Whom would you hire?

So I have been out of town for a few days — but I’m back and this really gets my goat:

I was watching the today show in a hotel room on Wednesday morning and Hillary said something like, It comes down to this: who would you want to hire for the job of being President, Obama or me?

This bugs me because racism in employment discrimination is RAMPANT in this country. I have mentioned the book before, but Devah Pager’s, Marked: Race, Crime and Finding Work in an Era of Mass Incarceration demonstrates quite convincingly that your chances of getting called for a job interview after submitting an application are significantly higher if you are a white man WITH A FELONY CONVICTION than if you are a similaryly qualified black man WITH NO FELONY CONVICTION.

To Recap: White FELONS have an easier time in the job market than black with no criminal record.

Now, do I think Hillary said this as a subtle encoding of race to get more votes? Not sure. But, encoded racial messages in elections are nothing new — another great book (I mean great book) about this is The Race Card: Campaign Strategy, Implicit Messages, and the Norm of Equality which shows how this stuff works by Tali Mendelberg. Put these 2 books together and it makes you think.

Just when I was convincing myself that Hillary could not have meant to do this kind of race-baiting, I heard her say on NPR that something like, McCain would bring experience to the white house, she would bring experience to the white house, and Obama would bring a speech. Seems like an encoded racial message about not working to me.

She is going to ruin him so effectively that if he is the nominee the Republicans won’t have to. I think it is outrageous and Democrats should not stand for it.

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12 Responses to Whom would you hire?

  1. nobamakoolaid says:

    Sorry, LB, but I have to disagree; at least with the part about Hillary’s campaign tactics being outrageous. I do not know if she was deliberately trying to use race, but I will give her the benefit of the doubt. As for her ruining Barak, she has not nor could she do any such thing. He is obviously a man of principle and has plenty of experience in politics to be a front-runner in a Presidential race. Nothing she ays is going to change who he is. He has been exposed on some small issues (the Canadian thing, “Hillary is a minster,” etc.) over the last few days. If was going to be ruined by these issues then I would certainly not want him running in a general election, because we all know that the true fight will be a lot tougher than this. I still stand by Hillary as my Democratic candidate of choice, but ready to support Barak Obama should he earn the nomination; I believe virtually all Democrats and many Republicans will also support either candidate once the real fight begins.

  2. laurabethnielsen says:

    Well, if we agreed about it, I would be worried, Koolaid! At least you have good taste in beer. Turns out Nafta-gate may have not only been a Hillary lie, but her campaign may have done what she accused Obama’s campaign of doing. http://alternet.org/blogs/peek/78962/

    Anyway — encoded racial messages, intentional or not, will harm him in the general election. She may not mean it that way, but it is the way it works with this stuff – remember the IAT?

  3. laurabethnielsen says:

    here is the Globe and Mail story if you prefer a more news-like source for the NAFTA story: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20080305.wharpleak0305/BNStory/National/home

  4. nobamakoolaid says:

    BTW, welcome back, LB. One thing I am outraged about is the DNC’s ineptness at deciding earlier not to seat Michagan and Florida – how stupid was that? Democrats can’t be seen as trying to exclude voters from two of our largest states – just idiotic! (—and I believe that is the 5th exclamation point I have ever used) All it can do now is hurt the party, no matter what solution is eventually reached.

  5. dspett says:

    LB — welcome back. I hope you don’t mind the grammar tweak in the title?

  6. lbsmom says:

    Hi from sunny Ocean Beach in San Diego—

    I have never seen such interest in an election in my life, even the dangling chad fiasco! It’s a good thing. I’m glad since voter apathy has astounded me through the years.

    Hillary and her “people” should have known better on this one. I really thought she and Bill (office in Harlem) would be more sensitive than most regarding racial issues. Obama deserves much credit for staying clean and removed from this kind of stuff. I think it’s easier for a front runner to do than someone trying to catch up, and I hope he stays on the high ground. It’s quite admirable.

