Saturday, March 15, 2008

Keith Olbermann Denounces Ferraro & Clinton for their Racism

Brilliant political cartoon in response to Ferraro's racist remarks. Drawing by Nick Anderson in The Houston Chronicle.

Here's the transcript:

Text of Keith Olbermann's "Special Comment" delivered live last night on MSNBC, decrying Hillary Clinton for the tactics of her campaign and specifically for her failure to categorically reject the remarks of Geraldine Ferraro about Barack Obama. The video may be viewed here. Transcript below:

KEITH OLBERMANN: Finally, as promised, a special comment on the presidential campaign of the junior senator from New York. By way of necessary preface, President and Senator Clinton and the senator's mother and the senator's brother were of immeasurable support to me at the moments when these very commentaries were the focus of the most surprise, the most uncertainty and the most anger. My gratitude to them is unbiding.

Also, I am not here endorsing Senator Obama`s nomination, nor suggesting in it is inevitable. Thus I have fought with myself over whether or not to say anything. Events insist.

Senator, as it has reached its apex in their tone deaf, arrogant and insensitive reaction to the remarks of Geraldine Ferraro, your own advisers are slowly killing your chances to become president. Senator, their words and your own are now slowly killing the chances for any Democrat to become president. In your tepid response to this Ferraro disaster, you may sincerely think you disenthralling an enchanted media and righting an unfair advance bestowed on Senator Obama. You may think the matter has closed with Representative Ferraro's bitter, almost threatening resignation letter.

But, in fact, senator, you are now campaigning as if Barack Obama were the Democrat and you were the Republican. As Shakespeare wrote, senator, "that way madness lies." You have missed a critical opportunity to do what was right. No matter what Miss Ferraro now claims, no one took her comments out of context. She had made them on at least there separate occasions, then twice more on television this morning. Just hours ago, on "NBC Nightly News," she denied she had made the remark in an interview, only at a paid political speech.

In fact, the first time she spoke them was 10 days before that California newspaper published them, not in a speech, but in a radio interview. On February 26, quoting, "if Barack Obama were a white man, would we be talking about this as a potential real problem for Hillary. If he were a woman of any color, would he be in this position that he's in? Absolutely not."

The content was inescapable. Two minutes earlier, a member of Senator Clinton's finance committee, one of her Hill-Raisers had bemoaned the change in allegiance by super delegate John Lewis from Clinton to Obama and also the endorsement of Obama by Senator Dodd; "I look at these guys doing it," she had said, "and I have to tell you, it`s the guys sticking together."

A minute after the color remark, she was describing herself as having been chosen for the 1984 Democratic ticket purely as a woman politician, purely to make history. She was, in turn, making a blind accusation of sexism and dismissing Senator Obama`s candidacy as nothing more than some equal opportunity stunt.

The next day, she repeated her comments and a reporter from the newspaper in Torrence, California heard them; "If Obama was a white man, he would not be in this position. 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."

And when this despicable statement, ugly in its overtones, laughable in its week grip of the facts, and moronic in the historical context, when it floats outward from the Clinton campaign like a poison cloud, what do the advisers have their candidate do? Do they have Senator Clinton herself compare the remark to Al Campanis (ph) talking on "Nightline" on Jackie Robinson Day about how blacks lack the necessities to become baseball executives, while she points out that Barack Obama has not gotten his 1600 delegates as part of some kind of affirmative action plan?

Do they have Senator Clinton note that her own brief period in elected office is as irrelevant to the issue of judgment as is Senator Obama's, while she points out that FDR had served only six years as governor and state senator before he became president? Or that Teddy Roosevelt had four and a half years before the White House? Or that Woodrow Wilson had two years and six weeks?

Or Richard Nixon 14? And Calvin Coolidge 25?

Do these advisers have Senator Clinton invoke Samantha Power, gone by sunrise after she used the word monster, and have Senator Clinton say, this is how I police my campaign, and this is what I stand for, while she fires former Congresswoman Ferraro from any role in the campaign? No, somebody tells her that simply disagreeing with, then rejecting the remarks is sufficient. She should then call regrettable words that should make any Democrat retch.

And that she should then try to twist them, first into some pox on both your houses plea to stick to the issues, and then to let her campaign manager try to bend them beyond all recognition into Senator Obama's fault. And thus these advisers give Congresswoman Ferraro nearly a week in which to send Senator Clinton`s campaign back into the vocabulary of David Duke; "anytime anybody does anything that in any way pulls this campaign down and says, let`s address reality and the problems we're facing in this world, you`re accused of being racist, so you have to shut up. Racism works in two different directions. I really think they are attacking me because I'm white. How's that?"

How's that? Apart from sounding exactly like Rush Limbaugh attacking the black football quarterback Donovan McNab, apart from sounding exactly like what Miss Ferraro said about another campaign nearly 20 years ago, quote, "President Reagan suggested Tuesday that people don't ask Jesse Jackson tough questions because of his race. Former Representative Geraldine A. Ferraro said Wednesday that because of his, quote, radical views, if Jesse Jackson were not black, he would not be in the race."

So apart from sounding like insidious racism that is at least two decades old, apart from rendering ridiculous Senator Clinton`s shell game about choosing Obama as vice president, apart from this evenings resignation letter; "I am stepping down from your finance committee so I can speak for myself and you can continue to speak for yourself about what is at stake in this campaign. The Obama campaign is attacking me to hurt you."

Apart from all that, well, it sounds as if those advisers wanted their campaign to be associated with those words, and the cheap, ignorant, vile racism that underlies every syllable of them, and that Geraldine Ferraro has just gone freelance.

Senator Clinton, that is not a campaign strategy. This is a suicide pact. This week alone, your so-called strategists have declared that Senator Obama has not yet crossed some commander in chief threshold, but he might still be your choice to be vice president, even though a quarter of
the previous 16 vice presidents have become commander in chief during the greatest kind of crisis this country can face, a midterm succession, but you only pick him if he crosses that threshold by the time of the convention.

But if he does cross that threshold by the time of the convention, he will only have done so sufficiently enough to become vice president, not president? Senator, if the serpentine logic of your so-called advisers were not bad enough, now thanks to Geraldine Ferraro and your campaigns initial refusal to break with her, and your new relationship with her, now more disturbing still with her claim that she can now speak for herself about her vision as Senator Obama as some kind of embodiment of a quota if she wishes.

If you were to seek Obama as a vice president, it would be to Miss Ferraro some called of social engineering gesture, some kind of racial make good. Do you not see, senator?

To Senator Clinton`s supporters, to her admirers, to her friends for whom she is first choice and to her friends for whom she is second choice, she is still letting herself be perceived as standing next to and standing by racial divisiveness and blindness. Worse yet, after what President Clinton said during the South Carolina primary, comparing the Obama and Jesse Jackson campaigns, a disturbing but only border line remark, after what some in the black community have perceived as a racial undertone to the 3:00 a.m. ad, a disturbing but only borderline interpretation, and after the moments hesitation in her own answer on "60 Minutes" about Obama's religion, a disturbing but only borderline vagueness -- after those precedents, there are those who see a pattern. False or true, they see it. After those precedents, there are those who see an intent. False or true, they see it. After those precedents, there are those that see the Clinton campaign`s anything but benign neglect of the Ferraro catastrophe, falsely or truly, as a desire to hear the kind of casual prejudice which still haunts the society voiced, and to not distance the campaign from it.

To not distance you from it, Senator. To not distance you from that which you, as a woman, and Senator Obama, as an African-American, should both know and feel with the deepest of personal pain, which you should both fight with all you have, which you should both ensure has no place in this contest ever.

