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March 01, 2003

Smearing of Kucinich

I'm late to this but the smearing of Kucinich by Josh Marshall and Kos just really is a low attack, one I just didn't expect after all the liberal bellyaching about media distortions of Gore's views and record. Max and Ampersand covered a lot of ground on responses but I have a few comments.

The fracas is over this ancient Cleveland magazine article saying he rallied white ethnics against the city black establishment.

As Max and Ampersand note, there's really nothing real in the article, but Max's defense is a bit wimpy, saying Kucinich was attacked for being a "candidate who stands up for the multi-racial working class -- by which I mean emphatically including white folks." Let's be straight, what the article documents is that Kucinich encouraged white ethnics to vote for him because he was white and could win against a black establishment. He also seems to have engaged in some racial gerrymandering to shape a district hospitable to himself. Horrors. Shame.

Like every frigging candidate, white and black, did then and, guess what, still do. This is true especially in the scramble of extreme local politics where you get into the game, so you later can advance to play more multiracial politics on the broader plain. Want nice multiracial appeals at the neighborhood block level of politics?-- then racially integrate the neighborhoods.

The test is what they do after they win their little racial enclave. And Kucinich fought for funding for his district like any politician, but other than that, his history is a sterling example of progressivism. Kucinich was just elected to leadership of the heavily-black and latino Progressive Caucus. The idea that folks like John Conyers, Maxine Waters, Bernie Sanders and Barbara Lee would elect someone to leadership of that body who had even a hint of racism is absurd.

I'm not convinced that Kucinich quite makes the gravitas test for my support, but if this is the smearing a progressive receives from those a bit too interested in clearing out "unelectable" candidates, I may have to join up on principle.

A bit of Reagan's old 11th Amendment "thou shalt not speak ill of a fellow party member" might be called for if folks do not want the Democratic primary to become an unbelieveable bloodletting. Issue differences are fine, but an unsubstantiated character assault on the elected leader of the progressive wing of Congress is a fine recipe for Nader II.

Posted by Nathan at March 1, 2003 09:01 AM

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As I said elsewhere, I believe Josh intends to prime the pump by bringing the old magazine article up. The outcome, if Kucinich does have an ongoing bigotry problem, will be that sources with more recent information with contact Josh or other reporters. I believe it is okay to "coax" a story. As a former reporter and editor, I may be biased, admittedly.

As for Kucinich's rise by playing white ethnics against a significant black population in Cleveland, I guess that is a matter of motivation. Would Kucinich have been equally Machiavellian under other circumstances? If so, then the racist aspect was more means than end. Does that get him off the hook for it? Not really, in my opinion. It may move him farther away from high on the racism continuum though. A pure racist definitely intends a discriminatory end.

Posted by: Mac Diva at March 1, 2003 11:45 AM

Priming the pump?

Bullsh*t...and I say that with as much publishing (if not more) cred as you have.

It was a non-story. It was a bottom-feeder. It was bad journalism. It was a low blow. It was meant to inflict harm and, maybe...if he was lucky, ace another big racism piece.

And the effort failed...miserably.

One would have expected better of JMM. His rep declined overnight among a lot of important people who today sit and wonder, "huh?"

Many are expecting another shoe to drop. They're expecting it will have as much sole as the first one. They're hoping JMM has some common sense.

A legitimate story with meat on the bone is always a good thing, and frankly, I don't care which candidate it eliminates. The people of this country are served by an inquisitive press that gives them the wherewithall to evaluate candidates. But this? This is a snow job...

A word to the not-so-wise who have promoted this story and then gone on to demand Kucinich remove himself from presidential play: don't play this game. Not if you're seeking a 2004 Dem win. Your ass (political strategy) will end up grass and the Green machine, the lawnmower. That's nothing any of us want.

Were the promoters of this piece smart...and they usually are...they'd realize that Kucinich brings the Green and Progressive vote as well as that of the college kids and the otherwise disenfranchised. Kucinich is unlikely to be the front runner. But whoever IS the front runner, would likely to pick up these votes, if the those who are pumping this story were to cease and desist with the nonsense.

Democrats like myself don't appreciate this priming of the bullshit pump. As you might have guessed from the response around the net...there are lots of folks out there just like me.

Lisa English

Posted by: Lisa English at March 2, 2003 07:26 PM

What amazes me is how incredibly old the story is and that anyone could have dug it up at all. It's obviously a piece of bad journalism, it had until now no impact on Kucinich's political career, and, amazingly, it was written by a small publication during the 70s. Having worked at small publications, I know those archives are messy, usually hard copy, rarely microfiched and certainly not translated to digital formats. So whoever dug it up had to have had an axe to grind and knew where to look.

I know, shock and horror—politics is dirty!

Oh, and: What Lisa said.

Posted by: Kevin Moore at March 3, 2003 11:31 AM

Yeah, what Lisa said. And then of course when you trash the unelectable progressives, you have to trash Sharpton too. Which at first seems like a paradox. But wait: they're both racists! So we've got rid of the black candidate AND the racist candidate, at one fell swoop. Isn't life grand for the corporate crowd.
Now if we can just fuck Dean.

Posted by: John Isbell at March 5, 2003 08:16 PM

If you think Kucinich doesn't have some dirt around to get smeared, think again. I must wonder what the RNC backrom boys could make of his promotion of "chemtrails" in HR 2977? Chemtrails, in case you haven't heard, is a hoax that claims jet contrails are actually military planes spraying poisonouschemicals across the world for various nefarious purposes.

It seems that Dennyboy either believes the hoax or doesn't read the bills he sponsors. Yes, the chemtrails reference was removed in the later version of the bill- The Space Preservation Act.

Yes, could be a very interesting debate comeback for Dubya in a pinch.

Posted by: Jay Reynolds at June 11, 2003 11:52 PM

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