When identity politics attack *UPDATED*

Noemie Emery perfectly summarizes the nightmare the Dems have created for themselves:

Sometime back in the 1990s, when the culture wars were the only ones we thought we had going, a cartoon showed three coworkers viewing each other with narrowed and questioning eyes. “Those whites don’t know how to deal with a competent black man,” the black man is thinking. “Those guys don’t know how to deal with a powerful woman,” the woman is thinking. And what could the only white male have been thinking? “They don’t like me. They know that I’m gay.”

So far as we know, there are no gays in the mixture today, but the cartoon nicely captures what the Democrats face as they try to wage a political war in the age of correctness, which is, they are finding, an impossibility. The Democrats are the party of self-conscious inclusion, of identity politics, of sensitivity training, of hate crimes, hate speech, and of rules to control them. A presidential campaign, on the other hand, is nothing but “hate speech,” as opponents dive deep into opposition research, fling charges true, half-true, and simply made up against one another in an attempt to present their rivals as slimy, dishonest, disreputable, dangerous, and possibly the worst human beings who ever drew breath.

This has been true of this country’s politics since at least 1800, when John Adams and Thomas Jefferson were vilified roundly, and has gone on ever since–an accepted and even a much-loved tradition. Until recently, it went on without murmur, as all the main contestants for president were white Anglo-Saxon Protestant males, with the exception of Michael Dukakis and three Roman Catholics, two of whom looked like WASPs. Now, however, in its campaign season from hell, the party of sensitivity has found itself in a head-banging brawl between a black man and white woman, each of them visibly loathing the other, in a situation in which anything said in opposing one of the candidates can be defined as hateful, insensitive, hurtful, demeaning, not to say bigoted, and, worst of all, mean. Looking ahead to the general election, Democrats were prepared to describe any critique made of Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton as an example of the racism and sexism that they like to believe permeates the Republican universe. But this was before their own race became quite so close, and so spirited. They never seem to have stopped to think what might occur if they turned their sensitivity bludgeons against one another. They are now finding out.

You’ll want to read the whole thing, which you can find here.

UPDATE: And here is precisely what Emery and I predicted, which is that the give and take of politics is dead, because you’re not allowed to attack Obama (just as you weren’t allowed to attack Hillary and make her cry):

The bitter back-and-forth between former President Bill Clinton and Sen. Barack Obama has led a prominent black lawmaker to tell the former president Monday to “chill a little bit.”

The two Democratic front-runners, Illinois Sen. Obama and New York Sen. Hillary Clinton, are locked in a battle for the key South Carolina primary this Saturday.

As their campaign sparring continues, the Illinois senator seems to be spending almost as much time responding to Hillary Clinton’s husband as he does to the candidate herself.

House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn, one of the most powerful African-Americans in Congress, weighed in on the feud Monday, saying it was time for Bill Clinton to watch his words.

Hillary will be a better opponent for the Republican candidate because she is so strident and disliked, it will be okay to attack her in the ordinary rough and tumble of an election. Obama will be a disaster for the Republican candidate, because he’ll be untouchable.

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  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com/ ymarsakar

    Eliminate the media and you cut the Gordian Knot.

  • jj

    The interesting thing is, garbage that Bill Clinton is, he has very, very sharp instincts for this stuff.

    Anybody who thinks that he’s “off the reservation” in ANY sense is either cracked or not paying attention: he knows EXACTLY what he’s saying, and so does everyone on Hillary’s senior campaign staff. At this level you do not go “off the reservation” except with calculation and deliberation, and that’s what we’re seeing.

    To what end? To distract Obama, make him react, take him off message, and make him look like a dope – and it’s working beautifully. Look at the current situation: here’s Obama wasting his powder, not to mention his time and his attention; on what is purely a sideshow. He, the candidate; is getting into a pissing match, not with Hillary, note: but with a surrogate!

    There is NO reason for Obama to be wasting so much as a second responding to Bill, the surrogate. That is – or ought to be – the job of some of his own surrogates: the candidate does not get into it with the other candidate’s surrogates – period. For Obama to do so is a huge and distracting mistake, and it makes him look pretty damn stupid, too. He’s spending: “almost as much time responding to Hillary Clinton’s husband” – and that’s just dumb.

    But don’t believe for a second that Bill isn’t under control, or doesn’t know EXACTLY what he’s doing, or has opened his mouth at all without checking it all through with campaign headquarters.

    I despise these people, but it took them no time at all to bounce Obama off message and into the weeds, did it? With total deniability for the candidate (in the eyes of the stupid, not for the thoughtful): it isn’t Hillary doing it, it’s old out-of-control Bill.

    Much as I hate them, it’s informative as hell to watch.

  • expat

    I just saw CNN reporting a poll that asked whether the US was ready to elect a woman president. Then they go on to interpret the replies in terms of Hillary. Am I missing a connection here or is Hillary the only woman in America? Are these polls designed to push voters further into identity politics?

  • Friend of USA

    A black woman who is a lesbian would get elected easily.

    a trifecta!

    Is Condi Rice a lesbian?

  • Allen

    I thought the debate in SC was quite illustrative. Apparently there are code words, and phrases, which are meant to cause stink eye.

    They used them on each other, and the outcome was predictable. The Clinton’s came up with the phrase “personal destruction.”

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  • swampacreage

    “I despise this people ” Who wouldn’t ? They are the best at beating you at your own game which is SPIN the bottle . . oops (Freudian slip . . Bill can do that to you . . mesmerize) I mean spin the stories. And besides get over it Democrats and Republicans are more the same than they are different. . Pespi-Coke BORINGLY the same . . of course not for the hanger ons and all the nice plush civil servant jobs that go with it . . the fringe benefits page boys . . interns etc. . Fanta anyone ? It is refreshing !

  • Ymarsakar

    One ought to hate one’s enemies, of course, but one also must never underestimate one’s enemies nor overestimate their capabilities.