This, Senator Clinton, is your campaign and it is your name. Grab the reigns back from whoever has led you to this precipice before it is too late. Voluntarily or inadvertently, you are still awash in this filth. Your only reaction has been to disagree, reject, to call it regrettable. Her only reaction has been to brand herself as the victim and resign from your committee and insist she will continue to speak. Unless, senator, you say something definitive, the former congresswoman is speaking with your

You must remedy this and you must reject and denounce Geraldine Ferraro. Good night and good luck.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Long Live Marlon Brando!


MARLON BRANDO (1924-2004)

Editor's Note:

Marlon Brando's death at age 80 in July 2004 marked the passing of one of the most important, revolutionary, and complex artists of the 20th century. Already an acting legend by his early 20s as a result of his critically acclaimed and extraordinarily innovative performances on the Broadway stage in Tennessee Williams's pathbreaking play 'A Streetcar Named Desire' in 1947, Brando proceeded to leave an indelible mark on both stage and cinematic acting alike in such powerful performances as those in the 'The Men' (1950), 'Viva Zapata!' (1952), 'Julius Caesar' (playing Marc Anthony) in 1953, an Oscar winning performance in 'On The Waterfront' (1954), and a startling, unprecedented, and iconic performance as a motorcycle gang leader in 'The Wild One' (1953). From the mid-fifties until 2001 Brando continued to revolutionize the art of film acting in such films as 'The Young Lions" (1958), "Mutiny on the Bounty" (1962), "One-Eyed Jacks" (1961)--the only film Brando directed, "The Ugly American" (1963), "Reflections in a Golden Eye" (1967) "Burn!" (1970), "The Godfather, Part I" (1972) for which Brando won his second Oscar as 'Best Actor' and "The Last Tango in Paris" (1973) where the esteemed now middle-aged actor dramatically confirmed his ‘living legend’ status with yet another riveting performance that reminded many critics and fans alike of the searing, passionate, and innovative work of his youth.

In the following tribute essay written upon Brando's death in July, 2004 the always insightful and highly accomplished essayist, journalist, critic, and teacher Rayfield Waller (online host and writer of the blog 'Olde School' from which this singularly brilliant essay was taken) critically examines and celebrates the always compelling and enigmatic ‘genius of film acting’ who used the expressive and interpretive powers of his art to painstakingly create an entirely new conception of what acting was and could be when in the hands of a master craftsman and artistic virtuoso who cared far more about life and art in terms of their many complex challenges and possibilities than he ever did about the commercial vagaries of celebrity and the delusional dangers of hero worship in the jaded and often corrupt public marketplace of Hollywood.

Kofi Natambu


Viva Brando!
by Rayfield Waller

1. For Brando

With Marlon Brando dead, I’ve a dull ache in my chest at the thought of a man of such genius, energy and talent having joined the long line of souls who’ve passed through this place on their way back to the dust that all flesh is heir to. If Marlon can die, I thought when I heard the news, if Marlon can lay down and die then it really is true that we all, we writers, artists, musicians, and the like, are someday really going to lay down for that long dirt nap. So we aren't immortal after all, are we?

Sure, Orson Welles dying with Kikki in his arms back in 1985 was a kick in the head, but we had always suspected, hadn’t we, even way back around the time of A Touch of Evil (1966), that Orson was just such stuff as bye-bye was made of? Orson's life was always a way too hot medium. He was intense and reckless, an enfant terrible burning up years of creativity with hustling and globe trotting with that state of panic he was always in; always trying to raise funds to make his movies by hook or crook, fighting the noose around his neck but somehow always tied to the very forces that he’d rebelled against. He paid a long, hard price for having stuck his young thumb into William Randolph Hearst’s wealthy eye with Citizen Kane (1941). And in the end, once he'd grown fat, he was like a burned out acetyline torch—spent, resigned, creeping around Burbank in that stage shawl of his, clutching a huge unlit Cuban cigar, a ghost sitting on Johnny Carson’s couch even if still in possession of a sharp wit and venom.

Compared to Orson, Marlon's life though, was a cool medium. There was never a noose around Marlon’s neck. He was not tied to anyone or to anything, at least not as a cinematic artist he wasn’t, and never could be. He was never in ‘rebellion’, he merely played rebels on screen. He never cared enough about cinema or about Hollywood and the money-men running it to bother to rebel. Where on some level Orson always wanted in his heart of hearts to be taken seriously, even to be accepted on his own terms, Brando never gave a rat’s ass who did or did not accept him. He made his own terms, and he lived with them, on his own. Rather than being in rebellion against stati quo, he was in and maintained always a profound sense of disinterest, like Marcel Duchamp, Man Ray, Dean Martin, Doris Lessing, and Miles Davis. That’s what made Marlon 'dangerous': his will toward freedom. And once he had grown fat he was still 'dangerous'. We still talked about him, speculated about his intentions. We held our breath waiting for him to 'come back' (and he did, twice, when he acted a post modern patische of Vito Corleone in The Freshman (1990) with Mathew Broderick and when he acted his own dissipation in The Score (2001) with De Niro). Sean Penn still hung out with him on Marlon’s Pacific island. He was never brought to heel by the pezzonovante (Italian, translation: 90mm gun--'big shot') who tried all his life to domesticate him. He didn’t crawl into court when his son, Christian bit off a prison sentence for murder, but rather held his head up with dignity and humanity as he testified before the jury as a character witness. Critics still venerated him, and he never lowered himself to living as a has-been in the Hollywood colony of retirees who would wander down the steep, goat way of Mulholland Drive in early model Bentleys to turn up pasty faced on Johnny’s couch.

He came out of retirement for the last time to do The Score, an overtly allegorical story about a retired thief (De Niro) forced out of retirement by a young upstart thief (the powerful, then young Ed Norton) in order to steal a priceless (get this) scepter. The overt allegorical material has to do of course with the lineage of the grandfather (Brando), the son (De Niro), and the grandson (Norton). The resonance is obvious but nevertheless poignant thanks to the generosity of De Niro and Brando, whose scenes strip bare the old thief's (that is to say, the actor's, the father's) anxiety over usurpation. The scepter represents, of course, the primal, and sovereign claim to patriarchal authority, youth, and power. It is the son’s by natural right (Ed Norton's natural right), and the father and grandfather both know it. Even as they plot together to defeat the boy-thief De Niro and Brando know they are only buying time which must be repaid. De Niro and Brando both play on the implied anxiety of loss of celebrity, of youth, of life force. Even fat, Brando languidly twists the heads off his scenes and, in Brando fashion, turns the mundane and cliché inside out, investing the role and his lines with a self reflexive display of what a has-been would be like as an underworld mover and shaker all out of moves with nothing left but the shakes. With De Niro giving him plenty of room without a hint of genuflection, Marlon invests his lines with a laconic anomie. As he uses his own body, his own dissipation and fatigue to draw a character whose bathos underscores the pitiable end that thieves and actor alike must sooner or later accept if they fail to die young, as James Dean did.

But it isn’t really pity Brando is trying to conjure with the performance, it’s dread. In the character Brando sketches here (for it is just a sketch, not a wrenching, fully realized Method creation of the type Brando had constructed in his youth) we recognize the mortality we all have got to take a gut full of someday, and a Method actor like Brando clearly couldn’t have passed up the chance to tap into even this final portion of his life and to burn it as creative fuel—to burn even his own aging, mortal body, his own loss of vanity, dignity, and pride. This quiet, mundane role is one of the the scariest screen performance I ever saw him in, almost as scary as Orson Welles’ incredibly courageous performance in A Touch of Evil (1958), wherein he bares his own personal vulnerabilty, rot, and aging pain. Brando’s grandfather thief is a sort of companion to the aching vulnerability of his earlier characterization, in Arthur Penn’s The Chase (1966), of an ethical small town police chief who undergoes a gang beating by corrupt citizens outraged at his ethics.

