Thursday, May 23, 2024

AR-Sen: Philander Smith as Prop?

That’s the charge by Bill Halter, anyway.

On the eve of former President Bill Clinton’s planned return to Arkansas to boost Sen. Blanche Lincoln’s reelection campaign, Democratic primary challenger Bill Halter’s campaign is charging Lincoln with “hypocrisy” over the venue where she and Clinton will appear together.

Lincoln is scheduled to campaign with the former president Friday afternoon at the historically black Philander Smith College in Little Rock – a destination Halter’s campaign called an odd choice, given that Lincoln voted against the reconciliation bill in March that included $85 million for historically black colleges and universities.

“This is another example of Sen. Lincoln’s typical Washington hypocrisy,” said Halter campaign manager Carol Butler. “When the big banks need her to vote against funding for historically black colleges, Blanche Lincoln chose the banks, not the students. She’s more interested in using a historically black college as a political prop than in helping the students who go there.”

Hypocrisy?  From the Lincoln camp?  No way!

Less sarcastically, Halter raises a very valid point.  If Lincoln wants to bring President Clinton to Arkansas to help her rearrange the deck chairs on the Titanic, that’s one thing.  I mean, I’ve already said that I think that the “establishment” voters who would be persuaded by seeing Bill Clinton are already in Lincoln’s camp by and large.

But holding this dog-and-pony show at a Historically Black College?  That’s pretty bold (not in a good way) considering the aforementioned vote against a bill that would have provided some percentage of $85,000,000 to that college.  It’s even more bold (still not in a good way) when you add that

Lincoln has been vulnerable to criticism over her record on African-American issues throughout the campaign, and she was one of five members of the Arkansas congressional delegation to receive failing grades from the state NAACP this year.

(emphasis added).  As an aside, it shouldn’t surprise you to know that the only member of Arkansas’s congressional posse to not fail was outgoing Rep. Vic Snyder, who received an A.

But back to Lincoln.  With her record on these things, can anyone honestly say that this is anything but a thinly veiled ploy to play up the old “Bill Clinton was the first black president” angle?  (With an inordinate number of “President Obama” namedrops thrown in, of course.)  I sure can’t think of another reason that someone with very little in her record to tout to the audience would choose Philander.

Really, this isn’t much different than Lincoln’s attempts to distance herself from Obama when talking to white, rural voters, while still having radio ads in black, urban areas that tout her standing “with the President.” It’s just another example of her thinking that Arkansans are easily fooled idiots, though, this time, she is more specifically targeting black Arkansans with her dishonesty.

Mr. Halter is entirely accurate in calling the use of PSC “a political prop.”  If anything, he is being somewhat charitable; “a disgusting effort to trick black voters into ignoring her wretched record of not supporting them” would also seem applicable, if a little unwieldy for a sound bite.

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