Thursday, April 17, 2008

Make that 4

Regarding Hillary Clinton saying "Screw 'em" when referring to the issue of Southern White voters turning against Bill Clinton and Democrats in '95, another attendee - while not confirming the exact quote - does corroborate the claims of three others about her tone and tenor at that meeting.

Barber reports in his 2001 book that Hillary Clinton said "Screw 'em" about southern working class whites who did not support Bill Clinton. Two other scholar-particiants, Alan Wolfe and Harry Boyte, agree she said this. Reported demurrals (and not a clear denial) come from Clinton staffers Bruce Reed and Don Baer, not from the independent intellectuals in attendance. But independent witnesses who keep notes trump employees any day.

I have gone back to my 1995 notes to check my recollections of the event. My notes do not have any exact words, so I am not going to try to corroborate a particular phrase from Hillary Clinton or any other speaker.

But what is clear in both in my memory and my notes is that there was extensive, hard-nosed discussion about why masses of voters did not support Clinton or trust government or base their choices on economic as opposed to what people saw as peripheral life-style concerns. Hillary Clinton was among the most cold-blooded analysts in attendance. She spoke of ordinary voters as if they were a species apart, and showed interest only in the political usefulness of their choices -- usefulness to the Clinton administration, that is.

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