Ex-lefty curmudgeon Christopher Hitchens has a piece in Slate -- echoing our blog post earlier today -- about Bill Clinton's history with racial politics.

He also points to the case of Ricky Ray Rector, the severely mentally retarded black man that Clinton rushed to Arkansas to see executed in January 1992:

I never quite understand how the Clintons' initial exploitation of racism was overlooked the first time around and has been airbrushed from the record since. After falling behind in the New Hampshire primary in 1992, and after being caught lying about the affair with Gennifer Flowers to which he later confessed under oath, Clinton left the campaign trail and flew home to Arkansas to give the maximum publicity to his decision to sign a death warrant for Ricky Ray Rector. Rector was a black inmate on death row who had shot himself in the head after committing a double murder and, instead of dying as a result, had achieved the same effect as a lobotomy would have done. He never understood the charge against him or the sentence. After being served his last meal, he left the pecan pie on the side of the tray, as he told the guards who came to take him to the execution chamber, "for later." Several police and prison-officer witnesses expressed extreme queasiness at this execution of a gravely impaired man, and the prison chaplain, Dennis Pigman, later resigned from the prison service.

It's not just me and Hitchens. A guest diarist at TalkLeft: The Politics of Crime cites this quote from a 2002 editorial in the San Francisco Chronicle:

A date which ought to live in infamy for the Democratic Party is Jan. 24, 1992. That's the day Ricky Ray Rector was executed in Arkansas while Gov. Bill Clinton stood by and did nothing. On that day in Arkansas, the Democratic Party also died. Its body is still with us, to be sure, but its heart and soul died 10 years ago.