The Trail: A Daily Diary of Campaign 2008


In South Carolina, Talk About History

By Krissah Williams
COLUMBIA, S.C. -- The rich mashed potatoes and juicy baked chicken in the church cafeteria at the United House of Prayer are a lunchtime draw in the heart of the black community here. And, as the battle for the Democratic presidential nomination intensifies in South Carolina, interviews with regulars during the lunch rush revealed political chatter just as juicy.

"I'm ready for a change in the politics of this country and I think [Obama's] a good vehicle to bring that in," said Yvette Wider, a 51-year-old accountant. "Give us a chance. Everyone else has had their chance."

Wider walked into Barack Obama's headquarters here a few months ago and, after talking to one of his campaign volunteers, made up her mind then and there that she would vote for him.

"I was already leaning that way," she said.

Hilton Cooper, a 52-year-old government worker who was eating with Wider, said she is still undecided and caught up in the excitement of having the opportunity to choose between a white woman and a black man. "I'm so happy I'm alive in this era," she said. "It is a very historic event."

When Cooper walks into the polls next Saturday, she said, she is going to vote for the candidate that she believes will bring her relatives serving in the military home and can help her family maneuver through the economic recession that she believes is headed her way.

This part of town is a Democratic stronghold, and no one is talking about the Republican candidates. They are closely vetting the top two Democrats; few mention John Edwards.

As for the controversy over Hillary Clinton's statements about Martin Luther King Jr. needing an assist from President Lyndon Johnson to get the Civil Rights Act passed, the murmurs continue, even after she and Obama sought to put that racially sensitive discussion to rest at a debate last night.

Cooper said, "I'm not paying attention to that foolishness." She said Clinton's comments have been taken out of context. But they remain a point of discussion for many as city leaders plan for a big NAACP rally at the State House on the holiday commemorating King's birthday, to pressure the state government to remove the Confederate Battle Flag from the capitol grounds, where it still flies.

A few minutes after Wider and Cooper left the cafeteria, South Carolina state Sen. Kay Patterson, who has served this district for 34 years and announced last week that he is "cutting wood and toting water for" Obama, sat down with a plate of baked chicken and green beans. He said plenty of people are peeved.

"I think the name Clinton has a lot of weight in South Carolina, but I think that they are losing some of those people," Patterson said. "I like Bill Clinton, always have, always will, but I don't like what Hillary said about Dr. King.

"Dr. King symbolized hope for us. He symbolizes the progress that we have made and that's why we love him, and I hope we continue that legacy."

Al Hanna, a 63-year-old human resources director, chimed in. "It's a bunch of crap what she said. I've been in the jungle fighting for our rights, and if we hadn't started the civil rights movement Congress would never have enacted the law."

Hanna is supporting Obama. "Some people say it's not time for a black man" to be president, he says. "If the time is not now, when will it be time?"

Posted at 2:54 PM ET on Jan 16, 2008
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finally we should never trust anyone suggesting that they have some love for black peoples.after reading all this about clinton i'am so in chock to know that someone that i had trust for so long is just like is very sad to know that ,very sad.
first at all i will like to explain to every body that barack obama never try to compare himself to jfk or mlk or reagan but what he did was to take some examples of those who have been so inspirational in his life time to show to the american people that it is the same kind of positif energy that he will like to bring to the table so together we could fix what has been destroy by the bush goverment.America is better that what it appears today.we should all recognize that this man(barack) has a vision that no one else in this race has,except john edwards who is just close to it.barack obama is the only candidate who can put america in the right direction today.another clinton ere will be the biggest mistake of thjis century.i am rostand melhy and i approve this message

Posted by: melhyrost | January 18, 2008 10:45 PM

It is very sad to see desperate Fred Thompson attempting to hide his weak accomplishments and old age by expressing himself forcefully against Huckabee! And by the way, is it politically correct yet to talk about McCain's liberal views and past record?

Posted by: d_shoup | January 17, 2008 11:41 AM

Please look at what Obama actually said and not the spin that Hillary stated on Fox (fake) news. He never said he was another MLK or JFK. He was talking about inspiration and how its a good thing. That was after Hillary stated that his inspiration was false hope.

Posted by: mcmahon10 | January 17, 2008 9:46 AM

Bill Clinton's Legacy of Racism
Few know, for instance, that Clinton's uncle, Raymond "Buddy" Clinton, who employed Bill's stepdad, Roger, in his Hot Springs Buick dealership, was the dominant influence in young Clinton's life, a role that continued right through Uncle Ray's successful efforts in helping the future president beat the Vietnam War draft.

