Monday, January 21, 2008

It's black and white

"I think it is clear that what we need is somebody who can deliver change. And we don't need to be raising the false hopes of our country about what can be delivered." - Hillary Clinton
"Let us not wallow in the valley of despair, I say to you today, my friends.

And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.’" - Martin Luther King, Jr.
The only blog that’s offered up a somewhat cogent defense of Clinton’s now infamous MLK statement is from Josh Marshall at the Talking Points Memo.

Marshall says: "It's an ambiguous statement. But her reference is to different presidents -- Jack Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson, one of whom inspired but did relatively little legislatively and Johnson who did a lot legislatively, though he was rather less than inspiring. Quite apart from the merits of Obama and Clinton, it's not a bad point about Kennedy and LBJ."

It's not a bad point. I suppose.

But JFK was only president from 1961 to 1963. I gotta believe that if he hadn't been assassinated after just two years in office, he might have had the opportunity to do a little more, legislatively speaking.

Same with Martin Luther King. He was just 39 years old when he was killed. Who knows what he could've done, had he lived.

Who knows? He could've been elected our first black president in 1992 instead of Bill Clinton.
Back to the point.

Hillary wasn't asked to compare and contrast two presidents. No. When she made her statement on MLK, it was in response to this excerpt from a speech by Barack Obama:

"False Hopes. Dr King standing on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial looking out over the magnificent crowd, the reflecting pool, the Washington Monument, sorry guys, false hopes, the dream will die, it can't be done, false hope, we don't need leaders who tell us what we can't do, we need leaders to tell us what we can do and inspire us."

Here's what she said:

"I would point to the fact that Dr. King's dream began to be realized when President Johnson passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, when he was able to get through Congress something that President Kennedy was hopeful to do, the President before had not even tried, but it took a president to get it done. That dream became a reality, the power of that dream became real in people's lives because we had a president who said we are going to do it, and actually got it accomplished." (full, unedited quote)

Like the New York Times and others, I can’t help but focus in on the “it took a president to get it done” part of that statement.

What are you saying Hillary?

It took a white president to get it done? That we should rely on black folks like Obama for the impassioned speeches but when it comes to doing the real spade work, it takes a hard-working, white, electable candidate to get it done?

It's pretty clear what she meant. In fact, it's black and white.
I am listening to: 14 new songs from Nelson
I am reading: World Without End by Ken Follett
And I am: Chilled out


msmoo1 said...

White or black;
Let’s not attack;
It is about character – what is inside;
Where behind they cannot hide.
Backgrounds are important - where have they been?
And when?
The best indicator of a person’s future is his/her past.
Who to vote for……I ask?


Dave said...

I've got to differ a bit here. As you may recall, I have no use for Senator Clinton. That said, I don't know that she was wrong in what she said, full quote or not.

Doctor King by his lonesome is not the author of the still sputtering evolution of equality in the country. He was presaged and preceded by people like WEB Dubois, James Baldwin, Thurgood Marshall, "sided" and abetted by John Lewis, Andrew Young, and others.

Some see him as the "good cop" foil to Malcolm X, Eldrige Cleaver, Huey Newton and others that espoused violence.

Lyndon Johnson, Frank Johnson (an unsung U.S. District Court Judge in Alabama who had bodyguards because of his rulings) and other white men looked at what Dr. King wanted, what they feared from his more violent contemporaries and, over the often active interference of other politicians and law enforcement types, and their own biased upbringings, pushed for laws that started with the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and moved forward with other legislation.

Dr. King couldn't have done it alone, were he alive today with JFK and RFK. He was an important part of an era of important people.

Maybe with some polishing I should send this to Hilary's campaign? Nah, she probably meant exactly what you think she meant.