My biggest problem with Hillary Clinton’s comments about how she is the only candidate that can win white hard-working American votes is that it sends out the message that Barack Obama is someone on the other side, that he doesn’t have white working people’s interests at heart, that he’s an out of touch elitist, who looks down on common folk. At root, this is what every Republican presidential candidate says about about every Democratic candidate, no matter whether they are the son of Greek immigrants, an American war hero, or raised by a single mother in Hope, Arkansas. But when you add in the racial component and you have a Democrat saying it, it triples the toxicity.

Here’s the deal. When Democrats don’t call out Bill and Hillary Clinton on these kind of race-based smear tactics, it legitimizes their use by the Republicans. I don’t know how many times we are going to hear the Republicans this fall use some variation of: “That’s not racist, even Hillary Clinton said…”

You know, that she wouldn’t have gone to that church, or that Obama’s out of touch, or an elitist, or hangs out with terrorist professors, and was educated in a secular madrassa, or was doing who knows what (dealing drugs) back in the day.

I don’t know if the Clintons are ever going to resign themselves to defeat and ask their supporters to put aside hurt feelings and help get Obama elected. But even if they do, the Republicans will be able to drive a wedge between Clinton and Obama anytime they get put on the defensive for saying or doing something over the line.

I believe that is why it is so vitally important that the superdelegates send an unmistakable message, right now, that no more of this white/black elitist crap is going to be tolerated and that it is specifically the Clintons’ tone and tactics that are leading them to shut this campaign down.

It may be the case that Barack Obama doesn’t have much chance of winning in Kentucky or West Virginia either this month or in November. But it is unconscionable for the Clintons to exploit lingering race-hatred in Appalachia for their own cynical political advantage…especially this late in the game after the contest has been decided.

This is the exact kind of sleeze that got me involved in politics in the first place. Seeing Atwater and Rove do this stuff is what made me an implacable Democrat rather than some kind of third-party supporter. There is absolutely no place for racial politics in the Democratic Party, and even less reason to indulge it out of some misplaced loyalty or self-serving fear.

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