Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The Ugly Politics of Clinton/Ferraro

At last Ferraro resigns from the Clinton campaign--too little too late though. The damage has been done as Ferraro's racist comments were allowed to linger and Clinton's weak rejection of them showed her tacit support (i.e. sanction). Clearly, Clinton wanted Ferraro's comments to remain at the forefront of media attention and make an impact on primary voters. I would have expected such dirty politics from the Republicans (Willy Horton, anyone?) but not from within the Democratic Party, which is, after all, trying to wrest the presidency from eight long disastrous years of George Bush. I also find it rather remarkable that Ferraro had the nerve to say to the New York Times that she had no role in the Clinton campaign. This is rather implausible deniability on her part.

Now that we have a truly viable black candidate, his opponents have decided to use the politics of fear to turn voters against him. I was in the grocery store checkout line the other day and saw a headline in the gossip rag Star saying that Obama has terrorist ties. So here we are, 20 years after Willie Horton and George H. W. Bush, except that it's not Willie Horton that's being used to play on white fear, it's simply fear of a black man. In light of this, FDR's famous quote from his first inaugural address in 1933 has particular resonance, especially when read in full, instead of the truncated version that's usually quoted:
"So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance."