The self-proclaimed ‘first black president’, Bill Clinton is losing his grip on the black vote at a time when it might very well cost him another chance to get into the White House.
Once considered unshakeable, black voters in South Carolina voted overwhelmingly for Obama, leaving Hillary Clinton staggering, yet again. First it was in Iowa, and now in the Deep South, where Hillary’s former president husband was thought to be a favorite son. More important: while Obama gained 80 percent of the black vote, he gained 20 percent of the white vote at a time when many pollsters believed he would only earn 10 percent.
That shift can be attributed to the genuine credibility of Obama’s message of change and the sheer transparency of one of the most basic of Clinton political strategies — playing the race card.
“Blacks have mistaken Clinton’s ease with them as a sign of his good trustworthy character, when in fact Clinton’s racial politics are among the most destructive among recent presidents, precisely because they depend on an exploitative duplicity,” Dyson wrote in 2000. “When it benefits him, Clinton reaches out to blacks; when it hurts him, he withdraws the hand of racial charity.”
Dyson went further, saying Bill Clinton “is willing to turn every speck of black familiarity into a political advantage and hold black folks hostage to a corrupt racial politics that says, in effect: ‘I’m all you got, so take me or lose progress.’”