Dead On Target WRT Clinton

6 views
Skip to first unread message

DarkStar

unread,
Aug 25, 1996, 3:00:00 AM8/25/96
to


For educational purposes of the newsgroup.

Clinton and Blacks: The Power of
Symbolism

By Colbert I. King

Saturday, August 24 1996; Page A23
The Washington Post

For a moment, let your imagination run wild. Suppose
in the last presidential election, the
country had sent an African American to the White
House. Hey, I told you to uncurb your
mind, didn't I? Now stick with me. Suppose, too,
that during the first black president's term
in office, he:

Lured a University of Pennsylvania law professor who
was a close friend and a Yale law
school classmate to lead the Justice Department's
Civil Rights Division, only to cut and run
on her after right-wing critics misrepresented her
scholarly writings and unfairly denounced
her as a "quota queen."

Assembled a White House staff so klutzy that through
its sloppy vetting it helped to wash
out two successive choices for attorney general, and
through poor preparation of the
nominee doomed the chances of a respected African
American physician's ever becoming
surgeon general -- on the very day he was unveiled
at the White House.

Did next to nothing to build support for his
campaign promise of a multibillion-dollar
economic package to stimulate job growth, and
watched the whole idea go down the tubes
during his first 100 days in office -- although a
stimulus package was near to the hearts of
urban Ameri\ca's unemployed.

Signed into law an awful crime bill that trims
habeas corpus, empowers federal
wiretappers and contains enough new death penalty
provisions -- 60 in all -- to make an
executioner quiver with delight.

Turned a deaf ear to recommendations of the U.S.
Sentencing Commission and sided with
Republican conservatives against pleas of the
Congressional Black Caucus to bring the
heavier penalties for selling or possessing crack
cocaine -- which hit blacks the hardest --
in line with those for powder cocaine, which
generally affects white users and sellers.

And, in the granddaddy political cop-out of them
all, ceremoniously put his signature on a
welfare bill that immigrant organizations and a
number of civil rights, religious and
women's groups claim threatens the poorest of the
poor in our midst.

Where would that African American president stand
today? With that record, it's an even
bet he would be as welcome in the black community as
Supreme Court Justice Clarence
Thomas at an NAACP confab. Yet Bill Clinton, whose
presidential track record includes
all of the above, will blow into the Windy City next
week for the Democratic National
Convention to the cheers and blandishments of
assorted African American delegates, party
officials, job-seekers, grantsmen and folks of
all-around good cheer. How could that be,
you ask? Gather 'round.

Cynics would say it's because of the "wmi" syndrome.
Oops, sorry, that's the punch line to
an inside joke.

For the uninitiated, the story of "wmi" goes
something like this: Before the arrival of the
refrigerator, street vendors used to go door to door
selling blocks of ice. According to one
account, an elderly black gentleman steeped in the
old ways, when asked why he always
passed up the chance to buy from the black vendor,
said he preferred to wait because "the
white man's ice is colder."

Those same cynics might say that syndrome captures
the nature of Bill Clinton's relationship
with some black political leaders. Who can really
say? This much is true. Clinton's
attractiveness to African American voters, despite
his miscues, waffling and policy
sellouts, is no fluke and is not to be taken
lightly. It reflects not only his ability to stroke
black leaders and use language to win over black
target audiences but also certain
unpleasant realities in our own community.

For instance, a President Colin Powell, with all of
the prestige he enjoys, would not have
been able to imitate Bill Clinton's inconstancy and
backsliding on issues of paramount
importance to African Americans and still retain
their trust and respect. On the other hand,
Clinton can snap up Republican positions as if they
were barbecued spare ribs, and -- as
will be seen next week -- get the reception of a
homeboy.

At times, we African Americans seem to apply a
different and more exacting test of loyalty
to our own. It is absolute taboo for a black leader
to sound too much like a Republican -- a
burden that a reelection-seeking Bill Clinton
apparently doesn't have to bear.

Now, it's not fair to suggest that Clinton strokes
black voters only to achieve his own
political ends. His response to the tragic plane
crash of Commerce Secretary Ron Brown
and the other passengers was Bill Clinton at his
best. His concern for the families struck me
as genuine, heartfelt and presidential. At bottom,
Bill Clinton comes across as someone
who really cares about people. And again, to be
fair, he has consistently supported the
minimum wage, education and the Earned Income Tax
Credit, which benefits low-income
Americans. And though he had some of us worried for
a minute, he didn't bail out on
affirmative action.

