Election 2008

Obama Wins NC Decisively, Clinton Hangs on by Thread

In a nutshell, the Reverend Wright strategy backfired.
Editor’s Note: As AlterNet went to press on Tuesday night, Hillary Clinton maintained a narrow lead of 51 percent to Barack Obama's 49 percent in Indiana, with 99 percent of precincts reporting.

During a week of reverberations over the sayings of Reverend Wright, the political calculus in Clintonland hopefully reckoned that white voters would swiftly abandon the good ship Obama in a flight of fear following a paroxysm of soul-searching racial uncertainty.

The highly paid strategists of the Clinton campaign sharpened their pencils and carefully calculated their arcane political equations. Following a series of deft tactical maneuvers designed to manufacture a withering crisis, the mainstream media would subject Obama to another week on the defensive against the phantasmagorical sayings of Rev. Wright following his madcap spree of ill-advised press conferences manufactured to stimulate the undercurrents of racial intolerance still roiling just beneath the surface tension of America.

The Clintonian rationale for this round of "strategy" was at once stark and simple. The Reverend Wright machinations would be especially effective in the Jim Crow-obsessed South and that great state of Indiana, once the home of the national headquarters of the Ku Klux Klan where 30% of the white male population donned the iconic white hoods and robes of the Rolls Royce of race baiting organizations to march 500,000 strong down Pennsylvania Avenue proudly brandishing banners proclaiming their brand of lily white masculine supremacy.

The Clinton campaign's happy coincidence was simplicity itself for the North Carolina and Indiana primaries fell on the very same date. This miraculous synchronicity provided the sacred crucible for the latest media-driven experiment in race-baiting. In gambling terms -- and that is precisely what the strategists were doing -- they bet the house on the Reverend Wright gambit and then rolled the proverbial dice.

The results are now in hand. Obama's support has held relatively firm in spite of the provocative statements of Reverend Wright. The majority of Democrats are now satisfied with Obama's handling of his former pastor.

Even more importantly, Obama carried North Carolina decisively. According to analyses from North Carolina's political experts, Obama trounced Clinton via a new and unanticipated surge in black turnout that was almost certainly triggered by the massive mainstream media overreaction to the stage-managed appearances of Reverend Wright.

In a nutshell, the Reverend Wright strategy backfired. Polls indicate that voting in Indiana is heaviest in counties where Obama has commanding leads. While Indiana is another "open primary" state, and Rush Limbaugh's legions of followers could effect yet another Clinton upset via Operation Chaos, it will not matter.

With a population of nearly nine million, North Carolina is the very last large state to hold its primary this year. If Hillary Clinton had upset Obama in North Carolina, the nomination calculus could have been rewritten. The Clintons mustered the governor, Mike Easley, to endorse her campaign last week in hopes of creating a surge of "white flight." The Clintons said that Easley's endorsement was politically significant especially with white, working class voters, but the final tally is not even going to be close.

That sagacious Congressman, G. K. Butterfield of Goldsboro, North Carolina warned the Clintons that they were in danger of permanently alienating the black vote. Between Governor Easley (now serving the final months of his last year in office) and the eloquent Congressman Butterfield, it is simply no contest. The trophy goes to Butterfield for intelligent candor.

The Southern state of North Carolina is going to be remembered as Barack Obama's firewall against the latest gasp of the politics of racial intolerance. The state that gave us the now rather unfashionable James K. Polk of manifest destiny fame who presaged the neoconservative visions of Leo Stern and William Kristol and Andrew Johnson who preceded Bill Clinton in the annals of impeachment, is also the home of Terry Sanford who nominated JFK and Sam J. Ervin, Jr. who removed Richard Nixon from his high office.

The Clinton calculus now goes into overdrive and moves into parliamentary procedure and resorts to Roberts Rules of Order to seat the outlaw delegations from Michigan and Florida. Hillary Clinton is winding down her campaign with hopes for minor state wins in West Virginia and Kentucky while Obama will roll on to win the majority of delegates in the remaining states.

In North Carolina, the last large state to cast its votes this primary season, Obama's firewall holds in the South, and none other than Dick Morrissays that his nomination is now bankable.
Michael Carmichael is a political consultant, historian, author and broadcaster.
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