According to a report I read here on TheRoot, Bob Johnson, "the billionaire founder of Black Entertainment Television says Barack Obama would not be a leading presidential candidate if he were white."
Since Johnson is a Hillary Clinton supporter, I started to wonder if his candidate would be a leading presidential contender if she were a man. Here's my conclusion.
Assume that during the course of his career a male candidate who happened to be a U.S. Senator and Yale-educated lawyer had been:
a) Accused of receiving $100,000 in profits from rigged cattle futures arranged by a corporate lobbyist while a member of his family served as attorney general of a southern state;
b) Investigated for hiding important evidence in an important federal corruption probe;
c) Investigated for using his powerful position in the White House to get rid of the travel office staff and replace them with friends from his home state;
d) Persuasively accused of allowing his spouse to use the race card to undermine his main opponent in the presidential campaign;
e) Shown to have invented and frequently repeated a story about ducking sniper fire to embellish his credentials as a tough guy.
I could go on. The point is that a male candidate with that kind of record would have been laughed out of the presidential race. Even if he'd had the nerve to believe that voters had forgotten the earlier blots on his record, the humiliating hoopla that would have erupted over his lies about being under fire alone would have forced his withdrawal.
Remember what happened to Ed Muskie when he cried during the 1972 New Hampshire primary? There's even a law—the Stolen Valor Act of 2005—that makes it a crime to wear a phony military decoration for heroism.
Too bad it doesn't apply to phony tales told on the campaign trail. Hillary Clinton's supporters like to claim that she has been treated harshly by the media because of her gender. Exactly the opposite is true. If she were being judged by the same standard we use to judge male candidates, she'd have been gone a long time ago.
Jack White is a former columnist for TIME.
is a former columnist for TIME magazine and a regular contributor to The Root.