For years, Dems have promoted group identity politics, turning real or imagined grievances into votes by creating coalitions based on the solidarity of perpetual victimhood. But now, the aspirations of two groups are pitted against one another in the presidential candidacies of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, and solidarity is fast giving way to polarity.

For instance, some Obama supporters in NH are furious with the state’s female Dem leadership over an E-mail sent to voters two days before last week’s primary that criticized their candidate for voting “present,” instead of “yes” or “no,” on abortion-related legislation while serving in the IL Senate. They counter it was a tactical move commonly used by Dems, and not indicative of Obama’s commitment to abortion rights.

Other Obama supporters detected subtle racism in Clinton’s “rhetoric vs. reality” message aimed at convincing voters that having the resume to effect the change they craved is what matters most. The New Yorker gives a straight-forward account of what Hillary said and did in NH:

Clinton … endured grinding two-hour sessions where she answered questions in numbing detail. … She drew appreciative applause when she said that she would simplify college loan applications and when she commiserated with her audience about the price of gasoline. Meanwhile, Obama delivered his customary inspirational speeches, full of rhetorical flight but light on detail, in which he tried to move voters by making them feel as if they were part of history. All the intensity, all the joy, seemed to be with Obama. Spectators often fled Clinton’s events before they ended, while at Obama’s the crowds crushed in around him after the last standing ovation.

Clinton turned these differences to her advantage. … She insinuated that while Obama evokes comparisons to Martin Luther King, Jr., she was Lyndon Johnson. “Dr. King’s dream began to be realized when President Lyndon Johnson passed the Civil Rights Act,” she told Fox News. “It took a President to get it done.” She mocked Obama for raising “false hopes” and hinted to one audience that if Obama were elected Al Qaeda would strike America to test him. “I don’t think it was by accident that Al Qaeda decided to test the new Prime Minister,” she said, of the attempts in Great Britain to plant bombs after Gordon Brown succeeded Tony Blair. When Bill Clinton dismissed Obama’s antiwar purity as a “fairy tale,” it was easy to think that that’s how the Clintons wanted voters to view the entire Obama phenomenon.

Yes, it was easy to make that leap – especially with Clinton surrogates repeatedly using racially charged code language to disparage Obama:

† A few weeks back, William Shaheen the erstwhile co-chairman of Clinton’s NH campaign, publically fretted about Republicans being able to make hay out of Obama’s youthful flirtation with drugs should he be the nominee:

“It’ll be: ‘When was the last time? Did you ever give drugs to anyone? Did you sell them to anyone?’ … It’s hard to overcome.”

† Just the other day in a radio interview with the New York Post‘s Fred Dicker about the first primaries and caucuses, NY Attorney General Andrew Cuomo used the term “shuck and jive,” which means to affect a self-deprecating – even clownish – air so as not to offend or intimidate whites by being uppity:

“It’s not a TV-crazed race, you know, you can’t just buy your way through that race … It doesn’t work that way, it’s frankly a more demanding process. … You can’t shuck and jive at a press conference, you can’t just put off reporters, because you have real people looking at you saying answer the question, you know, and all those moves you can make with the press don’t work when you’re in someone’s living room.”

† Even America’s “first black president” got into trouble with that fairy tale comment, which House Majority Whip Rep. James E. Clyburn (D-SC), for one, took to mean that Obama’s candidacy itself was a fairy tale. Clyburn, a veteran of the civil rights movement, represents the only majority black district in the state and had refrained from endorsing a candidate in the upcoming SC primary, but is said to be reassessing his position because the Clintons’ recent comments “bothered me a great deal.”

Here’s how black journalist Marjorie Valbrun views Clinton’s new message in the context of these racial allusions and perceived slights:

Clinton herself has made racially tinged comments that could be taken as either insensitive or patronizing. The most widely noticed was in her efforts to dismiss Obama’s talk of “hope” and “change” as empty idealism. In doing so, she offhandedly diminished the important role played by Martin Luther King Jr. in pushing America to meet its promise of equality for millions of black Americans. “Dr. King’s dream began to be realized when President Johnson passed the Civil Rights Act,” Clinton said.

“It took a president to get it done.”

In other words, “I have a dream” is a nice sentiment, but King couldn’t make it reality. It took a more practical and, of course, white president, Lyndon Johnson, to get blacks to the mountaintop.

What was Clinton thinking? King’s name is sacrosanct in most black households, and for poor and struggling blacks whose lives have yet to reflect King’s ideals, “hope” is more than just a notion. Clinton managed to insult a beloved black leader in her eager attempt to insult a rising black leader.

Valbrun also takes the Clinton campaign to task for using “a slicker, ostensibly more respectable version of the old political strategy of spreading ‘street money’ to black preachers to either depress or get out the black vote” in SC.

Valbrun might have a point with the street money analogy, but it must be colder than a gravedigger’s ass down in Hell right about now because The Stiletto feel compelled to come to the Clintons’ defense on charges of racism (though she cannot ecuse the things their surrogates have said and done).

Clearly, Bill Clinton was referring only to inconsistencies in Obama’s record on the war and not to the raison d’être of his candidacy. And yes, it takes elected officials to pass laws that correct injustices – although to be historically accurate, both MLK Jr. and Johnson needed Republican votes in Congress to overcome the staunch resistance of Southern Dems and pass the Civil Rights Act of 1964. [Note: The Stiletto does not intend to be racially insensitive or to be dismissive of the courage and commitment of those on the front lines of the civil rights movement, and hastens to point out that she has blood relatives who hail from countries in North and East Africa.]

To win the SC primary, Hillary will need nearly one out of two black votes, and she will fall short if Obama and his surrogates can convince enough of these voters that the Clintons are talking in racially tinged code language. On NBC’s “Meet the Press” Hillary accused Obama of “deliberately distorting” her remarks: “This is … an unfortunate story line that the Obama campaign has pushed very successfully. … [T]hey’ve been telling people, in a very selective way, what the facts are.”

So there’s only one rational response to being accused of playing the race card: Hillary should cry her eyes out. After all, this is Dem politics and historical victimhood is the ace that both she and Obama have up their sleeves – and that’s the card she needs to play.

Note: The Stiletto writes about politics and other stuff at The Stiletto Blog.

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