'Cabin' Fever in Denver: Clinton Backer Accuses Obama Ally of 'Uncle Tom' Comment

Windy City newspapers this morning are devoting coverage to a he said/she said mini-scandal roiling among Democratic Convention delegates. From the Chicago Sun-Times.:

DENVER -- A black Hillary Clinton delegate on Sunday accused state Senate President Emil Jones of calling her an "Uncle Tom."

Jones -- Barack Obama's political mentor -- denied using the racially loaded slur against Chicago political consultant Delmarie Cobb, but two aldermen who said they witnessed the Saturday night exchange back up Cobb's account.

"Last night, I was called an 'Uncle Tom' by Emil Jones in the lobby of the hotel, right in front of [Ald.] Freddrenna Lyle and [Ald.] Leslie Hairston and [Ald.] Latasha Thomas," said Cobb, a member of Clinton's Illinois Steering Committee. "I walked over to him and asked him, 'What did you just call me?' "

The embarrassing flap came on the eve of the Democratic National Convention, which will open tonight with a string of Chicago speakers talking about Obama's life story. Jones is often referred to as Obama's "political godfather.''

Over at the Chicago Tribune, Clout Street blogger Rick Pearson noted that Jones insists he was urging Ms. Cobb not to be a "Doubting Thomas," language that calls to mind the disciple of Christ who insisted he wouldn't believe that Jesus was raised from the dead unless he saw him in the flesh and placed his hand into his pierced side.:

DENVER-Illinois Senate President Emil Jones, a mentor of presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama, said this morning that an African-American supporter of Hillary Clinton was mistaken when she claimed he called her an "Uncle Tom."

Jones maintained Delmarie Cobb, a longtime Chicago public relations executive, misunderstood a comment in which he said it was time for those who backed the New York senator and former first lady to stop being a "Doubting Thomas" and rally around Obama.

Cobb and at least two Chicago aldermen told friends that Jones made the "Uncle Tom" reference last weekend after a back-and-forth with the Senate president that started lightheartedly.

Of course this spat is hardly earth-shaking in and of itself, but it does speak to the divisions among the Democratic delegates, many of whom are Clinton supporters still embittered from the primary battles from earlier this year. As such, for the broadcast networks to ignore the story would be a dereliction of duty.

Ken Shepherd
Ken Shepherd
Ken Shepherd is a writer living in New Carrollton, Md.