But Clinton operatives have long given evidence of
banking on something that the Haley
Barbour crowd at the Republican National Committee
has just begun to discover: that
symbolism can go a long way with black folks.

They seem to expect that Clinton's ability to sing
every verse of "Lift Every Voice and
Sing," flatter black ministers in the pulpit, flirt
with their choirs, charm their congregations,
eat soul food with the best of them and give black
politicians and celebrities the impression
that they all have a special in with him -- as long
as they don't push him too hard or tick him
off -- will overshadow his election-year preference
for Republican-like policies. Maybe
so.

As good as he is with black voters, Clinton gets a
lot of help from the GOP. Powell, Jack
Kemp and San Diego notwithstanding, the party's old
bulls -- placed under strong dose of
sodium pentothal -- will admit that they really
couldn't care less what black voters want,
think or do. Republicans have managed to occupy the
White House most of the past 28 years
and gained control of Congress in 1994 without any
appreciable black support. Yesterday,
Bob Dole told a group of black journalists, "The
Republican Party will never be whole
until it earns the broad support of African
Americans and others." Until that is done, the
field is all Clinton's.

Bill Clinton's real worry is to make sure that he's
not seen as doing too much too often for
you know who. That can be the kiss of death for a
politician hoping to score well with
suburban moderates and conservatives. Maybe that's
why African Americans get symbols
and small favors, for which some are ever so
grateful, as long as it's Bill Clinton in the
White House and not some conservative troglodyte.

So next week, when the curtain goes up in Chicago on
the more rainbow-like Democratic
convention, expect to be moved, stirred, thrilled
and left in a lather. It certainly won't be the
occasion to start daydreaming about an African
American president. It will be time to get
ready for the biggest moment of all. That's when Mr.
Bill the Ice Man cometh.

The writer is a member of the editorial page staff.

© Copyright 1996 The Washington Post
Company


Duane Bindschadler

unread,
Aug 25, 1996, 3:00:00 AM8/25/96
to

In article <4voe40$j...@news2.cais.com>, dark...@cais.com wrote:

> For educational purposes of the newsgroup.
>
> Clinton and Blacks: The Power of
> Symbolism

Interesting article, ed. but it seems to me that the writer has missed
a central point. Consider all the things he listed -- what would
have been the result if you had George Bush in the White House and
the '94 Republican Congress? Welfare would have been out the door, and
with far more punitive and draconian conditions, so fast that people's
heads would still be spinning.

The only black members of the administration would be those who never
raised a fuss about all those inconvenient "black" problems (and
by that i mean problems that affect many or most americans but have
been labeled with a black face).

Economic stimulus would have been in the form of lowering the marginal
tax rates for the highest income levels, and lower capital gains, with
a bone thrown to the middle class in the form of income tax credits
for kids. Most of that money would have come out of federal social and
educational programs.

Federal affirmative action programs would already be gone. And there
would be minimal attempts to enforce the existing laws against discrimination.
(y'all do recall who reagan put in charge of the EEOC, yes?)

One other thing. The writer is complaining about some of the political
ineptitude of Clinton's first couple of years. First off, "Pres." Colin
Powell might well make mistakes of a similar nature. There is no job
in the universe that actually prepares someone to be President. Election
of a sitting VP to the Presidency probably comes closest. Second, Clinton's
effectiveness as Arkansas gov. is *because* he excels at coalition-building
and compromise. Note that the issues on which he's been trounced (lani guinier,
for example) are those where he failed to properly lay groundwork or
misunderstood or underestimated his opposition. The issue of gays in the
military is an excellent example. Clinton got trounced, badly. And used
up a lot of political capital on something that should not be at the
top of the list of problems faced by this nation.

don't misunderstand -- i have no wish to take the all-too traditional
white-liberal positions of either (1) "the republicans are the boogie
man, so you have to vote for our guy" or (2) "but look at all the good
things he/we have done for you! you should be grateful." To me, it comes
down to making a choice. and in a 2-party system like we have, the
alternatives often come down to voting for whoever you dislike the
least.

