Geraldine Ferraro

 

 

“The strategy is to continue to chaos in this party.  Look, there is a reason for this.  Our side is not going to do this.  Obama needs to be bloodied up.  Look, half the country already hates Hillary.  That is good.  But nobody hates Obama yet.  Hillary is going to be the one to have to bloody him up politically, because our side isn‘t going to do it.  Mark my words.  It‘s about winning, folks.” – Rush Limbaugh’s March 3rd Radio Show On “Why We Want to Keep Hillary Alive" 

 
 

Their names are not Hannity, Coulter, or O’Reilly, and their differences are as wide as the Grand Canyon. Their past public service is proof of that. But in the end those facts may just be semantics. Senator Clinton’s campaign missteps and verbal alignment with John McCain are easily explainable: "personal-ambition-gone-wild". But what about everyone else? An inexplicable failure “to see the big picture” has made past 70-something pioneers such as Ralph Nader, Gloria Steinem, and Geraldine Ferraro as leading candidates to help another 70-something year old becomes the next President of the United States.

 

 

Ralph Nader and The Meaning of "Less Evil": Is it possible to wipe out the positives of 40 tremendous years of public service to America with one tragic decision. Yes, and then some. For those bad at math, Ralph Nader gained nearly 100,000 votes in the Florida 2000 election while Al Gore lost by 537. Nader is still one of America’s fiercest critics against the war in Iraq, yet more than any American not named George W. Bush, he could have prevented that war. He is correct that Gore slipped on 20 banana peels, but Nader clearly ensured his fall by refusing to drop out of the race. During his campaign Nader justified his candidacy by saying “the lesser of two evils is still evil”. In 2008, “less evil” now has a quantifiable price tag:  About 4000 dead American soldiers; another 30,000 wounded; over 80,000 dead Iraqi civilians; close to one TRILLION dollars that suck the life out of our domestic budget; and exponentially more terrorists who wish America harm. Details, details. Nader teaches a very painful and valuable lesson in the political “idealism” vs. “pragmatism” debate. He proves that standing by principle merely for its own sake is no principle at all. It means nothing to say you stood on the side of right, if it meant aiding and abetting the side of wrong. What did Nader learn from his past "idealism-gone-wild"?  In February, he announced that he will once again run for President of the United States…

Gloria Steinem and "Either/Or" Propositions: By the 1970’s, Gloria Steinem became the public face of the feminist movement. She has done more to promote equal rights in America than 99.99% of other Americans could ever dream. Unlike Nader’s big decision, one little New York Times article should have absolutely no bearing on such a legacy. Having stated that, what January’s “Women are Never Front-Runners” did was intellectually legitimize the idea that “the gender barrier” is more politically restrictive than “the racial barrier”. Amongst other items that sparked debate, what was glaring about the article were its obvious omissions. Steinem never mentioned that there have been: only three elected African-American Senators and only two elected African-American Governors since Reconstruction; or that there are currently 24 women Senators and Governors alone in 2008. Other omissions, and the dangers of “either/or feminism” are explained by Kimberle Crenshaw and Eve Ensler in “Feminist Ultimatums”:

“Armed with indignant exasperation, this “either/or” camp converts the undeniable misogyny of the media into an imperative to vote for Clinton. …the “either/or” feminists nonetheless remind us that the Black (man) got the vote before the (white) woman, that gender barriers are more rigid than racial barriers, that sexism is everywhere and racism is not, that a female Obama wouldn’t get nearly as far as a Barack Obama, and that a woman’s vote for Clinton is scrutinized while a male vote for Obama is not….Never mind of course that real suffrage for African Americans wasn’t realized until the 1960s, that there are any number of advantages that white women have in business, politics and culture that people of color do not; that all around the world women’s route to political leadership is through family dynasty which is virtually closed to marginalized groups, and that the double standard of stigmatizing Obama’s Black voters as racially motivated while whitewashing Clinton’s white voters as "just voters" constitutes the exact same double standard that the "either/or feminists" bemoan. The "either/or" crowd surprisingly claims that the two Democratic candidates are more alike than different, yet those who gravitate to Obama find their motives questioned and their loyalties on trial.”
 
