The PJ Tatler

Hillary Clinton Makes Awkward Play for Black Votes

It hasn’t exactly been smooth sailing for former Sec. of State Hillary Clinton since she launched her campaign two weeks ago. Her candidacy thus far has been wracked with gaffes and controversies  — but she “ain’t no ways tired.”

In a hopelessly transparent bid for black voters during her speech at Columbia University today, Clinton called for a major overhaul of the U.S. criminal justice system. The only problem is that the system she wants overhauled was largely put into place by her husband 20 years ago.

Via Business Insider:

In her address at Columbia University, Clinton called for a major overhaul in the US criminal justice system. She repeatedly lambasted “the mass incarceration that we currently practice” and overly punitive, “arbitrary” criminal statutes, which she said result in racial discrimination.

“There is something profoundly wrong when African-American men are still far more likely to be stopped and searched by police, charged with crimes, and sentenced to longer prison terms than are meted out to their white counterparts. There is something wrong when a third of all black men face the prospect of prison during their lifetimes,” Clinton said. “We have allowed our criminal justice system to get out of balance and these recent tragedies should galvanize us to come together as a nation to find our balance again.”

Clinton’s speech came in the wake of Monday’s racially-charged riots in Baltimore, Maryland, in which violent protesters raged after the funeral of 25-year-old Freddie Gray, who died on April 19 after suffering a fatal spinal injury in police custody. The incident is just one of a number of controversial police-involved deaths of African-American men, which protesters have attributed to a racist criminal justice system.

For her part, Clinton said she saw a “unmistakable and undeniable” pattern in their deaths.

“Yet again the family of a young black men is grieving a life cut short. Yet again the streets of an American city are marred by violence, by shattered glass, and shouts of anger and shows of force. Yet again a community is reeling, its fault lines laid bare,” she said. “From Ferguson to Staten Island to Baltimore, the patterns have become unmistakable and undeniable.”

Not to doubt Hillary’s sincerity, but as Anne Gearan at the Washington Post noted, many of those law-enforcement policies were put into place during her husband’s administration.

Making her most specific policy proposals since launching her campaign earlier this month, Clinton said it’s time for a nationwide overhaul of what she called misguided and failed policing and prison strategies.

In effect, she was saying that policies put in place when her husband Bill Clinton was president have not worked. Clinton did not mention her husband or identify exactly which laws and sentencing policies she thought had gone wrong. But many of those policies grew out of the crackdown on drug crimes and other nonviolent offenses that took place before and during Bill Clinton’s presidency 20 years ago.

Hillary offered a prayer during the speech for the victims of her husband’s failed policing and prison strategies.

“Please join me in saying a prayer for the family of Freddie Gray and all the men whose names we know and those we don’t,” Clinton said, referring to the black men who have died at the hands of police.