3/13/08 Phila. Daily News 6
Before she made history in 1984 as the first woman to run on a
national ticket, Geraldine Ferraro was Archie Bunker's
Yes, yes, TV's "All in the Family" politically incorrect
patriarch from the 1970s was fictional. But his character lived in
the 9th Congressional District of Queens, a blue-collar,
middle-class bastion that is the spitting image of time-worn
Pennsylvania burgs where Sen. Hillary Clinton hopes to rack up votes
a generation later.
"Let me tell you something about this neighborhood," a Queens bar
patron told the Associated Press back when Ferraro was Democrat
Walter Mondale's running mate. "It's like an Archie Bunker
neighborhood here. Really conservative . . ." The man reportedly
dropped to a whisper. "If Archie were real and he lived here, he'd
be the mayor."
Well, it may be on the level of whisper now, but you have to
wonder if the Clinton campaign is pushing "an Archie Bunker
strategy" for whipping up those white, ethnic, middle-class enclaves
here on April 22 - with foot soldiers like Ferraro, wittingly or
not, on the front lines.
Ferraro resigned as a member of Clinton's finance
committee last night, but only after leaving an indelible new mark
on a campaign against Sen. Barack Obama that is already
blotted by racial and gender identity warfare.
Echoing earlier remarks, including some in the Daily News last
month, Ferraro told a California newspaper this week: "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."
When confronted on the original quote, she came back with:
"Racism works in two different directions. I really think they're
attacking me because I'm white. How's that?"
How's that, indeed? As for candidate Clinton, her initial
reaction, while calling the comments "regrettable," was surprisingly
low-key - especially in a year when other candidates have been
called on to "reject and denounce" supporters who are way off the
But for the Clinton campaign, such a move against Ferraro would
amount to rejecting and denouncing the mirror image of its core
supporter: White, female, ethnic, over 60 (Ferraro is 72), Catholic,
urban, associated with big-time labor unions.
And it's fitting this idealized backer would be "Archie Bunker's
congresswoman," since just a few days ago Bloomberg News asked
publicly whether Obama has "an Archie Bunker problem" with the 2008
electorate - losing badly in white urban neighborhoods. The news
service quoted some voters were openly skeptical of a black
presidential candidate. The NBC News exit poll in Ohio - a state
with similar demographics to Pennsylvania - found one-in-five
Democrats saying race was a factor in their vote, and 80 percent of
those backed Clinton.
And so Ferraro's comments came after Clinton herself told CBS'
"60 Minutes" that Obama is not a Muslim "as far as I know," after
her husband said Clinton's South Carolina loss didn't matter because
Jesse Jackson had won there, and after the paternalistic-sounding
complaint that Obama is "not ready" to be commander-in-chief. Does
that sound like "an Archie Bunker strategy"?
Perhaps. But now she'll have to execute it without Archie
Bunker's congresswoman. *
To comment on this article or read Will Bunch's other political
coverage, visit his blog, Attytood.com.