Bill Clinton to Ted Kennedy: In The Past, Obama Would Be ‘Carrying our Bags’

If Obama so desperately wants examples of racist rhetoric being cast against him, there’s none better than what Bill Clinton said of him only a few short years ago.

In 2008 during that contentious Democrat primary that pitted Hillary Clinton against Barack Obama, the former president was in full sales mode to get his wife the nomination of the Democrat Party and in an effort to enlist Ted Kennedy to his cause he uttered what any journalist would immediately brand as a racist remark.

Ryan Lizza reports that the late Tim Russert related a Bill Clinton anecdote that must shock anyone overly sensitive to charges of racism.

You might recall, as does Lizza, that Bill Clinton was already being accused of acting in a racist manner by discounting Obama’s primary wins that year and an incident after the South Carolina primaries figured prominently in that charge. But the former president was even more vehement in private.

Russet told Liza that Clinton was in a discussion with Senator Ted Kennedy and while attempting to cajole Kennedy into understanding that Obama was too young and inexperienced, Clinton said, “A few years ago, this guy would have been carrying our bags.”

This “carrying our bags” line could easily be read as harkening back to the days when African Americans were commonly seen as porters, baggage handlers, housekeepers, and other domestic employees.

But was it? Was it racist? I’d propose that it wasn’t and that anyone who says it is, is overly sensitive. My feeling is that Clinton wasn’t using a racial slur against Obama but instead saying that he was just a kid that doesn’t belong in the big league of politics. I think Bill Clinton was saying that Obama deserves to be in a low rung position — one such as a lackey that would be toting his betters’ bags — not in the position of running for president beside his more experienced wife.

Of course, should a Republican have uttered this line, every member of the Old Media establishment would have erupted in a cacophony of condemnation of such a “racist” remark. No context, subtext, or intent would have been sought before the attacks would have begun if a Republican had said this.

So far, though, Bill Clinton is getting a pass on a remark so easily construed as racist.

Finally, it should be noted that a similar anecdote turn up in the book Game Change a few years ago, though it was Clinton telling Kennedy that Obama would have been “getting us coffee.” I believe this new report is a garbled version of the claim in that book (or the book claim was a garbled report of this “bags” comment, either way).

So, what I am saying is that it might be apocryphal but that it is so easily believable coming from Bill Clinton says as much as if the quote(s) were 100% accurate.


Posted by on September 3, 2012.
Filed under 2012 Presidential Race, Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, corruption, Culture Of Corruption, Democrats, Elections, Race.
Warner Todd Huston is a Chicago-based freelance writer, has been writing opinion editorials and social criticism since early 2001 and is featured on many websites such as Andrew Breitbart's and,,,,, Human Events Magazine, among many, many others. Additionally, he has been a frequent guest on talk-radio programs to discuss his opinion editorials and current events.He has also written for several history magazines and appears in the new book "Americans on Politics, Policy and Pop Culture" which can be purchased on He is also the owner and operator of Feel free to contact him with any comments or questions, EMAIL Warner Todd Huston: igcolonel .at."The only end of writing is to enable the reader better to enjoy life, or better to endure it." --Samuel Johnson

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  • 914

    Just your average democrat keynote fool..

  • Brucehenry

    So your last sentence admits that it “might be apocryphal” but your headline proclaims it as fact.


    You do know what “apocryphal” means, right?

    • Scribe of Slog (McGehee)

      All I know is, next to it in the dictionary is your picture.

      • Brucehenry

        Yes, I’m sure that that IS all you know.

    • warnertoddhuston

      I clearly DO in the context of the sentence you idiot. Can you read, asswipe?

      • Brucehenry

        So it IS possible to get a rise out of you.

        Are you sure? Because the dictionary says that “apocryphal” means “of doubtful authenticity, although widely circulated as being true.” And your headline treats the claim, which you admit in the last sentence may be apocryphal, as if it was, you know……. established fact.

        I heard that Bill Clinton also said that Obama had a gold tooth. That may not be true, though.

        • warnertoddhuston

          You have trouble reading. I am REPORTING what was said in the headline not AUTHENTICATING its content. Moron.

          • Brucehenry

            The conversation may or may not have happened. Thus, it is “apocryphal.”

            Is that what the headline conveys?

