Jerame Davis

An Obama Supporter Speaks the Truth

Filed By Jerame Davis | March 15, 2008 8:18 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics
Tags: Barack Obama, Geraldine Ferraro, Hillary Rodham Clinton, racism, truth

I've picked on Obama supporters lately for being wide-eyed and bamboozled. Imagine my surprise when I found this bit (on a local Indiana blog no less) about Geraldine Ferraro on Indy's Painfully Objective Political Analysis:

But I digress. If Geraldine Ferraro said "If Tiger Woods were a white man, he wouldn't have the following he does," is she being racist or simply telling the truth? If she said, "If Hillary Clinton were a man (other than Bill), SHE wouldn't be where SHE is," is she being sexist or telling the truth? How much of Hillary's early strength was from women?

How many of us are dying to see Danica Patrick win her first IRL race JUST because she's a woman? Does that "fandom" detract from her driving skill? Isn't "fandom," when translated into tickets purchased for the Masters or 500 to see the black man or woman win, nothing more than an election with your dollars? Then how is this "rooting for" factor suddenly shut off with politics?

I've been looking for a way to sum up my feelings on the Clinton/Ferraro kerfuffle and IPOPA does a better job than I ever could. I believe Ferraro made a very stupid statement on a very touchy issue. There may have been a nugget of truth in her original statement, but both her choice of words and her handling of the fallout leave much to be desired.

IPOPA leaves us with advice that works well for both camps in these trying times (except I'd replace "Obama" with"Hillary" and "first black president" with "first woman president" of course):

By the way, I'm squarely in Obama's camp. You couldn't pry me out with a wedge. But it doesn't mean I agree with everything he says. That's the great thing about America. We've evolved to the point where we're about to have our first black president, and you can still disagree with someone you respect without having to compromise that respect.


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You're right. He is speaking the truth. Especially the "about to have our first black president" part.

*grins*

yes, we are all for the underdog. but isn't part of the victory being that america can look past the color of a persons skin, or their gender? That we can forget about those insubstantial coincidences? i think America deserves a pat on the back. we really are getting there. we may yet find our way into that promised land. if only we can keep ourselves from sneezing.

I honestly don't understand why a black man's achievements are always suspect. This is NEVER an issue when the person in question is white (e.g. Bush Jr., who had faaaaaar less experience than Obama has now, and whose experience, three failed businesses, showed a pathetic person, not an exemplary one, as with Obama).

Being a president, or being a candidate for president, isn't just about elected experience. It's about a new vision, and the ability to communicate that vision, something Obama quite clearly has. His success isn't in any way "because" he's black, even though his blackness has obviously informed part of his vision.

I don't think his achievements are suspect so much as they are interesting and make a good story. As jerindc says, he's "the underdog" by being black. There is something novel about the "black man from a single parent home beating the Clinton establishment machine" that wouldn't exist if race weren't an issue.

It's unfortunate that his race would be considered an impediment, but it is still a fact of the reality in this country that it is. His success is very compelling as proof of the "American Dream" which makes it as self-fulfilling as the "fall of a Titan" meme being spun about Hillary.

That's not to diminish his accomplishments - I think he's an astounding person regardless of his race or whom I support for president. It's just to say that his race is indeed part of his appeal and shouldn't be discounted out of fear of discussing racial issues.

Racism is real and it exists, but we shouldn't be afraid to discuss issues just because race is a factor. These are tough questions and I think IPOPA addressed them well. If you haven't read the entire article, jump over there and read it now.

I'm being totally honest when I say I voted for Hillary because she has a vag. And if people are voting for Obama because he's black, that's fine with me. When we have a queer candidate running, I'll vote for them because they're queer. Unless they're one of the confused Log Cabin Republicans, of course. I just don't get that!

Maybe my memory is clouded, but I seem to recall that there was considerable criticism of W.'s lack of experience during the 2000 primaries and election.

I'm not sure "experience" for an office is ever a sufficient criteria for that office, but it is a common factor to use in campaigns -- both federal and local.

