Geraldine Ferraro, a pioneer and trailblazer in American history, has done more to ruin a sterling reputation in the past few days than anybody but Eliot Spitzer. By claiming, I think falsely, that Obama would not be where he is if he were white or a woman, I think she totally overlooks the impact of his charisma, eloquence, demeanor, message, use of the Internet, focus on caucus states, and his refusal to take special interest money as factors in his sudden rise. She betrays a stunning inability to look more than skin deep for reasons for his success.
But this begs the real question: Ferraro is no racist. Her entire career speaks to the contrary. So why is she now so unable to peer into the deeper reasons for Obama’s success and stopping at skin level?
The blunt fact is that Geraldine Ferraro would not make a statement like this one without at least the tacit knowledge and acquiescence of the Clintons and their campaign. Ferraro is an old pro and would know enough not to shoot off her mouth without making it part of a carefully conceived strategy to discredit Obama based on race.
As such, her comments need to be seen as a piece with the attacks on Obama’s minister and his endorsement by Farrakhan. With Hillary now almost totally dependent on older voters, the race card may be the only way to produce the kinds of margins she needs in the future primaries to offset Obama’s large and widening lead among elected delegates.
The fact is that Obama cannot and should not be held accountable for the ranting and raving of his minister, unless he fails to disavow these remarks. He has done all he needs to do in distancing himself from the likes of Farrakhan. And is success is due to his imaginative use of the political process to achieve what he has earned.
Obama out-organized Hillary by focusing on the small caucus states in February, by which time Hillary confidently expected the race to be over.
Obama out-messaged Hillary by refusing special interest PAC or lobbyist money, giving him a way to paint Hillary as the candidate of the Washington establishment.
Obama out-fund raised Hillary by understanding the potential of the Internet to raise quick and clean money and to permit reloading quickly.
Obama out-positioned Hillary by using her claim to experience (faux as it was) to paint her as just another cycle in the oscillation between Bushes and Clintons which has dominated our politics for two decades now.
Obama out-spoke Hillary by showing and eloquence and elegance that she cannot hope to match.
Obama out-targeted Hillary by focusing on young voters and grasping the amazing insight that in an election with a black and a woman, that age would be the decisive variable.
And now Hillary is trying, through her surrogate Ferraro, to make it appear that all Obama had to do was show up, show some skin and win.
Even for the Clintons, this is a new low.