            In the case of the Atlantic, Warner, what did you think of a writer who proclaimed as fact, in a headline, that which is not demonstrated in his article?

  • Commander_Chico_Cognoscente

    Tim Russert told me that, according to his sources,

    In other words, hearsay though a dead guy.

    Anyways, the Clinton years were ones of peace and prosperity, marred by the Starr circus.

    Whatever the outcome of this election, the Clintons will be back in the White House in January 2017.

    • Adam Smith

      hearsay from a dead guy about a conversation Clinton had with another dead guy.

      That’s convincing.

      • 914

        So, does that mean your voting ABO??

    • SteveCrickmore075

      Their host of centrist proxies are already there with the Obama presidency. It is a long list and that is one of the depressing features of his administration (in my opinion); not exactly the ‘hope and change’ theme that Obama had advertized!

  • Adam Smith

    A story about what Clinton supposedly said to a dead guy, relayed to a dead guy.

    How could anyone possibly doubt it happened?

  • Adam Smith

    “So, what I am saying is that it might be apocryphal but that it is so easily believable coming from Bill Clinton says as much as if the quote(s) were 100% accurate.”

    Oh yeah, in my personal view I can easily picture Clinton saying that, so it’s as “good” as true.

    Logic from the fantasy land of the right.

  • GarandFan

    Yeah, ‘not racist’. Just like Sheets Byrd wasn’t racist.

    • 914

      Sheets wasn’t racist… He was a democrat! lol

  • David Robertson

    Here is the full quote from that story in The New Yorker:

    Tim Russert told me that, according to his sources, Bill Clinton, in an effort to secure an endorsement for Hillary from Ted Kennedy, said to Kennedy, “A few years ago, this guy would have been carrying our bags.”

    In his above post, Warner writes, “So, what I am saying is that it might be apocryphal but that it is so easily believable coming from Bill Clinton says as much as if the quote(s) were 100% accurate.”

    According to Harry Reid’s sources, Mitt Romney didn’t pay any income tax for the last 10 years.

    If we are not to believe Reid’s unnamed sources, then why are we to believe Russert’s unnamed sources?

    That is the problem with unnamed sources. You have no way of verifying what is being claimed.

    Until the allegation made against Bill Clinton is verified, I will dismiss it as hearsay.

    • Olsoljer

      One word answer CREDIBILITY

      • Vagabond661

        Survey SAYS…”ding”..Number one answer!

      • herddog505

        Agreed. When a political hack conveniently says, “Oh, hey, SOMEBODY told me that the opposing party’s nominee did something bad”, it’s prima facie fishier than a report in MiniTru (did I just write that????).

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  • herddog505

    This is absurd. What’s next??? Reporting that black members of Congress were spat upon without any evidence??? Reporting that, based on what somebody told Harry Reid, that Mitt Romney doesn’t pay his taxes???


    Anybody want to go b*tch at Ryan Lizza for reporting this in the first place? Let’s consider what was actually written:

    Tim Russert told me that, according to his sources, Bill Clinton, in an effort to secure an endorsement for Hillary from Ted Kennedy, said to Kennedy, “A few years ago, this guy would have been carrying our bags.”

    The citation actually goes, not to an unnamed souce, but to Tim Russert, who is considered in the trade as a good newsman (we will overlook that fact that this is akin to the phrases “good used-car salesman” or “good politician”), who apparently asserted to Lizza that “sources” had told him that Slick DID say that. It seems to me that one can decide to believe this or not based on his estimates of:

    1. Lizza’s honesty in relaying what Russert allegedly told him;

    2. Russert’s honesty in relaying what his sources allegedly told him, and;

    3. Russert’s ability as a newsman to discriminate between a good source and a bad source, between a believable story and an obvious lie.

    I also suggest, as others have, that the broader point is how MiniTru and the left (BIRM) deal with these sorts of allegations: here we have Slick Willie allegedly denigrating Barry in a manner that could be construed as racist but he gets a pass, while MiniTru and the left (BIRMA) will actually fabricate “RAAAAACISM” amongst Republicans.

    Finally, I wonder what’s back of Lizza reporting this in the first place. Barry is relying heavily on Slick to help him keep his phony-baloney job; why would Lizza publish at this time that Slick said such a nasty thing about Barry?


