Two days after Sen. Hillary Clinton stood in front of a black church audience on Martin Luther King Day to claim Republicans were running Congress like a “plantation,” the Times devotes a large front-page story to her by Hillary-beat reporter Raymond Hernandez.
Does the Times use the quote as a jumping-off point for an investigation to unmask the liberal agenda behind Clinton’s careful centrist public persona? Does it use the inflammatory remark to round up past controversial statements from Clinton, to suggest she’s not ready for her seemingly inevitable presidential run in 2008?
Not quite. Although a Republican would no doubt get that treatment, the “plantation” controversy is disposed of in a single sentence in “Senator Clinton Makes Her Run While Tiptoeing Around 2008.”
“And she has sharpened the tone of her attacks on Republicans, causing a stir on Monday, for example, by saying that the House of Representatives was run like a ‘plantation’ -- a comment that drew a rebuke from the White House the next day.While such behavior is to be expected for anyone preparing to seek the presidency in 2008, Mrs. Clinton is in an altogether different situation from other prominent Democrats who have been openly gearing up for national campaigns by establishing exploratory committees and visiting crucial primary states.”
Although Hernandez only quotes one word of Clinton’s MLK Day speech, a fuller reading of her remark shows it’s both offensive to Republicans and patronizing to her black audience: “When you look at the way the House of Representatives has been run, it has been run like a plantation -- and you know what I am talking about."
Instead, Hernandez dwells on her fundraising prowess for other Democratic candidates across the country.
“By and large, Mrs. Clinton's visits around the country have drawn the kind of reaction one would expect with a person of her immense celebrity and political stature.
“Recently, for example, Mrs. Clinton made a trip to hurricane-battered sections of New Orleans, where she was trailed by a clutch of national reporters as she met with scores of displaced residents, many of whom spoke openly about their hope that the celebrity senator's visit would help refocus the nation's attention on their plight.
“But for all the enthusiasm she stirs in her travels, there are plenty of signs that she remains a divisive figure in much of the country. During her trip to Kentucky, for example, local Republicans sought to cause a political ruckus, portraying her as a New York liberal and saying that she would be a political liability for Democrats in a red state like Kentucky.
“Still, several Democratic strategists argue that the good will Mrs. Clinton is building in her travels with rank-and-file Democrats, as well as Democratic leaders, will only make her even tougher to beat in 2008, at least in the race for the presidential nomination. Mr. Fowler, the former Democratic National Committee chairman, said that "if she continues doing favors for everyone as magnanimously as she has, it's possible that she will shut out options for any practical opposition."
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