In 1992, Bill Clinton hit a political home run with his “Sister Souljah” moment. In 2007, Hillary Clinton suffered a reverse “Sister Souljah” strikeout. If it isn’t the end of her presidential aspirations, it should be.
Allow me to explain. Fifteen years ago, Mr. Clinton was looking to solidify his centrist credentials. An obscure quote by an obscure black radical rapper provided the perfect exploitable opportunity. In the wake of the Los Angeles riots, Souljah was interviewed by The Washington Post. “If Black people kill Black people every day,” Souljah wondered aloud, “why not have a week and kill white people?”
Mr. Clinton took to the bully pulpit at the Rainbow Coalition and denounced Sister Souljah. “If you took the words ‘white’ and ‘black’ and you reversed them,” Mr. Clinton lectured sternly, “you might think David Duke was giving that speech.” Political cheerleaders framed this as an act of political bravery — publicly repudiating an extremist racial separatist’s rhetoric to demonstrate independence from minority grievance-mongers in the Democrat party.
Mrs. Clinton, whom conventional wisdom mistakenly casts as the smarter, more disciplined politician of the household, didn’t learn from her hubby’s Sister Souljah triumph. She turned it on its head. Instead of dissociation with racial extremists, she has chosen ingratiation. And the results are comedy bordering on political suicide.
Strike One came last January, standing at the pulpit at the Canaan Baptist Church with racial racketeer Al Sharpton in Harlem. Affecting a strange Southern-spiced-with-street twang during a Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration, Mrs. Clinton sassed: “For the last five years, we’ve had no. Power. At All. And that makes a big difference, because 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 talkin’ about.”
“We”? “Plantation”? Whatchu talkin’ ‘bout, H-dawg? All that was missing was an “Oh, snap!” and a talk-to-the-hand motion for pandering punctuation.
Strike Two came earlier this year in Selma, Ala. Commemorating the bloody 1965 civil rights march that helped roll back segregation in the South, Hillary painfully recited from an old gospel hymn: “Aww don’t feel noways tired. I’ve come too faarrr from where I started frum. . . . Aww could have listened all day luung.” The speech was met with universal derision.
Yet, last week, with Al Sharpton at her side at his annual National Action Network demagogue-a-thon in New York, Hillary pulled out the black-cent again: “We have ta reform our government. The abuses that have gone on in the last six years — I don’ think we know the half of it yet. You know, when I walk into the Oval Office in January of 2009, I’m afraid I’m gonna lift up the rug and I’m goin’ to see so much stuff uh-nder thar. . . . You know, what is it about us always havin’ to clean up after people? . . . But this is not just going to be pickin’ up socks off the floor. This is going to be cleanin’ up the government.”
“Us always havin’ to clean up after people”?
Still unable to control her desperately pandering tongue, Sister Hillary invoked Harriet Tubman — yes, Harriet Tubman! — to compare the travails of some malfunctioning audio equipment during a campaign speech: “There may be some bumps along the road! You know this reminds me of one of my favorite American heroines, Harriet Tubman. For when she made it to freedom after having been a slave and she got to New York and she could have been so happy to just stay at home and just breathe a big sigh of relief but she kept going back down south to bring other freed slaves to freedom. And she used to say, ‘No matter what happens, keep going.’ So we’re going to keep going until we take back the White House!”