“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. And the country is caught up in the concept.” Geraldine Ferraro.
Ms. Ferraro made this statement a week ago and it has caused a firestorm surrounding the Democratic Presidential primaries. Although there are obvious racial overtones to the statement, there has been mild vilification of Ferraro’s comments from Hillary Clinton and other leaders of the Democratic Party establishment. There is however more focus in the media on Barak Obama’s affiliation with his spiritual mentor and the retired pastor of his church, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, than on Ferraro’s comments. Why? 1… because deep down those in the Democratic Party leadership and the media knows what she said was true. 2… this whole affair was a strategic move by the Clinton team to introduce the issue of “race” into campaign in such a way, that it could be utilized for their own benefit.
There is a lot of things that can be said in regards to what the Democratic Party Presidential primary process is all about, but one thing it’s not is democratic! The whole institution of the Super Delegates was created by the Party, to prevent those possible contenders who are populists (or who like Obama campaign on a populist platform), from obtain the nomination (see here for details). Ferraro intention was not to make a “racist” comment as such, but a calculated, strategic move (by the Clinton campaign) to explain (complain) why the populist sounding Obama was still in contention. The truth is if he was white, “he would not be in this position” to win the Democratic Presidential nomination because the Party establishment would have shut him down long ago! (I am not too sure about her view that if he was a Black “female” candidate who was doing just as well, that “he would not be in this position”. Hillary and the Democratic Party establishment would then have to contend with both race and gender, a much taller order to try to defeat. But I digress).
The fact is Hillary was promised the nomination. She was groomed to be the 2008 Democratic Presidential candidate. The Party and her campaign team felt that the nomination would be locked up by February 5th, “Super Tuesday”… and stated as much. Then came along this Black junior senator from Illinois. They thought he was going to be a novelty at most… but good for the image of the Democratic Party. They saw him as no threat to the established order of things. However with superior strategy, an understanding of the mood of the people, electrifying charisma and inspirational oratory skills, this Black man became “a fly in their ointment!” The problem became… as he started winning more delegates, more states, and more of the popular vote than the “back room” ordained candidate… how could the Democratic Party establishment i.e., through the Super Delegates, do what they were created to do: prevent him from securing the Presidential nomination without seeming to be disenfranchising a Black man!
This problem was also compounded by the growing reality that not only has this Black junior senator upstart run a superior campaign to Hillary Clinton’s… but most, if not all the polls are declaring that he would be more likely to win against McCain. He has also proven that he is capable to be President and probably a better President than Clinton. The most important job of the President on the domestic front is to have the ability and political capital to bring together a consensus and/or agreement among the two political parties to get legislation passed… especially if your Party does not hold a majority in either the House or the Senate. On the international front, the President needs to let America’s allies and enemies know that he/she will do whatever it takes to protect American interests (primarily economic interests) abroad. The fact of the matter is regardless of Obama’s populist rhetoric, if you dig deeper into his political history while in Washington and his policy platforms, he is very much an establishment candidate who will not upset the status quo at home and will protect American international interests. His appeal transcends party lines and he has shown the ability to surround himself with competent advisors. Here are a couple of articles from The Black Agenda Report which provides a different insight and discussion on Barack Obama: 1 and 2.
So the Democratic Party establishment and the Clinton campaign are caught in a quandary. Everything they have tried to resolve this issue, so it doesn’t have to get settled by the Super Delegates at the Democratic convention hasn’t worked. So far they haven’t been able to stop his momentum and he has brushed aside their “not so veiled” offers to be her running mate as the Vice Presidential candidate. So the next phase of attack was to discredit his personal integrity and judgment. The plan they came up with was ingenious. They would use the issue of “race” to bait him… and who better to do it than the first female Vice Presidential Democratic candidate.
So Geraldine Ferraro was utilized by the Clinton campaign to make the above comments knowing that one, she would “touch a nerve” within the Party establishment (which she is a part of as a Super Delegate) and remind them of their commitment to Hillary… while knowing that it was very likely she would not take too much heat from the media because she is a “white woman”… plus they understand what she really meant by her comments . But the real genius of the plan was this… they could now “indirectly” introduce the issue of race into the contest to their benefit.
There is one thing that the Democratic establishment knows they can depend on: the reaction of African-American community to comments with racial overtones. They know their “negroes”. They have been studied, researched and most importantly conditioned by the Party. By having Ferraro make the above comments, they knew the African-American community could be triggered into claiming that it was now a racist issue! This allowed them to “flip the script” and once again bring up the issue of Obama’s Church and Pastor! Suddenly the airwaves became continuously filled, not with probing the history of the racially based views or behaviour of Ferraro, or others associated with Hillary Clinton, but instead with excerpts and images of Rev. Wright’s preaching apparently hate-filled, racist diatribes and racially based comments against Hillary Clinton… in church! Ferraro made the initial racial comments… but it is Obama who is on the “hot seat” and made to answer for his relationship, with whom the media is portraying as a racist Minister… “a christian Louis Farrakhan!”
So for the time being they have Obama on the defensive. They have him doing the one thing which he claims separated him from other politicians… playing politics. He has denounced his so-called “uncle who says things you don’t agree with” and dropped Rev. Wright from his campaign advisory team. Obama also claims that he didn’t know the good Reverend held these views and had never heard him state these beliefs in public (at church) or in private. I highly doubt that.
I can only hope that no photos, videos or “unnamed sources” surface to contradict these claims. I truly hope that there are no photos of him attending the “Million Man March” in 1995. It would be spun by the Clinton campaign and the media to deliver a severe blow to his credibility and judgment. The Clinton campaign have already been successful in planting the seed in the minds of the American public, that Obama says one thing in public but another in private (in this case to the Canadian government), in regards to the NAFTA controversy. Interestingly enough, according to this article by a Canadian news source, it was the Clinton campaign that had been in touch with the Canadian government to reassure them not to take their NAFTA campaign rhetoric seriously… but somehow this all got attributed to Obama. Damn… these people are good!
W.E.B. Du Bois wrote in The Souls of Black Folk, “for the problem of the Twentieth Century is the problem of the color line“. This is the same problem for the Twenty-First Century in America which will be played out for all to clearly see in the coming days during this Democratic Presidential primary process and into the general election campaign if Obama secures the nomination.