But according to historian Roger Morris, Uncle Ray had a dark side. While researching his Clinton biography, "Partners in Power," Morris says he found "convincing evidence of the prominent car dealer's links to organized crime and to the then-still formidable Ku Klux Klan."

In 1964 Clinton mailed his grandmother a postcard with a picture of a smiling black youth standing next to a giant watermelon. Such a postcard was considered completely innocuous in the Arkansas of his youth.
In 1989, then-Gov. Bill Clinton was sued as one of three top Arkansas officials responsible for the intimidation of black voters in his state as part of a legal action brought under the 1965 Voting Rights Act, has learned.

And a year earlier the U.S. Supreme court ruled that Clinton had wrongfully tried to overturn the election of a black state representative in favor of a white Democrat.

In the 1989 case, "the evidence at the trial was indeed overwhelming that the Voting Rights Act had been violated," reported the Arkansas Gazette on Dec. 6, 1989. (The paper later became the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.)

"Plaintiffs offered plenty of proof of monolithic voting along racial lines, intimidation of black voters and candidates, other official acts that made voting harder for blacks," the Gazette said.

A federal three-judge panel ordered Clinton, then Arkansas Attorney General Steve Clark and then Secretary of State William J. McCuen to draw new boundaries to give maximum strength to black voters.

"Until last year," the Gazette complained at the time, "in more than a thousand legislative elections, the [Arkansas] delta region sent not one black to the legislature. Last year, the federal district court split a multimember district in Crittenden County that had submerged the large number of black voters in the county."

In a related 1988 case, Clinton had tried to replace a duly elected African-American state representative with a white candidate, only to be stopped by the U.S. Supreme Court.

"The court, by an 8-0 vote, ruled against an appeal by Gov. Bill Clinton and other Arkansas officials that had challenged the election of Ben McGee as a state legislator," the Associated Press reported on Dec. 12, 1988. McGee is an African-American.

"The case began when blacks in Crittenden County filed a voting rights lawsuit attacking the county's at-large system for electing two House members. The suit contended that the system deprived black voters of a chance to elect a black to the House.

A special three-judge federal court had agreed earlier in the year that the system violated the federal Voting Rights Act.

The three-judge court threw out the results of a March 8 primary election in which the black candidate McGee was defeated by James Stockley, the white candidate handpicked by Gov. Clinton for the Democratic nomination.

"That was tantamount to election on Nov. 8, since no Republican ran for the seat," the AP said.

Clinton and the other state officials had argued that the federal court improperly threw out the results of the first primary and ordered a new election.

The Supreme Court ruling came as the then-governor was fighting another court battle to preserve racial profiling in his state, a tool that Clinton later criticized while president as a "morally indefensible, deeply corrosive practice."

But a decade earlier he approved the profiling of Hispanics by Arkansas State Police as part of a drug interdiction program in 1988, the Washington Times revealed in 1999.

"The Arkansas plan gave state troopers the authority to stop and search vehicles based on a drug-courier profile of Hispanics, particularly those driving cars with Texas license plates," the Times said.

"A federal judge later ruled the program unconstitutional," the paper reported. "A lawsuit and a federal consent decree ended the practice - known as the 'criminal apprehension program' the next year."

Then-Gov. Clinton, however, not only criticized the profiling ban; "at one point, [he] threatened to reinstate the program despite the court's ruling," the Times said.

"The state's position was to give away a ... program that we're now trying to get back," Clinton announced at the time, saying the race-based stop-and-search program was more important than even airport security measures.

Three years later, in 1991, Clinton actually did implement a modified version of the profiling program that prohibited the use of ethnic screening but allowed troopers to continue to stop cars on the highway at their discretion.

Hearing Clinton's condemnation of racial profiling in 1999, Roberto Garcia de Posada, executive director of the Hispanic Business Roundtable, complained that the then-president "had been a strong supporter of racial profiling against Hispanics in the past."

"He does not have the moral authority to lead a national campaign on this issue. If President Clinton truly meant what he said ... he should apologize to all those Hispanics who suffered this 'morally indefensible' practice, which he publicly supported," de Posada said.
After he was sued in the late 1980s by the NAACP's Legal Defense Fund for failing to enforce the Voting Rights Act in Arkansas, then-Gov. Bill Clinton suggested to a group of pro-segregation whites that they were being unfairly targeted by civil rights laws as a result of the South's loss in the Civil War, according to one-time Clinton administration Civil Rights Division nominee Lani Guinier.

"In the late 1980s, in a particularly tense meeting in southeastern Arkansas - a section of the Mississippi Delta region where antebellum social relations are still in many respects the order of the day - [Guinier's friend] Dayna [Cunningham] and a local LDF cooperating lawyer were part of a handful of black people there to discuss remedies for a highly contentious LDF voting rights suit," wrote Guinier in her 1998 memoir, "Lift Every Voice."

