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Saturday
Aug 30th

Presidential Campaign 2008: Is Bill Clinton forgetting that he is part of the family?

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By Paul Edward Hamilton

For much of their political careers, the Clintons have been able to expect and indeed count on the unwavering political and economic support of the African American community during their numerous campaigns for elected office. Factoid: Many in the Democratic Party – both leadership and rank-and-file – are questioning the former President's comments about his wife's main rival, Senator Barack Obama (D-IL), in terms of both factual accuracy and Clinton's confrontational political style.

For much of their political careers, the Clintons have been able to expect and indeed count on the unwavering political and economic support of the African American community during their numerous campaigns for elected office.

Whether in Arkansas for the governorship, at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue for the leadership of the free world, or their current $1.7 million dollar digs in Chappaqua, N.Y. and Hillary's two winning senatorial bids, the unabashed politico tag-team of former President Bill Clinton and current Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) has normally come off as highly competent, effective and caring leaders who ultimately have the countries as well as their own best interests in mind.

See, the thing is that when there was no one who looked liked us who understood us, Bill Clinton was the next best thing. And in America, sometimes that is as good as it gets.

That is why this latest ruckus within Democratic Party circles seems so troubling. At the outset, I should say that I am a rabid Bill Clinton fan. So much so that I worked on his first presidential campaign in 1992. And was proud to shake his and Vernon Jordan's hands and have a short conversation with both of them him when the former President visited Howard University's Washington, D.C. campus in 1994, on the Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday.

For me and many other African-Americans, Bill Clinton has been celebrated as one of our heroes – a white man with the sense and sensibilities of Black America. It's been said that "he understands us, he has fought for us, and that makes him uniquely one of us." But upon further review, perhaps the former president was just being the consummate politician and backing or rewarding those who had either helped him or could help him or his wife in the future.

Yes, like it or not, Bill is part of the family, but right now he is acting like that spoiled manipulative brat of a cousin who is always twisting the facts or using selective memory to get his way, or perhaps that uncle who always says too many of the wrong things at all the wrong times.

See, the thing is that when there was no one who looked liked us who understood us, Bill Clinton was the next best thing. And in America, sometimes that is as good as it gets.

Some thought that former Secretary of State Collin Powell would fulfill the destiny of America's first viable African American to run for president, eventually capturing the White House. But as a Republican, Powell didn't have quite the same appeal for one of the Democratic Party's most formidable bases (African Americans) as Senator Obama does.

And before Obama stepped onto the American political landscape at the Democratic convention in 2004, many thought it would be impossible for there ever to be a Black man in the White House as President of the United States.

But not right now. Not at this momentous time in American history. Because now we have an articulate, good-looking, Harvard-educated one of us who also knows who to speak to, appeal to and persuade us as well as the majority population. He is built in the unique and special mode of many of the transformative leaders in our country's history like Lincoln, Kennedy and yes, even Ronald Reagan.

So, as we cringe at the possibility of the next political or social gaffe made by our often wayward Clinton kinfolk, let's remember that we in the African American community helped to create this pol
 

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