"Mexican Americans...take Spanish...in Summer School...And Get B's"...: Or are we Buying Into The Hype?

| Mon Jan. 28, 2008 9:21 PM EST

It's a long way to the Dem's August convention in Denver, but it's hard to see how Clinton can save herself from herself and her husband now. Her MLK vs LBJ Freudian slip was her last chance to stop the Billary race-baiting train and...she chose not to. Pissing on the South Carolina vote and the annoying little Negroes who dared to vote against her sealed her fate, it seems. Or it should have. We'll see. But, in any event, Obama is far from home free. Now that he's all but won the battle against old school white supremacy he can move on to new school black-Latino hostility. Are Latinos the new whites, the people who refuse to vote for blacks? The pundits are torn. From the SF Gate:

Sen. Barack Obama easily won the African American vote in South Carolina, but to woo California Latinos, where he is running 3-to-1 behind rival Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, he is taking a giant risk: spotlighting his support for the red-hot issue of granting driver's licenses to illegal immigrants.
It's a huge issue for Latinos, who want them. It's also a huge issue for the general electorate, which most vehemently does not. Obama's stand could come back to haunt him not only in a general election, but with other voters in California, where driver's licenses for illegal immigrants helped undo former Gov. Gray Davis.
Clinton stumbled into that minefield in a debate last fall and quickly backed off. First she suggested a New York proposal for driver's licenses for illegal immigrants might be reasonable. Then she denied endorsing the idea, and later came out against them.
Asked directly about the issue now, her California campaign spokesman said Clinton "believes the solution is to pass comprehensive immigration reform."
"Barack Obama has not backed down" on driver's licenses for undocumented people, said Federico Peña, a former Clinton administration Cabinet member and Denver mayor now supporting Obama. "I think when the Latino community hears Barack's position on such an important and controversial issue, they'll understand that his heart and his intellect is with Latino community."

But what of blacks' hearts and intellects? Not only must Obama woo Latinos he must do so without alienating blacks who, as a group, have little interest in Latino preferences. When, it must be said, they're not actively hostile to them as with immigration and job competition.

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Earl Ofari Hutchinson is not optimistic about Obama's ability to appeal to Latinos though he will desperately need to. He notes:

Since [black Mayor Tom Bradley's lack of appeal to LA's Latino voters] then the political polarization between Latino voters and black candidates has been a virtual trademark in every other race where a black candidate has squared off against a white or Latino candidate. In 1993, Rudolph Giuliani, a tough law and order, conservative Republican running in heavily Democratic New York city against liberal African-American Democrat David Dinkins got nearly forty percent of the Latino vote. Nearly a decade later, Lee Brown, the former New York City police commissioner, got less than 30 percent of the Latino vote in his run-off race against Orlando Sanchez for Houston mayor. The even more popular, veteran former Congressman Ron Dellums received barely thirty percent of the Latino vote in his race for mayor in Oakland against a Latino challenger in 2005.

My friend Gregory Rodriguez though is trying to flip the script on the notion that Hispanics won't vote for blacks and makes me reconsider my unexamined ideas about their anti-black feelings. He writes in Time:

I imagine he said it as if he were confessing a deep, dark secret. And, of course (wink, wink), he had no idea his little confession would make the rounds. But when Sergio Bendixen, Hillary Clinton's pollster and resident Latino expert, told the New Yorker after her win in New Hampshire that "the Hispanic voter--and I want to say this very carefully--has not shown a lot of willingness or affinity to support black candidates," he started a firestorm of innuendo that has begun to shape how the media are covering the race for the Democratic presidential nomination in the heavily Hispanic Western states.

After the Jan. 19 Nevada caucuses, in which Latino voters supported Senator Clinton by a ratio of nearly 3 to 1, some journalists literally borrowed Bendixen's analysis word for word before going on to speculate about Barack Obama's political fortunes in such delegate-rich states as California and Texas. Ignoring the possibility that Nevada's Latino voters actually preferred Clinton or, at the very least, had fond memories of her husband's presidency, more than a few pundits jumped on the idea that Latino voters simply didn't like the fact that her opponent was African American.

The only problem with this new conventional wisdom is that it's wrong. "It's one of those unqualified stereotypes about Latinos that people embrace even though there's not a bit of data to support it," says political scientist Fernando Guerra of Loyola Marymount University, an expert on Latino voting patterns. "Here in Los Angeles, all three black members of Congress represent heavily Latino districts and couldn't survive without significant Latino support."

Whatever the truth, we can know for a fact that a new storm front is forming now as Obama continues trying to be all race transcendant. God help him as he tries to reconcile all the intra-black rivenings (e.g. rap v Cosby, black social conservatism v. civil unions and abortion), whilst simultaneously trying to make blacks and browns learn to coexist.

The real mystery is why he even wants this job.

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