Joan Walsh writes a good column on Geraldine Ferraro, but I don't understand the following section. Walsh begins by claiming Ferraro's comments on Obama were indefensible. Then inexplicably marshals a defense:
In her 2009 interview with Traister for "Big Girls Don't Cry," she softened -- a little. "I got tied in by the Obama campaign on being racist, which I probably will go to my grave with and will never get over," she said, with sad prescience. "And I wasn't, obviously. What I said was not racist. If Hillary had drawn black women the way she drew other women, she would have won. Black women had two choices, race or gender. They went with race. As a mother, if I were a black woman, would I rather have my kids see a black get elected president of the United States? I would, quite frankly. I didn't think there was anything wrong with that. So when this [reporter] said to me, 'What do you think is going on, I said, 'It's black voters.'" She went on: "So when I heard this stupid-assed comment by [David Axelrod] who knew me, because I had supported [African American state controller] Carl McCall when he ran for governor ... to call me a racist ... I was like a lunatic."As I noted last year when I reviewed David Remnick's great Obama bio, "The Bridge," while Ferraro was pilloried for suggesting Obama's race was a political advantage, inside his campaign, some advisors believed the same thing. Mona Sutphen told Remnick many in the campaign also thought race was helping Obama more than it was hurting. "He is the embodiment of American diversity. In the end, that played really well for him," Sutphen explained.Remnick observed that where before the election, campaign pollsters feared a "Bradley effect" -- when whites tell pollsters they'll vote for the black candidate, but don't -- but afterward they discussed a "Palmer effect" or a "Huxtable effect" - the possibility that popular black TV characters like "24's" David Palmer and the whole "Cosby Show" made Obama's race less a disadvantage than an asset for many voters. That's just a long-winded, ruminative set of ways to suggest something like what Ferraro claimed. But putting it in her white ethnic Queens vernacular - "He happens to be very lucky to be where he is" -- gave it the tone of white grievance that made it objectionable. She was right; she sounded "like a lunatic."
If Jesse Jackson were not black, he wouldn't be in the race.
If Obama was a white man, he would not be in this position. And if he was a woman of color, he would not be in this position. He happens to be very lucky to be who he is.
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. 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.
The power of disappointing them, it was true, must always be hers. But that was not enough: for when people are determined on a mode of conduct which they know to be wrong, they feel injured by the expectation of anything better from them.
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