Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner

By Jaketapper

Jan 13, 2008 5:07pm

Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., was introduced by a prominent African-American supporter today, BET founder Bob Johnson — aka "the first black billionaire" — who seemed to be alluding to Sen. Barack Obama’s youthful drug use.

Johnson was defending Clinton regarding comments she made on Jan. 7 that seemed to be dismissing the work of Martin Luther King Jr. by suggesting that King’s oratory needed LBJ to make it law. (Read more HERE.)

Johnson today noted that King’s “moral crusade" had to be “written into law. … That is the way the legislative process works in this nation and that takes political leadership. That’s all Hillary was saying.”

“And to me, as an African-American," Johnson continued, in remarks noted by ABC News’ Eloise Harper, "I am frankly insulted that the Obama campaign would imply that we are so stupid that we would think Hillary and Bill Clinton, who have been deeply and emotionally involved in black issues when Barack Obama was doing something in the neighborhood that–- I won’t say what he was doing, but he said it in his book."

Johnson went on: “That kind of campaign behavior does not resonate with me, for a guy who says, ‘I want to be a reasonable, likable, Sidney Poitier ‘Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner.’ And I’m thinking, I’m thinking to myself, ‘This ain’t a movie, Sidney. This is real life.’"

("Sidney"?)

A former Clinton national chairman, Billy Shaheen, had previously raised Obama’s drug use as a teenager which the Illinois senator wrote about in his 1996 memoir, "Dreams From My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance."

"Pot had helped, and booze," Obama wrote. "Maybe a little blow when you could afford it. Not smack, though."

Shaheen said Obama having been so open in his book — as opposed to then-Gov. George W. Bush, who refused to detail his past drug use during his 2000 presidential campaign — will "open the door to further queries on the matter.

"It’ll be, ‘When was the last time? Did you ever give drugs to anyone? Did you sell them to anyone?’" Shaheen said. "There are so many openings for Republican dirty tricks. It’s hard to overcome."

After igniting a firestorm of controversy, Shaheen resigned from the Clinton campaign.

But this afternoon, Johnson insisted that he had not been alluding to Obama’s youthful drug use.

“My comments today were referring to Barack Obama’s time spent as a community organizer, and nothing else," he said in a written statement issued by the Clinton campaign. "Any other suggestion is simply irresponsible and incorrect."

In response, an Obama supporter, former state Rep. “I.S.” Leevy Johnson, one of the first African-Americans elected to the South Carolina General Assembly since Reconstruction, said it was "offensive that Sen. Clinton literally stood by and said nothing as another one of her campaign’s top supporters launched a personal, divisive attack on Barack Obama. For someone who decries the politics of personal destruction, she should’ve immediately denounced these attacks on the spot.”

–jpt

UPDATE: So, taking the Clinton campaign at its word, Johnson was TRYING to say:

"I am frankly insulted that the Obama campaign would imply that we are so stupid that we would think Hillary and Bill Clinton, who have been deeply and emotionally involved in black issues when Barack Obama was A COMMUNITY ORGANIZER…"

????

That doesn’t make sense, it completely undercuts the point Johnson was trying to make.

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