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    March 12, 2008

    'Gerard' Ferraro v. 'Barackla' Obama

    Posted by: Chris

    Ferraroclinton Aside from the obvious race-baiting in Geraldine Ferraro's pronouncements about the reason for the success of Barack Obama, she's also just plain wrong. Originally, Ferraro said that the reason for Obama's success is that he's black. She's quick to add, as in this Fox News clip, that she has long said that the reason for her nomination as vice president in 1984 was that she is a woman.

    "In 1984, if my name were Gerard Ferraro instead of Geraldine Ferraro," she said, "I would never have been the nominee for vice president."

    Maybe so, considering she got the nomination based on one vote (Walter Mondale's), but what does that have to do with Obama? If all it took was being black, then Jesse Jackson would have been the Democratic Party nominee in 1984, not Mondale (and again in 1988 rather than Michael Dukakis).

    Then there's this absolute gem from Politico's Ben Smith: Who said this in April 1988: "If Jesse Jackson were not black, he wouldn't be in the race." That's right; Geraldine Ferraro. So being black was the primary reason Jackson was able to run and yet somehow for Obama it explains not only why he's running but beating a candidate with enormous built-in establishment advantages? The identity politics explanation for everything.

    The real reason that Obama has succeeded is that his candidacy is about much more than his race or, as the Clintons like to claim, a speech he gave in 2002. It's about a "new politics" that eschews the fear-mongering and sleaze of the past by appealing to the best in people rather than their worst. It's also about a candidate whose positions on the issues jive with voters and who has run a far more effective campaign than the ultimate pros, the Clintons.

    The second reason Ferraro is wrong is about Hillary Clinton, not Barack Obama. Because Hillary Clinton's gender has far more to do with her candidacy than Obama's race has to do with his. I don't say that because I think Hillary's success is because women and male feminists are enamored of the idea of a woman president -- which would be the sexist equivalent of Ferraro's jaw-dropper. I say it for the simple reason that being the wife of the president eclipses by a mile all other reasons for her political starpower, subsequent Senate career and White House run.

    Ferraro's has things bassackwards, just as Gloria Steinem did before her.

    (May 2005 photo of Geraldine Ferraro and Hillary Clinton by Chris Hondros/Getty Images)



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