Ward Room
Covering Chicago's nine political influencers

You Can't Say That On Television

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During an uncomfortable exchange Sunday night, Carol Moseley Braun may have changed the tenor of her candidacy.

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Watkins: I Deserve an Apology

Mayoral candidate Patricia Van Pelt-Watkins says she was offended that Carol Moseley Braun called her a drug addict during a mayoral forum.
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Carol Moseley Braun is in trouble for publicly busting out the kind of insult that Rahm Emanuel only uses in private.

During Sunday afternoon’s debate at Trinity United Church of Christ -- Jeremiah Wright’s old congregation -- Moseley Braun told Patricia Watkins, “the reason you didn’t know where I was for the last 20 years, ’cause you were strung out on crack.”

The crowd hooted. Miguel del Valle and Gery Chico looked mortified. (Emanuel, who refuses to participate in community forums, was absent.) Soon after, Moseley Braun left the sanctuary, fleeing in her SUV.

Emanuel has called liberals "[bleeping] retards." He told a male staffer to “pull your [bleeping] tampons out.” He once invited the entire Republican Party to “go [bleep]” itself. But he didn’t utter any one these vulgarities in front of a TV camera. We only have printed accounts, which make far less of an impression than Moseley Braun screeching and pointing at Patricia Watkins. Despite his reputation for flying off the handle, Emanuel is unfailingly somber and low-key in public. Emanuel’s insults are a strategy to intimidate opponents and underlings, not the result of emotional outbursts. He has the discipline Moseley Braun lacks.

Another reason Moseley Braun’s outburst came off so badly was that it echoed media stereotypes of catfighting women. Internet posters compared the scene to “The Real Housewives of Atlanta,” or the Dave Chappelle skit, “When Keeping It Real Goes Wrong."

Moseley Braun brought street language to the mayoral race, the kiss of death for a black candidate trying to win over white voters. But Moseley Braun unleashed her high-handed combination of entitlement and resentment at a fellow black woman who refused to step aside for the community's consensus candidate.

As a Moseley Braun supporter named Rodney put in a call to WVON this morning, “She didn’t need to feed into the negativity.”

Will being called a crackhead by Carol Moseley Braun help Watkins, who was polling at 2 percent before Sunday’s debate? Maybe. Watkins held a press conference today to demand an apology.

"I would like an apology. I haven't used drugs in 32 yrs," she said what might be her only morning news conference of the season.

But Moseley Braun’s outburst will really help Rahm Emanuel. Chico and del Valle are getting negligible support in the black community. Emanuel's latest radio ad features President Obama praising his performance as chief of staff. Blacks who abandon Moseley Braun will probably vote for Emanuel. All because he’s smart enough to keep his mouth shut in front of a TV camera.

Buy this book! Ward Room blogger Edward McClelland's book, Young Mr. Obama: Chicago and the Making of a Black President , is available Amazon. Young Mr. Obama includes reporting on President Obama's earliest days in the Windy City, covering how a presumptuous young man transformed himself into presidential material. Buy it now!

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