--
duane bindschadler
dbin...@ucla.edu

DarkStar

unread,
Aug 26, 1996, 3:00:00 AM8/26/96
to

In article <dbindsch-250...@news.ucla.edu>,

Duane Bindschadler <dbin...@ucla.edu> wrote:
>In article <4voe40$j...@news2.cais.com>, dark...@cais.com wrote:
>
>> For educational purposes of the newsgroup.
>>
>> Clinton and Blacks: The Power of
>> Symbolism
>
>Interesting article, ed. but it seems to me that the writer has missed
>a central point. Consider all the things he listed -- what would
>have been the result if you had George Bush in the White House and
>the '94 Republican Congress? Welfare would have been out the door, and
>with far more punitive and draconian conditions, so fast that people's
>heads would still be spinning.

True.

>The only black members of the administration would be those who never
>raised a fuss about all those inconvenient "black" problems (and
>by that i mean problems that affect many or most americans but have
>been labeled with a black face).

What good has the Black faces been in this administration?

>Economic stimulus would have been in the form of lowering the marginal
>tax rates for the highest income levels, and lower capital gains, with
>a bone thrown to the middle class in the form of income tax credits
>for kids. Most of that money would have come out of federal social and
>educational programs.

On lower capital gains, with the growth of 401K programs, and with people
selling their homes and being faced with paying that tax if they don't buy
a house of same or greater value, that issue is of importance.

>Federal affirmative action programs would already be gone. And there
>would be minimal attempts to enforce the existing laws against discrimination.
>(y'all do recall who reagan put in charge of the EEOC, yes?)

Of course.

...

>don't misunderstand -- i have no wish to take the all-too traditional
>white-liberal positions of either (1) "the republicans are the boogie
>man, so you have to vote for our guy" or (2) "but look at all the good
>things he/we have done for you! you should be grateful." To me, it comes
>down to making a choice. and in a 2-party system like we have, the
>alternatives often come down to voting for whoever you dislike the
>least.

I understand, but my point is this: Clinton ain't a savior, he's another
"cracka in a suit" if/when his political ass is on the line.

--
-------------------------- Sign below the dotted line --------------------

Welcome to my virtual reality!

Ed Brown - dark...@cais.com
http://www.tnp.com/~darkstar (construction in progress)
Copyright, 1996, Edwin Brown

Duane Bindschadler

unread,
Aug 28, 1996, 3:00:00 AM8/28/96
to

dark...@cais2.cais.com (DarkStar) wrote:

> Duane Bindschadler <dbin...@ucla.edu> wrote:
> >In article <4voe40$j...@news2.cais.com>, dark...@cais.com wrote:

> >The only black members of the administration would be those who never
> >raised a fuss about all those inconvenient "black" problems (and
> >by that i mean problems that affect many or most americans but have
> >been labeled with a black face).
>
> What good has the Black faces been in this administration?

not certain i understand your point. Ron Brown and Jocelyn Elders
(to name the two most prominent) have clearly had an effect on both
the Clinton Admin. and the country. Elders was forced out because
she couldn't figure out how to be effective without completely
pissing off a sizable minority of the citizens, not because she raised
issues having to do with race. The problem for black folks in Washington
has (immuo) been the difficulty of addressing racism and issues that
disproportionately impact black folks without being dismissed as
extremists or otherwise marginalized. That those difficulties cut
across party lines (although the republicans clearly lack clues that
the democratic party at least struggles with) is an indication that
racism *per se* is not a partisan problem.

> >Economic stimulus would have been in the form of lowering the marginal
> >tax rates for the highest income levels, and lower capital gains, with
> >a bone thrown to the middle class in the form of income tax credits
> >for kids. Most of that money would have come out of federal social and
> >educational programs.
>
> On lower capital gains, with the growth of 401K programs, and with people
> selling their homes and being faced with paying that tax if they don't buy
> a house of same or greater value, that issue is of importance.

sorry, ed, i have to disagree. Capital gains is a complete non-issue
for 401k/403b/IRA participants. You pay taxes on those monies as
ordinary income. And folks who sell their homes to buy one of lesser
value don't represent a significant injustice. And those who sell and don't
buy within the statutory limit are primarily speculators.

