“It’s not about black versus white. It’s about the past versus the future.”
UPDATE: Here’s the full speech.
UPDATE 2: Here’s the video:
P.S. When Bill Clinton called Barack Obama’s position on Iraq “a fairy tale,” he wasn’t playing the race card. On the other hand, when Bill Clinton said this…
Huh? Who said anything about Jesse Jackson? Why would his mind happen to wander there, pray tell?
Ugh. It’s pretty obvious what the Clintons are up to here. Obama’s people played right into their hands by making race an issue when it wasn’t — re: the “fairy tale” and MLK comments — but that doesn’t diminish the disgustingly cynical nature of what the Clintons are now plainly trying to do. The underlying strategy of their campaign has evolved into making the public perceive Obama as the “black candidate,” thus creating a white backlash. Will it work? God, I hope not. But I fear it may be enough to tip the scales in Hillary’s favor.*
Obama’s victory speech tonight shows that he’s doing exactly what he needs to be doing: rising above it all, or at least positioning himself so it seems like he’s rising above it all. Put another way, it now behooves Obama to look more “presidential” than the ex-president — and the way Bill’s been acting, that shouldn’t be too hard. Obama’s shots at the Clintons need to be veiled but effective, something he pulled off effortlessly tonight. As Eric Scheie puts it, “I’m very impressed at his ability to go for the jugular in a respectful manner.” (Hat tip: InstaPundit.)
For me personally, the Clintons’ recent behavior has caused a major tipping point my personal outlook on this race and my plans for how I’ll vote on February 5. I’ve gone from tentatively favoring Obama over Clinton, but leaning toward voting in the GOP primary (probably for McCain), to a solidly committed Obama supporter and voter. I will proudly cast my vote on Super Tuesday for the senator from Illinois — end of discussion. Obama is far more liberal than I am, and I do still have concerns about his inexperience; I’d enter a McCain-Obama general election thoroughly undecided. But I desperately want the Clintons to move off the damn stage. Good grief: Enough! I’ve always been anti-dynasty in principle, but now I feel it much more deeply than that. They need to go. They’re bad for the party, bad for the country, and bad for my stress levels. It’s time to get rid of them. We can salute them for their service at the convention… and then let’s nominate and elect somebody else, for the love of God.
*I suspect that only a minimal amount of “tipping” is needed, if any. The Super Tuesday format favors Hillary anyway. Obama does better when voters get to see a lot of him, and of his opponent. Hillary does better campaigning from afar; the more voters see of her, the less they like her. But voters in California won’t be seeing nearly as much of her (or of the uber-charismatic Obama) as voters in, say, Iowa and South Carolina did. This bodes well for Hillary.
P.S. On a more optimistic (for Obama) note, Noam Scheiber’s analysis is worth reading.
And then there’s the NRO reader who writes, “I would argue that a black man winning 25% of the white vote in good ol’ SC is HUGE.” There’s something to that. South Carolina is not representative of the rest of America when it comes to race relations; racial issues are, it seems to me, much more highly charged there than in all but maybe two or three other states in the whole Union. So let’s not assume that South Carolina’s racially polarized tallies (though not as badly polarized as some thought they might be) will be repeated to the same extent across the country on February 5. This is not the United States of South Carolina.
Sen. Barack Obama will win the South Carolina Democratic primary, CNN projects.
So says ABC News:
7 pm ET: ABC IS CALLING THE RACE RIGHT AT POLL CLOSING TIME. From our decision desk: "Based on exit poll data, ABC News projects that Obama will win the South Carolina Democratic primary. We do not yet have enough information to project who will be second or third, but based on the exit polls Clinton is leading over Edwards in a race for second."
This would SUGGEST a large margin — networks don’t call races based only on exit polls unless it’s pretty convincing.
CNN has called it too. And their exit polls show Edwards narrowly winning the white vote, with Obama getting a “healthy” 25%.
Among black men: Obama 80%, Clinton 17%. Among black women: Obama 82%, Clinton 17%.
Edwards got almost zero black support, which is why Clinton will probably beat him overall despite narrowly losing the white vote to him.
The full CNN exit poll results will eventually be here, but they’re not yet.
