Steve Kornacki (Salon): …if this does end up being the end for Anthony Weiner’s public career, it might not be quite the injustice it seems like – at least if you know how his career began.
Twenty years ago, Weiner’s opening came when the City Council was radically expanded … One of the new districts, the 48th, would be in Southern Brooklyn. It was a neat match for Weiner … there was no incumbent, and the population was heavily Jewish. He jumped in the race.
He was not the favorite … as the all-important Sept. 10 Democratic primary approached, the consensus was that he’d come up short…
It was at this point that Weiner’s campaign decided to blanket the district with leaflets attacking his opponents. But these were no ordinary campaign attacks: They played the race card, and at a very sensitive time. They were also anonymous.
Just weeks earlier, the Crown Heights riot – a deadly, days-long affair that brought to the surface long-standing tension between the area’s black and Jewish populations – had played out a few miles away from the 48th District…
It was just days after order had been restored that Weiner’s campaign distributed its anonymous leaflets, which linked (Democrat rival) Adele Cohen – whose voters he was targeting in particular – to Jesse Jackson and David Dinkins, who was then New York’s mayor. It is hard to imagine two more-hated political figures in the 48th District at that moment … The leaflets urged voters to “just say no” to the “Jackson-Dinkins agenda” that Cohen supposedly represented. At City Hall, Dinkins held up the flier and branded it “hateful.”
….Weiner finished in first place … only after the ballots were counted did he admit that he’d been behind the leaflets, claiming that “We didn’t want the source to be confused with the message.”…
… who knows where Weiner would be today if he hadn’t made such a dark appeal to racial hostility days after a notorious riot?
…..Is it unfair if he loses his political future because of a scandal as dumb as this one? Sure. But it’s also not exactly fair that he ever made it this far.
GOPolitico: Rev. Jesse Jackson told POLITICO today that the birther movement is part of a larger pattern of rollbacks against civil rights and and an attack on the legitimacy of the nation’s first African-American president..
“Any discussion of his birthplace is a code word,” said Jackson. “It calls upon ancient racial fears. Trump has trumpeted this cause. For him to go down this low is a bit surprising,” Jackson said, making explicit what many black leaders have suggested. “He is now tapping into code-word fears that go far beyond a rational discourse.”
Jackson also pointed to a broader pattern of hostility towards civil rights – pointing to a number of events, including the battle over public sector unions, a transportation policy that he says disadvantages poor minority city dwellers, and a renewed interest in policies like voter ID.
“I’m saying there’s a pattern here. It’s not just name calling of Barack. We’ll win that battle,” said Jackson ‘There is a retreat – a pronounced, documented retreat on civil rights enforcement.”
“This is the most personal attacks on any president ever,” said Jackson. “Whose personal religion has ever been challenged before? That has strong racial overtones.”
Jesse Jackson (in the Chicago Sun-Times): Donald Trump has risen to the top of the Republican presidential candidate ratings while campaigning on the nutty charge that President Obama isn’t American, that he is not legally qualified to be president.
The Trump effect has led others, like Sarah Palin, to start hedging their dismissal of these absurdities. If this continues, the Republican race could turn into a race for the muck.
…he’s riding a toxic wave by emitting poisonous charges he must know are not true. This nonsense about Obama’s birth is one of various efforts to label him as un-American, as alien. Some say he’s not a Christian, but a Muslim. Mike Huckabee muses on the Kenyan socialism Obama must have imbibed while growing up in Kenya, where he never lived.
This is an old and tawdry game. When Dr. King was challenging segregation, Southerners knew they couldn’t win the argument with him on equal rights or the right to vote. So they labeled him a communist. They said he was an outside agitator, even though his church was in Georgia. When he spoke out against Vietnam, they debated not his views, but his qualification even to have an opinion. He was a preacher, they scorned, not a foreign-policy expert, even though the experts got us into the debacle. For King, as for Obama, all this was simply a diversion, a way not to debate his ideas or his positions, but to dismiss them from consideration by slurring the messenger.
…We now know Donald Trump is happy to peddle a lie about America’s president. We know virtually nothing about his views on America’s course forward … Voters shouldn’t honor or reward him – or anyone – for that.