That gang beating in fact raises the semiotic of gang rape, and gives pictorial representation to a type of feminine vulnerability in Brando as well which I suspect was always an undertone to his film image as well as an element in the odd cruelty that critics and fans alike heaped upon him during his career (a symbolic misogyny?). There was a soulful trait to him, at times even a pulchritude and full-lipped handsomeness to Brando in his youth—a beauty just dangerously short of female which was, as with Dean and Sal Mineo before him, a key to his ability to tap into deep seated audience responses. To this day his work taps into both our capacity to both love and hate him. It was something he played upon not to enhance his ‘celebrity’ but rather to enhance his ability to construct characters we couldn’t help but feel something about—ergo the sadness he can evoke with his characterization of the grandfather thief, his final role.

* * *

It occurs to me that many of the myths about Brando will ineluctably be rolled out now, but he has made his final escape—he won’t hear any of it in death just as he ignored it all in life. Because he remained aloof from it all, he died free and clear, his own man, his own human being. So it is left to us who admired his art to respond to the dehumanized, demonized, simulation Brando the Hollywood power structure will be rolling out in the wake of Brando's escape, supported by the mass media and entertainment journalism. Let’s start with the myth that Brando was a ‘failed genius’ who squandered his gifts; an actor with a tragically flawed filmography. With this first set of myths we’ll look at, critics and fans were prone to see Brando’s filmography as uneven, as sloppy. As an actor he was seen as being in some cases, and more and more after the 50's, wild, foolish, undisciplined, self-indulgent, doing work which failed to fulfill he potential genius, and which would have been even more valuable if only someone had been better able to take him in hand, to control his raw energies. When one think about it this line of reasoning sounds a much like the attitude Vatican flaks took toward Michelangelo when he refused to act as they wanted him to, doesn’t it?

2. Post Modernity and Brando’s Film Roles

First of all, Godfather (1972) and Apocalypse Now (1979), while brilliant roles, were and are not true markers of the depth and the breadth of Brando’s work, nor are they the truest keys to understanding the greater implications of the evolution of his project as an actor. Brando, like Thomas Pynchon, Stanley Kubrick, Richard Pryor, and Dean Martin, was a post modern artist. If one does not know why I should choose to conflate these particular and diverse artists and does not understand why Dean Martin would be included, one ought to study Umberto Eco, Venturi, Frederic Jameson, and well, to listen to Dino, Sammy, and Frankie.

Godfather and Apocalypse though they had certain post modern elements, were not films that could have contained or absorbed Brando’s deliberate, post modern distortions, not in the sense that Burn! (1970), The Missouri Breaks (1976), or Mutiny on the Bounty (1962) could. Nor did Brando deign to distort these two roles in a post modern manner, as he had distorted many of his earlier roles. He deliberately did not carry out post modern distortions of his acting of Corleone and of Kurtz, and I believe that this was so because he and director Francis Ford Coppola must have decided that the characters ought to be played with an orthodox dramatic treatment. The gestalts of The Godfather and of Apocalypse Now were more important to their cinematic affect and execution than was the single element of Brando’s acting of his own individual characters. The Godfather in particular, was an ensemble work of art consisting of multiple contributions from a host of powerful actors, and from several technical artists.

That is to say the dialectical conjunction of screenwriting and direction (Puzo and Coppola), production design (Dean Tavoularis), editing, mise-en-scene, soundtrack, score (Nino Rota), and editing was equally crucial in creating a whole artwork. Brando as a result did not innovate very much in the two roles most often identified with him. Because he played these roles very straight, Hollywood and the mass media have always displayed a willingness to mythicize the two portrayals. These two films were eventual commercial and critical successes, yes, but Brando had already done the bulk (though not all) of his most radical and most challenging work by the time the two films came along, and so in a very real sense, the roles of Vito Corleone and Colonel Kurtz were, like his scenes with De Niro in The Score, merely examples of the traces of his more radical self.

Again, Brando was a post modernist. Early on. I mean fresh out of the Stella Adler method acting stable. He was post modern even in the original stage production of Streetcar. Many critics early on, and some even now mistakenly call Brando the inheritor of the inarticulate rage and angst of James Dean, but despite the outward resemblances between them (after all, Dean too, came out of Adler’s Method mill) Brando was neither inarticulate nor was he angst ridden or raging. He merely played those things. Dean lived them. Thus Dean turned his Porsche Spider over on September 30, 1955 turned it into mangled wreckage, and in the process killed himself. Brando’s cinematic portrayals of plakangst were always rationalized, planned, and executed as artistic statements or even as artistic experiments or artistic whims. His art was not crazed, wild, or self-indulgent, because he never took film or himself that seriously in the first place. Though he could play very orthodox, Adlerian and Stanislovskian roles, as in the film version of Streetcar (1951), The Chase (1966), and On the Waterfront (1954), and though he could even play classical with the best Shakespearian actors, as in Julius Caesar (1953), he consciously twisted, distorted, and turned inside-out many of the characters he played and many of the lines he delivered. At least some of the time, and particularly early in Brando’s career, critics felt the need to take (or simply were too stupid to avoid taking) this as being evidence of Brando’s ‘primal energy,’ his ‘youthful power’ and ‘masculine energy’, as if he were the reincarnation of Dean, or brother to the unbalanced, emotionally disheveled Sal Mineo (another Hollywood, angst ridden martyr).

Later, of course, and in direct proportion to the degree that they were invested in the supposed ‘integrity’ and ‘coherence’ of the particular characters Brando had played, distorted, or deconstructed, critics felt the need to denounce this ‘wild energy’ as ‘self destructive’ and to denounce Brando himself as a reckless killer of dramatic affect and of the dramatic quality of the films he ‘wrecked’ with his ‘antics.’ He was depicted as willfully destroying his own art form.

Even the brilliant and insightful film critic, Pauline Kael who invented literate American film criticism with her insistence upon intellectual rigor in the analysis of cinema just as if it were an art form on par with painting, dance, literature, and music (art forms that film in fact subsumes in a dialectical gestalt) denounced Brando as a ‘self parodying comedian’ for his post modern antics on screen in Mutiny on the Bounty, though she later rescinded her denunciation after seeing him in Bertolucci’s Last Tango in Paris (1972), saying of Brando’s performance, “"Bertolucci and Brando have altered the face of an art form". In reaction to Mutiny however she’s written of Brando, in a March 1966 Atlantic Monthly article entitled, “Marlon Brando: An American Hero” that the ideal 1950’s Brando had disappeared and that the disappearance ought to be mourned because of the virtues of what the 50’s Brando had represented:

“Brando represented a reaction against the post-war mania for security. As a protagonist, the Brando of the early fifties had no code, only his instincts. He was a development from the gangster leader and the outlaw. He was antisocial because he knew society was crap; he was a hero to youth because he was strong enough not to take the crap. (In England it was thought that The Wild One would incite adolescents to violence.) There was a sense of excitement, of danger in his presence, but perhaps his special appeal was in a kind of simple conceit, the conceit of tough kids.” ©. 1966 Pauline Kael

The irony here of course is that the very qualities Kael here romantically idealizes in Brando (the James Dean-esque, Method inspired rebellion against authority, the excitement, and the quality of being ‘strong enough not to take the crap’) are the very qualities that drove him to leave the 50’s behind, and to deconstruct the Method, to parody his earlier persona. Brando, unlike the Dean of the 50's, did not die, did not turn over his car. In fact he climbed off the motorcycle of The Wild One (1953), unzipped the leather jacket and went on, something that entailed his going beyond Dean and Stella Adler. Kael further writes of Mutiny on the Bounty that:

“In the action sequences he's uninteresting, not handsome or athletic enough to be a stock romantic adventure hero. He seems more eccentric than heroic, with his bizarre stance, his head held up pugnaciously, his face unlined in a peculiar bloated, waxen way. He's like a short, flabby tenor wandering around the stage and not singing: you wonder what he's doing there.” (©. 1966 P. Kael)

