This past week, Hillary Clinton attempted to fortify her shaky campaign by hiring longtime confidante Maggie Williams as campaign manager.
For Clinton observers, this suggests that the race card may be pulled from the deck once again with the African-American Williams providing necessary insulation.
Historically, Hillary and her husband, Bill Clinton, have played this card over and over and with great effect. What the media have yet to tell black America, however, is that the card is inevitably a Joker.
The Clintons’ historic race strategy, temporarily neutralized by Obama, is based on the carefully nurtured belief that Bill and Hillary are very close to black themselves.
As is well known, this belief was made manifest in 1998, at the climax of the Monica Lewinsky scandal, when famed author Toni Morrison anointed Clinton as “our first black president.
“After all,” Morrison continued in this much-discussed New Yorker article, “Clinton displays almost every trope of blackness: single-parent household, born poor, working class, saxophone-playing, McDonald’s-and-junk-food-loving boy from Arkansas.”
Like most African-Americans, Morrison had bought into a well-crafted narrative about Bill Clinton’s life that is close to pure fiction. In reality, the young Bill Clinton lived a life that was almost uniquely luxurious given the time and place.
“The refrigerator was stocked to his taste,” reports the Washington Post’s David Maraniss in “First In His Class.” Clinton’s bedroom, and he never had to share one, was the largest in the house. He had his own bathroom, perhaps the only teen in the state so blessed.
Meanwhile, in the Clinton carport sat the black four-door finned Buick that young Bill drove to Hot Springs High School. For special occasions, like a trip to the whites-only country club, there was also the family’s cream yellow Henry J coupe.
By 19, Clinton was driving a white Buick convertible with red interior. The notion he was “poor” is as false as the notion that he grew up in a single-parent household. He lived with a mother and stepfather, both of whom doted on him.
If Clinton interacted with any African-Americans at any time in his Arkansas youth, there is no evidence. Nor do we sense any particular racial sensitivity about a life lived in the already archaic world of the Old South. His parents sent young Bill to the best of Hot Springs’ still-segregated schools all the way through high school.
Little changed over time but appearances. Upon his election to president of the United States, Clinton made one move that resonated well with the black community. He appointed the highly visible Vernon Jordan to co-chair his transition team with Warren Christopher.
“It was the first time in history that a president of the United States publicly stated that his best friend was an African-American,” said civil rights activist Mary Frances Berry.
In fact, this was a new and expedient friendship. Marannis’ biography, which takes Clinton through 1991, has not a single mention of Jordan.
Still, a willful sharing of power with minorities quickly became part of the Clinton myth. Commerce Secretary Ron Brown learned the hard way, however, just how illusory the myth was.
Brown sensed the depth of that deception with the publication in 1994 of Robert Woodward’s “The Agenda.”
The “agenda” in question was the domestic one embodied in the contentious budget bill of 1993.
What mattered to Brown about the story, what stung and humiliated him, was that he seemed to have played almost no part in the contest. Woodward’s book made this clear. There is, in fact, only one reference to Brown, and it is an insignificant one. Brown’s power was chimerical.
In the beginning of the book, Woodward lists Clinton’s nine-member “economic team.” Brown is not on it. Nor is Brown among the 31 Democrats who comprise Woodward’s “cast of characters.”
What intrigues the observer about this cast is it looks less “like America” than it looks like, say, Idaho.
Of the 31 Democrats listed, 22 of whom are part of Clinton’s official team, not one is a racial minority of any kind. Of the 70 identifiable faces (including repetition) in the photo section of the book, all are white.
On the national security front, minorities did not even enjoy the illusion of power.
Time after time, the Clintons exploited the trust of the minority appointments they did make and used them less for information than insulation.
This pattern became apparent at the time of the Monica Lewinsky affair. As the president told the story, it was Betty Currie that Monica came to see. It was Bill Richardson who offered her a job at the United Nations. It was Vernon Jordan who chose to intercede for her at Revlon.
Hillary Clinton was not above a little exploitation herself. In unrelated incidents, it was not Hillary, but her loyal aid Williams who cleared out Vince Foster’s office after his death and accepted Johnny Chung’s $50,000 donation in the White House.
These acts led to huge legal bills for Maggie Williams just as they had for Jordan, Currie and Richardson.
No one got to see through the Clinton race myth – and live to tell about it – more clearly than Lani Guinier. In April 1993, the Clintons nominated their good black friend and Yale classmate to head the Civil Rights division of the Justice Department.
Despite the Clintons’ reassurance, Guinier increasingly sensed that they were about to abandon her because of resistance to her provocative legal opinions.
A month after the nomination, a friend was giving the increasingly anxious Guinier a tour of the Oval Office to cheer her up. The two were walking down the hallway when Hillary Clinton and a staffer approached them. As Hillary breezed past, she said, “Hey, kiddo” and just kept walking.
Guinier was astonished at the slight. About 10 steps later, Hillary looked back over her shoulder and explained she was late for lunch. Those were the last words Hillary ever would utter to her embattled law school buddy.
The Clintons would soon enough dump their presumed good black friend down the memory hole. In Hillary Clinton’s book, “Living History,” there is no mention at all of Lani Guinier.
Only a complicit media allowed the Clintons to paper over these bare spots in the myth. And no event would need more papering than the one that took place in that same April 1993 on the plains outside Waco, Texas.
As the world knows, the FBI assault on the Mount Carmel community in Waco ended in tragedy. Following an FBI tank attack on April 19, 74 people burned to death, 20 of them children.
The assault did not, however, end in political disaster. That would have occurred only if the Clinton Justice Department had shared with America what it knew and concealed about the Branch Davidians’ ethnicity. More than half the dead were, in fact, racial minorities: 39 of the 74. Of those 39, 27, aged 6 to 60, were black.
Even Lani Guinier did not know this. Does Maggie Williams? Does Obama?
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