"The meeting turned sour when one of the local whites demanded to know why, in his view, the whites were always made to pay for others' problems. Other whites in the group began to echo his charge. ..."

Guinier continued:

"Bill Clinton, the lead defendant in the case, took to the podium to respond. In a tone of resignation, Clinton said, 'We have to pay because we lost.'" Guinier said Cunningham inferred that Clinton was referring to the South's Civil War loss as well as his loss in the court case.

"Clinton had so irresponsibly pandered to the backwards feeling of the white constituency" in his speech about the voting rights lawsuit, Cunningham told Guinier.

News of Clinton's attempt to pander to Arkansas whites who were angry that he'd lost a lawsuit for not enforcing the Voting Rights Act comes just hours after the ex-president accused Republicans of doing the same thing.

"They try to suppress black voting, they ran on the Confederate flag in Georgia and South Carolina, and from top to bottom the Republicans supported it," Clinton said of the GOP on Wednesday, when asked to comment on the continuing Trent Lott flap.

In fact, the Arkansas state flag added a single star above the state's name in 1923 to commemorate its membership in the Confederacy, a design that remained unaltered throughout Clinton's five terms as governor.

After tapping Guinier for the top Justice Department civil rights post in 1993, Clinton abruptly yanked her nomination after critics labeled her a "Quota Queen." Guinier said she felt betrayed by Clinton, whom she considered a friend since their days together at Yale Law School, and was angered when he called her "anti-democratic" in a nationally televised address announcing he was scuttling her nomination.
EX-President Bill Clinton spent Wednesday afternoon playing golf at a country club accused of discriminating against blacks and Jews.

Jake Siewert, Clinton's rep, confirmed it was the second time Clinton has played at the Indian Creek Country Club about 20 miles north of Miami. He first played there a year and a half ago. Siewert said, "All venues are fully vetted," and dismissed allegations of racism and anti-Semitism as "not true."

But in next month's Talk magazine, Leah Nathans Spiro reports that the club - in one of Florida's most exclusive and wealthy enclaves - is rife with discrimination. And contrary to Siewert's claim, the restrictive membership policies have been reported on PAGE SIX and elsewhere.

Indian Creek Village mayor Len Miller, a Jew, said, "It's an embarrassment. I have this kind of home, in this kind of setting, but I have to tell people, 'I am not welcome at that club.'"

"There's no question about it, the club has anti-Semitic policies in place to keep out Jews," said Earl Barber, who was on the club's board for 14 years, and a member for 22. Barber, along with Alvah Chapman, a former chairman of Knight Ridder, and M. Anthony Burns, a trucking magnate, resigned their club memberships because of its "membership policies."

To add insult to injury, 14 of the island's 34 homes are owned by Jews, and although they are denied access to the club, a portion of the residents' property tax is used for the club's upkeep. Carl Icahn is the island's only Jewish resident who is also a member.

In the early '90s, the club had no African-American or Jewish members, sparking a complaint by 17 members. Even after that, only five Jewish members were allowed in over a period of five years, and there are still no blacks.

Miller notes that he refused to meet Clinton during his 1999 visit to Indian Creek because the president was playing at the anti-Semitic club. The snub even made the local news.

When Jeb Bush was slated to pay a visit to the club, Miller informed the Florida governor of the restrictive policies, and Bush cancelled.

Timothy J. May, the head of Indian Creek Country Club's legal committee, refused to speak on an official basis, but noted as an individual member, "Every club I belong to has bigots in it; hopefully they don't run the club . . . We won't let people into the club merely because they buy a home on the island." May added that if they did let every island resident join, "the next thing you know we'll have a drug dealer in the club."
Browning had a long term extramarital affair with Clinton that lasted until just before he became president. Her account was corroborated by Arkansas state trooper Larry Patterson, who served as Clinton's bodyguard from 1986 through 1992.

"There's a gentleman who lives here in Little Rock, Arkansas by the name of 'Say' McIntosh," Patterson told "Hannity & Colmes." "He's a black activist."

"And anytime Bill Clinton was in and around Little Rock Mr. McIntosh would show up and put out leaflets on every car within a five block area. He would have face-to-face confrontations with Gov. Clinton. And many times after those confrontations we would be in the car leaving and he would refer to Mr. McIntosh using the 'n' word."

Adding substance to the charges, an audio recording that surfaced in the mid-1990s suggests that racial slurs were a regular part of Clinton family conversations.

On the tape, Clinton's brother Roger discusses an altercation between one of his friends and a local Little Rock African-American teen.

