Update IV: This is almost certainly a dirty trick aimed at Mickey Kantor and the Clinton campaign. Read all the way through the updates.
The Hillary Clinton campaign has run on a platform of 90’s nostalgia, but it won’t like this flashback to 1992. A video making the rounds today shows James Carville, George Stephanopolous, and Mickey Kantor conferring over polling results for Indiana. Kantor, who would become a member of Bill Clinton’s Cabinet and an adviser to Hillary now, offers a pungent view of Indiana voters that gives an idea of the contempt in which Democrats hold white, working-class Americans:
Kantor: Wait, wait, look at Indiania — 42-40. It doesn’t matter if we win. Those people are shit. Oh, excuse me … How would you like to be a worthless white n*****? [Note: See update III]
And suddenly, Crackerquiddick is on the other foot. This looks like it came from The WRoom, a documentary about the first Clinton presidential campaign, although I don’t recall the scene. Regardless, there can be little dispute about the people in the video being Carville, Stephanopolous, and Kantor.
What makes this worse is that Kantor gives that creepy, sotto voce whisper while saying this, knowing how bad it sounds but obviously unable to stop himself from saying it. Neither Carville nor Stephanopolous challenge Kantor, at least not in this clip. All three appear to agree that Indiana voters are worthless for Democrats even when they supported Clinton.
This isn’t quite as bad as Obama’s comments in San Francisco in a couple of respects. Hillary isn’t saying this, and it was 16 years ago, not six weeks ago. However, the disgust for the white working class comes through much more clearly in this video, and the fact that it comes from a former Clinton Cabinet official and current adviser makes it all the more compelling.
Indiana voters go to the polls in less than a week. Will they figure out which campaign despises them less?
Update: This looks like a winner in the netroots, too. Both Kos and DU have begun promoting it, and readers at TPM Election Center already have accused Josh and Greg of ignoring it for the minutes it’s been out on the Internet.
Just when we thought the identity politics meltdown had reached its zenith …
Mickey Kantor, who served as campaign chairman during Clinton’s 1992 run for the White House and says he has offered help and advice to Sen. Clinton, insisted that the tape was a fraud and that he was exploring legal steps against the individual who posted it online.
“I’ve never used that word [the n-word] in my entire life, ever, under any circumstance, ever,” an angry Kantor told The Huffington Post, citing his and his parent’s work fighting for civil rights. “I have listened to [the video] and so have you. You can’t tell what it is I’m saying in that second sentence, you can’t decipher that.”
As Byron York points out, that still leaves Kantor calling Hoosiers “shit” even when they support Democrats. It’s not exactly a helpful walkback, especially since his best effort is to claim that people can’t hear what he whispered to Stephanopolous. And when the volume gets raised, it certainly sounds as though the closed-caption text in the video gets the quote accurate.
Update III: The director of War Room says this is a fabrication, and that makes sense; even in 1993, this would have made headlines if it came off like this. Take another listen to the audio in the clip that started going around yesterday:
Now, what Kantor and director D.A Pennebaker claim is that Kantor said this:
Those people are shit — Oh, excuse me … shitting in the White House [at Perot’s numbers].
Notice that yesterday’s version stops before his alleged racial reference to Stephanopolous, too.
Now, the big question is this: if the version going around today is doctored, who doctored it and who started spreading it around the Internet? Cui bono? Who benefits from a dirty trick against Hillary in the days just before the election, especially one that plays against the white, working-class voters? Hint: Does Hope and Change sound familiar?
It won’t have come from any campaign or established organization, though. No one would be that foolish.
Update V: Here’s the clip from War Room, thanks to Ed Driscoll. Go to about 4:30 in this YouTube, and see for yourself. The context is clearly the polling results and how bad they looked for the Bush campaign, referencing Texas specifically:
I understand the original video has been pulled by the owner. That tells us something.
Update (AP): For what it’s worth, KP e-mails to say that she worked for Kantor at the White House and knows he’d never use language like this. I believe it: We’re not talking about surveillance cam video here, where Kantor might not have known he was being recorded. Pennebaker had a lens right in his face. He’d have to be an abject moron to drop the N-bomb with the tape rolling.
I sure hope we don’t find Team Barry’s fingerprints on this highly racially polarizing little smear job.
Update (Ed): Go read Baldilock’s excellent post on the etymology of the racial epithet.