Apropos of my post the other day ("Obama not quite so innocent") today's Observer has an extraordinary one-sided article by Paul Harris, which reads as if written by an Obama staffer. It accuses the Clintons of running a dirty campaign. I believe it. (Bill Clinton more or less admitted it the other day: "This is a contact sport"). The not-so-gentle reminder of Obama's middle name (Hussein) is certainly dirty politics. But Obama is still no innocent. He and his people most certainly used race in South Carolina, suggesting Hillary had denigrated Martin Luther King (while contriving to deny doing so). Now Obama's people are denying that Michelle Obama's comments ("If you can't run your own house, you can't run the White House") were directed at Hillary Clinton; she was it seems "taken out of context". As Bill would say: "Give me a break". Hillary Clinton mentioned Obama's links with slum landlord Rezko (in reply to his taunt about her serving on the board of WalMart); dirty politics, sure, but Obama did
have such links, and continued to have them, despite the fact that Rezko's activities were well-reported in the local media, not least in the Chicago Tribune (which was reporting Rezko's questionable fund-raising activities for the Governor of Illinois back in 2004). Yet Obama claims he had no idea there was anything improper about Rezko. Of course, it is pretty hard for any successful politician in the Democratic Party in Chicago to stay clean. But Rezko is
a big problem for Obama: the guy is going on trial, Obama's relationship with him goes back 17 years, and he helped the Obama's buy their "dream house" for $300,000 less than the asking price. And let's face it, what does "slum landlord" mean in Chicago? How should that be translated?
My feeling is that this is nothing to what Obama would face if he were to win the Democratic nomination. The Republican attack dogs would eat him alive. Look what happened to John Kerry with the malicious "Swift Boat" campaign. Think back to Willie Horton. Obama's middle name, the (false) claim that he attended a Muslim school, his links with Rezko, his (admitted) use of cocaine in the past: all that - and more - would be resurrected. He is getting a very, very easy ride in the media just now, which has decided to target the Clintons. The Republicans would dearly love Obama to get the Democratic nomination. I don't think he will. The victory in South Carolina is, I think, pyrrhic. He won with the support of 80% of black voters who are 53% of Democratic voters in the state. He will not have that advantage in California, New York, New Jersey, and so on. And he can't be "the black candiate" in South Carolina and "the candidate of no colour" elsewhere. It seems he is also distrusted by Latino voters who have a big influence in California, New Mexico, Arizona, etc on Super Tuesday. Recent polls show Hillary has a big lead among Latino Democrats: 59% compared to 15% for Obama. Racism between blacks and Latinos (both ways, I guess) is, sadly, a factor here.
According to the Observer the bookies have Clinton on 10-11 to be the next President, Barack Obama on 3-1, John McCain on 7-2, Mitt Romney on 9-1.