Hillary Clinton, who had told Tim Russert on "Meet the Press" earlier on Sunday morning that if someone on her staff engaged in personal attacks against Barack Obama that person “would be gone,” failed to take action or to distance herself from the founder of BET when he launched such an attack.
Campaigning with Sen. Clinton in South Carolina yesterday, Bob Johnson, the founder of Black Entertainment Network, raised the specter of Barack Obama’s admitted drug use as a teenager but the senator neglected to repudiate the remark when she spoke on the same platform with Johnson or afterwards as she campaigned throughout the day.
Johnson went over the top when he said “And to me, as an African-American, I am frankly insulted that the Obama campaign would imply that we are so stupid that we would think Hillary and Bill Clinton, who have been deeply and emotionally involved in black issues since Barack Obama was doing something in the neighborhood — and I won’t say what he was doing, but he said it in the book — when they have been involved.”
Despite the obvious reference to Obama’s drug use (which he admitted in his book), Johnson tried to cover his tracks later in the day by saying that meant to allude to “Barack Obama’s time spent as a community organizer, and nothing else.”
It was unclear what about being a community organizer could not be mentioned on a public platform.
Clinton’s refusal to repudiate Johnson’s remarks despite sharing a platform with him remind us of her failure to repudiate the remarks of Mrs. Yasser Arafat during a visit to the Middle East. Sharing the same platform with her, Hillary sat silently while she excoriated Israel in particular and Jews in general.
She later claimed that the translation was not accurate and that she had no idea what Mrs. Arafat was saying. Presumably, her knowledge of English was sufficient to permit her to grasp what Johnson was saying.
The fact is that Hillary and Bill are basing their campaign against Obama on the race issue. Until Obama won in Iowa, race was not mentioned in the campaign. Suddenly, it is front and center.
Obama, of course, is notable for his refusal even to allude to his race in public comments. Yet despite his refusal to attack Mrs. Clinton, she repeatedly savages him in public.
It reminds us of Martin Luther King’s nonviolence which provided a blank screen against which was projected the hatred and violence of the southern sheriffs. That Obama’s positive, hope-oriented campaign should inspire such dirty tactics in Hillary Clintons highlights her essential ruthlessness.
So let us repeat it here: Sen. Clinton, will you repudiate Bob Johnson’s remarks?
© Dick Morris & Eileen McGann