Ferraro on the benefits of being black in America

I really have to think about the racial controversies that have hit the Obama/Clinton campaign over the past few months. When Ed Rendell said that there were white Pennsylvanians that wouldn’t vote for a black candidate, I agreed with him. Having experienced the center of this state as a black man, I have said that I feel more comfortable down south than I feel in my own state. What Rendell said was not politically smart, but he was dead on. We’re have more in common in Pennsylvania with Mississippi than we do with the rest of the north east.

So now we have Geraldine Ferraro’s statement that Obama gets better treatment because he’s black. So here’s the thing – I do think a lot of people have been taken by the idea of a black President, but of course I’ve heard more than my share of women say they’re voting to see a woman President – so it goes both ways.

There is all the other stuff that other candidates don’t have to experience because they’re not black. The whole thing about Obama’s middle name Hussein. The internet hoax about him being sworn in on a copy of the Koran. If Obama wins the election he’ll have overcome his share of obstacles. It bothers me that this gets forgotten in all the complaints of the preferential treatment that Obama gets. He has had the most Roveian incidences take place, but that’s this country’s system; unfortunately that’s politics.

Ferraro and others that believe her need to take a step back and view the election in its entirety and not through the eyes of a Clinton hawk.

  • grace

    In true American media form, I cannot find Ferraro’s full comments anywhere. She is defending herself by saying the comments were taken out of context, but hell if I can find the context anywhere.

    In any case, if we’re seriously discussing this topic, the actual quote was as follows: “If Obama was a white man, he would not be in this position. And if he was a woman, 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.”

    So, she didn’t say anything about him receiving special treatment. She’s also a terrible spokesperson. That was not a well thought out, well constructed statement. She had to know it was going to draw all kinds of attention.

    If we’re going to give Ferraro the benefit of the doubt, she might have been trying to say something true–that part of the excitement that Obama generates does have to do with the fact that he’s the first black man to have a serious shot at the presidency. That’s exciting–no doubt. And I don’t think that’s a negative thing to say. And the same thing is true for Hillary–she is generating a lot of excitement and passion because she’s the first realistic female candidate in history. The fact that these two excellent candidates also both happen to be making history due to their gender or race is not something anyone can overlook, and it’s not racist or sexist to point it out.

    However, if we’re not giving Ferraro the benefit of the doubt, then she’s a freaking idiot. Because in that case, what she was saying is that if you turned Obama white the whole country would suddenly realize he has nothing going for him. Which is so retarded I can’t believe this woman ever had a career.

    So, I know you’re reading her comments as a complaint that Obama is getting ‘preferential treatment,’ but anyway you look at what she said, I don’t think that’s what she meant.

  • Spencer

    Here’s the original interview she gave to the Daily Breeze: Click here for controversial Ferraro Interview

    The comment I was referring to was “For one thing, you have the press, which has been uniquely hard on her. It’s been a very sexist media. Some just don’t like her. The others have gotten caught up in the Obama campaign.” I take that as her saying Obama has gotten better treatment.

    I think they both get banged up on different things, and Ferarro’s complaints are one-sided. I don’t think at this stage of the game we could have someone that has been given a pass the entire campaign. Let’s give the Obama group some credit for running a good campaign and leave it at that.

  • http://www.myspace.com/radiocynic radiocynic

    First, Spencer, I have to agree about the ugly paradox that is Pennsylvania. Having toured every corner and midsection of the state in the 1980′s as a member of a “mixed-race lounge band”, (which, by the way, was how some booking agents had to refer to us in certain areas!), I was flabbergasted and disappointed in the many racist attitudes we encountered. Ever the optimist, I have to hope things have improved in 20 years, but I guess probably nowhere near enough.

    Grace raises really good points on all angles. The media jumps on it and starts interpreting right away, when we can’t even find the whole story. It’s difficult to tell if her intent was racist, or simply making a meaningless and unnecessary statement. But either way, it was useless rhetoric.

    The other issue that keeps bothering me is that the media, and the Clinton camp and McCain camp, are so quick to (correctly) condemn things like the inflammatory raising of the “Hussein” issue, or the inflammatory leak of the “native garb” picture, but no one wants to delve into the next level: Why is this stuff inflammatory? Hey, theoretically, what the hell is wrong with having a middle name of Hussein, or wearing traditional Islamic dress, or for that matter, being a Muslim? I’m not suggesting that Islamic fundamentalist terrorism is not a serious problem; certainly it is. But this whole deal of treating the whole of Islam as an insult — when obviously there are countless fine upstanding peace-loving Americans who happen to be Muslim, many perhaps named Hussein — it reminds me of WWII Japanese internment camps or something.

  • http://abbondanza.blogspot.com/ kristen

    I think the whole argument is stupid. She was dumb to say it, but what does it even really mean? Grace is right. Take away his heritage, and he’s still an accomplished guy.

    Does Gerry (as I’m now calling her) seriously think that Hillary would be where she is – Senator of a state she never really lived in before she chose it to campaign there, top contender for the Democratic nomination, etc. had she not been married to an ex-President and part of that huge political machine? If she didn’t have the hopes and dreams of millions of women at stake?

    Maybe, maybe not. She’s had to fight the woman bias, but she’s also reaped the rewards of her associations. Does Obama’s race help him? Sure, with some voters it does. But for a large number it’s a reason to vote for anyone but him. Just as there are people who would vote for her based on gender, and just as many who would vote against her because they don’t want some emotional woman running the country.

    Could Romney have had a chance in hell without his fortune to support him? Would McCain have gotten as far without his war hero past? What of Fred Thompson, whose main accomplishments pre-Senate consisted of anchoring Law & Order and appearing in Die Hard 2: Die Harder? Would Guiliani have been even a possibility without 9/11 happening in his backyard?

    I think it’s a package deal with candidates, so her point (whatever it was) is kind of moot.

  • Spencer

    I think the other thing that they seem to forget is that Senators with long histories will get “picked on” more – there’s more history to challenge. Ferraro seems to think that it’s because she’s a woman. I think that it’s because she’s been in the public limelight for 16 years. This is why it’s been so long since a Senator has been elected President (Nixon I think). As illogical as it may seem, having too much experience is not a good thing in a Presidential election. Every vote, speech, association will be analyzed over and over again. Candidates such as Obama and Bill Clinton in 1992, and George Bush in 2000, had the advantage of coming from the outside without much of a national history that would hurt them.

    As to HRCs background being diminished, I’ve said it before, she made it fair game by calling into question Obama’s qualifications. Only then did he respond by asking “Is Hillary Clinton’s resume really that impressive?” If she (or her supporters) are going to be offended by people questioning her background, then she needs to rethink “Ready Day One” as a MAIN POINT OF HER CAMPAIGN. Otherwise she should be expected to be asked to defend this position.

  • http://abbondanza.blogspot.com/ kristen

    Holy crap! Ferraro said the same thing about Jesse Jackson back in the day! Here’s Keith Olbermann freaking out about all this. He’s got the progression of the incident. Warning – it’s one of his open letter rants.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Aa6dCUWocbs