In Steinem’s Times article she correctly writes: “That’s why Senators Clinton and Obama have to be careful not to let a healthy debate turn into the kind of hostility that the news media love. Both will need a coalition of outsiders to win a general election. The abolition and suffrage movements progressed when united and were damaged by division; we should remember that.” Yes, we should remember that. Yet while calling for unity, most of Steinem’s article actually promoted race-gender divisions and gave academic credence to an absurd notion, one that may have helped produce the Frankenstein that soon became Geraldine Ferraro.
 
 

Geraldine Ferraro’s Sour White Grapes: In terms of public service, Geraldine Ferraro is not quite Nader or Steinem. As the first and only woman vice presidential candidate, any pioneer status is more symbolic in nature. And last week the former Congresswoman rightfully came under fire when she stated: 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." We have already covered why her own VP appointment is an irrelevant analogy. What was not covered was her talk show circuit tantrum the next day in which she went on and on how offended SHE was: "Any time anybody does anything that in any way pulls this campaign down and says let’s address reality and the problems we’re facing in this world, you’re accused of being racist, so you have to shut up… I really think they’re attacking me because I’m white. How’s that?"

Doing just about everything but actually saying "abracadabra", Ferraro successfully "flipped-the-script" in making herself the victim instead of the perpetrator. In almost O’Reillyesque fashion, it was now Ferraro who was now being attacked because of HER skin color, not because of her ludicrous statement. It was no longer about her very own specific words that came out of her own specific mouth, but rather "ANYTIME" that "ANYBODY" that does "ANYTHING" in "ANY" way… Her language and outraged tone were very clear: she was now speaking on behalf of ALL white people who were ever falsely called "the R-word" at ANY time. In doing so, there was no discussion on the "A-word" as in the "ABSURD" original statement — or "patently absurd" as Obama qualified.  While Ferraro immediately changed the subject, no one asked her why Kweisi Mfume wasn’t so "lucky" when running in the primary for the Maryland Senate race in 2006… Or why Michael Steele wasn’t so lucky in that same race’s general election… Or whether Harold Ford was "lucky" in his own Senate bid that same year… No one gave her historical data on African-American Senators or Governors and asked her to explain the foundation of her statement juxtaposed to any actual reality? And no one asked her why she made almost the exact same statement 20 years earlier about Jesse Jackson’s candidacy?

 

Without hearing any reasonable explanation from Ferraro, we are left to seek out our own. One is the "Hillary-Sacrificial-Lamb" theory that intentionally creates more racial divide to further Ms. Clinton’s campaign. While plausible, this theory has doubts as Ferraro’s level of righteous indignation seemed all too sincere. Then there is the "white-privilege-gone-wild" theory which is expressed well by "Resist Racism" (hat tip to Racialicious): …"White privilege is the sour grape ability to believe that if a person of color earned anything you perceive to be rightfully yours, it must have been because of their color."… Her remarks, her talk show dance, and her 1988 Jesse Jackson replay all support this theory. And "sour grapes" was an interesting choice of words as it is most probably a combination of "white-privilege-gone-wild" AND "sour-grapes-gone-wild" at work. A closer look at Ferraro’s own political career shows that when she ran for statewide Senate seats in both 1992 and 1998, she lost in both primaries. Given her past VP star status and razor thin loss to Robert Abrams in 1992, it is quite reasonable to believe that she would have easily won "if she were a white man". Perhaps Barack Obama’s might  also be paying for those losses. And if anyone is unsure about that, Ferraro boldly stated, if not threatened: "If Barak Obama is the candidate, he really shouldn’t antagonize people like me".

 

 

Conclusion: Although that last Ferraro statement flew under the media-dust-up-radar, it was probably the most egregious of all her words. It reminded us all that in 2008 that if Barack Obama becomes the Democratic nominee, that sabotage can come from virtually any direction — none of who are named Karl Rove. Absolutist thinking that rigidly pits idealism vs. disloyalty; sexism vs. racism; or personal vs. political will ultimately elect John McCain as our next President. …Don’t worry Mr. Limbaugh, we got the memo.