THE BLOG
01/17/2006 02:38 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

Hillary Plays the... ' Plantation ' Card?

Remember when Bill Clinton first ran for president and there was all that talk of a two-for-one deal: elect one Clinton, get the other for free?

Well, Hillary got herself elected in her own right, but yesterday she must have thought that her husband's connection with the African American community, and his status as the "first black President" were transferable gifts. But it turns out that this connection is not one of those things, like video rental cards, that one is entitled to just because your spouse is a member.

Here's what she said yesterday, speaking at a Martin Luther King Day celebration:

"When you look at the way the House of Representatives has been run, it has been run like a plantation, and you know what I'm talking about."


What? Why would they know what she's talking about? And, if I'm reading the metaphor correctly -- and there aren't many ways to read it -- that would mean that the House Democrats are the slaves. Yikes.

And, of course, the right is spinning this as the most outrageous racial affront since George Wallace stood in that schoolhouse door. Clearly it's not. But just because the right is whipping up the POM (Phony Outrage Machine), it doesn't mean this statement deserves defending.

What it tells us is not about race, but about Hillary's tin ear and her lack of awareness of it. Her "just between you and me tone" was like watching someone who thinks they can sing belting out an off-key song while everyone looks on with clenched smiles.

The difference between Hill and Bill isn't that Bill could get away with it. It's that Bill never would have said it.