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Remembering When Barack Obama Called Geraldine Ferraro A Racist

Geraldine Ferraro died over the weekend, sending the Beachwood news desk into the archives for its coverage of the time when the Obama campaign called her - among many others - a racist. Curiously, Obama later named this so-called racist as America's ambassador to the United Nation's Human Rights Commission, a move less boggling, however, than naming his biggest alleged racist Secretary of State. Maybe Sean Wilentz was right.

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March 19, 2008:

"It was a great speech." writes Lynn Sweet. "And it would have been greater if it were not delivered because Obama was in a jam. But the enduring truths of Obama's words are important to acknowledge even if they may not provide him with the political cover he desperately needs at this time. His speech, magnificent as it is, offered moral guidance that may influence one's conscience but not one's vote . . .

"Obama was forced to give this defining speech because selections of Wright's sermons - the poisonous parts - burst out in the open a few days ago, and the videos don't lie.

"Obama is lucky they did not surface earlier. He decided now is not the time to run from Wright, a man he considers family. As charitable as he was toward Wright, he had found no mercy for Geraldine Ferraro, the Clinton supporter and former vice presidential candidate whose ill-chosen racial references were seized on by Obama's campaign and whipped up into a frenzy until she was forced to exit Clinton's campaign, her own legacy ruined.

"Obama also raised more doubts. He admitted in his speech that he heard some of Wright's fiery rhetoric. 'Did I know him to be an occasionally fierce critic of American domestic and foreign policy? Of course. Did I ever hear him make remarks that could be considered controversial while I sat in the church? Yes.'

"Obama said something different on Friday, when he met with the Chicago Sun-Times. 'I'll be honest with you. I wasn't in church when any of those sermons were issued.' He went on to say, referring to Wright, 'I had not heard him make such, what I consider to be objectionable remarks from the pulpit.'"

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"[A]s powerful as his words were, there was more he could have said but didn't," writes Carol Marin. "It was about Geraldine Ferraro. Just as Sen. Obama spoke about the decency and complexity of his incendiary pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, in the wake of the firestorm Wright has provoked, surely he knows the same is true of Ms. Ferraro, whom Obama coolly acknowledged but only in very spare terms . . .

"At the Sun-Times last Friday, at the height of the Wright controversy, the senator said he was not in the pews of Chicago's Trinity Church when his pastor issued some of his more vitriolic sermons. Obama flatly stated, 'I'll be honest with you. I wasn't in church when any of those sermons were issued.'

"But Tuesday, the senator in his speech said something different. 'Did I know him to be an occasionally fierce critic of American domestic and foreign policy? Of course. Did I ever hear him make remarks that could be considered controversial while I sat in church? Yes.'

"OK, which is it?"

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Jan 12, 2010:

Mary Mitchell now: "Reid is under attack for saying privately in 2008 that then-Sen. Barack Obama would be a successful black presidential candidate because of his 'light-skinned' appearance and because he doesn't speak with a 'Negro dialect unless he wanted to have one.' Frankly, a lot of African Americans must have yawned."

Mary Mitchell then: "Geraldine Ferraro still doesn't get it. On Wednesday, Ferraro was forced to resign from Sen. Hillary Clinton's finance committee after remarks she made about Sen. Barack Obama were widely interpreted as being racist. Here's what Ferraro said:

"'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.'"

Mitchell is right when she says that talking about race is not the same as racist talk. It's just too bad she and her fellow Obamaphiles conveniently forgot that during the 2008 primaries. Crocodile tears are being cried on both sides of the political aisle.

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Present Day:

"President Barack Obama also described Ferraro as 'a trailblazer who broke down barriers for women, and Americans of all backgrounds and walks of life.'

"'Whether it was as a public school teacher, assistant district attorney, member of Congress or candidate for vice president, Geraldine fought to uphold America's founding ideals of equality, justice, and opportunity for all,' Obama said in a statement.

"'And as our ambassador to the U.N. Human Rights Commission, she stood up for those ideals around the world. Sasha and Malia will grow up in a more equal America because of the life Geraldine Ferraro chose to live,' Obama added, referring to his two daughters."

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And let's not forget these links also found in previous Beachwood coverage:

* From Ferraro to Palin: Sexism in Media Coverage of Vice Presidential Candidates By Caroline Heldman, Occidental College.

"We find persistent gender differences in mention of dress/appearance, mention of candidate family, gendered policy coverage, and negative tone that disadvantage female candidates. Additionally, female candidates are four times more likely to receive sexist media coverage, and the intensity and volume of sexist coverage increased dramatically from Ferraro's run in 1984 to Palin's run in 2008. We also compared Palin's coverage in Old Media (print) and New Media (blogs) and found that sexist coverage and negative coverage are more pronounced in this new medium."

* Geraldine Ferraro Accuses Media Over 'Sexist' Scrutiny of Sarah Palin

"Ms Ferraro remains angry at the 'sexist treatment' of Mrs Clinton by the media. 'In New Hampshire, someone put up a sign saying Iron My Shirt. Nobody spoke out. Imagine if Hillary's supporters had said [to Obama] Shine my shoes. Everybody would quite rightly have been jumping on it. Women in politics should not be treated better than men, just fairly.'"

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Comments welcome.



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Posted on March 28, 2011


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