UPDATE: CNN’s exit poll still isn’t online, but MSNBC’s is, and extrapolating from the gender numbers, it looks like a huge win for Obama, to the tune of Obama 55%, Clinton 27%, Edwards 18%. Which raises the question: would a 25-to-30-point margin of victory be enough to offset the potential P.R. damage from the bloc voting issue? Especially given that Obama got a quarter of the white vote?
UPDATE, 7:39 PM: CNN now projects that Clinton will beat Edwards for second.
If Edwards does end up below 20% in the state of his birth, which he won in 2004 with 45% of the vote — beating ascendant front-runner Kerry by 15 points — does he still keep his repeatedly promises to stay in the race all the way to the convention? I get the “kingmaker” thing, but where will the money come from? And won’t this charade become humiliating exercise at some point soon? And isn’t the media soon going to start totally ignoring him — leaving him out of debates, etc.? It’s completely obvious now (if it wasn’t after Nevada) that this is a two-way race. With the probable exception of North Carolina, I bet this is the last time Edwards polls in double digits.
UPDATE, 9:06 PM: CNN estimates the delegate count from South Carolina as Obama 8, Clinton 4, Edwards 2. All this for a four-delegate edge? Heh.
Gonzaga and Memphis are underway, and so far, it’s not looking promising for the Bulldogs, as the fast-breaking Tigers have jumped out to an early 10-0 lead.
UPDATE: Well, that’s better. After trailing 25-13, the Zags have rallied to take a 32-30 lead! Two minutes left in the first half.
UPDATE 2: Aaaand the Zags lose all their momentum in the final minute, as Memphis goes up 35-32 on a thunderous dunk at the buzzer.
Meanwhile, Notre Dame leads #18 Villanova — on the road — 35-29 late in the first half.
UPDATE 3: Memphis wins, 81-73.
Mickey Kaus speculates that, even if Obama wins in the expected South Carolina landslide today, he could be damaged politically if the exit polls show him getting overwhelming support from blacks and overwhelming non-support from whites. (In some pre-election polls, his support among whites has dropped as low as 10%.) The fear, again, is that Obama will come to be perceived as another Jesse Jackson — a “black candidate” first and foremost — thus diminishing his appeal to non-blacks on Super Tuesday and beyond. Win the battle (South Carolina), lose the war (the nomination)?
Kaus thinks maybe we shouldn’t pay too much attention to exit polls, though, as people can lie to them: “If you’re a black South Carolinian and want to help Hillary as much as you can, you’ll walk into the booth, vote for her, then walk out and tell the exit poll person you voted for Obama.” Heh. Also:
There may also be non-Machiavellian peer pressure in black precincts to tell the exit pollsters the same thing (which, perversely, might hurt Obama in tomorrow night’s press spin by making it look as if he received an ethnic bloc vote). In white areas similar pressure might enocourage voters to falsely tell exit pollsters they voted for Edwards or Clinton. … I’m not sure we should pay so much attention to the exit polls! … Presumably the real, actual official secret-ballot vote tally will reveal any bloc voting by white areas or black areas, no?
Presumably so, but don’t expect the media to think about that. One thing that’s always struck me as odd is that, no matter how many times the exit polls are debunked as reliable predictors of the actual vote totals (see, e.g., Gore’s victory in Florida, the seven-hour presidency of John Kerry, etc.), they’re still relied upon as gospel truth for their racial, ethnic, gender, etc. results — even though that data is inevitably based on smaller sample sizes than the exit poll at large!
Obviously, it’s false, and I’m very glad Obama is addressing this head-on. The more I heard people talking about the e-mail in recent weeks, the more I became concerned about its potential impact on the race. I’m still concerned — I think it has the potential to be far more damaging to Obama than his skin color, particularly in a general election when more casual voters (who pay virtually no attention to politics, but do get e-mail chain letters) will make up a higher percentage of the electorate — but at the very least, it was essential that they aggressively counter it, and they’re doing that. Good.
(I wonder, though: how many times can Obama basically jump and down screaming “I’m not a Muslim!! I’m not a Muslim!!” before he starts to get in trouble for offending Muslims?)
For the record, here is the Snopes debunking of the rumors.