[...snipola]


>
> I understand, but my point is this: Clinton ain't a savior, he's another
> "cracka in a suit" if/when his political ass is on the line.

this is a false dichotomy. your implication is that clinton, if
left without a significant political gain from his black constituency,
would either actively harm black folks or would by inaction allow
harm to come to them. I don't think that's what we're dealing with
in Clinton. And similarly, the presence of Kemp on the republican
ticket alters my assessment of what degree of harm a Dole administration
might do to black folks. As cynical as it might sound, i think that
some significant part of the question of who to vote for (for me) comes
down to who I think would do the least harm if given the power of the
presidency.

--
duane bindschadler
dbin...@ucla.edu

DarkStar

unread,
Aug 29, 1996, 3:00:00 AM8/29/96
to

In article <dbindsch-280...@news.ucla.edu>,

Duane Bindschadler <dbin...@ucla.edu> wrote:
>dark...@cais2.cais.com (DarkStar) wrote:
>
>> Duane Bindschadler <dbin...@ucla.edu> wrote:
>> >In article <4voe40$j...@news2.cais.com>, dark...@cais.com wrote:
>
>> >The only black members of the administration would be those who never
>> >raised a fuss about all those inconvenient "black" problems (and
>> >by that i mean problems that affect many or most americans but have
>> >been labeled with a black face).
>>
>> What good has the Black faces been in this administration?
>
>not certain i understand your point. Ron Brown and Jocelyn Elders
>(to name the two most prominent) have clearly had an effect on both
>the Clinton Admin. and the country.

Brown, yes, Elders, no. She was too much for the conserva-kooks to handle,
although that is not CLinton's fault. What I mean is, what good did they
do during his affrimative action hedging? What has Clinton done for/in
the Black community for the past 2 years? Now that voting time is around,
he seems to be showing his face with more Black people. Clinton hasn't
done much for Washington D.C., and that is a fact.

...

>> >Economic stimulus would have been in the form of lowering the marginal
>> >tax rates for the highest income levels, and lower capital gains, with
>> >a bone thrown to the middle class in the form of income tax credits
>> >for kids. Most of that money would have come out of federal social and
>> >educational programs.
>>
>> On lower capital gains, with the growth of 401K programs, and with people
>> selling their homes and being faced with paying that tax if they don't buy
>> a house of same or greater value, that issue is of importance.
>
>sorry, ed, i have to disagree. Capital gains is a complete non-issue
>for 401k/403b/IRA participants. You pay taxes on those monies as
>ordinary income.

I thought you started paying capital gains once you started withdrawing
the money.

>And folks who sell their homes to buy one of lesser
>value don't represent a significant injustice. And those who sell and don't
>buy within the statutory limit are primarily speculators.

The point is, without the capital gains bite, how many would be willing to
buy down? And with more people investing in mutual funds, it starts to become
an issue.

>[...snipola]
>>
>> I understand, but my point is this: Clinton ain't a savior, he's another
>> "cracka in a suit" if/when his political ass is on the line.
>
>this is a false dichotomy. your implication is that clinton, if
>left without a significant political gain from his black constituency,
>would either actively harm black folks or would by inaction allow
>harm to come to them.

The 2nd one is what I mean.

>I don't think that's what we're dealing with
>in Clinton.

Who really knows what Clinton believes? Who really cares, it's what he does
that counts.

> And similarly, the presence of Kemp on the republican
>ticket alters my assessment of what degree of harm a Dole administration
>might do to black folks. As cynical as it might sound, i think that
>some significant part of the question of who to vote for (for me) comes
>down to who I think would do the least harm if given the power of the
>presidency.

That, I understand.

J Lanier

unread,
Aug 31, 1996, 3:00:00 AM8/31/96
to

In <5056mr$1...@news2.cais.com> dark...@cais2.cais.com (DarkStar) writes:

[...]

>>> On lower capital gains, with the growth of 401K programs, and with people
>>> selling their homes and being faced with paying that tax if they don't buy
>>> a house of same or greater value, that issue is of importance.
>>
>>sorry, ed, i have to disagree. Capital gains is a complete non-issue
>>for 401k/403b/IRA participants. You pay taxes on those monies as
>>ordinary income.

