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                                       politics + culture

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

A gentle reminder to Senator Clinton regarding slums

Senator Clinton might want to take a second and realize that all of us live in towns and neighborhoods and communities.

Nobody likes it when someone calls their neighborhood a slum. There were ample other ways to make that misguided point. If Senator Clinton wants to summarize the career of Senator Obama using the "slum lord" angle that's her right. It's not, however, particularly accurate or fair:

Obama worked in the organizing tradition of Saul Alinsky, who made Chicago the birthplace of modern community organizing, as translated through the Gamaliel Foundation, one of several networks of faith-based organizing. Often by confronting officials with insistent citizens--rather than exploiting personal connections, as traditional black Democrats proposed--Obama and DCP protected community interests regarding landfills and helped win employment training services, playgrounds, after-school programs, school reforms and other public amenities.

One day a resident at Altgeld Gardens, a geographically isolated public housing project surrounded by waste sites, brought a notice about planned removal of asbestos from the project manager's office. Obama organized the community to find out if there was asbestos in their apartments. They persisted as officials lied and delayed, then took a bus--with far fewer people than Obama had anticipated--to challenge authorities downtown. Ultimately, the city was forced to test all the apartments and eventually begin cleaning them up.

Is Senator Clinton's portrait of Obama and his relationship to the South Side of Chicago accurate? In a word, no. Will referring to "slums" help her with the charge that she is tone deaf at times on matters of poverty and race and can't hear how she sounds? Probably not.


  • I think that nails something that had been troubling me about this comment, which I couldn't quite figure out. On the other hand, despite very much pulling for Obama, and not agreeing with the substance of this comment at all, I was pretty stunned by HRC's ability to almost automatically hit back when attacked, harder than the attack itself.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:26 PM  

  • The Clintons know that in a debate, the "stun" effect carries a lot of weight. They also know that most people won't go back to verify the statements and do the research to verify the claims that the Clinton(s) throw out leaving doubt in the minds of the voter. And we want someone like this for President, someone who twists the truth? We already have a person of no integrity in office now. It's time for a new change and not a time to go backward. Clinton is not a change agent. Obama has the ability to bring the country together, united and not a divider like Billary.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:26 PM  

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