Although Wright had until recently been obscure to the American public, political insiders and reporters have long known about him. On March 6, 2007, the New York Times reported that Obama had disinvited Wright from speaking at his announcement because, as Wright said Obama told him, “You can get kind of rough in the sermons.” By then, conservative commentators had widely denounced Wright. His performances in the pulpit were easily accessible on DVD, direct from his church. But Clinton, despite her travails, elected to remain silent.
Instead, she had to fight back against a deliberately contrived strategy to make her and her husband look like race-baiters. Obama’s supporters and operatives, including his chief campaign strategist David Axelrod, seized on accurate and historically noncontroversial statements and supplied a supposedly covert racist subtext that they then claimed the calculating Clinton campaign had inserted.
In December, Bill Shaheen, a Clinton campaign co-chair in New Hampshire, wondered aloud whether Obama’s admitted youthful abuse of cocaine might hurt him in the general election. Obama’s strategists insisted that Shaheen’s mere mention of cocaine was suggestive and inappropriate – even though the scourge of cocaine abuse has long cut across both racial and class lines. Pro-Obama press commentators, including New York Times columnist Frank Rich, then whipped the story into a full racial subtext, charging that the Clintons had, in Rich’s words, “ghettoized” Obama “into a cocaine user.”
Veteran educator Gary Stager, Ph.D. is co-author of Invent To Learn — Making, Tinkering, and Engineering in the Classroom, publisher at Constructing Modern Knowledge Press, and the founder of the Constructing Modern Knowledge summer institute. He led professional development in the world’s first 1:1 laptop schools thirty years ago and designed one of the oldest online graduate school programs. Gary is also the curator of The Seymour Papert archives at DailyPapert.com. Learn more about Gary here.