The lowlight of tonight’s debate was, without question I think, when Tim Russert referenced Louis Farrakhan’s “endorsement” of Barack Obama this past weekend, asking if he accepted his support, and after Obama clearly and completely denounced Farrakhan’s past statements about Jews and Judaism as “unacceptable and reprehensible” and defended his own record on Jewish issues and U.S.-Israel relations, Hillary Clinton managed to sink beneath her husband’s worst “dogwhistle” moments in South Carolina and finally and effectively guarantee that I will never cast a vote for her ever again, in any election of any kind.
Referencing her first Senate run in 2000, she jumped into the discussion just as it seemed to be ending, noting with a straight face that she had “faced a similar situation” and, for a moment, I thought maybe she was going to do the honorable thing and defend Obama against a valid question that Russert was belaboring after 5 minutes, but instead she decides to attempt to score a cheap point by playing semantics:
“One of the parties at the time, the Independence Party, was under the control of people who were anti-semitic, anti-Israel, and I made it very clear I did not want their support, I rejected it. I thought it was more important to stand on principle…
You asked specifically if he would reject it and there’s a difference between denouncing and rejecting. I just think we’ve got to be even stronger.”
(Transcription via Ben Smith)
Mind you, the Independence Party carries very little weight in a statewide race here in New York and, once Rudy Giuliani was forced to drop out because of his battle with prostate cancer, Clinton coasted to a relatively easy victory, so claiming that her rejection of their support was some principled stand as opposed to little more than a grandstanding pander bear moment for the Jewish community is simply disingenuous. Further, equating the formal support of a political party, no matter how small, with that of a singular, though controversial, individual is extremely disingenuous.
If I was being really cynical, I’d even suggest there’s a bit of hypocrisy here as I don’t recall Clinton “rejecting” and “denouncing” the mysogynistic 50 Cent’s endorsement a couple of weeks back, nor his assertion that America might not be ready for a black President:
“For President, I’d like to see Hillary Clinton… I just think she could do a good job. I mean Obama, ain’t nothing bad about Obama in my eyes either. I just think Hillary — that would be my choice. I’m not sure America’s ready to have a black President… I think they might kill him.”
Hopefully Texas, Ohio, Vermont and Rhode Island end this thing for good next Tuesday night so Clinton can begin to attempt to recover some of the political credibility and social capital she’s completely bankrupted at this point.
Can anyone seriously offer a legitimate, educated reason why anyone should vote for her over Obama on Tuesday that doesn’t involve some misguided definition of feminism or unacknowledged taint of latent racism? Please, if you can, do, because I really truly don’t get it at this point.
ETA: Andrew Sullivan, who saw the moment rather differently, presents some intelligent feedback from his readers that’s worth a read.