Tuesday, May 13, 2008 at 7:06 AM

Bill Clinton loses his honorary title as America’s first black president

Posted by Anthony L. Hall

Last January, Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA) explained that he was so disgusted with the way the Clintons were playing the race card that he felt morally obligated to endorse Barack Obama for president of the United States. This, in turn, inspired me to pose the following question:

If Kennedy’s racial conscience has been so offended by the way the Clintons have played the race card against Obama, what does it say about the racial pride of blacks who continue to support them?

I reasoned further that:

…No black had a greater duty to address this question than Nobel Laureate Toni Morrison. After all, she is primarily responsible for injecting into black consciousness the patently absurd notion that Bill is “the first black president of the United States.”

Of course, since January, even die-hard black supporters, like civil rights pioneer Rep. John Lewis (D-GA), have become so disgusted with the Clintons that Obama has been winning over 90% of the black vote in primaries and caucuses all over the country.

Not that the Clintons are pining over this loss. After all, they pivoted right into courting the white vote by pretending to be card-carrying members of the “Hill-Billy” redneck club….

More to the point, however, I was pleased to read how Morrison finally clarified her misbegotten pronouncement – in a May 7 interview conducted by TIME magazine – as follows:

People misunderstood that phrase. I was deploring the way in which President Clinton was being treated, vis-à-vis the sex scandal that was surrounding him. I said he was being treated like a black on the street, already guilty, already a perp. I have no idea what his real instincts are, in terms of race.

However, for the record, here’s what she actually said back in 1998:

White skin notwithstanding, this is our first black president. Blacker than any actual black person who could ever be elected in our children’s lifetime.

Nevertheless, as self-serving political spin goes, at least Morrison’s clarification has some socially redeeming value….

Related Articles:
Kennedys: endorsing Obama dissing Hillary
Hillary’s superdelegate, John Lewis, jumps ship for Obama


  1. Noel May 13, 2008 at 12:06 pm

    I never got that, Bill Clinton “First black president”.

    Come to think of it, I don’t remember any blacks in his cabinet or in his administration. Not a one…..

  2. ALH ipinions May 13, 2008 at 12:33 pm

    Hear, hear on your first point Noel.

    Regarding his Cabinet, however, Clinton actually has some legitimate bragging rights.

    For example, he appointed the following blacks:

    Ron Brown, U.S. Secretary of Commerce; Mike Espy, Secretary of Agriculture; Alexis Herman, Secretary of Labor; Hazel O’Leary, Secretary of Energy; Rodney Slater, Secretary of Transportation; Jesse Brown, Secretary of Veterans Affairs, who was succeeded by Togo West, and Dr. Jocelyn Elders, U.S. Surgeon General, who was succeeded by Dr. David Satcher.

    All the same, what few Democrats can accept is that Bush assembled an even more diverse Cabinet and appointed blacks to the highest positions than any president in history, including Clinton.

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