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Jennifer Palmieri and the Party of Race

It was the traditional Kennedy School after-the-election sit down for the leaders of that cycle’s presidential campaigns. This time, of course, that meant a conversation between the leaders of the Trump and Clinton campaigns. By multiple media accounts it did not go well. Here is a sample of the back-and-forth between Hillary Clinton’s communications director Jennifer Palmieri and Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway.

JP: Bannon is providing a platform for white supremacists. It may be brilliant tactician. I am glad to have lost. And when Hillary, give me a minute, David, I am more proud of Hillary Clinton’s alt-right speech than any other moment on the campaign…

KC: Wow.

JP: Because she had the courage to stand up. I would rather lose than win the way you guys did.

KC: No, you wouldn’t. No, you wouldn’t.

JP: Yes, yes, yes.

KC: That’s very clear to me. No, wouldn’t, respectfully. I’m sorry, how exactly did we win? No, go for it, Jenn. How exactly did we win? I’d like to know, because I sacrificed the last four months of my life to do it.

JP: I said I…

KC: Excuse me, and we did it. And Jenn, do you think, excuse me, she said white supremacist. I’m sorry.

JP: I would actually like to follow up…

KC: No, sorry, I know it’s mentioned a lot on your website, too. Do you think I ran a campaign where white supremacists had a platform? Are you going to look me in the face and tell me that?

JP: It did. Kellyanne, it did. It did.

Wow. Where to start? Let’s go the Open Letter route.

Dear Jennifer:

I note with interest your recent back-and-forth with Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway, in which you accused Steve Bannon of “providing a platform for white supremacists” and Kellyanne specifically of running the Trump campaign by doing the same. You also said that “I am more proud of Hillary Clinton’s alt-right speech than any other moment on the campaign… Because she had the courage to stand up. I would rather lose than win the way you guys did.”

Well, aside from the blatantly false allegation against Steve Bannon — I read Breitbart every day and it is not only not providing a “platform” for white supremacists it is a leader in going after the racism of identity politics. But still, your attack is astonishing. Why?

To be frank, Jennifer, your political party has a 200-plus year old culture of racism that has been at its core since it appeared on the American political scene with an alliance between party founder Thomas Jefferson and slave holders in 1800. Since then your party has supported every race-based proposition from slavery to segregation to lynching to today’s racial quotas and illegal immigration by skin color.

You say you were proud of Hillary Clinton’s alt-right speech. Part of that speech reads, incredibly, as follows:

From the start, Donald Trump has built his campaign on prejudice and paranoia.

He is taking hate groups mainstream and helping a radical fringe take over the Republican Party.…

Trump is reinforcing harmful stereotypes and offering a dog whistle to his most hateful supporters.

Coming from Hillary Clinton this is particularly rich, not to mention mind-boggling in its hypocrisy. I’ll leave aside the episode, as reported here in the Wall Street Journal just last year in which it notes that then-Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton signed legislation “reaffirming a state flag design that included a star symbolizing the state’s membership in the Confederacy.” There was not a peep from Hillary Clinton about this nod to white supremacy. Was she supporting giving white supremacists a platform in the Arkansas state flag? Judging by her silence, and using your standards for Steve Bannon, apparently so.

But let’s recall a little recent American history, starting with the late Khalid Muhammad. You remember Mr. Muhammad, yes? The one-time assistant to Louis Farrakhan. It was Muhammad who said this (among many, many other things): There were “hooked-nose, bagel-eating, lox-eating, so-called Jews” with “hairy hands” that are “pimping the world.” Lovely. But there was somebody out there who shrugged this kind of blatant anti-Semitism off, saying “I have no problem with Khalid Muhammad.” Really? And who would that be? Yes, indeed, none other than Al Sharpton. The very same Al Sharpton who, as noted here, is on tape spewing the “n-word” and ranting about “Greek homos,” “Chinamen,” Koreans and watermelons. Don’t forget the infamous Sharpton targeting of a Jew as a “white interloper.” Or calling Jews “diamond merchants.” Or, on a television show, yelling at an audience member that he was a “punk faggot.” In short, a purer form of the worst racism, anti-Semitism, and gay bashing could not be found.

