Speaking to the California Daily Breeze, Geraldine Ferraro, the Democratic vice presidential candidate in 1984 and a feminist trailblazer, said Barack Obama's success is dependent on what she seems to understand as the novelty of his racial identity:
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.
Sigh. Just another example of a Clinton supporter failing to accept that electing the nation's first African American president would be a historical and healing event, just as electing its first female president would be. I first noticed this trend in June 2007, when I attended a Clinton fundraiser targeting young women. At the D.C. event, Ellen Malcolm of EMILY'S List said, "Did you watch the debate? There is a stage full of all these white men in their power suits and ties, and standing in the middle is the power of Hillary Clinton!" Malcolm seemed not to have looked closely enough at her TV screen to see Obama -- either that or she was intent on denying the history-making power of his own run.
Do these types of comments reflect a conscious message of the Clinton campaign, or simply a blind spot from which many of the people affiliated with her suffer? It's difficult to tell, but Clinton herself has, on several occasions, spoken of her pride in being part of a Democratic field that looked different than any presidential campaign ever had before, as has Obama. She's been reluctant, of course, to speak directly about what it would mean for the United States to elect its first black president, just as Obama is mum on women's leadership as such.
Update: On Ferraro's comments, Howard Wolfson tells Ben Smith, "We disagree with her."