invading Iraq in 2002, when it was unpopular to do so. His work in bringing Global Warming to the attention of the world and revealing those who still called it a hoax as mere partisans, has won him universal respect.


We saw the Attack Machine after the Oscars. They put out talking points about Gore’s energy usage at his Tennessee home. They called him a “hypocrite”, saying that he does not practice what he preaches. The attack speaks of the amount Gore’s energy bill, as well as the amount of kilowatts used to power his home. What is not said is that the Gores receive “green power” which costs more, but minimizes carbon pollution.


This attack, of course, is a replay of the strategy Republicans used to narrowly defeat Gore in 2000. An American public weary of such attacks and regretting their decision in 2000 would now embrace Gore. You also have to believe that he unlike in 2000, Gore would come out swinging against the Attack Machine. If you want to know who the Republicans fear in 2008, follow the attack dogs.



Black Star News columnist Andre W. Stephens can be reached at
andre.w.stephens@hotmail.com



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