>I thought you started paying capital gains once you started withdrawing
>the money.

Either way this is not where the bulk of capital gains is being charged.
There are those people (executive officers) who own *major* chunks of
stocks either in the companies they work for or wherever, who do nothing
but buy and sell. Shares of these stocks may be dirt cheap and the amount
the price may go up only pennies, but because of the amount owned these
people stand to make incredible amounts of money in the space of *minutes*
or less. They are really benefitting from a cut in capital gains tax in a
way that most people investing in 401K's, mutuals, etc. are not and cannot
dream to do.

>>And folks who sell their homes to buy one of lesser
>>value don't represent a significant injustice. And those who sell and don't
>>buy within the statutory limit are primarily speculators.

>The point is, without the capital gains bite, how many would be willing to
>buy down? And with more people investing in mutual funds, it starts to become
>an issue.

[...]

Duane Bindschadler

unread,
Aug 31, 1996, 3:00:00 AM8/31/96
to

dark...@cais2.cais.com (DarkStar) wrote:
> Duane Bindschadler <dbin...@ucla.edu> wrote:
> >dark...@cais2.cais.com (DarkStar) wrote:
> >
> >> Duane Bindschadler <dbin...@ucla.edu> wrote:
> >> >In article <4voe40$j...@news2.cais.com>, dark...@cais.com wrote:
> >
> >> What good has the Black faces been in this administration?
> >
> >not certain i understand your point. Ron Brown and Jocelyn Elders
> >(to name the two most prominent) have clearly had an effect on both
> >the Clinton Admin. and the country.
>
> Brown, yes, Elders, no. She was too much for the conserva-kooks to handle,
> although that is not CLinton's fault. What I mean is, what good did they
> do during his affrimative action hedging? What has Clinton done for/in
> the Black community for the past 2 years? Now that voting time is around,
> he seems to be showing his face with more Black people. Clinton hasn't
> done much for Washington D.C., and that is a fact.

no one's been able to do much for D.C. I don't really know enough about
the local politics to comment further -- but I seriously doubt that
having Barry as mayor again has impressed the Congress very much. and
they hold the purse strings.

> >And folks who sell their homes to buy one of lesser
> >value don't represent a significant injustice. And those who sell and don't
> >buy within the statutory limit are primarily speculators.
>
> The point is, without the capital gains bite, how many would be willing to
> buy down? And with more people investing in mutual funds, it starts to become
> an issue.

it's simply not an issue for your average person. Look, i am philosophically
in agreement with the concept that the feds shouldn't get to tax you
twice (they tax your income *and* then they tax any gains you make from
investing what's left). But i want to see a grown-up, sober look at the
what cutting the capital gains tax will cost the country, and where we
take the money to pay for it. And i don't want any of this voodoo
economics assumptions about how cutting this or that tax will inevitably
lead to an economic boom and increase govt. revenues.

unfortunately, the political reality of the situation is that if one
party engages in such an attempt, they will be bludgeoned to
ineffectiveness by the other party.

> >[...snipola]
> >>
> >> I understand, but my point is this: Clinton ain't a savior, he's another
> >> "cracka in a suit" if/when his political ass is on the line.
> >
> >this is a false dichotomy. your implication is that clinton, if
> >left without a significant political gain from his black constituency,
> >would either actively harm black folks or would by inaction allow
> >harm to come to them.
>
> The 2nd one is what I mean.
>
> >I don't think that's what we're dealing with
> >in Clinton.
>
> Who really knows what Clinton believes? Who really cares, it's what he does
> that counts.

and what he *doesn't* do -- like getting rid of all affirmative action, maybe?

--
duane bindschadler
dbin...@ucla.edu

Duane Bindschadler

unread,
Aug 31, 1996, 3:00:00 AM8/31/96
to

tdgi...@best.com (Tim D. Gilman) wrote:

> Duane Bindschadler <dbin...@ucla.edu> wrote:
> >
> >sorry, ed, i have to disagree. Capital gains is a complete non-issue
> >for 401k/403b/IRA participants. You pay taxes on those monies as

> >ordinary income. And folks who sell their homes to buy one of lesser


> >value don't represent a significant injustice. And those who sell and don't
> >buy within the statutory limit are primarily speculators.
>

> How could you not see the nonsense in the capital gains tax laws,
> Duane? It's ridiculous that when someone sells their home in
> California and moves to a different part of the country where real
> estate is much cheaper, he has to buy a fancier home than he needs just
> to avoid being taxed heavily.

look, i agree with you in part (see my previous post to ed). but...

