Some comments have arisen regarding my reference to Geraldine Ferraro in the previous thread. Yes, I understand that she and Mondale teamed up to lose 49 states,
really, why the hell is anyone mentioning her positively? so we should applaud her service to the Democratic cause, but let’s remember what this real civil rights icon stood for so we can evaluate her record fairly. Here is how she got elected to Congress in the first place:
Ferraro ran for election to the U.S. House of Representatives from New York’s 9th Congressional District in Queens in 1978, after longtime Democratic incumbent James Delaney announced his retirement. The location for the television series All in the Family, the district was known for its ethnic composition and conservative views. In a three-candidate primary race for the Democratic nomination, Ferraro faced two better-known rivals, the party organization candidate, City Councilman Thomas J. Manton and Patrick Deignan. Her main issues were law and order, support for the elderly, and neighborhood preservation. She labeled herself a “‘small c’ conservative” and emphasized that she was not a bleeding-heart liberal; her campaign slogan was “Finally, A Tough Democrat”. Her Italian heritage also appealed to ethnic residents in the district. She won the three-way primary with 53 percent of the vote, and then captured the general election as well, defeating Republican Alfred A. DelliBovi by a 10-percentage-point margin in a contest in which dealing with crime was the major issue and personal attacks by DelliBovi were frequent. She had been aided by $130,000 in campaign loans and donations from her own family, including $110,000 in loans from Zaccaro, of which only $4,000 was legal. The source and nature of these transactions were declared illegal by the Federal Election Commission shortly before the primary, causing Ferraro to pay back the loans in October 1978, via several real estate transactions. In 1979, the campaign and Zaccaro paid $750 in fines for civil violations of election law.
ATTN: White People
Ask one of your black friends, if you have one, what “neighborhood preservation” meant in Queens in the late 70’s and early 80’s. You might find it illuminating.
One of her major issues was the racially loaded school busing. Wonder where Gerry stood on this:
In Congress Ferraro balanced the conservative demands of her constituency with her own feminist and liberal politics. She voted, for example, against school busing and supported tax credits for private and parochial school parents.
A real pioneer, this Gerry Ferraro. She then went on to become the VP nominee under Mondale, and proceeded to lose 49 states along with Uncle Walter. In other words, she adopted Republican frames, and still lost. Again, such a pioneer.
And who can forget her stellar personal life:
Shortly after Democratic presidential nominee Walter Mondale selected Ferraro as his vice presidential running mate in the 1984 U.S. presidential election, Zaccaro became the center of controversy due to the couple’s finances and his refusal to release his separately-filed tax returns. Ultimately they were submitted, but the matter diminished Ferraro’s rising stardom and removed the momentum the Mondale–Ferraro ticket gained following the pick. Mondale and Ferraro lost the general election in a landslide to incumbent President Ronald Reagan, although political observers generally agree that no combination of Democrats could have won the election that year.
In January 1985, Zaccaro pled guilty to fraudulently obtaining bank financing in a real estate transaction and was fined $1,000 and was sentenced to 150 hours of community service. Zaccaro stated afterward, “My lawyers have advised me that since my client and I withdrew the loan application, since no one but I was injured, and since I received no benefit, they felt that they could successfully defend this case” but he said he entered the plea to spare his family more publicity and to “conclude the matter and try to return to private life.” In October 1986, he was indicted on unrelated felony charges regarding an alleged 1981 bribery of Queens Borough President Donald Manes concerning a cable television contract. A full year later, he was acquitted of all charges at trial.
Whoopsie. I’m sure Ferraro knew about none of this. I mean, no married couples ever talk about finances. Clearly, her behavior later on in life should force us to ignore her earlier transgressions, both financial and racial. Wait, what?
Let’s begin by noting that every presidential candidate in recent memory has tried to deploy identity in some politically advantageous manner. It is certainly true that Barack Obama attempted to leverage his own identity as a biracial black man in much the same way. It’s also true that through most of American history, whiteness was not simply the deployment of political advantage, it was the deployment of decisive political advantage. And yet while you could definitively say of that Roosevelt and Lincoln were “lucky” to be white, your statement would be myopic, and skip over many other attributes, the absence of which kept millions other white people out of the presidency.
One can’t even award that level of “true” myopia to Geraldine Ferraro. As always, the original quote is instructive:
If Jesse Jackson were not black, he wouldn’t be in the race.
Oh wait. That’s Ferraro in 1988 describing a man fortunate enough to be born in grinding poverty to a 16-year old poor single mother and a deadbeat father. Jackson went on to become a presidential candidate, winning seven primaries, four caucuses and seven million votes, a historic feat made possible, not by skill, hard work or intelligence, but by all the advantages routinely and liberally afforded to black people raised in the Jim Crow South:
Twenty years later Ferraro had matured and endeavored to offer a more nuanced take:
If Obama was a white man, he would not be in this position. And if he was a woman of color, he would not be in this position. He happens to be very lucky to be who he is.
This is not an indelicate rendering of some ruminative, long-winded truth. It does not simply assert, as Sutphen and Remnick did, that Obama’s diverse background helped him. It asserts that his skin color imparted a singular, decisive advantage, without which, Obama could not cope with the likes of Hillary Clinton. The necessary implication is bizarre. It holds that the party of Jack Kennedy would never have as its front-runner a handsome, male, Ivy League educated, Illinois senator, who edited the Harvard Law Review, had a picturesque family, and was a rousing speaker, unless he had the obvious, and indisputable advantage of being black.
Geraldine Ferraro is dead. The world and the Democratic party are better off because of that. I know, I know, I was an evil Republican during those years (I really was only 14 so couldn’t have done too much damage), so everything I say is awful. And I do recognize that it was groundbreaking for a woman to be nominated as a VP candidate. I just wish it had been a better woman. Maybe one who didn’t build her career on being a blue dog from New York who spent her life demagoguing race issues. But that’s just me.
And out of respect for the dead, we won’t even parse or repost her Fox news contributions in the last few years of her life.