Friday, May 09, 2008

dog-whistling Dixie/crat? 

Was Hillary channeling George Wallace?
Hillary's reckless exploitation of racial division could split the Democratic Party over race -- a tragic legacy for the Clintons.

By Joe Conason

May 9, 2008 | As long as Hillary Clinton is willing to spend the money and energy needed to continue her campaign, she certainly can ignore the pundits who insist that the Democratic nominating contest is over. What she should not ignore, however, is the damage that her increasingly reckless behavior is inflicting on her reputation and that of her husband -- especially when she starts to sound like a reincarnation of the late George Wallace.

When Clinton blathered on about "totally obliterating" Iran in the event it made a nuclear strike against Israel, and then reiterated that same statement last weekend, she made what was, until then, the single most ill-considered comment of the campaign. But now USA Today has published an interview in which she explained again why she regards herself as a more viable general-election candidate than Barack Obama -- except that this time, she crossed a bright white line.


But this time she violated the rhetorical rules, no doubt by mistake. It was her offhand reference to "working, hard-working Americans, white Americans" that raises the specter of old Dixie demagogues like Wallace and Lester Maddox. Was she dog-whistling to the voters of Kentucky and West Virginia?

While I still cannot believe she actually intended any such nefarious meaning, she seemed to be equating "hard-working Americans" with "white Americans." Which is precisely what Wallace and his cohort used to do with their drawling refrain about welfare and affirmative action. This is the grating sound of Richard Nixon's Southern strategy, even though Tricky Dick would never quite stoop to saying such things in public.

[continued at link]

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