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Bottom of the Ticket, Back of the Bus: Hillary Clinton's Racist Campaign

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Where did it begin? Pick a time. How much can you stand to remember without getting nauseous? Back to Bob Kerrey, an early proponent of the slimy and absurd Muslim slurs? Back to the porcine Mark Penn, and his portrait of Obama as a shiftess cocaine fiend? Back to Bill Clinton, and the ghetto-izing of Obama's victory in South Carolina as just a Jesse Jackson thing? Or just two days ago, to the crafty ravings of a second-rate ex-ward-heeler named Geraldine Ferraro? Instead of asking when did the racism of Hillary Clinton's campaign against Obama begin, one is now forced to ask: has it ever been run without racism?

Pick a few random examples.

* The Muslim Thing: Hillary Clinton is not a lesbian, as far as I know. But -- for anyone who's never sat down in a middle-America shot-and-a-beer bar, or roamed a trinket-shop next to a highway diner over the past 20 years -- millions of blue-collar Americans think she is. What if the Obama campaign were to keep that absurd "slander" alive by digging out a photo of Hillary with a bad haircut and a flannel shirt and circulating it to the Drudge Report with a nod and a lascivious wink? And yet Clinton doesn't even bother to pretend to deny culpability in her sub-McCarthyist tactic with the Obama photo, with its open appeal to racism.

* The Experience Thing: What if a black man were to pull a Reverse Hillary? What if a black man, formerly married to a president, was to claim that his eight years of being publicly cuckolded in the White House constituted valuable "experience" that helped qualify him to be president? You can write the SNL skit for yourself.

* The Michigan/Florida Thing: What if a black man had won a primary in which the white woman's name wasn't even on the ballot, and yet demanded that the votes count for him? What kind of contempt would Clinton, and her surrogates in the media, pour down on that black man's head? We'd be hearing about Stalinist Russia. We'd be hearing dark mumblings about how "they" think "they" can change the rules in mid-stream because "they" think they're entitled to win, and the hell with the rules.

* The Bottom of the Ticket Thing: Everyone knows how to get to the bottom of the ticket -- you just get on the bus, and even if you're first, you wait for the conductor to tell you where your place is.

It goes on and on. The mind reels. The heart sickens. The campaign implodes. It's not an vicious conspiracy -- nothing that grand -- it's what Hannah Arendt called "the banality of evil." In a way, that makes it even worse: it's nothing but a series of cheesy tactics. And a generation of young voters is left to wonder what might have happened if the Clinton campaign could've run on merit instead of race...Or just found a better tactic than these supremely cynical -- and ultimately doomed -- appeals to the worst in us.