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Two Articles on Liberal Racism




CLINTON, OBAMA, AND THE RACE CARD

Liberal Hatemongers



CLINTON, OBAMA, AND THE RACE CARD


Editorial
The Wall Street Journal
Posted Jan 15, 2008



It wouldn't be Martin Luther King Day without some kind of racial dialogue, but the tiff between Democratic Presidential hopefuls Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama is especially instructive and ironic. While their substantive argument is ultimately pointless, it does help illustrate the perils of identity politics.

Last Monday [1/14/08], in response to Senator Obama repeatedly invoking the late civil rights leader on the campaign trail, Senator Clinton told an interviewer, "Dr. King's dream began to be realized when President Lyndon Johnson passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964…It took a President to get it done." Later on, in a separate interview, Bill Clinton didn't help his wife when he described a chunk of Senator Obama's record as a "fairy tale."

The Obama campaign took umbrage at Mrs. Clinton' perceived slight of King and Mr. Clinton's patronizing remark. So did other black Democrats. Representative James Clyburn of South Carolina, who is part of the Democratic leadership in Congress, announced he was rethinking his neutral stance in South Carolina's crucial primary. Donna Brazile, a longtime Democratic operative who ran Al Gore's 2000 campaign, also rebuked the Clintons.

Team Clinton next accused their rival of playing the race card and called on black supporters to defend the record of the former President and first lady. At a Clinton campaign rally over the weekend, Bob Johnson, the founder of Black Entertainment Television, coyly (and gratuitously) alluded to Mr. Obama's past drug use, which the Senator already acknowledged in a best-selling memoir. "Bill and Hillary Clinton…have been deeply and emotionally involved in black issues since Barack Obama was doing something in the neighborhood," said Mr. Johnson. "And I won't say what he was doing, but he said it in the book." Mr. Johnson later said he was talking about Mr. Obama's civic work.

Let's leave aside how this exchange undermines each candidate's claims that he or she would unite the country rather than divide it like the "polarizing" President Bush. On the merits, Mrs. Clinton obviously is correct. It did take a President's signature to bring the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to fruition. And the idea that saying so takes anything away from King's legacy is absurd.

Were she a true uniter, however, Mrs. Clinton might have added that the Civil Rights Act took bipartisanship as well, thanks to fierce opposition from Southern Democrats. Republicans of that era are often portrayed as opponents of civil rights. In fact, a higher percentage of Republicans than Democrats voted for the 1964 bill. And when it finally passed, GOP Senator Everett Dirksen, the minority leader who worked closely with the bill's sponsor, Democrat Hubert Humphrey, was honored for his efforts with a NAACP civil rights award.

Democrats never miss an opportunity to play the race card against Republicans and even black conservatives like Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas who dare to dissent from liberal orthodoxy. So it's tempting to enjoy the political entertainment value of a race-based dust up between Senators Clinton and Obama.

But there's also a cautionary tale here in how identity politics can come back to bite. The left's color-by-numbers approach to attracting votes has essentially painted the Democrats into a corner, making it very difficult for them to prevail in national elections without winning nearly every black vote. The result is the very antithesis of what King fought for-an over-reliance on blunt racial appeals instead of issues and ideas.

Throughout the campaign, Mrs. Clinton has led Mr. Obama among black voters, thanks mostly to name ID and her husband's popularity. With his victory in Iowa and close second in New Hampshire, Mr. Obama has started to cut into Mrs. Clinton's black support. With her remarks, she's now given him an opportunity to make further in-roads. And as the fallout shows, she'll have to be very careful about pushing back on this front if she wants to keep black supporters from abandoning her en masse, not only now but in November when they could decide to stay home.


Liberal Hatemongers


By ARTHUR C. BROOKS
The Wall Street Journal
Posted January 17, 2008



A politically progressive friend of mine always seemed to root against baseball teams from the South. The Braves, the Rangers, the Astros -- he hated them all. I asked him why, to which he replied, "Southerners are prejudiced."

