Thank goodness for C-Span. I enjoy my news non-filtered and preferred to watch the Showdown In Selma without Wolf Blitzer nattering on about how significant the occasion was. I remembered watching the original news about the Selma march in 1965 and being horrified, as was most of the nation, by the brutality of the police as they mowed down the marchers with horses and billy clubs. C-Span allowed me to hear the electrifying address by Congressman John Lewis and the always magnificent Rev. Joseph Lowery speaking about the "good crazy people," which the major networks picked up on, but without context. Barack Obama was invited to speak at the Brown Chapel A.M.E. Church by John Lewis, a hero of the Selma March who was beaten and bloodied on that dark day. Obama did not give a stem-winding speech, although his emotion rose several times during the address. Rather, he was measured and respectful, aware that he was only a child when the events of Bloody Sunday took place, but cognizant of the personal effect of the movement on both his life and campaign for the presidency.
If Obama came in humility, Hillary came in hubris. Uninvited to attend, Hillary leaned on Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth, another hero of the movement, to ask her to address his congregation, only 100 yards from where Obama spoke. As if that weren't chutzpah enough, she brought Bill along for the first time in her campaign. For Hillary to bring Bill for her speech to a black audience reminded me of President Bush insisting that he would appear before the 9/11 Commission only with Dick Cheney by his side. Her speech in the church was more minstrel show than commemorative address. It could only have been more entertaining if she had done it in blackface. Hillary is so scripted and managed, you can almost see the key in her back. And why is it that when white people from the North speak to black people from the South, they get a sorghum molasses twang in their voice and an exaggerated drawl that seems more condescending than a poor attempt to "relate?" Sister Hillary had the cadence going and the sing-song voice rising when she attached that bloody day in Selma to her own candidacy. She neglected to say that in 1965, she was a Goldwater Republican from a wealthy Chicago suburb. She was all call, and no response.
If Sen. Clinton is so committed to civil rights, how does she explain her recent co-sponsorship of a constitutional amendment to ban flag burning? And how can she bitterly critique the Iraq war without denying her vote helped enable BushCo. to launch this war of choice? She mentioned the Little Rock Nine and how they had been friends all these years, echoing the implied but unsaid, "some of my best friends are Negroes." But her Hambone routine reached its zenith when she went for the Bill Clintonesque recitation of the classic Rev. James Cleveland gospel song, "I Don't Feel Noways Tired." It sounded a little like Pat Boone singing "Tutti Frutti." If it's true that Bill Clinton was our first black president, then he was definitely in a bi-racial marriage.
I would welcome a woman president, as I would welcome anyone justifiably qualified, but Sen. Clinton is as calculated a candidate that's come along since Bill Clinton, only without the finesse. Her new nickname should be "Slick Hillie." The senator's supporters always say how intelligent and capable she is, but she plays dirty, as evidenced by the ridiculous attempt to insist Obama distance himself from David Geffen and his critical remarks about the Clintons. I don't know a whole lot of people outside of the music business who even knew who David Geffen was until Hillary saw a chance to pick a meaningless fight with Obama over Hollywood contributors. (Geffen was the recording executive that Joni Mitchell sang about in "Free Man in Paris"). She exudes falsity. Her statement that when attacked by a political opponent, "You have to deck them," sounds like it came from the thesaurus of Karl Rove. If she expects to win the womens' vote, who advised her to be so macho? She is certainly demonstrating more testosterone than John Kerry, but do the voters wish to continue down this same road of divisiveness we have experienced for the last fourteen years?
The "Thing That Wouldn't Die," Newt Gingrich, recently referred to Hillary as a "nasty woman." I believe Gingrich to be a "horrible man." But could it be considered "nasty" to attempt to cut the legs from your political opponent by crashing a commemorative day in Selma, a turning point in the civil rights struggle marked by the blood of martyrs, and turning the entire affair into a political carnival? Was it "nasty" to use the occasion to unveil Bill on the campaign, just when the polls show Hillary dropping among black voters? Was it "nasty" for Bill to call John Lewis before the event and instruct him not to endorse Barack Obama? Maybe I'm just suffering from Clinton fatigue, or an all-encompassing weariness with the dynastic politics of these times. I would hate to admit that I agreed with Newt Gingrich about anything. But on Bloody Sunday, it would have served Hillary well to remember that the civil rights struggle was about measuring a person by "the content of their character."