Friday, March 14, 2008

Geraldine Ferraro and Hillary Clinton

Geraldine Ferraro made some comments about Barack Obama that offended some folks, including Keith Olbermann.

Here is Ferraro defending her comments on CBS. She is pretty convinced that she has done nothing wrong. But later in the day she resigned her honorary post in the Clinton campaign.

Here are Olbermann's comments, which are pretty strident, but then, that's what he is known for now.

And, surprisingly, Clinton has apologized for the comments and the uproar created by Ferraro. Maybe it's not so surprising -- Clinton can't afford any negative press.

Here are some of Clinton's comments:

Earlier in the day, Hillary Clinton supporter and fundraiser Geraldine Ferraro gave up her honorary position with Clinton's campaign after she said in an interview last week that Obama would not have made it this far if he were white. Obama said Ferraro's remarks were "ridiculous" and "wrong-headed."

Of Ferraro's comment, Hillary Clinton told her audience: "I certainly do repudiate it and I regret deeply that it was said. Obviously she doesn't speak for the campaign, she doesn't speak for any of my positions, and she has resigned from being a member of my very large finance committee."

As first lady and senator, Clinton rarely cedes an inch to her critics. On the issue of her vote to authorize the Iraq war, for instance, she steadfastly has refused to apologize, coming close by saying she regrets it, despite calls from many anti-war voters in the party to make a more explicit mea culpa.

So, what do you think? Was Ferraro out of line for suggesting that part of Obama's appeal is that he is a black candidate with a serious shot at the White House? Furthermore, why not also contend that Hillary would not be where she is if she were not a woman? Would a male candidate with her views (and personality) have made it this far?

In my view, it's unfortunate that any discussion of race and gender is off-limits. We can never change the embedded prejudices in this country if we cannot openly discuss them. Maybe Ferraro went about it all wrong, but she raised a real premise that may be a partial truth.

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