2008 Presidential Election, Race and Racism
Professor Vernellia Randall
Speaking Truth to Power!

Ferraro puts her foot in her mouth


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Jenice Armstrong
3/13/08 Phila. Daily News 35


THIS IS a classic case of Geraldine's Ferraro 's having stuck her sensible-heeled pump in her mouth.

I'm referring to her outrageous accusation that the only reason that Sen. Barack Obama is a front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination is his race. "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," she told the Daily Breeze of Torrance, Calif. "He happens to be very lucky to be who he is. And the country is caught up in the concept."

It's disappointing that Ferraro, of all people, would even think of making such a claim. As the first woman to share a major-party presidential ticket, this grande dame of Democratic politics knows good and well that what's happening with today's race for the nomination isn't strictly a case of women vs. African-Americans or vice-versa. Obama has racked up the delegate count that he has at the moment not because of his racial background but in spite of it.

Obama's ahead in the race for the Democratic nomination because he has tapped into a desire on the part of the American people for change - not because of the amount of melanin in his skin. Although some of his supporters would like to make history by seeing the first African-American in the Oval Office, the overwhelming majority of his support has come from voters who believe in his message and his vision for the country.

Ferraro's racially inflammatory remarks completely ignore the passion Obama is igniting in the electorate and came off as mean-spirited and petty. Had they been uttered by someone other than a die-hard Democrat such as Ferraro, you could ignore it as the usual political spouting off. But this is Ferraro, who ran with Walter Mondale and who is raising the proverbial race card this time around. She's the grandmother of the movement that helped open the country's eyes to the fact that the White House could be something other than a white-men-only club. Ferraro helped pave the way for someone of Obama's racial heritage to be considered a viable contender.

And now, she's going to turn around and attempt to tear Obama down by insinuating that he's where he is solely because of his skin color? If being a member of a racial minority is an automatic pass to political power, then why haven't more non-white political candidates been successful?

Ferraro has played this game before. She made similar inflammatory remarks in 1988 about Jesse Jackson. The Washington Post quoted her as having said, "If Jesse Jackson were not black, he wouldn't be in the race." And, now, here we are, 20 years later, and she's dredging up the same old tactic. Where's the wisdom that supposedly comes with age, Geraldine?

"It shouldn't be about race. It shouldn't be about gender. It should be about the Democrats finding a way to win the White House," said Yvette Lee Bowser, a Philly native and a Hollywood mogul who has taken time off from her work to help the Obama campaign. "Barack Obama has brought people of all backgrounds to the political process, and that should be celebrated. They are using the politics of divisiveness. It's very frustrating. Stick to the issues.

"They are creating non-troversies to try to keep the Obama camp off message," added Bowser, whose resume includes such hit shows as "Living Single" and "Half & Half."

To her credit, Sen. Hillary Clinton immediately distanced herself from Ferraro's comments. And as of yesterday, CNN was reporting that Ferraro had resigned with a letter saying in part, that "The Obama campaign is attacking me to hurt you," which is laughable. But at least it puts an end to this latest non-troversy. *

Have you peeped a hot trend that hasn't been reported? E-mail heyjen@phillynews.com and let me know what you know.


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