Thursday, March 20, 2008

More Proof Geraldine Ferraro is an Idiot

Those of us who are paying even a little bit of attention hardly needed more evidence that Geraldine Ferraro's recent comment that Barack Obama is "lucky" to be an African American was, well, let's just say . . . "uninformed." However, I got it today when I looked at the Kansas City Star website's breaking story on a running gun battle that ended up at 63rd and Brookside Boulevard - an incident that apparently had its start near Prospect and Swope Parkway. The comments posted after the article were, to say the least, shocking in their racist vitriol - so shocking that the Star apparently decided to pull the plug on the "discussion" by deleting all the posts.

Periodically, especially when we start feeling so smug and self-satisfied about the fact that an African American is actually poised to be elected President of the United States, it takes moronic comments like those of Ms. Ferraro juxtaposed with the spew that found its way onto the Star's website today to quickly remind us that there is nothing "lucky" about being anything but white in America.


Phil Cardarella said...

Geraldine Ferraro is not an idiot, nor is she a racist. Nor were her comments. She did not say that Barack Obama was "lucky" to be born black. It was comment directed at the uncritical role of the media. In fact -- in the portion of her statement carefully edited to "..." by media outlets -- she specifically says that Obama enjoys an advantage that would not have been enjoyed by a black woman running for president. Her criticism is about GENDER, not race.

Barack Obama is highly intelligent and reasonably good-looking. He is an accomplished speaker (although not as eloquent as John Edwards, Obama has mastered the dual teleprompter technology.)
He is a masterful campaigner.

But it is disingenuous to maintain that his heritage has not contributed significantly to his success. He was a state senator from Chicago nominated for the US Senate in a 6-way primary. When he became the ONLY African American Senator, he became an instant celebrity.

He has enjoyed celebrity without the critical review that usually accompanies it. And as a candidate for president, any criticism of him has been twisted into an issue of race -- not, to his credit, by Obama, but by his worshippers in and out of the media. The same folks who would think nothing of observing that Irish Catholics run well in Massachusetts get the vapors and grow faint at the observation that Obama will run well in states with a large number of African Americans voting in the Democratic primary. Duh! And , surprise, older women like Hillary!

Of course, Obama also runs well in states where the Democratic Party is very liberal and his early opposition to the Iraq War is a plus. (He was against it almost before me.)

What bothers Ferraro -- and bothers me and should bother others -- is that this nation has a history of pushing out experienced, better qualified women in favor of the glib and charming young man who gets the job. The reality is that more men today -- even young professionals -- are more accepting of a black man as a peer or boss than of a woman of any race. And we are not the better for it.

What is worse -- from political perspective -- is that this extended media honeymoon will come to an abrupt end in the fall. We are political junkies. The swing voters who will decide the presidential election don't begin to pay attention until Columbus Day. Then the Swiftboaters will begin to define Obama, if he is the nominee. These are the people who defined a genuine war hero as an effete coward. I fear what they will do to a relatively unknown first-term senator from Chicago.

The (somewhat unfair)uproar over Rev. Wright has done us a favor. It has given Obama the chance to give one of the truly great speeches of our time. But it has also reminded us of what we will face with him as our nominee, when the adoring media give way to the pack attack mentality. 24/7.

It ain't gonna be pretty.

Dale Youngs said...

Sorry, Phil. The fact is that Ferraro told the Daily Breeze of Torrance, California, "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."

I don't know how it can be spun in any other direction, but you certainly did a good job trying. And by the way, I never said Ferraro was a racist -- just an idiot.

Phil Cardarella said...

I appreciate -- but do not accept -- the complement.

Part of Sen. Obama's appeal is his bi-racial heritage. It appeals to black voters -- as it naturally should. It also appeals to many white voters who see in him a healing of our racial devide. It appeals to the more liberal media outlets.

And that is not to say that he does not appeal to a large number of voters based on his youth, his intelligence or his stand on issues -- like his early opposition to the Iraq war. But it is not his stand on issues that has insulated him -- until recently -- from strong media scrutiny. And it is not his stand on issues or his fine speaking ability that allowed a Chicago politician to beat John Edwards in Edwards' native South Carolina. Let's not wear blinders.

Ferraro's comment was primarily directed to gender, not race.

Fact is, if you had a client who hired or promoted a man with Obama's resume over a woman with HRC's, you'd end up defending him in a suit for GENDER discrimination. And you would likely lose. That is how so many women see this nomination process -- and they are not racists or idiots to view it that way.

It is embedded in the dismissive way that the media -- and the Obama people -- treat HRC's experience in the White House, as if this extraordinary woman had spent eight years serving tea and baking cookies. Is there anyone who does not believe that she spent eight years as the President's primary domestic and foreign policy advisor?

Don't you?

Barrack Obama is not the "black candidate" for president any more than HRC is the "woman candidate". But each has benefited from (and lost support because of) each's respective race and gender. In the area of media coverage, particulary until this week, Obama has massively benefited. As the Party moves toward choosing a nominee, no one benefits from pretending that is not true.

sophia said...

Fact is, if you had a client who hired or promoted a man with Obama's resume over a woman with HRC's, you'd end up defending him in a suit for GENDER discrimination. And you would likely lose.

A little late to the conversation here, but I've got to step in here. The way Phil has framed this has simultaneously weakened the case for Hillary and highlighted the reality of gender discrimination. Hillary's resume would feature an 8 year gap of actual work history, during which period she was the supportive wife who was extremely active in supporting and contributing to worthwhile causes as a volunteer. As many women of Hillary's generation could explain to you, such a "gap" in work history is rarely credited by employers. There's no way in hell you would lose that hypothetical gender discrimination lawsuit.

It's actually amazing that so many people have gone along with the idea that Clinton's time as First Lady counts as meaningful experience for the presidency. It'd be nice if the idea of crediting women's non-compensated experience spread out into the general workforce.

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