An informal survey of my black friends tells me they think that the interjection of the race issue into the 2008 primaries by Hillary Clinton and her surrogates was a calculated effort to paint Barack Obama as "the black candidate," when, in fact, his campaign is premised on a biography that transcends race. Barack, like Hillary, is now known by his first name. He has joined the celebrity ranks of Diana, Oprah, Madonna, Tiger, LeBron, and Brittany and at that level of celebrity, normal categories do not apply. Is Oprah still black? No – she is Oprah. Still, while the Clintons’ effort to paint Barack as a latter-day Jesse Jackson have alienated large numbers of black voters who were inclined to support her, it is not clear whether white folks will see Barack as the heir of Jackson and Al Sharpton. Hillary should also take a hit for attempting to deflate the minority vote in Nevada last Saturday. Months ago, the Democratic Party in Nevada recognized that many casino workers would not be able to caucus because they would be working at the 24/7 casinos. So they set up nine at-large caucus sites along the famous Las Vegas Strip, so that these largely minority workers would be able to make their voices heard. When the plan was introduced nobody objected. When the Culinary Workers union endorsed Barack the day after the New Hampshire primary, Hillary’s allies challenged the "at-large caucus sites" in court. This is outrageous. For Democrats, especially after Florida 2000, enfranchising minorities is a principle held near and dear. Yesterday, Bill Clinton got testy with a reporter on the issue. Also yesterday, the courts ruled against Hillary. So not only will these casino workers be able to cast their votes but now they are riled up because the Clinton machine tried to take away their right to vote. In an election year that is so thoroughly focused on new tactics – using the Internet to raise money and communicate effectively, micro-targeting of voters, etc. – it is somehow re-assuring to think that a very old lesson may yet prove decisive: pride goeth before the fall. Michael Sean Winters
Is It Backlash Time For Hillary?