Which is Ironic, actually, because if one thinks a bit about it one realizes that given both the class history and maritime history of Great Britain, Brando's choices in playing Fletcher Christian this way could arguably be said to ring true. It is at least possible to imagine that Christian might have been a spoiled, privileged aesthete. British officers, who wielded the power of life and death over seamen in the British navy due to strict class privilege in the time period Mutiny focuses upon might very well come off to us now as frilly, pouting, and effete (Brando's Mr. Christian). Likewise, Christian, a truly highborn British officer could certainly be imagined as a man who might be in conflict with a lowborn superior officer like Bligh, who might resent his junior officer being simultaneously his social better. Thus, Bligh the pompous bully. At the very least, the dramatic tension Brando's portrayal creates takes a cliché role and injects it with energy that is even now memorable. And that is the point: Brando often sought to create tension through counter point, obtuseness, negative capability, and through unexpected treatments of his roles. He varied tone, rhythm, pace, and pitch, sometimes abrasively so, in the way a jazz musician would, using improvisation, humor, and even atonality to destroy and recreate his roles, and destroy and recreate ours and his own expectations of those roles. In the jazz aesthetic, which values rigorous technical ability yet also decisively privileges the innovative over the orthodox, this is called improvisation and interpolation. Like Miles Davis did at times, Brando would do the equivalent of turning his back on the audience.

Looking up at that broad back on the wide screen, Kael is as offended as her counterpart jazz critics were over Miles Davis. To add epitaph to injury, she goes on further to say of Brando's very next role in The Ugly American (1963), that "When he submerges himself in the role, the movie dies on the screen." Both Mutiny on the Bounty, and The Ugly American, indeed, were inaugural performances for Brando, introducing that parodic, "head held up pugnaciously, face unlined in a peculiar bloated, waxen way" as well as the prominence of "his bull neck, so out of character," as Kael calls it and as the neck first appears in Ugly American. This parodic use of his own body became a sort of trademark look for the larger parodic project Brando invented for himself in the 1960's. It became also, the image that a thousand cartoonists, critics, and detractors reduced Brando to in their rush to declare him a burn-out, a sell-out, and a has-been. Mutiny, in which Brando plays British naval officer Christian as a sort of peeved and put upon fop rather than a strong, virile tragic hero as, say, Clark Gable had played him earlier, is one of the signal moments of the agony critics expressed over Brando's antics. Further, the sincerely classical actor Trevor Howard's interpretation of Captain Bligh's brutal demeanor was based on Howard's attempt to play Captain Bligh's class antagonism, arising from Bligh's identity as an insecure, lowborn Brit who has risen to class legitimacy but is not quite confident enough in his authority and so must underline his military power with cruelty. Howard's is a nuanced, insightful performance, one which critics felt made Brando's reductio ad absurdum all the more insufferable inasmuch as it ruins Howard's more manly display of orthodox acting skills.

Perhaps what is most disappointing about Kael's admittedly understandable chagrin with Brando's choices is the unfortunate truth that, for all her candor, wit, and penetrating insight, for all her intellectual girth, Kael's 60's critique of Brando nevertheless offers an example of the critic typically lagging behind the artist: Brando took an artist's leap out far past the scope of Kael and her critic's vision, and into a post modern consciousness that she perhaps did not reach until nine years later when she raved about the very same mercurial, parodic, bull-necked (and bare-assed) Brando of Last Tango In Paris. Still, Kael definitely wrote for an entire generation of critical response (albeit far more articulately than most of the critics she spoke for) when she wrote that,

“Brando's career illustrates something much more basic: the destruction of meaning in movies: Perhaps Brando has been driven to this self-parody so soon because of his imaginative strength and because of that magnetism that makes him so compelling an expression of American conflicts. His greatness is in a range that is too disturbing to be encompassed by regular movies “ (©. 1963 P Kael).

That leads to the second set of myths critics and fans erected around Brando and his work: that he was insane, unstable, emotionally disturbed, that he was, in short, indistinguishable as a person from the film roles he created.

3. Post Modernity and Brando's Psyche

While the Hollywood system, backed by critics of varying sophistication needed to pretend that the essence of the meaning of Brando's work was to be found in the fact that he'd begun his career as some sort of furious and brutal savage who stunned audiences with a primordial energy in The Wild One, the truth, as I have argued above, was far more interesting than that and far more complex. Brando was a thoughtful man and a thoughtful artist who sought, like a jazz musician would, to overcome cliché, to create new ways of feeling and thinking in his work, and to synthesize new cinematic experience and indeed, to simply have a good time in the act of play. All this he did through what was partly a new approach to The Method and its technique of plundering the actor's psyche.

What I mean in fact is that The Method, which allowed actors who studied and practiced it to create intense cinematic possibilities through the use of the technique of 'emotional recall' and through the application of raw emotion the actor has delved into her own memories and neuroses to find, was, for all its energy and innovation, a dead end for Brando. He knew, one suspects, one should think he absolutely did know in fact, that James Dean had taken the more obvious, raw, and more powerful points of Method acting to its ultimate and extreme end with Giant (1956-released after Dean's death) and with Rebel Without a Cause (1955). Brando was smart enough to know that he could not and should not wish to, replicate, out shout, out miser ate, and out contort James Dean's emotionally wrenching, over-the-top kamikaze performances. If James Dean was Charlie Parker (with Sal Mineo perhaps as Dean's Red Rodney) then Brando was certainly, as I've already implied, a lot like Miles Davis. Though Miles was present at the birth of Bebop he had no desire to spend his artistic career in the wake of the meteoric vector of his compatriot, Charles Parker. As he himself has indicated in interviews and in his autobiography, Miles saw little value in continuing with classic Bebop after Bird's death, though critics all expected him to carry on Bird's project. Bebop's conceptual, aesthetic, and technical possibilities had been exhausted for Miles, and so not so much abandoning it but deconstructing it, he used the pieces to make something new. Miles abstracted Bop, slowed it to a crawl, and ultimately tossed it away in order to create 'Cool.' The artistic parallel between Miles and Bird, and Brando and Dean seems clear.

I won't attempt to argue that Brando was not a troubled, emotionally brittle man, nor that there was not a sort of bathos in his morbid obesity at the end of his life. I won't even point out the obvious truth that many actors of his generation who forged his or her self on the crucible of the emotionally devastating Adlerian version of The Method exhibited lifelong excesses of emotional turmoil, many of them dying of it (Dean, Marilyn Monroe, and Mineo most visible among the casualties). Instead, I'll argue something more human, having to do with a more mundane and ordinary truth: that like most artists, and certainly like most artists who become wealthy, world famous and worshipped as icons at a very young age, Brando exhibited signs of megalomania, paranoia, obsessiveness, emotional infantilism, and, as he grew older, dissipation. I would argue however, that none of this adds up to his having been in any way illegitimate as a cinematic artist, any more than Miles Davis' own idiosyncrasies, bizarre behavior, misogyny, and bouts of agoraphobia meant that he was somehow lesser in his musicianship. His musicianship was fine, though just as with Brando, critics accused him of losing his chops, of degenerating into a has-been and sell-out, and of betraying jazz first when he abandoned Bop and adopted Cool, and then again and again as he moved on through more metamorphoses to play electric, and to play Fusion.

Indeed, as with nearly every other citizen of complexity, value, and large spirit America's 20th century was blessed with, Brando's deeper complexity and significance both as an artist and as a man of conscience, is silenced amidst the noise of obnoxious and cynical ridicule of his personal life: bad father, abusive husband, and failed celebrity. Tinker, tailor, deadbeat, fatty, is the declension steadfastly held against him, it seems.