> My brother in law's parents recently did this. They sold their
> home in Sunnyvale, CA for a decent price, then moved to Arizona,
> where his job got transfered. A house in Arizona that was similar
> to the one they had in California cost about $200,000 less. As a
> result, they ended up buying a big plot of land and built a huge house
> on it. They didn't really need to, but did for no other reason than to
> avoid the huge pentalty in capital gains taxes that would have been
> required had they got a normal place to live in.

sorry, but that sounds pretty strange to me. Even if i were to find
myself in such an enviable position, I doubt that i'd complain about
being "forced" to build myself a mansion. but then, i guess some
people need to complain about something...

> Why does it really matter to Democrats whether someone uses their extra
> money on a bigger house instead of a base to start a new business? I'll
> tell you why. Because they've just got to stop people out there from
> having a good time.

it ought to be painfully obvious to you, tim, that both parties have
their share of folks who are terribly concerned that someone, somewhere
might actually be enjoying life. The issue is not one of morality or
business startups. The fact is that there is an *exception* to the
capital gains tax that is designed to avoid punishing people who
buy bigger (assumed to = more expensive) houses as their families
grow. It's a tax *incentive*. And look - it actually worked in the
case of your family, didn't it?

duane

--
duane bindschadler
dbin...@ucla.edu

DarkStar

unread,
Sep 2, 1996, 3:00:00 AM9/2/96
to

In article <dbindsch-310...@news.ucla.edu>,

Duane Bindschadler <dbin...@ucla.edu> wrote:
>dark...@cais2.cais.com (DarkStar) wrote:

...

>> Brown, yes, Elders, no. She was too much for the conserva-kooks to handle,
>> although that is not CLinton's fault. What I mean is, what good did they
>> do during his affrimative action hedging? What has Clinton done for/in
>> the Black community for the past 2 years? Now that voting time is around,
>> he seems to be showing his face with more Black people. Clinton hasn't
>> done much for Washington D.C., and that is a fact.
>
>no one's been able to do much for D.C. I don't really know enough about
>the local politics to comment further -- but I seriously doubt that
>having Barry as mayor again has impressed the Congress very much. and
>they hold the purse strings.

He had 2 years to help D.C. before the Republicans took control of the
House. There is a serious tax cut proposal directed at D.C. that is being
discussed on the Hill. Democrats are against it becuase it is a tax cut.
Yet, they offer no solutions of their own. The tax cut is being used as
a way to stop the flow of middle class and above from leaving the district.
It has some flaws, but the Democrats have said no, and offer no alternatives.

>> >And folks who sell their homes to buy one of lesser
>> >value don't represent a significant injustice. And those who sell and don't
>> >buy within the statutory limit are primarily speculators.
>>

>> The point is, without the capital gains bite, how many would be willing to
>> buy down? And with more people investing in mutual funds, it starts to become
>> an issue.
>
>it's simply not an issue for your average person. Look, i am philosophically
>in agreement with the concept that the feds shouldn't get to tax you
>twice (they tax your income *and* then they tax any gains you make from
>investing what's left). But i want to see a grown-up, sober look at the
>what cutting the capital gains tax will cost the country, and where we
>take the money to pay for it. And i don't want any of this voodoo
>economics assumptions about how cutting this or that tax will inevitably
>lead to an economic boom and increase govt. revenues.

We can pay for it but cutting corporate welfare and other areas. I have to
agree with the Republicans that just cutting the taxes will cause congress
to finally start cutting other programs if they don't want the deficeit to
balloon.

...

>> Who really knows what Clinton believes? Who really cares, it's what he does
>> that counts.
>
>and what he *doesn't* do -- like getting rid of all affirmative action, maybe?

Did you know he did order the end of a few aa programs?

Reply all
Reply to author
Forward
0 new messages