I woke up Saturday morning in the City of Brotherly Love and picked up the Philadelphia magazine to read about what was happening in that swing state before preparing my keynote remarks at a Black Diaspora Conference of medical professionals, academics, social scientists and entrepreneurs.
Guess who graced the cover of the most recent edition of the Philadelphia?
Ed Rendell, the former governor of that state, Democratic leader and a member of the Clinton cabal who has been trumpeting the prospects of a Hillary Clinton presidency in 2016, and has already started beating that drum now, instead of beating the drum of the Obama reelection campaign.
But this time Rendell making the cover of the Philadelphia was about his own presidential aspirations as the magazine was fiddling with the idea of a Rendell presidency.
Which begs the question: Is that why Rendell has been talking so much about 2016 instead of 2012?
In a year where the political climate is so rancorous and the economy is beginning to improve despite the slow of growth, why would Democrats like Rendell be focusing on 2016 when they have a battle to fight this year?
Have Rendell and others like him already thrown in the towel for President Obama’s reelection?
With Democrats having a tough battle and a Rubicon to cross this year, does it make political sense to waste time and breath talking about a Clinton prospect in 2016 when they’ve not yet finished the battle that is before them?
When the Obama campaign started attacking the Republican leading candidate Mitt Romney’s Bain Capital records based on interviews with former employees of the company who described how their lives were literally destroyed by “vulture capitalism,” Rendell, former president Bill Clinton and Newark Mayor Corey Booker disagreed with the campaign strategy.
In fact, Clinton praised Romney’s business record and Booker, as well as Rendell, concluded that the attacks on Romney’s Bain Capital records were not justified.
“I don’t think that we ought to get into the position where we say, ‘This is bad work. This is good work. The man who has been governor and had a sterling business career crosses the qualification threshold,” Clinton said.
The former president went on to praise Romney’s business background as “sterling” and described the Republican candidate’s days at Bain as “a good business career.”
Booker, a rising Democratic star, later tried to clarify after calling the Obama campaign attack on Romney “nauseating.” Like Clinton, Rendell veered off message.
In one of the most disingenuous remarks and off-message examples by Democratic leaders claiming to be supportive of President Obama, Rendell told CBS’ “This Morning” program that Hillary Clinton would have been a more assertive president than Obama.
“I think she would have come in with a lot more executive experience. I think the president was hurt by being a legislator only,” Rendell said.
What executive experience does Hillary Clinton have?
Are the Clinton Democrats so bent on a second return to power that they are willing to contribute to the strategy to delegitimize their own president to make him lose in November?
This subtle strategy that some Democrats are conducting, which in many ways appears to be undermining the Obama campaign, speaks of a divided camp in the Democratic Party.
It is unbelievable to watch these Democratic leaders — individuals who are very bright and are strategists themselves — going off-message under the pretext of a mistake.
Who is going to buy the excuse that these are honest gaffes and do not in any way serve to undermine efforts by Democrats to hand Obama a second term, when the individuals in question are very smart politicians who know well what can handicap an election?
Politics is much about loyalty and political campaigns are about following the script.
The difference between Republicans and Democrats is that the GOP’s definition of loyalty is almost a belief akin to religion and Democrats have no clear-cut description of what loyalty is. And in most cases they don’t even practice it, which is why for ages Democrats have been their own worst enemy.
In the book “Game Change,” a comment former president Bill Clinton reportedly made about Obama in an effort to prevent the late Sen. Edward Kennedy from endorsing Obama in 2008 is disturbing.
Clinton is quoted as telling Kennedy why he should not support Obama saying, “A few years ago, this guy (Obama) would be getting us coffee.”
And if Clinton did say such a demeaning thing — he never discounted or challenged the facts in the book — does it mean Obama would be serving him and Kennedy coffee because he is Black?
But the late Kennedy, who was eulogized by Obama, was a bigger man and refused to stoop down to dirty, racist politics. That is one of the most endearing qualities of Sen. Kennedy: he appealed beyond the cultural and political divides of the nation.
In 2008, Clinton again was on record attempting to diminish Obama’s story by describing it as a “fairy tale,” in his unrelenting pursuit to get his wife elected and a blatant condescending remark against the man who would become the nation’s first Black president.
But the reason why a Democrat like Clinton or any other can go so far in condescending politics and now appear to be more complimentary of his political opponent Romney than his own party flag bearer, Obama, is that he and others like Rendell have enjoyed unquestionable Black loyalty during their political careers. They always had the Black vote ready to be delivered whether they worked hard for it or not.
The bait and switch politics convinced Nobel laureate Toni Morrison to label Bill Clinton as “the first Black president.” That description was an inebriating tonic to the Black community.
So many got blindfolded by Morrison’s description of Clinton and allowed one of two American political dynasties to shape and dictate Black politics in recent history without any recourse to reason.
Some Black leaders and politicians, who have always traded their places in the community in exchange for a photo op at the White House Rose Garden during the Clinton years, have always been conspicuously silent whenever criticism of the former Democratic president came up.
The fact that none of them responded in media interviews (with the exception of Rev. Al Sharpton) when it was revealed that Clinton reportedly said Obama could be serving him and Sen. Kennedy coffee a few years back is stunning.
If it was a former Republican president who said that of the nation’s first Black president, there would be protest signs and press releases saying “no more slavery.”
This is the political double standard the Black community deals with and explains why some Democratic leaders get away with what they say and do.
And Clinton’s legacy in the Black community wasn’t a pretty one either, because it was under him that federal and state prison populations rose because of the severity of sentencing laws. That disproportionately affected Blacks, reducing the habeas corpus rights of the accused.
It was under Clinton that nearly one million Blacks were massacred in 100 days in Rwanda in 1994, the quickest killing spree of the 21st century. And Clinton only apologized after he left office at the Rwandan airport in Kigali where he said, “All over the world there were people like me sitting in offices who did not fully appreciate the depth and speed with which you were being engulfed by this unimaginable terror.”
What happened to the Presidential Daily Briefs during the genocide?
If Clinton was not aware of what was happening, why did he choose to meet with Rwandan human rights activist Monique Mujawam
ariya at the White House at the time, who pleaded with him to intervene?
And just like 2008, we see again the Clinton surrogates on the campaign trail trying to undercut the main thrust of the Obama campaign against Romney: The former governor’s business résumé and the role that Bain Capital plays.
In this current political climate it is important to demand a clean electoral process.
Just as Hamlet did in Shakespeare, urging “Angels and ministers of grace defend us.”
To take it further, Hamlet was torn between the disturbing question of whether the ghost he saw coming was a “spirit of health” or “goblin damn’d.”
The question in the 2012 presidential campaign is whether the so-called gaffes being rendered as mistakes by prominent members of the Democratic Party, like Clinton, Rendell and Booker, is healthy for the Obama campaign.
The visage of politics displayed by some of these prominent Democrats is known.
But now, “thou cometh in such a questionable shape.”
Bankole Thompson is the senior editor of the Michigan Chronicle and the author of a six-part series on the Obama presidency, including “Obama and Black Loyalty,” published last year. His latest book is ”Obama and Christian Loyalty” with an epilogue written by Bob Weiner, former White House spokesman. His upcoming books in 2012 are “Obama and Jewish Loyalty” and “Obama and Business Loyalty.” Listen to him every Thursday morning on WDET 101.9 FM Detroit and every Sunday, 9 to 10 p.m., on “The Obama Watch” program on WLIB 1190 AM-New York. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.