Hillary's Race to the Bottom

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There's only one thing that makes sense of the Clinton campaign's clumsy and classless injection of race into her primary battle with Barack Obama. And that is that her victory in New Hampshire -- impressive though it was -- threatened to transform her into a special-interest candidate.

Hillary would not have won that battle without exaggerated support from women. Despite having campaigned vigorously as a candidate who just-so-happened to be a woman, her lifeline came from affinity voters.

How then to compete against Obama, who has -- as Al Sharpton recently complained -- run a race-neutral campaign? A man standing as a general-interest candidate despite his historic racial qualifications.

The answer, it seems, has been to inject race into the campaign by any means necessary. The effort has run the gamut from old-school racism -- Andrew Cuomo's execrable "shuck-and-jive" comment -- to tired racial paradigms -- a Clinton pollster's assertion that Hispanics don't vote for black people -- to anti-racism-as-racism -- the bizarre suggestion by a Clinton surrogate that Obama had been adopted by white America as its "imaginary hip black friend."

As distasteful as this campaign has been, it has worked. The media have segued neatly from Clinton's tears and her outpouring of support among women in the granite state to Obama's standing as a "black candidate" -- now awkwardly forced to defend the legacy of Dr. King from slights by the Clinton machine.

So much for the post-racial transcendence to which he has aspired; Obama has now even been yoked -- however tenuously -- to the discredited politics of Louis Farrakahn, thanks to Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen's smear job this morning.

[A note to anyone covering that piece: Since when is it reasonable to hold a political candidate responsible for everything that's ever been published in his church's fucking newsletter?!? What horseshit.]

And so, while Obama is being forced to clarify that he is not, indeed, a Nation-of-Islam sympathizing closet anti-Semite, no one is looking much at Clinton's very real troubles winning over the hearts and minds of male voters.

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