Frustrated by reports that the Clinton campaign is arguing to Super Delegates in
private that Barack Obama “can’t win” in November — presumably because
he’s black — some Obama surrogates have countered with the argument,
also expressed privately but widely reported, that Senator Clinton can’t win in November
because she’s an asshole.
The attempt seems to be to associate Clinton with unpopular Republican
Presidents who are generally seen as assholes — like Richard Nixon and George
Bush. Clinton supporters have been quick to point out that Bill
Clinton, still a popular figure in Democratic circles, was also an
asshole, but still managed to balance the budget and keep America safe.
Other Clinton backers expressed outrage over the Obama tactics.
“Hillary Clinton can’t help being an asshole,” said Governor Ed Rendell
of Pennsylvania, “anymore than Barack Obama can help being a
Negro. Criticizing a person on the basis of some inherent characteristic
demeans the public debate.” In response to questioning, Rendell
said that “Negro” was not a term he normally used himself, “though it
does reflect the language of many voters in my state, who may not be
ready to vote for a person they see as an uppity jigaboo. Naturally,” he added, “that attitude doesn’t reflect my personal views.” Reporters said that Rendell winked repeatedly at the camera during these remarks, though an aide later explained that the
Governor had simply gotten something in his eye.
CNN political analyst David Gergen warned that the Obama argument could
backfire. “Assholes make up a significant percentage of the
American electorate,” he said. “Naturally, they’re attracted to a
candidate who is also an asshole and sensitive to attacks on that
candidate, whom they perceive as ‘like them’. Barack Obama can’t
win the Presidency if he totally alienates the asshole vote, which
could determine the outcome in many swing states, like Florida.”
Obama’s only comment on the controversy — “American politics has no
place for assholes” — has struck many observers as ambiguous, at best.