Geraldine Ferraro, the self-appointed angry spokesperson for Hillary Clinton's historic White House bid, is on yet another tear about Barack Obama. This time she's speaking for all the misunderstood white, working-class, voters who say they won't vote for Obama— not because he's black, but because they believe he has a black agenda. Apparently, in her mind, these are two different and distinct reactions.
"Since March, when I was accused of being racist for a statement I made about the influence of blacks on Obama's historic campaign, people have been stopping me to express a common sentiment: If you're white, you can't open your mouth without being accused of being racist,"Ferraro wrote in op-ed that ran in the Boston Globe on May 30.
"They see Obama's playing the race card throughout the campaign, and no one calling him for it as frightening. They're not upset with Obama because he's black; they're upset because they don't expect to be treated fairly because they're white. It's not racism that is driving them, it's racial resentment. And that is enforced because they don't believe he understands them and their problems. That when he said in South Carolina after his victory "Our Time Has Come" they believe he is telling them that their time has passed.
Whom he chooses for his vice president makes no difference to them. That he is pro-choice means little. Learning more about his bio doesn't do it. They don't identify with someone who has gone to Columbia and Harvard Law School and is married to a Princeton-Harvard Law graduate. His experience with an educated single mother and being raised by middle-class grandparents is not something they can empathize with. They may lack a formal higher education, but they're not stupid. What they're waiting for is assurance that an Obama administration won't leave them behind."
"It's not racism that is driving them, it's racial resentment. And that is enforced because they don't believe he understands them and their problems. That when he said in South Carolina after his victory, "Our Time Has Come" they believe he is telling them that their time has passed."
Obama's exact quote was: "Our time for change has come." And when he said it, he was addressing thousands of supporters, many of them white, not a roomful of Black Panthers. He was talking about those invested in his campaign, those hungry for change, those looking to the future that he represents and not the past that Clinton symbolizes. So why would anyone construe that to be a pro-black comment? I don't believe those sentiments to be those of anyone other than Ferraro, given that she purposely left out part of the quote.
"They're not upset with Obama because he's black; they're upset because they don't expect to be treated fairly because they're white."
Really? Why is that? Clearly they are not basing those beliefs on their past experiences with other black American presidents who've dissed them. Put a black man in charge and he's bound to act out his racism against white people, is that it?
"They don't identify with someone who has gone to Columbia and Harvard Law School and is married to a Princeton-Harvard Law graduate. His experience with an educated single mother and being raised by middle-class grandparents is not something they can empathize with. They may lack a formal higher education, but they're not stupid."
If these Clinton supporters don't care about Obama's vice presidential pick, or that he is pro-choice; if they have no interest in learning about his personal story, and can't empathize with his white, working-class grandparents and his single white mother; why on earth would they be swayed by his assurances that he won't leave them behind? What Ferraro is essentially saying is nothing can change their minds.
What many, but not all, of those white, working-class voters have said or implied, is that they can't relate to a black man, period. I find it hard to believe that they would relate better to a less educated, poorer black man, much less vote for one.
And how is it that these same voters can relate to a candidate who went to Yale and Wellesley, who, with her Ivy-League-degree-having-husband earned $109 million last year? Surely her race has nothing to do with it.
Ferraro says these voters are not stupid. Indeed they're not. Yet she attempts to patronize them by implying they can't relate to well-educated people. Do they relate better to liars?
As for Michelle Obama and her dual-Ivy League-degree-having self, she has more in common with the white working-class than Clinton. Unlike Clinton, Michelle Obama doesn't have to pretend to be a product of a working-class upbringing. She actually is.
Despite Clinton's photo ops on the back of pick-up trucks and swigging beer with "regular people" in bars, her only working-class experience is the one in her imagination, the same imagination that led her to claim she dodged sniper fire in Bosnia.
Sen. Obama may have had an atypical upbringing, but it was far less privileged than Clinton's.
To be sure, there's nothing wrong with wealth and privilege, after all most Americans aspire to financial well-being. There is something very wrong with trying to paint people who have worked hard for their achievements as elitist and out of touch. What's elitist is feeling entitled to the presidency and looking down on those who would deign to challenge what you see as your birthright.
What I'm wondering is how Ferraro explains the millions of white voters who have lined up behind Obama's candidacy. How is it that they can somehow "relate" to him and are not bumping up against the same mental barriers as the people who flocked to Ferraro to express their "common sentiment." The same people Ferraro purports to speak for and represent?
"It's not racism that is driving them, it's racial resentment," she says.
I'd like to know the difference. Racism is racism no matter how Ferraro tries to parse it. Feeling resentment against a candidate who happens to belong to a particular race (and ignoring the fact that he is biracial) not because you disagree with his policy positions but because you suspect he has a secret racial agenda, is in fact racist. That Ferraro consistently and solely views Obama through the prism of race is racist. She has not publicly taken issue with any of his positions on health care, the war in Iraq, global warming or the economy, but came straight out of the box, from day one, attacking him as an overrated black male unworthy of the nomination. Racist is as racist does.
Ferraro had ample opportunity to cite examples of Obama's race-baiting; she listed none. Let's consider Clinton's artful use of the phrase "hard-working white Americans" and her repeated statements about being the only person who can win over white voters. Let's consider how many times Clinton and her proxies, Ferraro among them, bring up race to remind voters that Yoo hoo, don't forget Obama is a black man.
It's so transparent; it's almost laughable.
Ferraro has a right to her opinions but her drumbeat of nonsense should not go unchallenged. If race were not a factor in this election, she would not be harping on it every chance she gets. At least voters in Indiana, Pennsylvania, Kentucky and elsewhere who felt comfortable saying on television that they could not, and would not, vote for a black man, were being honest. Ferraro's comments, on the other hand, speak volumes about the depth of her intellectual dishonesty.
What's ironic is that Ferraro, who has accused reporters in general, and black reporters in particular, of reportorial dishonesty and bias in favor of Obama, supports calls for a study by Harvard University's Joan Shorenstein's Center on Press, Politics and Public Policy to determine, among other things, "whether the media treated Clinton fairly or unfairly." A study was recently done answering that very question.
The day before Ferraro's piece appeared in the Globe, the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism and the Joan Shorenstein Center on Press, Politics and Public Policy at Harvard University, both respected nonpartisan research organizations, issued a new study of primary news coverage showing that: "Democrat Barack Obama has not enjoyed a better ride in the press than rival Hillary Clinton."
According to the study, "From January 1, just before the Iowa caucuses, through March 9, following the Texas and Ohio contests, the height of the primary season, the dominant personal narratives in the media about Obama and Clinton were almost identical in tone, and were both twice as positive as negative."
The study "examined the coverage of the candidates' character, history, leadership and appeal—apart from the electoral results and the tactics of their campaigns."
It also found that "The trajectory of the coverage, however, began to turn against Obama, and did so well before questions surfaced about his pastor, Jeremiah Wright. Shortly after Clinton criticized the media for being soft on Obama during a debate, the narrative about him began to turn more skeptical—and indeed became more negative than the coverage of Clinton herself. What's more, an additional analysis of more general campaign topics suggests the Obama narrative became even more negative later in March, April and May."
So there we have it. Maybe it's time for Geraldine Ferraro to exit the stage. Her one-act play has grown stale and her baseless allegations are tiresome.