 Dave Zirin, editor of the Prince George's Post, explodes that cynicism quite deftly in his recent eulogy, "Our Marlon Brando", published on July 2, by

“The Brando I want to remember, especially now, is the actor who pulled back in the 1960s to focus on supporting the Civil Rights Movement and the broader struggles against war and oppression. In 1959, he was a founding member of the Hollywood chapter of SANE, an anti-nuclear arms group formed alongside African-American performers Harry Belafonte and Ossie Davis. In 1963, Brando marched arm in arm with James Baldwin at the March on Washington. He, along with Paul Newman, went down South with the freedom riders to desegregate inter-State bus lines. In defiance of state law, Native Americans protested the denial of treaty rights by fishing the Puyallup River on March 2, 1964. Inspired by the civil rights movement sit-ins, Brando, Episcopal clergyman John Yaryan from San Francisco, and Puyallup tribal leader Bob Satiacum caught salmon in the Puyallup without state permits. The action was called a fish-in and resulted in Brando's arrest.

When Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated in 1968, Brando announced that he was bowing out of the lead role of a major film and would now devote himself to the civil rights movement. Brando said "If the vacuum formed by Dr. King's death isn't filled with concern and understanding and a measure of love, then I think we all are really going to be lost."

He gave money and spoke out in defense of the Black Panthers and counted Bobby Seale as a close friend and attended the memorial for slain prison leader George Jackson. Southern theater chains boycotted his films, and Hollywood created what became known as the 'Brando Black List' that shut him out of many big time roles.

After making a comeback in Godfather, Brando won his second Oscar. Instead of accepting what he called "a door prize," he sent up Native American activist Sacheen Littlefeather to refuse befuddled presenter Roger Moore and issue a scathing speech about the Federal Government's treatment of Native Americans.

Even in the past several years, he has lent his name and bank account to those fighting the US war and occupation in Iraq.

So how do we remember Brando? He was a celebrity, an artist, an activist, and at the end an isolated and destroyed old man.

It is tragic that we live in a world where most people's talents never get to see the light of day. It is equally tragic that those like Brando who actually get the opportunity to spread their creative wings, can be consumed and yanked apart in process. “ (©. 2004, D. Zirin)

The political dimension of the lives of American artists is habitually occluded, lost, and denied; hidden from our consideration and buried even before the artists themselves are. Indeed, the political dimension of the lives of just about everyone of significance in America (even of politicians!) is hidden from our consideration in order to foster a trivial, commercial culture of consumption of celebrity, and to facilitate the chronic memory loss Americans suffer from. It is what makes us all so monstrous in the eyes of the rest of the world: like belligerent children we inflict damage and pain upon those around us but then are mortified and confused by the hostility and disgust directed at us by those who feel hurt, neglected, and wronged by our crude abuses, abuses we cannot even manage to remember. How much more mortified must the French, the Russians, The Chinese, and the Arabs feel about our inability to recognize their histories, their cultures, their artists given the fact that we cannot even recognize our own? After all, no less luminary a philosopher than Jean-Paul Sartre, in his 1947 essay, "Jazz in America" had announced the existential dimension of jazz which, if one reads the essay closely, would at least contextualize if not explain Miles Davis' future personality disorders and his future antics with regard to jazz form. Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir saw in jazz not am exotic, primal form arisen from primitive voodoo nor a dead, staid classical music, but a living, complex existential art form of global significance tied to philosophy, history, psychology, economics, humor, and even to biography. Thus, the French preoccupation not with measuring artists against public expectation and moral cant, but against the details of the artist's own life and material reality.

I disagree with Zirin in only one respect. It is not so much that we live in a world "where most people's talents never get to see the light of day." Instead, it is very certain that we live in a country (the United States) driven by a degenerate Capitalist profit motive that erects a fetishistic cult of 'celebrity', diverting our attention and that of adherants abroad, away from depth, meaning, and historical detail in order to train us to consume. Among the things we thoughtlessly consume as merchandise, is the depth and human complexity of our artist's lives, particularly our great artists.

Of course, It little matters to Brando now that we consumed him rather than understanding and appreciating him. He is now where we can no longer harm him.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Mass Resistance to An American Tradition

The following articles from today's New York Times describes the fierce public response to, and the political fallout from, the blatantly racist remarks by the former fundraiser for the Clinton campaign, Ms. Geraldine Ferraro, who resigned yesterday when a tidal wave of public protests called for her to apologize and step down from her role in the Clinton campaign. What is especially noteworthy about the articles is that they also describe just how outraged and disgusted the national African American community is by Ferraro's remarks and Hillary Clinton's initial lukewarm response to them. Clinton seems today however to have changed her tune. Ummmmm...I wonder why...

The other noteworthy aspect of these articles is that they also chronicle just how "racially divided" voting trends are becoming in the Democratic primaries by citing the wide disparity between African Americans giving 90% of their votes to Obama and white voters responding by only casting 26% of their votes for Obama in the recent Mississippi primary. Of course this happened in a state which has always had a notorious reputation (and justly so) for historically being the most violently racist state in the entire country. So it's not exactly a fully accurate barometer of national voting trends where issues of "race" are concerned. But I'm certainly not naive or pollyanna about these matters. I get the general point various observers and pundits are trying to make...Stay tuned...


March 13, 2008
Democrats Face Racial Issue Again


After the Democratic primary in South Carolina turned racially divisive in January, Senators Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama essentially declared a truce and put a stop to fighting between their camps. But this week, race has once again begun casting a pall over the battle between the two.

On Wednesday a close ally of Mrs. Clinton, Geraldine A. Ferraro, the Democratic vice-presidential nominee in 1984 who was on the Clinton finance committee, resigned from the campaign after being criticized by Mr. Obama’s advisers, among others, for her recent comments that “if Obama was a white man, he would not be in this position” as a leading presidential contender.

Ms. Ferraro did not disavow that remark. Mrs. Clinton called it regrettable but did not take any action.

At an event in Washington after Ms. Ferraro's resignation, Mrs. Clinton addressed Mrs. Ferraro's comment: "I certainly do repudiate it and I regret deeply that it was aid. Obviously she doesn't speak for the campaign, she doesn't speak for any of my positions, and she has resigned from being a member of my large finance committee."

Mr. Obama, speaking to reporters on Wednesday, said he did not believe that there was “a directive in the Clinton campaign saying, ‘Let’s heighten the racial elements in the campaign.’ I certainly wouldn’t want to think that.”

He said he was puzzled at how, after more than a year of campaigning, race and sex are at the forefront as never before.

“I don’t want to deny the role of race and gender in our society,” he said. “They’re there, and they’re powerful. But I don’t think it’s productive.”

Yet race, as well as sex, have been unavoidable subtexts of the Democratic campaign since the two candidates began seeking to be the first African-American or the first woman to lead a party’s presidential ticket. In the primaries and caucuses this winter, too, Mrs. Clinton has enjoyed substantial support from women, while Mr. Obama has increasingly drawn overwhelming votes from blacks.

The Tuesday primary in Mississippi, a state where the electorate has historically been racially polarized, generated one of the most divided votes. Mrs. Clinton received 8 percent of the black vote, and Mr. Obama received 26 percent of the white vote, according to exit polls by Edison/Mitofsky for The Associated Press and television networks.

Mrs. Clinton’s advisers said Wednesday that they were concerned about her standing among blacks, once a core constituency for her and her husband, but that they also believed that black support for Mr. Obama was a foregone conclusion at this point.

They said they were wrestling with ways to make inroads with blacks in Pennsylvania, which holds the next primary, on April 22.

Mrs. Clinton’s reluctance to sideline Ms. Ferraro, who made her comments last week to The Daily Breeze in Torrance, Calif., left the specter of race hanging over the Democratic contest.

That decision drew a sharp rebuke on Wednesday from the Rev. Al Sharpton, the black political leader in New York and a former presidential candidate, who questioned whether Mrs. Clinton’s campaign was keeping the issue alive as a way to win white votes in Pennsylvania.

In addition to Ms. Ferraro’s remark, Mr. Sharpton cited Mrs. Clinton’s decision not to fire her top ally in Pennsylvania, Gov. Edward G. Rendell, for saying in February that some white voters there were “probably not ready to vote for an African-American candidate.”

