Can Clinton heal the racial divide?

Examining an argument made in the Wall Street Journal about Hillary Clinton's power to affect the national discourse on race.

By Alex Koppelman
Published April 30, 2008 10:32PM (UTC)
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Here's this week's video for our partners at Current -- in it, I talk about an article from Tuesday's Wall Street Journal, in which a WSJ editor argued that it's Hillary Clinton who can ease racial tensions right now.

As I say in the video, I think it's a little easy to assume that something she says would actually have that much effect, and I'm not sure it really would. Plus, there's the issue of whether she really wants to make the kind of speech the article's author, Jerry Seib, calls for. In the race thus far, she's wanted to keep gender in people's minds as an identity politics issue in the race, as that benefits her in some ways. For instance, when she commented on Barack Obama's big speech about race, she specifically said, "Issues of race and gender in America have been complicated throughout our history, and they are complicated in this primary campaign." (The emphasis is mine.)


Now, as I also mention in the video, I think that if you believe a speech from Clinton would have some effect on racial tensions in the Democratic Party and in the country as a whole, you can make an argument that, given her position in the race right now and her apparently very slim chance to capture the nomination, she should sacrifice some political capital and just make the speech. I'll leave the discussion of that to you all -- let us know what you think.

Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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