Suggesting (as post #3 does) that this common type of criticism is racially motivated when applied to Obama is absurd. Candidates talk about "experience" all the time. That's one of the reasons we rarely hear an Obama speech that lacks the phrase "when I was a community organizer on the streets of Chicago." He's highlighting his own experience exactly because it's the kind of experience that is attractive to voters. (And, probably, partly because that kind of grass-roots activism contrasts favorably for Obama with Clinton's history.)

"Experience" would, for instance, likely become a major factor even if Clinton were somehow to become the Democratic nominee, since McCain has far more experience in the Senate. He's probably visited more countries as a Senator.

McCain and the GOP will use the "experience" card throughout the campaign with either possible Democratic nominee.

On his Obama-speak commentary show last week Keith Olbermann noted that the GOP had registered several Obama related urls the day after the Iowa primary. Among them, "obamanotready.com" and, if I recall correctly, "obamatoogree.com". And that was way before the Clinton campaign said anything about Obama's experience. The GOP was ready to hit hard on that meme as soon as it looked like Obama might win the nomination. (But, of course, Olbermann and his guests didn't point out that aspect of things because it would have weakened part of their daily Clinton-is-destroying-the-party chorus.)

If I was blind and the issue of Obama's race was never mentioned, I would still vote for him. Why? Because not only does his words resonate hope, but his voice does as well.

You have to go beyond words to the feeling in your soul. Most Americans cannot do that, otherwise Bush would have never been elected. Americans heard his words, but could not feel the lack of truth in them. I don't feel as comfortable with Clinton, and definitely not with McCain. The difference between those two is that I would happily support Clinton if she overtook Obama, but my soul would be disappointed.

I believe the important point here is that there are a lot of African-american folks who support Senator Clinton just as there are a lot of women who support Senator Obama.

I further believe that the issues of race or gender should have no place in the discussion of the very important issues facing this country when it is facing so many difficult decisions.

We really need to get beyond the consideration of gender and race, and choose the person who
will best work to make this a better country after the years of the Bush administration.

Brent said:

I honestly don't understand why a black man's achievements are always suspect.

I think this gets right to the heart of why Ferraro's comments were offensive - if a Black person achieves something or is successful, it can't possibly because s/he earned it. She was saying that it's just because of those latte libruls' guilt re slavery that Obama's doing so well, not at all because he's run a good campaign or people agree with him or anything.

I think the before-the-jump quoted blogger is reading a lot into Ferraro's comments that weren't there to try to exonerate her, more than even she was willing to say, considering that her defense came down to "People are racist against whites and that's why I'm being attacked."

Time for an outside view when I hear him speak he even gets me going. Now when Hillary speaks I remember why I just don’t like her she’s not Bill. Bill and Al wooed the south with there Dukes of Hazard Good old Boy image. When it comes to speaking Hillary just doesn’t have it Bill dose. Senator Obama has that speaking style that will even get me to give him a second look.

If these two keep going at it like they are now you will have a President McCain to kick around come next year. Hmm then again maybe that wouldn’t be to bad we do tend to do our best at getting things done when we have divided government in this case a Democrat controlled congress and a Republican President to keep the congress honest. Just a thought for you to ponder.

Michael Bedwell | March 16, 2008 11:51 AM

Thanks for the link, Jerame. And thank the original author for his [?] efforts toward painfully objective analysis if not some persistent selective perceptions that are painfully non-objective.

Looking forward to reading his analysis of Sen. Clinton’s biggest and most revealing scandal to date....her 23-year allegiance to and adulation of the Rev. Hezekiah Wrong.

John R. Selig | March 16, 2008 3:20 PM

I wonder if Geraldine Ferarro would say that her husband's real estate fraud conviction wouldn't have happened if he was a woman or if he wasn't Italian?

Is it possible for us to get to the point in this country where we judge a person by their accomplishments, actions and vision and not by their race, gender, sexual orientation, religious preference, family's national origin, age, appearance or other unimportant characteristics?