“When you hear the lack of total denunciation of Ferraro, when you hear Rendell saying there are whites who will never vote for a black, one has to wonder if the Clinton campaign has a Pennsylvania strategy to appeal to voters on race,” Mr. Sharpton said in an interview. “I would hope Mrs. Clinton would make it clear that she is not doing that.”

Mr. Sharpton ran against Ms. Ferraro in 1992 in New York in a primary for a Senate seat.

Howard Wolfson, the Clinton campaign’s communications director, said in response: “She has made it clear. She makes it clear all the time.”

From virtually the start of the contest between Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Obama in January 2007, they have sought to move beyond race and sex, acknowledging that their possible nominations would be historic, yet saying they were running on their qualifications.

At the same time, each has used the issue against the other. Mr. Obama’s advisers suggested that Mrs. Clinton was playing the sex card last fall after a brutal debate where several male contenders criticized her.

Mrs. Clinton’s advisers and former President Bill Clinton suggested that black candidates like Mr. Obama had done well in South Carolina because of support among African-Americans there.

Although Mr. Obama did not directly call on Ms. Ferraro to quit the campaign finance committee, his aides worked to keep the issue alive. They set up a conference call with reporters to draw attention to the comment.

On Wednesday, Mr. Obama called the remark wrongheaded but said he did not believe that Ms. Ferraro intended it to be racist.

“The Clinton campaign has talked more during the course of the last few months about what groups are supporting her and what groups are supporting me and trying to make a case that the reason she should be the nominee is that there are a set of voters that Obama might not get,” he said. “And that seems to track in a certain racial demographic.”

Mr. Obama’s advisers noted that his support among whites in Mississippi increased, to a small degree, over that in South Carolina, when some Democrats had feared that Mr. Obama could be called a candidate who appealed just to black voters.

Race has been a defining feature of the primary contests. Beyond Mississippi, Mrs. Clinton was backed by 5 percent of black voters in Illinois, Mr. Obama’s home state; 8 percent in Wisconsin, where black voters made up 8 percent of the Democratic primary vote; 9 percent in Delaware; 10 percent in Virginia; and 11 percent in Georgia, all states Mr. Obama won.

Mr. Obama’s 26 percent support among whites in Tuesday’s primary was one of his worst performances with this group.

He had previously been supported by 16 percent of white voters in Arkansas; 23 percent in Florida, where the candidates did not actively campaign; 24 percent in South Carolina, where John Edwards was still competing; and 25 percent in Alabama.

Dalia Sussman contributed reporting.

March 12, 2008

Clinton Addresses Ferraro Backlash


WASHINGTON — On the hot seat in front of a largely African-American media audience, Hillary Rodham Clinton again rejected comments made by Geraldine Ferraro, the former vice presidential nominee whose repeated remarks in the past week have ignited another round of racial identity politics.

Senator Clinton was asked Wednesday night – though it wasn’t the first question — about the Ferraro contretemps and whether she had “done enough” to address comments some have interpreted as racist. Senator Barack Obama deemed them divisive just yesterday.

Ms. Ferraro, a former vice presidential candidate, has repeatedly said in recent days that Senator Obama wouldn’t have been in the position he’s in now if he wasn’t black. Outcry from the Obama camp and the greater public led her to resign from the post she held on the Clinton campaign finance team earlier today.

“I said yesterday that I rejected what she said, and I certainly do repudiate it,” said Senator Clinton at the forum sponsored by the National Newspaper Publishers Association, a group that represents more than 200 African-American papers. “And I regret deeply that, you know, it was said. Obviously she doesn’t speak for the campaign, she doesn’t speak for any of my positions. And she has resigned from being a member of my very large finance committee.”
Senator Clinton added:

“You know, both Senator Obama and I have throughout this campaign had to take occasion to remind our supporters and our staff that we want to run this campaign based on our issue differences, our records, our qualifications, our experience.

I think, I recall, it was in one of these debates maybe in January where both of us said, ‘Look, we know that we don’t control what is said by everybody who supports us.’ One of his top advisers had to resign about something she said about me.

So we are aware that this happens, but we are particularly sensitive to it because of the nature of this campaign and who each of us is. So we do stand against it, we repudiate it, we try to take action wherever we can, and we will continue to do that.”

When another audience member brought up Bill Clinton’s characterization of Senator Obama’s popularity during the South Carolina primary, when the former president likened his support to that of the Rev. Jesse Jackson’s years ago in a way that seemed to minimalize Mr. Obama’s candidacy, she said, “I’m sorry if anyone was offended. It was certainly not meant, in any way, to be offensive.”

Mrs. Clinton again said that she’s proud to be in this election, and that she would urge her supporters to vote for Mr. Obama if he made it through to the general election.

The other questions she fielded dealt with Hurricane Katrina victims – she said as president she’d appoint a staff member just to deal with the situation – and racial profiling. She also reiterated her commitment to fighting AIDS and improving health care in low-income communities.

Tomorrow night, Senator Obama is to be honored by the media organization as newsmaker of the year. This will be the second time he has received this award from the organization. The first was in 2005.

March 12, 2008, 5:17 pm
Ferraro Quits Clinton Post

Updated | 8:25 p.m.

After a two-day firestorm, Geraldine Ferraro has quit Senator Hillary Clinton’s finance committee, saying that Senator Barack Obama’s campaign was twisting her words to make her appear racist and that this was hurting Mrs. Clinton.

“I am stepping down from your finance committee so I can speak for myself and you can continue to speak for yourself about what is at stake in this campaign,” Ms. Ferraro wrote in a letter to Mrs. Clinton. “The Obama campaign is attacking me to hurt you. I won’t let that happen.”

For the last two days, Ms. Ferraro has been sharply criticized for comments she made last week, but which surfaced only recently, that suggested Mr. Obama had succeeded as far as he had because he was black.

“If Obama was a white man, he would not be in this position,” she told the Daily Breeze, a newspaper in Torrance, Calif.

While critics, including Mr. Obama, pounced on her, a defiant Ms. Ferraro defended her remarks, saying they were accurate and not racist. She has said that she herself benefited from being a woman because otherwise, she would not have been the vice presidential nominee in 1984.

But by mid-afternoon, she resigned from her membership on the finance committee.

Senator Clinton addressed Ms. Ferraro’s remarks at a forum sponsored by the National Newspaper Publishers Association.

There was no immediate comment from the Clinton campaign, but Howard Wolfson, a spokesman, said that Ms. Ferraro had decided to leave on her own.

Ms. Ferraro continued to speak out and press her point, telling NBC News after her resignation: “This is the last time the Obama campaign is going to be able to play this kind of race card. They should apologize to me for calling me a racist.”

Bill Burton, a spokesman for the Obama campaign, said the campaign had not twisted her words. “I find that notion to be completely ludicrous,” he said.

He added: “As Barack Obama has repeatedly said, it is time to move beyond the politics that slices and dices the electorate by race, region, or gender so that we can finally come together and focus on the challenges that unite all of us as Americans.”

Mrs. Clinton said yesterday that she “rejected” Ms. Ferraro’s original comments. But questions persisted about why she had not denounced them more sharply and whether they actually worked to the Clinton camp’s advantage with white voters.

On a conference call this afternoon with Clinton officials, before Ms. Ferraro stepped down, Andrea Mitchell of NBC News asked why Mrs. Clinton had not been more emphatic and if there hadn’t been a pattern by the Clinton campaign of exploiting such remarks.

Howard Wolfson, Mrs. Clinton’s spokesman, replied that the campaign was “completely unaware” of Mrs. Ferraro’s remarks before she made them. “We did not in any way encourage them,” he said.

He noted that when Mrs. Clinton responded to a question about the comments, she “made clear she disagreed with them and she rejected them.”

