16.1.08

OPTIMIZATION AT THE MARGIN. Charlie Sykes is not surprised with the current dust-up among Democrats.
Democrats, after all, are a party shaped and obsessed with identity and grievance politics, so the clash between sensitivities of race and gender will inevitably be magnified. Who is more offended? Women or Blacks?
The dust-up does not escape the attention of the New York Times.

“I never thought we would see the day when an African-American and a woman were competing for the presidency of the United States,” [Senator Clinton] told black parishioners at a Presbyterian church in Columbia, S.C. “Many of you in this sanctuary were born before African-Americans could vote. So this is not a piece of history that is happening to someone else; this is happening to us.”

Mr. Obama, reflecting the different way he has talked about race during his own campaigns, took pains in speaking at a church service here on Sunday to avoid portraying his election as historic because of the possibility of putting an African-American in the White House.

“We’re on the brink or cusp of doing something important; we can make history,” Mr. Obama said, speaking to a few hundred worshipers at the Pentecostal Temple Church of God. “I know everybody is focused on racial history. That’s not what I’m talking about. We can make history by being, the first time in a very long time, a grass-roots movement of people of all colors.”

Mrs. Clinton said Sunday, in an interview on the NBC program “Meet the Press,” that she was hopeful race and gender would not be an issue in this contest.

Still, supporters of Mr. Obama said in interviews Sunday that they were concerned Mrs. Clinton and her allies might be deliberately raising the issue of race at the very time that Mr. Obama had shown signs of taking off.

Perhaps, given how close on matters of substance the Democrats are, differentiation would inevitably involve racial and sexual politics. The explosive potential had been recognized sometime last year.

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