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A Closer Look at the Pennsylvania Primary

Duplicity Demeans Clinton Campaign (or When Bill Praised Farrakhan)

by LINN WASHINGTON, Jr.

Inspiring yet inconsequential!

Senator Hillary Clinton’s Tuesday victory in the hotly contested Pennsylvania primary certainly gave a psychological boost to her sagging candidacy.

But victory did little to significantly close the delegate or popular vote gap separating Clinton from Senator Barack Obama.

In some ways former front-runner Clinton’s gain of a hand full of delegates for this summer’s Democratic Party convention dramatizes the phrase –Pyrrhic victory: a too costly victory.

Clinton’s tactics amount to trying to enhance her claims of owning a house by burning it down.

Clinton’s increasingly mean-spirited assaults on Obama provide more fodder for Republican Party attacks than foundation for elevating the long-term credibility for her candidacy.

Dizzying duplicity reeks from Clinton’s campaign with the insulting carping on Obama’s alleged connection with Minister Louis Farrakhan and Obama’s association with the retiring pastor of his church, Rev. Jeremiah Wright.

Despite Farrakhan never explicitly endorsing Obama, Clinton baited and the corporate media bought contentions that Obama is despicable for receiving electoral support from the Muslim minister.

Farrakhan did praise Obama during a major speech in February but in offering praise of Obama’s place in history, Farrakhan pointedly told his audience he was not telling anyone who to vote for.

Dramatic evidence of Clinton’s duplicity bannering this non-endorsement by Farrakhan burst into campaign discourse the day before the Pa primary with the posting of a video on You Tube by a Philadelphian showing Clinton’s chief Pennsylvania surrogate lavishly praising Farrakhan over a decade ago.

This video that received over 33,000 views within its first twenty-four hours on that popular internet site shows Clinton booster Pa Governor Ed Rendell praising Farrakhan in April 1997.

Philadelphia freelance journalist and Nation of Islam member Jehron Hunter posted this reality check video now producing lively discussion from the web-based Slate Magazine to right-wing FOX NEWS channel.

Yes, then Philadelphia Mayor Ed Rendell eagerly applauded the work of Farrakhan during a 1997 rally at the historic Tindley Temple Church on Broad south of South Street

Yes, then Mayor and now Obama-basher Rendell embraced inviting Farrakhan to the City of Brotherly Love to help dissipate race-based disturbances in the Grey’s Ferry section of Philly.

And yes, Rendell’s remarks at that 1997 rally included commending the Nation of Islam’s “emphasis on family values and self-sufficiency.”

But –NO –Hillary Clinton is neither renouncing nor rejecting Ed Rendell for his past embracing of Farrakhan –holding ‘Fast Eddie’ to a different standard than Obama.

But hey, if double-standards and duplicity were not a part of Hillary Clinton’s campaign character she’d have to disassociate herself from her husband.

Yes, former President Bill said kind words about Farrakhan in a May 2005 New York Amsterdam News interview about the Million More March planned for later that year.

That Clinton called that March “a very positive idea” complimenting Farrakhan, Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton for working together on the March.

Back in 1997 Rendell rebuffed outrage from some Philadelphia Jewish leaders and organizations for sharing a podium with Farrakhan, calling those verbal barbs from his fellows in faith “ridiculous.”

Rendell, during one April 1997 media interview, reminded Farrakhan critics that the “real risk would be not to be willing to talk about our differences.”

At that ’97 rally Farrakhan called for reconciliation among races warning of further moral decay if racism continues running rampant.

Truths from Rendell and Farrakhan about the importance of dialogue form the floor of so many missed opportunities domestically and internationally.

Failure to talk makes it impossible to resolve America’s pernicious race-roil and/or improving relations in places like the Middle East.

Hillary Clinton and presumptive Republican nominee John McCain both assail Obama for his stated willingness as President to open dialogue with now shunned foreign leaders to ease tensions that could cause war.

So much for Clinton and McCain proclamations about being the right person for being able to move beyond the insanity of doing the same thing in the same way and expecting a different result.

In some ways, Tuesday’s election confirms accurate statements by Pa Governor Rendell and Senator Obama that provoked inane outrage against both men.

The vote affirmed Rendell’s assessment earlier this year that many Keystone State whites weren’t ready to vote for a black man.

Clinton County in the heartland middle of Pennsylvania with a white population of 98% gave Senator Clinton slightly less than seventy-percent of the votes cast for the two candidates in the Democratic presidential primary.

The electoral results also underlined Obama’s observation about the dynamic of bitterness, guns and God in many rural parts of Pennsylvania.

Schuylkill County, where the river that flows through Philadelphia originates, has one of the state’s highest rates of gun ownership.

This county in the mountains north of Reading, Pa’s famed outlet malls with a 96% white population delivered nearly seventy-four percent of the Democratic votes to Clinton.

Bitterness does bubble through Schuylkill County’s once thriving but now defunct coal mining region where many area jobs now come from three state prisons and one federal prison –lock-ups locking-down predominately black inmates sentenced in America’s racist criminal justice system.

Yet, in other ways Tuesday’s electoral results confirmed Senator Obama’s claims that people want change.

Democratic voters in Pennsylvania’s Centre County, next door to Clinton County, cast sixty-percent of their votes for Obama. Blacks comprise two percent of the population in Centre County.

The newspaper in the Pa town Senator Clinton identifies with for its Rodham family roots –Scranton –endorsed Obama.

This endorsement from The Times-Tribune of Scranton cited Obama as being able to move America beyond “the deep divisiveness that characterizes American politics” –divisiveness that ran deep during the Clinton presidency “even deeper during the Bush-Cheney years [and certainly would during] a second Clinton presidency…”

Democratic voters in Lackawanna County, that includes Scranton, went 74% for Clinton.

Typical of divisiveness fanning media coverage, pundits did not question many among Lackawanna County’s 93% white population favoring Clinton comparable to caustic critiques that most blacks just vote for Obama because he’s black.

Obama won 65% of the Democratic vote in Philadelphia, a city with a black population less than fifty percent and at least one black in Philadelphia voted for Clinton –her avid backer Mayor Michael Nutter.

Sadly, the larger tragedy of this primary season is not Clinton’s scorched-earth campaign style or Obama’s amorphous message about change.

This tragedy is that mass of Americans still giving pollsters favorable reactions about McCain who promises to continue Bush Administration policies –albeit in a better way.

Continuing Bush’s ruinous policies is real insanity pushing America closer to an ancient Rome like fall Farrakhan predicated could occur during his 1997 remarks at the rally with Ed Rendell.

Linn Washington Jr. is a columnist for The Philadelphia Tribune newspaper whose hometown is Pittsburgh, Pa.