Is Hillary About to Play the Race Card?

Via TPM Cafe, Marjorie Valbrun in the Washington Post?

Last month, William Shaheen, a political surrogate for Clinton, was quoted publicly peddling concerns about Obama’s admitted past drug use and intimating that Republicans — not, heaven forbid, candidate Clinton herself — would raise questions about it if Obama was nominated.

Shaheen, who was co-chairman of the New Hampshire campaign but has since resigned, told The Post: “It’ll be: ‘When was the last time? Did you ever give drugs to anyone? Did you sell them to anyone?’ There are so many openings for Republican dirty tricks. It’s hard to overcome.”

What’s harder to overcome is the idea that these patently insincere sentiments about Obama — coming from an experienced political adviser working for a tightly controlled and heavily scripted campaign — weren’t part of a deliberate attempt to paint the Illinois senator as a stereotypical black drug dealer.

Clinton herself has made racially tinged comments that could be taken as either insensitive or patronizing. The most widely noticed was in her efforts to dismiss Obama’s talk of “hope” and “change” as empty idealism. In doing so, she offhandedly diminished the important role played by Martin Luther King Jr. in pushing America to meet its promise of equality for millions of black Americans. “Dr. King’s dream began to be realized when President Johnson passed the Civil Rights Act,” Clinton said. “It took a president to get it done.”

In other words, “I have a dream” is a nice sentiment, but King couldn’t make it reality. It took a more practical and, of course, white president, Lyndon Johnson, to get blacks to the mountaintop. Of course no black man could have hoped to be president 44 years ago. And, for that matter, neither could any woman.