The same logic is evident in the complaint the American political left has with conservative voters. According to the political analysis of filmmaker Michael Moore, whose perception of irony apparently does not extend to his own words, "The right wing, that is not where America's at . . . It's just a small minority of people who hate. They hate. They exist in the politics of hate . . . They are hate-triots."

What about liberals? According to University of Chicago law professor Geoffrey Stone, "Liberals believe individuals should doubt their own truths and consider fairly and open-mindedly the truths of others." They also "believe individuals should be tolerant and respectful of difference." Indeed, generations of academic scholars have assumed that the "natural personality" of political conservatives is characterized by hostile intolerance towards those with opposing viewpoints and lifestyles, while political liberals inherently embrace diversity.

As we are dragged through another election season, it is worth critically reviewing these stereotypes. Do the data support the claim that conservatives are haters, while liberals are tolerant of others? A handy way to answer this question is with what political analysts call "feeling thermometers," in which people are asked on a survey to rate others on a scale of 0-100. A zero is complete hatred, while 100 means adoration. In general, when presented with people or groups about which they have neutral feelings, respondents give temperatures of about 70. Forty is a cold temperature, and 20 is absolutely freezing.

In 2004, the University of Michigan's American National Election Studies (ANES) survey asked about 1,200 American adults to give their thermometer scores of various groups. People in this survey who called themselves "conservative" or "very conservative" did have a fairly low opinion of liberals -- they gave them an average thermometer score of 39. The score that liberals give conservatives: 38. Looking only at people who said they are "extremely conservative" or "extremely liberal," the right gave the left a score of 27; the left gives the right an icy 23. So much for the liberal tolerance edge.

Some might argue that this is simply a reflection of the current political climate, which is influenced by strong feelings about the current occupants of the White House. And sure enough, those on the extreme left give President Bush an average temperature of 15 and Vice President Cheney a 16. Sixty percent of this group gives both men the absolute lowest score: zero.

To put this into perspective, note that even Saddam Hussein (when he was still among the living) got an average score of eight from Americans. The data tell us that, for six in ten on the hard left in America today, literally nobody in the entire world can be worse than George W. Bush and Dick Cheney.

This doesn't sound very tolerant to me -- nor especially rational, for that matter. To be fair, though, let's roll back to a time when the far right was accused of temporary insanity: the late Clinton years, when right-wing pundits practically proclaimed the end of Western civilization each night on cable television because President Clinton had been exposed as a perjurious adulterer.

In 1998, Bill Clinton and Al Gore were hardly popular among conservatives. Still, in the 1998 ANES survey, Messrs. Clinton and Gore both received a perfectly-respectable average temperature of 45 from those who called themselves extremely conservative. While 28% of the far right gave Clinton a temperature of zero, Gore got a zero from just 10%. The bottom line is that there is simply no comparison between the current hatred the extreme left has for Messrs. Bush and Cheney, and the hostility the extreme right had for Messrs. Clinton and Gore in the late 1990s.

Does this refute the stereotype that right-wingers are "haters" while left-wingers are not? Liberals will say that the comparison is unfair, because Mr. Bush is so much worse than Mr. Clinton ever was. Yes, Mr. Clinton may have been imperfect, but Mr. Bush -- whom people on the far left routinely compare to Hitler -- is evil. This of course destroys the liberal stereotype even more eloquently than the data. The very essence of intolerance is to dehumanize the people with whom you disagree by asserting that they are not just wrong, but wicked.

In the end, we have to face the fact that political intolerance in America -- ugly and unfortunate on either side of the political aisle -- is to be found more on the left than it is on the right. This may not square with the moral vanity of progressive political stereotypes, but it's true.

Mr. Brooks, a professor at Syracuse University's Maxwell School of Public Affairs and a visiting scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, is the author of the forthcoming book "Gross National Happiness."
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