Ms. Mitchell persisted, noting that in previous cases where people associated with both campaigns had made problematic remarks, the campaigns had taken aggressive action.

Mr. Wolfson said that Mr. Obama had not always removed people from his campaign, citing the cases of David Geffen, the Hollywood mogul, and General Gen. Merrill A. McPeak, both of whom had sharply criticized Mrs. Clinton but neither of whom were removed.

“Each circumstance is different,” Mr. Wolfson said. “Geraldine Ferraro is not an adviser, she is not a member of the staff and we have made clear that we reject her comments, that we disagree with her comments, that she was not speaking on behalf of the campaign.”

Mr. Obama was asked about the matter this morning on NBC’s “Today.”

“Part of what I think Geraldine Ferraro is doing, and I respect the fact that she was a trailblazer, is to participate in the kind of slice and dice politics that’s about race and about gender and about this and that, and that’s what Americans are tired of because they recognize that when we divide ourselves in that way we can’t solve problems.”

Ms. Ferraro went on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” where she was asked if she was sorry for what she had said. “Absolutely not,” she responded.

She was also asked whether the Clinton campaign might actually agree with her but could not say so publicly.

“That’s not of concern to me,” Ms. Ferraro said. She said that the Obama campaign was spinning her as a racist and “doing precisely what they don’t want done.”

Since Ms. Ferraro was named to the Democratic ticket in 1984, she has said she would not have been picked if she had not been a woman. In 1988, she said of Jesse Jackson that if he were not black, “he wouldn’t be in the race.”

This interview in February on Fox Radio’s John Gibson show gives you a good flavor of Ms. Ferraro’s view that race is playing a big role in this campaign. She was talking about Representative John Lewis, the Georgia Democrat who is a superdelegate and who switched his endorsement from Mrs. Clinton to Mr. Obama.

“I’m very disappointed,” she said. “When I see John Lewis. He’s turning around _ this is a civil rights leader. What in God’s name did he change his vote from Hillary to Barack Obama? I’ll tell you why. Because he faces, he’s not going to lose a Democratic primary in his district in two years, but he sure as hell will face one if he sticks it to Barack Obama when he has a greater majority of blacks in his district. So he’s looking at, he’s not going to lose. I’m so disappointed in him, I could die. I look at Rosa DeLaura up in Connecticut. She represents New Haven. Tell me, I mean I don’t care what she says, tell me why she’s endorsing Barack Obama and came to his defense on an issue like choice when he voted six times maybe? When he voted present? I’m a lunatic about this stuff. I can’t believe people are doing it.”

Mr. Gibson asked her if it was possible that Mr. Obama had a wave behind him and that politicians wanted to reflect the views of their constituents.

“John,” she said, “between me and you and your millions of listeners, if Barack Obama were a white man, would we be talking about this as a potential real problem for Hillary? If he were a woman of any color, would he be in this position that he’s in? Absolutely not.”

Mr. Gibson then asked, “Geraldine, are you playing the race card?”

“No, and that’s the problem,” she said. “Every time you say the truth — I’m the first person, John, and you know how honest I am — I am the first person who will say in 1984, if my name were Gerard instead of Geraldine, I would never have been picked as the vice presidential candidate.”

An American Tradition Continues--Thanks to Geraldine Ferraro


The brazen infantile behavior displayed by Ferraro is what you ALWAYS get from racists (or people who make racist remarks and/or engage in racist actions) in a truly racist society like the 'United Hates'. This behavior is characterized and informed by the following telltale, even highly predictable signs:

Pathological lying, willful distortions of fact, bad faith, blatant irrationality masquerading as sound logic, massive insecurity, fear-mongering, insults, contempt, malice, condescension, posturing, self-pity, fake innocence, indifference to others, victimizers pretending to be victims, ridicule, and ignorance. Usually pervasive violence is not far behind as well. These attitudes and values are what has allowed and continues to allow millions of white Americans to defend and justify 250 years of chattel slavery and another 145 years of massive racial discrimination, oppression, segregation, disfranchisement, profiling and surveillance, exploitation, murder, sexual and psychological abuse, social terror, and theft.

White racists were like this in the 18th century. They were like this in the 19th century. They were like this in the 20th century. And they haven't changed in the 21st century. Of course just like in previous centuries when racists categorically refused to take intellectual, moral, social, and ethical responsibility for their racism, racists today continue that sordid and murderous tradition. This is the historical legacy that Ms. Ferraro has inherited and that she proudly continues to advance today. Is she now going to admit that simple fact and critically examine herself and her motives in that light? Of course not. But if there's one thing that racists almost NEVER DO under any circumstances whatsoever--especially when prompted to do so by an inferior--er, excuse me, I mean "black person", and that is to simply admit they are WRONG. Because if they did that they could then begin to seriously question and dismantle the gigantic structure of racism itself. However, how could a racist live without their racism? It's unthinkable, isn't it?


Ferraro leaves Clinton camp over remarks on Obama
Comments shine spotlight on race and gender

By Globe Staff And Associated Press / March 13, 2008

Geraldine Ferraro stepped down from Hillary Clinton's national finance committee yesterday, but not before a controversy over remarks she made about Barack Obama exposed the politics of race and gender in the Democratic presidential race.

'It was a statement of fact,'
Ferraro said over her remarks
that suggested Obama wouldn't be in the lead if he were not black.

Apology, and a defense

Ferraro told CNN that she was not asked by the Clinton campaign to make the move, but decided it would be best.

In a letter obtained by CNN, Ferraro wrote Clinton: "I am stepping down from your finance committee so I can speak for myself and you can continue to speak for yourself about what is at stake in this campaign. The Obama campaign is attacking me to hurt you. I won't let that happen."

Earlier yesterday, the 1984 vice presidential nominee apologized to those who thought it racially insensitive for her to suggest that Obama wouldn't be the Democratic front-runner if he were not black. But she then declared: "It wasn't a racist comment. It was a statement of fact."

On ABC's "Good Morning America," she also accused the Obama campaign of twisting her words, saying that "every time" someone makes a negative comment about Obama they are accused of racism.

Tuesday night, Ferraro had even stronger words about Obama's camp for the Daily Breeze, the newspaper in Torrance, Calif., whose interview with her last week started the controversy. "Racism works in two different directions," she said. "I really think they're attacking me because I'm white. How's that?"

The Obama campaign had called on Clinton, who had distanced herself from Ferraro's comments and called them "regrettable," to remove Ferraro from her finance committee.

Before Ferraro's resignation, Obama admonished her yesterday, saying that if someone in his campaign had suggested that Clinton "is where she is only because she is a woman," people would "take great offense, and rightly so."

"Part of what I think Geraldine Ferraro is doing, and I respect the fact that she was a trailblazer, is to participate in the kind of slice-and-dice politics that's about race and about gender. . . That's what Americans are tired of because they recognize that when we divide ourselves in that way we can't solve problems," Obama said on NBC's "Today" show.

At an afternoon news conference in Chicago, Obama, who would become the first black president if elected, said he did not believe that the Clinton campaign was deliberately stirring racial divisions or that Ferraro's comments were racist.

"I think that her comments were ridiculous. I think they were wrongheaded," he said. "The notion that it is a great advantage to me to be an African-American named Barack Obama and pursue the presidency, I think, is not a view that has been commonly shared by the general public."

The Illinois senator also expressed frustration that racial issues keep arising, asserting that his primary victories across the country have proven he can draw support from all races and regions. "We keep on thinking we've dispelled this," he said. "And it keeps on getting raised once again."

Obama said he believes that the vast majority of voters will base their decisions on substantive issues. "I have absolute confidence that if I'm doing my job, if I'm delivering my message, then there are very few voters out there that I can't win," he said. "If I'm not winning them over, then it's my fault."

The controversy comes as the Democratic electorate appears more racially polarized. Obama won the support of more than 90 percent of black voters in Mississippi on Tuesday, while Clinton won about three-fourths of white voters, according to exit polls.

