The dynamics of the campaign for the presidency shifted dramatically over the weekend as race and gender came to the fore. Hillary mastered “Meet the Press” with Russert the Terrible on Sunday and forthrightly proclaimed that the campaign is not about race or gender … although it is. Either a black man or a woman will likely be the Democratic party candidate and that’s a big deal.
Bill Clinton was proclaimed by Chris Rock to be the first black President but with Obama in the picture he’s just another white guy. The black vote cannot be taken for granted for Hillary anymore. Sensitivities have heightened (Bill Clinton proclaiming Obama’s record a “fairy tale” drew criticism from some black leaders, prompting Bill to defend himself on Al Sharpton’s radio show) and language has sharpened.
The South Carolina primary (January 19), with a large black voter base, is ground zero for this battle. I expect that “change” as a rallying cry will diminish. In 1992 Bill Clinton trumpeted “change” as the reason for his victories and you could argue that George Bush was about change. It’s an empty phrase that gives candidates a free ride. Special interestsÂ are deeply, deeply entrenched. It will take hard work and political savvy to alter the current way of doing business in Washington.
Hillary Clinton is a fighter and her husband is the purest political animal we have seen in our lifetime. Rough sailing ahead. For those of us who enjoy good political theatre as a continual test ofÂ our experiment in democracy, these are the best of times.