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Andrew Cuomo on Obama: 'You Can't Shuck And Jive' at a press conf

Oh no he didn’t. (TPM):

During an appearance yesterday on talk radio – at almost the same time as Obama co-chair Jesse Jackson Jr. questioned Hillary’s tears – New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo used some words with a very troublesome racial history, apparently in reference to Barack Obama.

“It’s not a TV crazed race. Frankly you can’t buy your way into it,” Cuomo said, according to Albany Times Union reporter Rick Karlin. He then added, “You can’t shuck and jive at a press conference. All those moves you can make with the press don’t work when you’re in someone’s living room.”

You see folks, this is what I’m talking about. This whole “post-racial” nonsense is a simple fantasy or delusion uttered by people who think race isn’t a problem anymore. I’d  like that to be the case as much as anyone else, but the fact of the matter is for Democrats, the alleged party of tolerance, this kind of bush-league nonsense exposes the real problem — that the lack of engagement on how race and political races bring out the worst in people, and plays to the base fears of voters.

As predicted, Clinton supporter Andrew Cuomo unleashes “shuck and jive” then issues a statement that his comments were “taken out of context,” since he later complimented Obama. [Be prepared to see that statement trotted out frequently in the future when it comes to incidents like this.]

“It was never about Obama in the first place,” Cuomo told me of the use of the phrase, which he said he was using “as a synonym for ‘bob and weave’.'”

My god. I know the smarter-than-thou political set thinks we’re all rubes out here, but come on, this is incredible. This is what “shuck and jive” means, and it doesn’t have anything to do with boxing, rope-a-dope, or anything benign:

“To shuck and jive” originally referred to the intentionally misleading words and actions that African-Americans would employ in order to deceive racist Euro-Americans in power, both during the period of slavery and afterwards. The expression was documented as being in wide usage in the 1920s, but may have originated much earlier.

“Shucking and jiving” was a tactic of both survival and resistance. A slave, for instance, could say eagerly, “Oh, yes, Master,” and have no real intention to obey. Or an African-American man could pretend to be working hard at a task he was ordered to do, but might put up this pretense only when under observation. Both would be instances of “doin’ the old shuck ‘n jive.”

What’s really sorry is that in this DKos thread there are people actually running for cover and either 1) denying Cuomo supports Senator Clinton (he endorsed her, but is not part of the campaign) or 2) that the use of shuck and jive isn’t a big deal and Obama supporters are exploiting this “gaffe.” This is sad, and the vitriol in the thread only proves my point about how raw race discussions can be when they only surface in situations like this, rather when tempers aren’t heated. DnA:

What I wish Obama would say, but won’t and shouldn’t:

It’s nice of Mr. Cuomo to lift his face out of a plate of Spaghettios and take off his mirrored shades to comment on the Democratic Primary. Will he be breaking my legs so as to keep me from running off the plantation, or is he going to get Paulie Walnuts to do it?

See this is why I can’t run for office.

The only way Obama can win is by not taking the bait. Unfortunately, if he wants to keep the goodwill of white voters, he has to play down what was an flagrantly racist insult.

Sigh. The downward spiral. Obama cannot take the bait lest he be seen as the angry negro. I have been blogging for some time now about the Democrats willing to “go there” that will be paired with equal amounts of innocent “deniability”. As I said, we’re going to see that “out of context” bs a lot more now.

More below the fold.And make no mistake, the eruptions of misogyny toward Clinton from all corners make it clear how raw those discussions are as well. This campaign is going to be extremely messy and divisive; the question is whether people are going to actually engage these problems head on, or keep playing whack-a-mole when uncomfortable, offensive events like these pop up. Pols, pundits and people in general are doing everything they can to make this election “post-racial” and too much is emerging that not much has changed.

UPDATE: The response of course, by Cuomo’s office, reflects a severe case of CYA because of the sh*storm this raised. Here’s the relevant part of the transcript, now on Newsday’s site. You decide how it doesn’t apply to Obama if it refers to “both leading candidates.”

Update: Cuomo’s office contends that the quote is being taken out of context — it applied to both leading candidates and both Iowa and New Hampshire, and was offered as an explanation of the health of the early primary process, rather than an explanation of Hillary’s NH win.

They played the interview for us, and the tape supports their interpretation. Although earlier in the interview Cuomo calls Obama a “beautiful symbol” but asserts that Hillary is more knowledgable, repeating Clinton talking points, the “shuck and jive” reference applies to the inability of any candidate to avoid direct voter contact in states like Iowa and New Hampshire.

We’ve posted a partial transcript after the jump.

Partial transcript of Cuomo radio interview, supplied by AG’s office:

Andrew Cuomo: “You know I’ve spent a lot of time in other races, especially in Iowa and in New Hampshire, back with Gore and back with Clinton. Those races require you to do something no other race does, you know, and I like it, and I agree with you, it’s a good thing.

“It’s not a TV-crazed race, you know, you can’t just buy your way through that race …It doesn’t work that way, it’s frankly a more demanding process. You have to get on a bus, you have to go into a diner, you have to shake hands, you have to sit down with ten people in a living room.

“You can’t shuck and jive at a press conference, you can’t just put off reporters, because you have real people looking at you saying answer the question, you know, and all those moves you can make with the press don’t work when you’re in someone’s living room.

“And I think it’s good for the candidates, I think it makes the candidates communicate in a way that works with real people because you know in a living room right away whether or not you’re communicating, and I think the questions are good and I think the scrutiny is good, so you can, you can say they’re small states and they get a lot of attention — they are very good for the process, I believe that.”

Seriously, how does this exonerate Cuomo? He still hasn’t admitted to the extremely poor judgment and apparent limited vocabulary that caused him to pull “shuck and jive” out of his posterior. It’s tiresome to have to deal with the lack of responsibility for one’s own bloopers of this sort. Just admit screwing up and move along.

After all, the use of the image at left was perfectly appropriate back in the day to most Americans, though no one would be caught dead saying this is an appropriate marketing tool today.  Times change, friends, and what was once acceptable in America at some point became unacceptable, a cultural norm has shifted.


* Obama: speaking the unspeakable about race

* Race, gender, the MSM and NH: audio from my segment on Mike Signorile Show

[Standard tired disclaimer: I have not and will not endorse any candidate in the primaries.]  

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding