Barack: In Search of the Black Vote

Warning: Some readers may find language used in this column offensive.

“Ri-i-i-ing . . . Ri-i-i-ing . . . “

Operator: Dick Morris and Associates, political consultants. How may I help you?

Sen. Barack Obama: This is Senator Barack Obama. Is Dick in?

Operator: Just one moment, Senator.

Morris: Barack! How’s it going? Nice to hear from you.

Obama: Dick, I think I have a bit of a problem, and I knew you’d be the guy to call.

Morris: I’m all ears.

Obama: Look, before your relationship with Bill Clinton soured, you got him elected president, and then re-elected, by getting him over 90 percent of the black vote.

Morris: Well, I don’t like to brag, but —

Obama: But according to the latest polls, I’m having a bit of trouble with the black vote. Fifty-two percent say they want Hillary, and only 28 percent say they want me. I’m obviously slicing into her, so I know I’ve got her nervous, but it’s not nearly enough.

Morris: Yeah, 28 percent won’t get it done.

Obama: Tell me about it! I’m pro-affirmative action, pro-gun control, pro-universal health care and opposed tax cuts for the rich. And I was anti-war before it was cool. I’m a family guy with two daughters. I don’t want to cast any stones, but unlike Jesse Jackson, I didn’t get some mistress pregnant. And unlike Sharpton, I didn’t falsely accuse an innocent guy of rape. I just don’t get it.

Morris: Well, let me check my computer. Let’s see . . . Reverend Al Sharpton runs for U.S. Senate in New York in 1994, and he gets 70 percent of the black vote. He runs for mayor of New York in 1997 and gets 85 percent of the black vote. Pretty impressive.

Obama: Did you have anything to do with that?

Morris: Well, I don’t like to brag, but —

Obama: And Jesse Jackson did even better.

Morris: Let me check. . . . Oh, yeah, here it is. Jackson runs for president in ’84, and he gets 77 percent of the black vote. He runs again in ’88 and gets 92 percent.

Obama: So what should I do?

Morris: Well, you see, Obama, it’s all about street cred.

Obama: Street cred?

Morris: Remember when people attacked President Bush’s attitude about New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina?

Obama: Yeah.

Morris: People said it showed Bush’s feelings toward black people.

Obama: Yeah.

Morris: Well, you attributed the government response to class, not race.

Obama: Hey, even Spike Lee called it a matter of class, not race.

Morris: Details, Barack. Are you interested in winning this track meet or just running a few laps?

Obama: Okay, okay, so what do I do?

Morris: Well, you could go on one of those late-night shows like Bill did, and whip out your saxophone.

Obama: I don’t play the sax.

Morris: Okay. You could pull a Belafonte.

Obama: A Belafonte?

Morris: Yeah, pound on Condi Rice and Colin Powell. Call ’em “house negroes” — you know, sellouts.

Obama: But I respect Condi and Colin.

Morris: Okay, how about this? Get yourself in trouble with the feds. Say you’ve been unfairly targeted by the Justice Department. Then commit perjury and obstruction of justice, and accuse The Man of trying to bring a good man down.

Obama: What?!?!

Morris: Worked for Clinton.

Obama: It did?

Morris: Are you kidding me? After Clinton’s trouble with Whitewater/Lewinsky, his popularity rating with blacks went from 60 percent in ’97 to 85 percent in ’98.

Obama: But —

Morris: You gotta remember, Toni Morrison called Clinton the “first black president.” So the Lewinsky thing was about “The Establishment” trying to stop “Brother Clinton” from looking out for the black man.

Obama: That’s nuts.

Morris: Okay, how ’bout this? Cut a commercial like the one the former head of Chrysler, Lee Iacocca, did with rapper Snoop Dogg. But instead, use Fitty Cent.

Obama: Fifty Cents?

Morris: No, Fitty.

Obama: Fifty?

Morris: No, Fitty.

Obama: Fifty?

Morris: No, Fitty. See, that’s the problem. You say “Fifty” when it’s “Fitty.” No street cred.

Obama: But —

Morris: All right, all right. Remember Marion Barry, the former mayor of D.C.?

Obama: Yeah.

Morris: Cops caught him on videotape smoking crack. When they bust in, he said about the woman he was with, “The bitch set me up.” He does a little jail time, gets out, blames The Man and gets elected to the D.C. Council. Then he runs and gets re-elected mayor. That, my man, is street cred.

Obama: Did you have anything to do with that?

Morris: Well, I don’t like to brag, but —

Obama: I don’t think my wife —

Morris: Look, you don’t want to play the race card on Katrina. You like Condi and Colin. Your wife won’t like this and that. Tell you what, call me back when you get serious. Talk to you later, Barack. Gotta grab this other call —


Morris: Senator Clinton! How you doing? It’s been ages! . . . What? . . . You want my advice on keeping the black vote? Well, I don’t want to brag, but —