Former vice presidential candidate Geraldine Ferraro this week resigned from her unpaid job in Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, but said she wasn’t sorry for saying that Barack Obama’s success can largely be attributed to the fact that he is black. Clinton repudiated Ferraro’s earlier statement that Obama was “lucky to be who he is” because the country was captivated by the idea of electing the first black president. Obama said Ferraro’s comments were “wrong-headed.” Ferraro accused the Obama campaign of twisting her words. “Am I sorry? No, no, no,” she said. “I am sorry there are people who think I am racist.”(The New York Times, free registration)
What the commentators said
How hard is it to simply say you’re sorry? said The Seattle Times in an editorial. Ferraro “needlessly injected a racial component into the campaign,” even though Obama has avoided making race an issue. “Ferraro should stop talking about how much it hurts that people view her as a racist—she is not—and apologize for an ill-considered comment.”
Ferraro has no reason to be sorry, said Investor’s Business Daily in an editorial. All she did was “point to an obvious fact: Obama's race does work in his favor. It's essential to his self-portrait as a man who could heal America's divisions, racial and otherwise.” Obama might “resent any hint that he had it easier than a white man in his position,” but he can blame the Democratic party’s history of pushing racial preferences if he unfairly feels the sting of the “affirmative-action stigma.”
Obama himself has acknowledged that race is a “key part of his political persona,” said The Arizona Republic in an editorial (free registration). But Ferraro is “using race to kneecap the Black candidate” with an attitude expressed so many times now by the Clinton camp that “it cannot be accidental. In their universe, Obama is an apparition, devoid of substance, elevated well beyond his abilities by the novelty of race. He is, as Ferraro says, ‘lucky to be who he is.’” And that’s “Clinton’s big lie,” because if “the happy good fortune” of a dark complexion were enough to “make a candidate formidable,” Obama wouldn’t be the “only Black man to be a viable contender for the White House.”
Tone down the outrage, said Paul Mirengoff in the Power Line blog, and you’ll see that Ferraro’s comments were “true at several levels.” It is undeniable that “if Obama were white, he would not be capturing 80 to 90 percent of the African-American vote in Democratic primaries against a candidate towards whom African-Americans previously were quite well disposed. And without that general level of black support, Obama would be winning many fewer delegates.” Sorry, but those are the facts.