And where exactly was Hillary Clinton on this kind of garbage? Here is this from the New York Times in April of this very year:

Hillary Clinton to Speak at Al Sharpton’s National Action Network Convention

Times reporter Maggie Haberman began her story this way:

Last year, Hillary Clinton called the Rev. Al Sharpton to wish him a happy birthday, a bit of outreach that she did not tell reporters about, though Mr. Sharpton did.

So in other words? Not only was your candidate silent about her husband giving a nod to white supremacy in the Arkansas state flag, she made a point in this presidential campaign of sucking up to one of the worst racist, anti-Semitic, gay-bashing demagogues on today’s political scene. Even making a point of calling him to wish him a happy birthday! All in the exact fashion emblematic of the culture of racism that has dominated your party from the get go and which you cannot seem to leave behind. Make that refuse to leave behind.

And far be it from me to just imply that Hillary Clinton is alone in this. The Washington Post reported that Sharpton had been invited to the Obama White House 72 times. Say again… 72 times!

None of this toadying with racism and racists is accidental. The New York Times noted this of your candidate back in March, my bold print for emphasis supplied:

Hillary Clinton set out 10 months ago to inspire and energize the Democratic Party, hoping to bring together the rising American electorate of black, brown, young and female voters into a durable presidential coalition.

Which is to say that your candidate was making it her business to racialize her party — in exactly the tradition of the old-time racists who founded it. The principle: Divide people by race, win the election and push the progressive agenda.

It is apparently an uncomfortable fact for the Clinton campaign that many white voters who supported Barack Obama switched to vote for Donald Trump this year. As Jason Riley of the Wall Street Journal has observed:

The reality is that Mr. Trump didn’t prevail on Election Day because of fake news stories or voter suppression or ascendant bigotry in America. He won because a lot of people who voted for Barack Obama in previous elections cast ballots for Mr. Trump this time. In Wisconsin, he dominated the Mississippi River Valley region on the state’s western border, which went for Mr. Obama in 2012. In Ohio’s Trumbull County, where the auto industry is a major employer and the population is 89% white, Mr. Obama beat Mitt Romney, 60% to 38%. This year, Trumbull went for Mr. Trump, 51% to 45%. Iowa went for Mr. Obama easily in 2008 and 2012, but this year Mr. Trump won the state by 10 points. Either these previous Obama supporters are closet racists or they’re voting on other issues.

“Trump switched white voters in key states who were blue-collar primarily — coal counties, manufacturing counties,” the Republican strategist Whit Ayres told me this week. “These are blue-collar whites who voted for Barack Obama. And that’s a very uncomfortable thing to admit by the left. It’s much easier to say a ‘basket of deplorables’ elected Trump. But I’m sorry, that just does not conform to the data in those states that made a major swing from one party to the other.”

Exactly. Mr. Riley — and since skin color is all-important in your worldview I guess I have to note that he is black — also says this, bold print supplied by me:

Yet regardless of the facts, most liberals and their friends in the media continue to view Mr. Trump’s victory through a self-serving racial lens. Today, race is the Democratic Party’s organizing principle. Group identity is a doctrine and group grievances are to be nurtured and exploited politically no matter the damage to civil discourse. It’s the type of thinking that allows the left to be outraged that the likes of Steve Bannon have Mr. Trump’s ear, and indifferent that the likes of Al Sharpton have had Mr. Obama’s.

Right again.

Back there in the mists of 2013, Dr. Ben Carson — now nominated to join the Trump Cabinet — said this of white liberals:

“Well, they’re the most racist people there are. You know, they put you in a little category, a little box — you have to think this way. How could you dare come off the plantation?”

Respectfully, Jennifer?

Before you make blatantly false allegations about how the Trump campaign won, I would politely suggest you turn to your own candidate and the culture of racism that dominates your own party and that she has personally furthered — and stand up to that.

Thanks.

Jeffrey Lord
Jeffrey Lord
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 Jeffrey Lord, a contributing editor to The American Spectator, is a former aide to Jack Kemp and Ronald Reagan. An author and CNN commentator, he writes from Pennsylvania at jlpa1@aol.com and @JeffJlpa1. His new book, What America Needs: The Case for Trump, is now out from Regnery Publishing.
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