Sunday, January 27, 2008

Bill Clinton's Black Behind

Bill Clinton just got his black backside spanked!


No, there aren’t at least three things wrong with that statement. Yes, I’m sure. Listen:

Ever since Hillary figured out that she would be facing her stiffest competition from a black man for the Democratic nomination, we have witnessed the resurrection of the two-headed campaigning behemoth “Billary.” Hillary, who appeared so stand-offish towards her husband at the beginning of this campaign, knew she needed Bill if she was going to stand a chance—especially in the South Carolina primary, where Democratic voters are less pigmentally-challenged than they are in Iowa and New Hampshire..

Maya Angelou may have called Hillary Clinton “my girl,” but she of the potent poems fell well short of what Toni Morrison* did for Bill. Using the powers invested in her as a black celebrity/intellectual, Morrison conveyed upon Bill official blackness, calling him in 1998 “the first black President.” Democratic primary voters in South Carolina, in rejecting Hillary’s use of Bill as her “wedge man” to split off a larger chunk of the black vote for herself, spanked Billary’s backsides (the blacker, flabbier one of which was Bill’s).

It hasn’t been that long since experts and analysts on cable news outlets were wondering if Barack Obama was “black enough” to compete for black votes with the well-established Senator from New York, who had the mighty Clinton machine and legions of black feminists behind her. Is anybody still wondering? I am. I’m wondering if any of these “experts” actually know any black people who are not celebrities or Democratic Party hacks. Sure, the hacks may have been evenly split, but a quick trip to any poor, black neighborhood in the South would have quickly told them all they really needed to know about the South Carolina Democratic primary's voters 'of color.'

The question now is “Can Hillary get enough of the black vote in the remaining primaries while running against Obama, who is even blacker than her husband?” Another way to put this would be “Does Billary have any idea at all how to succeed in getting the Democratic nomination when faced with a primary opponent who A) has about the same qualifications she does; B) is less divisive; and C) is vastly more popular among black voters?” So far, the actually black guy with the twin messages of “hope” and “change” is doing pretty well against the ‘officially’ black guy from Hope, whose last flirtation with real change was in the last century. **

Unless the Clintons can discover both dead babies and mutilated nuns keeping company with whatever commonplace skeletons might be lurking in Barack Obama’s closet, I cannot foresee Hillary winning the primary of any Southern state.***

The real question generated by the outcome of South Carolina’s Democratic primary, is: “In the remaining Southern states, where John Edwards will likely not be a factor, who will receive his (mostly white) share of the primary vote?” How will that twenty-ish percent of the vote be split between the two frontrunners? I’m not Nostradamus**** but I’m willing to bet that the answer to this question determines the both the winner of the Democratic nomination and, eventually, the November election.

So, Hillary, if you are reading this*****, you have two tasks ahead of you if you want to secure your party's nomination: 1) keep your black supporters working on your behalf with black voters, but do not send your husband into the fray, 2) find a way to become suddenly less divisive among white voters. Good luck on Super Tuesday. I hope you can come up with a better campaign strategy--and fast!--you're gong to need it.

* Morrison is, of course, the famous author of novels so excruciatingly depressing that the fourth protocol of a “suicide watch” calls for their removal from the prisoner’s cell.

** After nearly eight years of George W. Bush's oval office flirtations with cronyism, idiocy, and disaster, Bill's oval office flirtations no longer seem quite so damning, but his flirtations with change went mostly nowhere.

*** The original version of this post read: "in which a significant portion of primary voters are black" instead of "in any Southern state." Obama's loss in the Florida primary makes me wish I hadn't made this change.

**** Hell, even Nostradamus wasn’t really Nostradamus, if you know what I mean.

***** Yeah, right.

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