March 13, 2008

Why are Geraldine Ferraro's comments a big deal?

For a political party that believes in race and gender preferences, quotas and "proportionate" representation, why are the former veep candidate's comments about Barack Obama such a big deal?

Barack Obama assailed as "slice and dice" politics Geraldine Ferraro's assertion that he wouldn't be where he is in the presidential race if he weren't black. "Part of what I think Geraldine Ferraro is doing, and I respect the fact that she was a trailblazer, is to participate in the kind of slice and dice politics that's about race and about gender and about this and that, and that's what Americans are tired of because they recognize that when we divide ourselves in that way we can't solve problems," Obama said on NBC's "Today" show.
Here's what Ferraro actually said:
"If Obama was a white man, he would not be in this position. And if he was a woman (of any color) he would not be in this position. He happens to be very lucky to be who he is. And the country is caught up in the concept."

Now let's look at this. Would a white guy -- with only a few years experience in the Senate, and a few years before that in the Illinois House and Senate -- be a serious candidate for president, especially given the same liberal track record as Obama? No way.

And lucky? Why does everyone (especially in the MSM) believe Ferraro was only specifically referring to race here? Look at Barack Obama. Physically attractive candidate (lucky). Excellent speaker (lucky, but also some work involved). Joined presidential race at perfect time; George Bush poll #s are dismal, public tired of GOP (lucky). Other major candidate for Democratic nomination has very high negatives (lucky). And yes, he is black -- "lucky" in the sense that

  • A) African-Americans have long been clamoring for a viable candidate -- "viable" meaning one that's incredibly bright, a great orator (can't say "articulate" y'know!) and has wide crossover appeal -- for high[est] office and will vote for him in droves because of his race,
  • B) white liberals love it because they have an opportunity to show how "progressive" and "enlightened" they are by supporting a black man (it helps, of course, that they share most of Obama's political and cultural views; Condoleeza Rice or even Colin Powell would not attract these same folks), and
  • C) people -- including, remarkably, liberal Democrats like Ferraro -- have to walk on eggs watching how they say everything, worried that it'll be misunderstood as "racist."

And Ferraro isn't backing down. And amazingly, liberal Democrat Ferraro -- who has spent most of her life fighting for the rights of racial and ethnic minorities -- will now be branded the "R" word.

Will people NOW understand why there can't be "frank" and "real" discussions about race in America? I mean, if a liberal Democrat like Ferraro cannot state her opinion that Obama's race is A factor in his presidential popularity, how can such "frank" and "real" conversations take place? And part of what makes Ferraro's point is that she has been raked over the coals, but the Obama campaign has hardly been scrutinized about their candidate's "spiritual adviser," the Rev. Jeremiah Wright. Will Obama repudiate Wright? Apologize for Wright's overtly racist comments? Doesn't look like it:

Obama defended Wright’s longtime activism for blacks in America last week at a campaign event in Ohio.

“Jeremiah Wright … has said some things that are considered controversial because he’s considered that part of his social gospel,” Obama said.

It will be interesting to see what happens in the coming months, that's for sure.

Colossus friends talking about this: Chanman over at Buckhorn Road, who makes a comparison to Dan Quayle; John Rosenberg at Discriminations; Cheat Seeking Missiles; and Bookworm Room.

UPDATE: Barack Obama's pastor says blacks should not sing "God Bless America" but "God damn America":

The Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Obama's pastor for the last 20 years at the Trinity United Church of Christ on Chicago's south side, has a long history of what even Obama's campaign aides concede is "inflammatory rhetoric," including the assertion that the United States brought on the 9/11 attacks with its own "terrorism."

In a campaign appearance earlier this month, Sen. Obama said, "I don't think my church is actually particularly controversial." He said Rev. Wright "is like an old uncle who says things I don't always agree with," telling a Jewish group that everyone has someone like that in their family.

But, of course, Geraldine Ferraro being "the old aunt" in the Clinton family isn't an acceptable retort, now is it?

An ABC News review of dozens of Rev. Wright's sermons, offered for sale by the church, found repeated denunciations of the U.S. based on what he described as his reading of the Gospels and the treatment of black Americans.

"The government gives them the drugs, builds bigger prisons, passes a three-strike law and then wants us to sing 'God Bless America.' No, no, no, God damn America, that's in the Bible for killing innocent people," he said in a 2003 sermon. "God damn America for treating our citizens as less than human. God damn America for as long as she acts like she is God and she is supreme."

In addition to damning America, he told his congregation on the Sunday after Sept. 11, 2001 that the United States had brought on al Qaeda's attacks because of its own terrorism.

