From The Caucus:

At a rally here for Mrs. Clinton at Columbia College, Mr. Johnson was defending recent comments that Mrs. Clinton made regarding Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. She did not mean to take any credit away from him, Mr. Johnson said, when she said that it took President Johnson to sign the civil rights legislation he fought for.

Dr. King had led a “moral crusade,” Mr. Johnson said, but such crusades have to be “written into law.”

“That is the way the legislative process works in this nation and that takes political leadership,” he said. “That’s all Hillary was saying.”

He then added: “And to me, as an African-American, I am frankly insulted that the Obama campaign would imply that we are so stupid that we would think Hillary and Bill Clinton, who have been deeply and emotionally involved in black issues since Barack Obama was doing something in the neighborhood--and I won’t say what he was doing, but he said it in the book--when they have been involved.”

Johnson later explained his statement thus:

My comments today were referring to Barack Obama’s time spent as a community organizer, and nothing else. Any other suggestion is simply irresponsible and incorrect.


On Friday I said that, if you were cynical, you could argue that the Clintons have an interest in polarizing the nomination fight along racial lines--the idea being that, even if it hurts them in the short-term (with African Americans in South Carolina), Obama can't win if he becomes the "black candidate," which is what racial polarization accomplishes.

Well, I no longer think you have to be cynical to make that argument. This is just despicable stuff.

--Noam Scheiber