Former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich — “Blago” — says in his just-released Esquire magazine interview: “I’m blacker than Barack Obama. I shined shoes. I grew up in a five-room apartment. My father had a little laundromat in a black community not far from where we lived.”
Blagojevich is the Democrat who lost his job as governor when he was accused of trying to auction off President Barack Obama‘s vacant seat in the U.S. senate after the 2008 elections.
Blagojevich’s comments come along at the same time as the suggestion that two other big-name Democrats made racially-tinged remarks about President Obama.
That suggestion comes from ambitious readers of a new book by journalists Mark Halperin and John Heilemann, Game Change, a behind-the-scenes “tell all” about the 2008 presidential campaign.
According to the book, Democrat Harry Reid said Barack Obama had better chances as a presidential candidate because he was “light-skinned” and without a “Negro dialect.”
Reid has apologized for his private “improper comments,” and his defenders say he was speaking in terms of political realities, not criticizing African Americans or Barack Obama. Could be true. Probably is. Republicans are, of course, calling for Reid to resign. Democrats are, of course, not.
Another Democrat is former president Bill Clinton. The book says President Clinton angered Senator Edward M. “Ted” Kennedy during the campaign by saying — and reports are it’s not a direct quote — that “a few years ago, this guy [Obama] would have been getting us coffee.”
To call that racist is a stretch — it seems more likely that Clinton was referring to Obama’s junior status in national politics, not the quality of his (as Harry Reid might put it) light-skinnedness.
But Blago’s comments really do sound racist. He seems to equate being black with shining shoes and living in small apartments (although five rooms… well, that could be a pretty big apartment). On top of that, Blagojevich suggests that being an out-of-town white business owner with a shop in a black community is just like being a black member of that community. That doesn’t wash.
And Blagojevich knows it, which is why he has apologized for his remarks already, calling it a stupid “metaphor.”
In the end, it’s doubtful there’s much political damage for Democrats over any of this. Reid apologized, end of story. No matter what happens, people won’t change their opinion of Bill Clinton. And Rod Blagojevich is a disgraced public official still waiting to be tried on 16 felony counts for what prosecutors called a “spree” of government corruption.
For more bullet point revelations from the book, The Politico is the place to go. Especially if you’re fond of dirty dishing about President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden. There’s a little here on Sarah Palin and John McCain, but most of The Politico coverage is about in-fighting among the Democrats. Those racist Democrats, I mean.