"Some junior high n----r kicked Steve's ass while he was trying to help his brothers out; junior high or sophomore in high school. Whatever it was, Steve had the n----r down. However it was, it was Steve's fault. He had the n----r down, he let him up. The n----r blindsided him."

Apparently unaware of the Clinton racial slur charges, former Transportation Secretary Rodney Slater praised his former boss's record on race during the Hall of Fame induction, and even referred to him once as "this soul brother."

The Clinton 'n'-word allegations have been covered by the Fox News Channel, talk radio and the Internet, but have otherwise been ignored by the establishment press.

Posted by: kreame1 | January 16, 2008 11:08 PM

Peterdc... First of all the mlk, false hope, manchurian muslim, drug abusing, drug addict, shucking and jiving stuff came from the CLINTON CAMPAIGN....Secondly the staffer compiled a list of the statements... Clinton never did admit wrong doing on this (this wasn't the first time remember the Iraq War vote. At least John Edwards did. But JRE always says he is sorry). Anyway Obama was CLASSY ENOUGH to admit his guy was wrong for engaging.

Posted by: TennGurl | January 16, 2008 5:09 PM

It is sad that people still are so sensitive that one can't make a true statement without it being turned into racist. Obviously we haven't reached the goal of Martin Luther King. And this time it is the African American community that is fanning this issue. It makes no sense. Obama admitted yesterday that it was his staffer that released a 4-page memo to the media trying to turn many things the Clinton's have said into racist comments. That is patently rediculous and will backfire in the general election if he keeps it up.

It was Obama who compared himself to King and JFK and where the press should have called him on it they are being so overly careful that they are giving him a free ride. Congressman John Lewis said yesterday, Obama is no Martin Luther King.

I think people denigrate Dr. King if they try to compare Obama to him. He was so much more. Look at what he accomplished in his short life as he led a movement and moved a nation. What has Obama done except build himself a career and a very short one at that.

Can you imagine anyone else who the press would treat like this who chose to run for President with less than 2 years in Congress and 8 as a part time state senator. Kennedy had 14 years in Congress and he was a real war hero. He put his life on the line for his Country. He wrote a real history book, "While England Slept", while all Obama has done is write two autobiographies that talk about his middle class childhood, attending one of the best private schools in hawaii, and his hopes for the future.

I want a President with real experience and a real background based on accomplishments not just hopes for the future.

Posted by: peterdc | January 16, 2008 4:33 PM

My grandson is of mixed-race origin. Starting about July, I engaged in the Dem race and narrowed it down to BHO or HRC (I knew I would support a front-tier candidate this cycle, and though I liked Joe Biden, he just wasn't gaining traction here in Iowa -- maybe he was considered part of the problem in WDC and not part of the solution?)

Within 24 hours, I was leaning Obama. Within 30 days, I was so firmly committed I became a precinct co-captain and we won our Precinct 2-1 for Obama. I've seen him 15 times and shaken his hand at least seven - he's genuine, humble and exceptionally intelligent.

When I looked out into the future -- to try to imagine how different the world might be with either another Clinton Presidency (I don't think she could win in Nov '08 even if she does win the Dem nod), or an Obama Presidency, the decision was very simple -- Obama, hands down, for so many reasons I cannot count them all.

While I would love to see a woman be Pres, and wouldn't even mind Hillary all that much, I just don't know that the country wants the oligarchy of another Clinton era. And she would energize the Republican base AGAINST us, bring defeat or 4-8 more years of gridlock. Who needs it? Oh Lord, no. Just vote Obama '08.

Posted by: obiwan1250 | January 16, 2008 4:10 PM

"Krissah Williams" can go ahead and give it up. We're not interested in his pot-stirring, regardless of how many malcontents he digs up for his "stories".

Posted by: zukermand | January 16, 2008 4:08 PM

Hillary was right. Without the president and members of congress, King could have marched with 250 million people and blacks would still be separate but equal. It did take a president to get the laws in place for civil rights to take hold. That said, this kind of argument distract from the real politics of the primaries. The woman in the article is "going to vote for the candidate that she believes will bring her relatives serving in the military home and can help her family maneuver through the economic recession that she believes is headed her way." I am sure if you follow her throughout the process, she will end up voting for Hillary. Unless she gets infected with Obama-mania (symptoms include unrelenting hope that a wonderful orator can somehow change 200+ years of washington bureaucracy inside the span of four years)

Posted by: gmcc | January 16, 2008 4:06 PM

It's sad that Martin Luther King has become a subject for conflict. In his use of nonviolence, he preached that "Our weapon is love," and he used it with stunning effect that today's combatants don't seem to understand:

Posted by: connectdots | January 16, 2008 3:18 PM

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