Wright goes on to blast (no pun intended) the American atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki (obviously it's OK to Wright that tens or hundreds of thousands of Americans -- not to mention many more Japanese -- would've died without their use), and "terrorism" against the Palestinians (never mind that the Palestinians have perfected the art form attempting to eradicate their "nasty" Jewish neighbors merely for ... being Jewish, eh?).

Posted by Felix at March 13, 2008 01:23 PM | TrackBack

Comments  (We reserve the right to edit and/or delete any comments. If your comment is blocked or won't post, e-mail us and we'll post it for you.)

Would a white guy -- with only a few years experience in the Senate, and a few years before that in the Illinois House and Senate -- be a serious candidate for president, especially given the same liberal track record as Obama? No way.

I initially shared that opinion, but then thought: John Edwards. No local experience, only a year or two more experience in the Senate than Obama when he first started running.

I don't think either would survive in the GOP primaries. Without wanting to get into an argument over it, the GOP primary voters seem to put a little more emphasis on experience.

Posted by: Paul Smith at March 13, 2008 01:39 PM

Paul -- I see your point, but still tend to agree with Felix. I read Chanman's post over at Buckhorn Road where he discussed Quayle. Quayle got his notoriety from being chosen as a veep candidate. So did Edwards. Quayle, when he ran as a pres. contender later, did miserably. Edwards, though he did better than Quayle, still had to bow out of this year's race quickly.

Posted by: Hube at March 13, 2008 02:05 PM


The answer is yes if he was clean and articulate (that is what your Senator Biden would answer) heh.

If you get a chance, check out my blog re Ms. Ferraro getting caught voting in her Vacation (second home) town a while ago.

No matter what your party, bigwhigs like her think they can do pretty much anything.

Posted by: AJ Lynch at March 13, 2008 04:57 PM

As for Rev. Wright, God damn him, Trinity UCC, and every single member.

Posted by: Rhymes With Right at March 13, 2008 08:56 PM

Hube, I don't know that your point about how quickly Edwards dropped out disproves my point. Edwards was considered in the top three candidates from the time the field was set, and it was only due to being the third of those three candidates, plus the fact that he did no real work in any state beyond Iowa, that kept him from continuing. Had Obama not been in the race, it would have been Edwards who became the focus of the stop Hillary efforts and who continued on in the race regardless of actual merits. Further, as I recall, Edwards essentially came in second place in 2004 to Kerry. (That speaks amazingly poorly of the Democrats that they thought those two were the best they had, or worse, that they actually were the best they had.)

Edwards was the second place finisher in terms of "pledged" delegates in 2004, tripling the total of Howard Dean, the third place finisher. (I'd post a link, but the server keeps rejecting it. If you really care, Google "2004 presidential primary results", click on CNN.Com Elections 2004, Click on "Full Coverage" under Primaries on the lower right, then click on "State-by-State Scorecard.") Far from getting his notoriety from being picked for VP in 2004, he got picked for VP as a result of his comparatively strong showing in the primaries. He was already widely viewed as a candidate for 2008 even before being selected for VP by Kerry. (Remember, Kerry had made the offer of the VP slot contingent on Edwards agreeing not to run in 2008 if Kerry chose to run again. Edwards agreed, and then broke that promise by declaring before Kerry had made up his mind.)

Now, Obama was the first or second of the three because of his race, that's certainly undeniable, and I'm not arguing that point. I'm just arguing that Democrats seem to have a thing for pretty boys who speak well, regardless of actual experience or race, in this case.

And, Hube, Quayle didn't get his notoriety from being a Vice-Presidential candidate; he got it from being Vice-President. That's a world of difference. If Bush-Quayle loses in 1988, we probably don't hear from Dan Quayle again. (He may have made a Lugar-type quixotic run with about as much success, but I doubt it. He didn't have the profile of a Lugar, and I don't think he ever would have.) I think Chanman's point is more about media bias than anything else. Obama is viewed as a savior running for President with his limited experience while Quayle is ridiculously underqualified for Vice-President, despite having about twice the Senate service as Obama and four years in the House to Obama's zero.

Posted by: Paul Smith at March 14, 2008 10:24 AM

I wasn't really trying to "disprove" your point, Paul. And I agree with you about Chanman and media bias, and I think you know that I meant Quayle's actual position and not merely his candidacy.

Posted by: Hube at March 14, 2008 06:31 PM

Eh, I was on a roll and on my high horse. The double-standard was ticking me off and I took you at your exact wording.

Posted by: Paul Smith at March 16, 2008 09:17 PM