John,

To answer your question,

No.

diddly, i am not so sure. mark twain said something to the effect that a man who was a pessimist before he was 40 knew too much, and a man who was an optimist after he was 40 knew too little. (sorry for the sexist comments but they aren't mine) i always thought that i understood his observation. now, i think maybe i am regressing. or maybe someone just needs to fill the role of optimist. or maybe because now i don't play the role of man? just thinking out loud...

Why is there seething hypocrisy in your blog? You talk about respect at the end, yet the downright condescension towards Obama supporters is evident. We can start with your title "An Obama Supporter Speaks the Truth," with the implication that the rest of Obama's supporters do not.

You make the blanket statement that race is part of his appeal. But do you really think that most people are casting their votes for him because he is half black?

Apparently, Matt, you didn't read my previous article that ripped Obama supporters to shreds. Yes, there is condescension to an extent - I find few Obama supporters see their candidate as he really is rather than the public persona he's trying to portray as he runs for president. I find their wide-eyed "change we can believe in" to be the biggest bit of hypocritical tripe out there, so I think my response is appropriately measured to the surreal nature of a good swath of Obama supporters.

Finally, I think perhaps you should reread the post and then head over and read the entire post at IPOPA since it actually explains things in more detail.

It's rather obtuse to think that I am saying race is the reason he's getting most of the votes. No. Race is PART of the reason. Read my comment #4.

This could easily be a pot-kettle argument. We all know that. I read your previous article and responded to it.

What I am commenting on is the fact that you call for respect but then give nothing but disrespect.

That's the rub, isn't it? I respect Obama and Clinton both very much, but I have very little respect for Obama supporters who coo over him like he's the second coming.

Those are the people I'm addressing and continue to address, if you are one of them who believes he can do no wrong, then this was meant for you - if not, then perhaps you're just getting worked up over nothing.

Regardless, I'm calling for respect from both camps. Obama supporters need to stop vilifying Hillary and Hillary supporters should stop vilifying Obama. Making fun of the ridiculous nature of either candidate's supporters is fair game.

I'm not actually worked up, I just find your blog hypocritical, calling for one thing and doing the opposite.

Your generalizations and bias' are astounding. Why do you comment on Obama supporters, but don't comment on Clinton's?

Even when you say that the "ridiculous nature of either candidate's supporters is fair game," you make no comment to Clinton supporters in your postings.

You know what's funny? The whole post was about Clinton supporters. It was shocking to me to see an Obama supporter defend a Clinton supporter. I made a point of saying so. Further, there is this quote - in my own words - that kinda disproves your point that I am not commenting on Clinton supporters:

There may have been a nugget of truth in her original statement, but both her choice of words and her handling of the fallout leave much to be desired.

My bias' have never been in question. I am a Clinton supporter and declared as much in a separate blog post. So it seems to me that we have another one of those pot-kettle situations you were talking about earlier.

So somehow it's hypocritical to say that a Clinton supporter fucked up, bumbled the fallout, and say that I'm astounded that an Obama supporter summed up my thoughts better than I could myself and then quoted his call for more respect in the campaign because this guy got the big picture better than most?

Because that's exactly what my post boils down to.

The cries of racism, the messiah complexes, the sexism, and so forth are doing nothing but dividing us. No one side is to blame, but one side seems to think so and THAT is why I get so pointed in my commentary. A double standard is a double standard. Why is it that so many Obama supporters vilify Hillary Clinton and then claim they are on a bandwagon for change when they say the reason they hate Hillary Clinton is because she is so divisive? Isn't THAT hypocritical?

I don't see a lot of Clinton supporters claiming she's something she's not. I do see that from Obama supporters and I do think it's perfectly acceptable to point that out.

What I find fascinating still is how quickly Obama supporters go on the attack when their beliefs are challenged. Darn those pesky facts for getting in the way.

I'll stop being snarky when we start discussing substantive issues. But when it's he-said she-said that continues to drive the narrative, someone has to point out how ridiculous it all is. I'm sorry you don't like how I chose to do that, but I wouldn't be a very good blogger if I chose to stay silent.

And well, they're my opinions. I welcome the discussion and the disagreements - because isn't that the point of having a blog?