The Self-Inflicted Wounds of Geraldine Ferraro
Name a newspaper the Daily Breeze and see what gusts you produce. Former Vice Presidential candidate Geraldine Ferraro told a reporter there that "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."
The country then became caught up in the concept of Ferraro's condescension, about which more in a jiffy. But since she has accused David Axelrod of the Obama campaign -- who pounced on this racialist interpretation of history the way you might expect him to after his own problems with glib campaign advisers -- of taking her remark "out of context," let's give Ferraro her due and cite her follow-up statements.
On "Good Morning America," she clarified her position:
"I was talking about historic candidacies and what I started off by saying (was that) if you go back to 1984 and look at my historic candidacy, which I had just talked about all these things, in 1984 if my name was Gerard Ferraro instead of Geraldine Ferraro, I would have never been chosen as a vice presidential candidate... It had nothing to do with my qualification."
Which is a fine way of reaffirming the electorate's overwhelming preference in 1984, as well as abasing oneself in the service of Hillary Clinton. According to Ferraro, Clinton got where she is not by having two X-chromosomes but by possessing rare gifts. As for the candidate's losses, these are due to a "very sexist media. Some just don't like her." (Could they not like Clinton because she's unlikable?)
But notice how this explanation only contradicts Ferraro's earlier point that being a woman doesn't carry quite the same demagogic punch as being a black man. If Ferraro got to run for the second highest office in the land simply because of her sex, how is it that she sees race as the only special pleading accelerator of political success?
(Ferraro's had trouble with this trope before: In 1988, she let slip went on record saying that a radical candidate like Jesse Jackson could only get as far as he could by virtue of his color.)
Ramesh Ponnuru says: "Ferraro is clearly right as an analytical matter. Some Obama supporters back him because they want to make history--and his race has a lot to do with their belief that he will. It is also the reason he has such strong support from African Americans, without which Clinton would be beating him."
Red State replies: "I don't think it is fair to Barack Obama to suggest that he is in the position he is today primarily because of his race. In my view, Barack Obama is beating Hillary Clinton because he knows who he is (read: authentic), and is able to communicate his vision for the United States, flawed as it is, in a way that Hillary could never dream of."
Marc Ambinder writes of Ferraro's "How about that?" vituperation: "This kind of stuff doesn't move votes; it moves eyes off the more important stuff, like Client 9's and Pennsylvania and Iraq and John McCain ... the tongue is only half in cheek. What more is there to say? I suppose an entire theory can be created from this one incident about the theory of white ethnic resentment?"
Michael Weiss is the New York Editor of Pajamas Media.