I criticized Geraldine Ferraro’s comments about Barack Obama and race because a.) she’s supporting a candidate who benefits from being the wife of a former president and b.) she’s Geraldine Ferraro, who by her own admission would not have been on the 1984 Democratic ticket if she were not a woman. Given this context, it seems rather silly for her to whine about how Obama benefits from his race in the 2008 presidential campaign.
But that doesn’t mean her comments are racist or even untrue. Obama has assembled a coalition that includes an overwhelming majority of black voters — 90 percent in Mississippi, if you’ve forgotten — and the kind of white liberals who voted for Gary Hart and Bill Bradley. Neither Hart nor Bradley won the nomination. And Jesse Jackson did well in 1988 by receiving overwhelming black support (and increasing his level of white support from 1984), but also did not win the nomination. Obama may win the nomination because he has put these two groups together, edging out Hillary Clinton’s coalition. But he has been able to do so in large part because he is black. So to that extent, at least, his race has been an advantage in the Democratic nomination contest.
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