01 Jan 2000 Donna Brazile and the Politics of Personal Destruction, by Kevin Martin
Donna Brazile, Al Gore’s presidential campaign manager, recently sought to breathe new life into the foundering campaign by playing the race card. She attacked top black Republicans Congressman J.C. Watts and retired General Colin Powell, charging that they and their party have no programs to feed poor children and would rather take pictures with them than feed them.
Both Watts and Powell fired off angry letters to Gore, who defended Brazile’s actions. Later, however, Gore sought to smooth things over with a telephone call to Powell to say he had nothing but respect for Powell and his work with American children. Brazile’s actions were an example of the politics of personal destruction, made famous during President Clinton’s impeachment when Democrats staged their media-friendly rally for Clinton in the White House Rose Garden just after his impeachment.
Brazile’s actions did not raise any eyebrows among the press. Back in 1988, Mike Dukakis fired Brazile for accusing then-Vice President George Bush of running a racist campaign because of the Willie Horton commercials and for spreading rumors that Bush had an affair outside of his marriage. Al Gore, seeking to escape the shadow of Bill Clinton and jump-start his campaign, hired Brazile despite her past proclivity to play the race card. When the Washington Post asked Brazile what she would do for the Gore campaign, she said she was there to make sure the campaign and the election did not fall into the hands of “white boys.”
Brazile further stated that blacks, women and others have made all types of gains during the Clinton and Gore Administration. Well, Miss Brazile, you must have missed the December 9 USA Today that ran the headline “White House Missing Voices” and reported there is little or no diversity among the Clinton White House elite. While Clinton’s cabinet might “look like America” racially, his closest advisors are actually limited to white men. Miss Brazile, I challenge you to ask the Democratic leadership on Capitol Hill about the lack of blacks in leadership positions.
You may also have forgotten that Clinton honored General Colin Powell for his work with American children. It is not the Republicans, by the way, who are obligated to feed poor children, but their parents. I challenge you to drive to the poorest areas of any city and count the so-called poor walking around with leather coats, Tommy Hilfiger pants and $150 tennis shoes. Can you tell me why children there are going hungry when they and their parents are so well dressed?
I challenge you, Miss Brazile, to tell me what gains blacks have made under Clinton and Gore. The only time blacks seemed to have mattered to the Democrats in the last seven years was in 1998 when Clinton was fighting for his life during impeachment. Democrats used scare tactics to get blacks out to vote en masse by saying Republicans would cut funding to the poorest of poor areas and cut school lunch programs. I challenge you to question your fellow Democrats on why they oppose tax money being used to send poor children to private schools. The bottom line is that, in each election, Democrats lose more middle-class black votes to Republicans because the Democratic message is the same old soup, warmed over. J.C. Watts maybe the lone black Republican in the House, but he holds a powerful leadership position. General Powell was the first black chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, chosen by Republican President Bush. Alan Keyes is currently running for president under the Republican banner for the second time.
So, Miss Brazile, with all that I have pointed out, which party seems to be friendlier to blacks? In 1992, President Bush’s reelection bid captured 10% of the black vote – a first for a Republican. Both George W. Bush and John McCain have a good chance of capturing the same amount or more this year. More and more blacks are seeing the Democratic Party in an unfavorable light due to the actions of Bill Clinton and Al Gore over the last seven years. Miss Brazile, I challenge you to put the politics of personal destruction behind you and try to find issues for your party other than race.
Note: New Visions Commentaries reflect the views of their author, and not necessarily those of Project 21.