    Incidentally, this isn’t the first report of Slick saying such things about Barry. The book Game Change likely refers to the same incident:

    Bill Clinton helped sink his wife’s chances for an endorsement from Ted Kennedy by belittling Barack Obama as nothing but a race-based candidate.

    “A few years ago, this guy would have been getting us coffee,” the former president told the liberal lion from Massachusetts, according to the gossipy new campaign book, “Game Change.”

    The book says Kennedy was deeply offended and recounted the conversation to friends with fury.

    After Kennedy sided with Obama, Clinton reportedly griped, “the only reason you are endorsing him is because he’s black. Let’s just be clear.”

    • LiberalNightmare

      I seem to remember this coming out a long time ago. I don’t really understand what our latest batch of trolls hope to gain by pretending it didn’t happen.

      • herddog505

        In fairness, it IS hearsay: unnamed sources claim that The Swimmer told other people that Slick said this to him. It’s really similar to what Dingy Harry said: people told me X.

        Do I believe it?

        Yes: I think that Slick was outraged in ’08 that this glib-talking nobody was beating his wife (and, by extension, himself) in the primaries and shot his mouth off. Anger makes people say stupid things.

        The real problem, of course, is the double standard. Here we have an allegation that Slick said this. Will MiniTru press him on it? I think that we all know the answer to that.

      • JLawson

        They’ve set the bar to the point where someone even mentioning ‘Chicago’ is supposedly racist. They dare not admit that someone in their own party might possibly have said “A few years ago, this guy would have been carrying our bags.”

        If they do, then excuse it through some convoluted thinking, then they’ll be showing their supposed ‘dog whistles’ and ‘code words’ as being transparently false.

        (Not that they aren’t already – but it’s that old ‘plausible deniability’ thing. Or as Bart Simpson put it – “I didn’t do it, nobody saw me do it, you can’t prove anything.”)

    • Brucehenry

      Just maybe if Russert thought his sources were reliable in this matter, HE would have reported it.

      Instead we have a report that unnamed sources told the now-deceased Russert that Bill Clinton told the now-deceased Ted Kennedy this or that, and then the now-deceased Russert supposedly told Lizza what his unnamed sources had reported to him.
      I heard about this in 2008. No one confirmed it then. It was never confirmed by Clinton or Ted Kennedy, AFAIK. No previously unnamed source stepped forward to say publicly, “Yeah, that was me that told Russert that, and this is how I know it’s true…” But, since then, it has been given some currency.

      In other words, the story is the DEFINITION of “apocryphal.” But Warner spends 9 paragraphs of an 11-paragraph story discussing it as if it was Gospel Truth. In his 11th paragraph, we learn that the story “might be apocryphal,” but Warner finds it easy to believe, so it’s probably true, or something.

      Somebody tell me how this story is ethically different from the Atlantic story Warner was whining about the day before yesterday.

      • SCSIwuzzy

        The authors of Game Change reported years ago that Clinton made a similar comment to Teddy Kennedy, that “a few years ago he would be bringing us coffee”.
        I don’t recall that being proven wrong.

  • 914

    Bill Clinton to Ted Kennedy: In The Past, Obama Would Be ‘Carrying our Bags’

    “Today, I have to carry his trash!”

  • Hugh_G

    I once overheard a rightwinger such as Huston proclaim that all rightwingers hate blacks and people of color. Then he said it might be apocryphal.

    • Vagabond661

      I never met a rightwinger (not even sure if I have seen one) but boy, I have met a lot of liberals!

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  • David Robertson

    On the September 5th edition of “Your World with Neil Cavuto”, Cavuto asked political scientist Larry Sabato if Sabato believed the aforementioned claim about Bill Clinton. Sabato indicated that the claim was plausible.

    However, plausible is not the same thing as proven.

    This situation reminds me of a scene in the 2011 movie “Star Trek” in which Cadet Kirk is accused of academic cheating. Kirk responds by saying that he has a right to face his accuser.

    As I see it, the right to face one’s accuser is a right that everyone in the USA has, even those people who are your political adversaries. President Clinton is accused of saying something wrong, and yet, Clinton is unable to face his accusers . . . No, not the late Tim Russert, but the people who were Russert’s sources.

    We do not know who made the claim against Clinton. Unless there is evidence to back up the claim, I have no reason to accept the claim as being factual.

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