Peace Is At Hand?

Barack Obama is trying to act as peace maker–with the Clinton campaign. He made this statement yesterday:

You have seen a tone on the Democratic side of the campaign that has been unfortunate. I want to stipulate a couple of things. I may disagree with Senator Clinton and Senator Edwards on how to get there, but we share the same goals. We all believe in civil rights. We all believe in equal rights. They are good people. They are patriots….

I don’t want the campaign at this stage to degenerate to so much tit-for-tat, back-and-forth, that we lose sight of why we are doing this.

Obama said he wants to send “a strong signal to my own supporters that let’s try to focus on the work that needs to get done. If I hear my own supporters engaging in talk that I think is ungenerous or misleading or unfair, I will speak out forcefully against it….

Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton have historically been on the right side of civil rights issues. They care about the African American community.… That is something I am convinced of. I want Americans to know that is my assessment.

Clinton responded:

“Over this past week, there has been a lot of discussion and back and forth – much of which I know does not reflect what is in our hearts.

“And at this moment, I believe we must seek common ground.

“Our party and our nation is bigger than this. Our party has been on the front line of every civil rights movement, women’s rights movement, workers’ rights movement, and other movements for justice in America.

“We differ on a lot of things. And it is critical to have the right kind of discussion on where we stand. But when it comes to civil rights and our commitment to diversity, when it comes to our heroes – President John F. Kennedy and Dr. King – Senator Obama and I are on the same side.

“And in that spirit, let’s come together, because I want more than anything else to ensure that our family stays together on the front lines of the struggle to expand rights for all Americans.”

Maybe this will be the last we will hear about the Martin Luther King, Jr. controversy, but I doubt this will be the end of the attacks. In any campaign we expect to see attacks from each campaign. The battle between Clinton and Obama has the danger of being worse. Hillary Clinton has based her campaign on being the inevitable winner, trying to almost play the role of the incumbent. In doing so she never gave a good reason to support her candidacy as Obama has.

Once Obama turned into a serious challenger, the Clinton campaign has responded with a series of nonsense attacks. Besides the subtle attempts to bring race into the campaign, Clinton has used a variety of weak arguments ranging from claims about their health care policies which even old Clintonite Robert Reich has debunked to attacks on a paper Obama wrote in kindergarten. Clinton has even attempted to use the Rove strategy of attacking the opposition on their strong point as she has tried to distort their differences on Iraq, where Obama was right and Clinton was wrong from the start.

I doubt this will be the end of these attacks, but hopefully this will end Clinton’s attempts to inject race into the campaign. My suspicion is that Clinton’s goal was to use a series subtle racial attacks, often from surrogates, in the hopes that Obama’s response would be seen as an over reaction. Clinton could then deny any intentions to use race, blaming the attacks on surrogates if necessary, and portray Obama as an angry black man to scare people into voting for her. Regardless of whether this theory is correct, Obama responded perfectly, both taking the high road and giving Clinton no choice but to back down.

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