  7. jeffaregularworkinglawyer says:

    I’m with LB on this one — you don’t hire a president, you vote for one, along with about 100 million other people. So why, unless you are Ross Perot (Remember “Ross for Boss”? Remember that Bill Clinton really owed his election to that insane gnome, the same way the current occupant owes his to Ralph Nader?) would you adopt the rhetoric of an employer-employee relationship?

    There are several reasons, some perhaps benign. It encourages voters to fantasize about having more power than they actually do — most voters will never hire anyone, they will always be the hiree. Maybe they like Hillary for encouraging them for imagining themselves as actors, instead of the acted-upon. Also, you look for different qualities in an employee than you do in a leader. Hillary claims to have those qualities — experience, resiliency. It may be less important for an employee to be inspirational, or visionary.

    But it still rubs me the wrong way. When you encourage people to imagine themselves as more empowered than they are, you encourage them to fantasize about who they’re going use that power on. And while white women are certainly subject to employment discrimination, they don’t seem to be as badly affected by it as black men.

  8. robertlnelson says:

    I think LB is right that Hillary’s rhetoric employs racialized tropes. The talk about “hiring” a president, about Hillary and McCain bringing a world of experience, while Obama brings a “speech.”

    One problem for Obama is that he and his campaign cannot call a racialized trope a racialized trope because then they will be accused of playing the race card.

    Another problem for Obama is how to be tough in the face of the Hillary’s tough politics. Americans want a president who is tough. How does Barack keep the high ground and get tough?

    I suppose we all want to be amateur campaign managers or speech writers, but what would you have Barack do in the next few weeks?

    And if you still want Hillary for president, well, do you want her to stay negative?

  9. nobamakoolaid says:

    I want her to fight for her political life the same way she would fight to do what is right for this country. There hasn’t been a campaign since FDR that did not go negative at some point; its part of the American political game. Any punches Hillay has thrown so far have been soft body shots. It seems that everyone who has spoken up here agrees that her using the word “hiring” is some kind of racial epithet. I am not ready to make that giant leap in logic; she has spent her life defending minorities. I do believe she is trying to draw distinctions – hell, that’s what she is supposed to do. Back off the koolaid just a bit folks.

  10. laurabethnielsen says:

    but the Koolaid is sooooo tasty. seriously, Bob Herbert has a good column on this today: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/08/opinion/08herbert.html?_r=1&hp&oref=slogin

    Saying some of the same stuff and asking if Obama should go negative. Herbert says no. Articulate a vision and stick with it. He also highlights the same thing I do about Clinton essentially saying she would pick McCain (for expereince) over Obama. They are good at provoking –

    On the other hand (she wore a glove – hahahah – my dad must make that joke every time) the republicans will go nasty on Obama if he wins so this may be good practice for him and his team.

    While I will work hard for her and vote for her if she is the nominee, I will do it with a bad taste in my mouth. BUT,I am afraid there is a serious part of the democratic base that will just take a pass on this election and that is not good for politics or the country.

    I for one am excited about the prosepct of an election that is not about how afraid we should all be. Of the economy, of terrorism, of a president who has not been in political life “long enough.”

    Funny you mention FDR – The only thing we have to fear is fear itself. There is a lot to it.

    Samantha Power had to quit after calling Hil a monster — extra guiness for people who can guess which previous post is kind of about her without mentioning her. DO NOT REPLY ON THE BLOG – we are not going to be one of those blogs.

  11. nobamakoolaid says:

    Ahhh, good morning LB. I thought I was the only nerdy politico up at 7:00am on Saturday perusing the thouhts of various pundits. And actually, as Hebert suggests, if Barak started to articulate an actual vision, rather than just asking me to dawn his rose-colored glasses, he might actually sway me to his side.

  12. laurabethnielsen says:

    Orlando Patterson is with me!

    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/11/opinion/11patterson.html

    I said it here to all 7 of you, he just gets to say it to millions of people. But other than that, we are the same.

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