Before Ferraro's resignation, the Clinton campaign stoked the fight a little more, buttressing Ferraro's comments that Clinton has been treated unfairly as a female candidate by highlighting remarks by an Obama adviser last month.

Retired Air Force General Merrill A. "Tony" McPeak told the Los Angeles Times that Obama has "real gravitas" and "doesn't go on television and have crying fits," an apparent reference to Clinton's much-publicized emotional moment on the eve of the New Hampshire primary.

The Obama campaign had immediately repudiated the comments, and McPeak quickly said he had "high regard" for Clinton. But the Clinton camp pointed out that he is front and center in vouching for Obama's national security credentials, including a news conference yesterday.

McPeak said Obama had the right judgment and steady temperament to be commander in chief, praising him for opposing a "dumb war" in Iraq and calling him "No-shock Barack" and "No-drama Obama."

© Copyright 2008 Globe Newspaper Company.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Letters To My Sisters

I'm sorry sister but the current situation is actually FAR WORSE than the Clintons bickering over the sideline issue of "major states." These vile attacks on Obama are exacting a tremendous toll on the democratic process itself and putting not only the Democratic Party nomination and future nominee in grave political and personal jeopardy but is systematically tearing the entire national Democratic Party APART. There are FIVE MORE MONTHS BEFORE THE NATIONAL DEMOCRATIC PARTY CONVENTION IN AUGUST. I GUARANTEE you that the process and the Party itself (let alone the candidates--and especially Obama) will NOT survive five more months of this criminal onslaught by the vicious Clinton Machine. THIS CAN'T POSSIBLY CONTINUE TO GO ON IN ITS PRESENT STATE OR NO ONE WILL SURVIVE!

Forget about the murderous Republicans in the national election. The Democratic Party and their nominee will be BURNT TOAST way before the national campaign for the presidency even begins. Obama especially is being exposed to REAL DANGER if this process comes down to relentlessly attacking his HUMANITY. The poisonous racist tone injected into the election by Billary, Inc. is more lethal and and destructive than anything the KKK could even CONCEIVE let alone execute!

Don't you see what the REAL STAKES are in this election? These loathsome attacks are not only a vicious assault on Obama but by direct implication the ENTIRE AFRICAN AMERICAN PEOPLE AND ESPECIALLY OUR NATIONAL VOTING BLOC who as I've pointed out many times before have consistently been the most loyal and dependable bloc of Democratic Party voters for the PAST CENTURY. This vile, crude, and thuggish attack on our people and on Barack Obama is a clear and undeniable signal being sent by the DNC, the white male elite who runs the Party--spearheaded by none other than BILL CLINTON himself--and the maniacal ring of racists, pseudo feminists, Karl Rove-like mercenary operatives, and 'dirty trick' fixated political gangsters who currently run Hillary's "campaign."

No, I'm afraid that all this is about far more than an argument about which states are "major" or "minor" in terms of delegate count and making a case for who the nominee should be. In the current atmosphere of racist terror tactics and brazen cynical ploys to buy, manipulate, and steal votes by the Clinton Machine they are not only turning the entire process into a sick, demnted JOKE but are seriously working to DESTROY the only decent candidate the Democratic Party has had in nearly 50 years!

It's a f---ing DISGRACE and as I said if this is allowed to go on and the DNC and other "leaders" within the Democratic Party don't intervene NOW to OFFICIALLY STOP THIS VICIOUS RACE-BAITING not only will the reactionary Republican Party WALTZ TO VICTORY in November but the Democratic Party will be FINISHED as a national organization that African Americans and any other responsible voters could trust, endorse, or support.

Under these circumstances can anyone out there say: IT'S WAY PAST TIME FOR A VIABLE THIRD PARTY IN THIS COUNTRY...

Letter # 2

You know of course that this entire episode with Ferraro was planned and engineered in advance by the Clintons on purpose and that Ferraro's so-called feigning of innocence and resisting the public's and Obama's calls to step down were all AN ACT so that this "story" could remain in the newspapers for a few more days and send a clear RACIST SIGNAL to the white voters in Pennsylvania that the "nigger is coming" and this is why you shouldn't vote for him. Ferraro and the Clintons set this all up so that it would get precisely the public response (pro and con) that it's received. It's all SLIMY PUBLICITY for Billary, INC. and you see how many people have already fallen into the trap--including the media--don't you?

This is what criminal scumbags do. I have absolutely NO RESPECT WHATSOEVER FOR THE CLINTONS AT THIS POINT. NONE, ZERO, NADA, and I hope with all my heart and soul that they get only THE WORSE of what's surely coming their way. They're nothing but liars, thieves, and racist hypocrites and they thoroughly deserve what's "coming around"--as in "What goes around...")


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."


The Clintons Are Political Scumbags!

The Clinton Machine is letting out all the stops in what is quickly turning into the dirtiest, most racist, most manipulative and dishonest campaign in modern democratic party history. Check out the latest flap involving Geraldine Ferraro's vicious racist remarks about obama yesterday. After being criticized severely by obama and most of the media Ferraro still insists on defending these remarks. Meanwhile Clinton pretends she is not really aware that Ferraro is doing such things and says she "doesn't agree with Ferraro's remarks" and that "it's regrettable that people on both sides are saying things that unfortunately become personal" (though it's obvious the Clinton camp deliberately put Ferraro up to this and then acts like it's the "regrettable result" of both campaigns engaging in such rhetoric which of course is a patent lie). It's a clear case of a racist version of 'good cop/bad cop' role playing by the Clintons and Ferraro...who in the hell do these cretins think they're fooling...

In other words: it's all a racist ploy by the Clinton machine to play into the racist fears of white working class voters in the upcoming Pennsylvania primary on April 22. Check out the following articles on all this for the transparent evidence of these rancid 'dirty tricks'

Imo the Clintons are nothing but scum as well as utterly corrupt liars and thieves. I wouldn't put anything past them. Their entire mindset is absolutely criminal and if this criminality is allowed to prevail into the democratic party convention and Clinton is elected by the superdelegates the entire democratic party should be destroyed and African Americans should seriously boycott the election. I really mean that to the very core of my being. This is beyond vicious. I think the Clintons are also putting Obama in real danger by their constant racist ploys and antics and are willfully creating an incredibly hostile environment for him and his campaign. Nothing good will come of these vile tactics and if the dp goes into the convention with this horrific cloud hanging over its head the party will implode and splinter into a million bitter pieces and McCain will reap the benefit and be elected president of the United Hates

I blame not only Billary, inc, for this looming catastrophe but the Latino voting bloc (especially their opportunist national leadership), white racist workers who wouldn't know how to vote in their own self interest if their lives depended on it, and pampered, self indulgent racist white women like Ferraro who think their gender is entitled to the presidency just because another white woman is running.

Mark my words folks: all the filthy chickens are coming home to roost in this race and the only victor in this debacle will be john Mccain. But if the democratic party doesn't stop the Clintons now the party would deserve their fate for allowing the Clintons to willfully attack Obama's humanity while trying to turn American hatred and fear of black males into votes...


Geraldine Ferraro's Ugly Words - Accidental, or Campaign Ploy?
Posted March 12, 2008 | 12:47 AM (EST)

Geraldine Ferraro, once a beacon of hope for the possibility of a new era in American politics, has now disgraced herself for a second time. Today's 'clarifying' comments regarding last week's racist remarks were, if anything, even more offensive. They, and now Ms. Ferraro herself, symbolize a dark and ugly political era that belongs firmly in the past. And by allowing her to remain with her campaign in an official capacity, Hillary Clinton has brought the shadow of Ms. Ferraro's disgrace upon herself.

I remember the pleasure my then-wife and I felt when Rep. Ferraro was nominated as the Democratic Party's Vice Presidential candidate. As parents of a small girl who was already showing leadership traits, we -- and many others -- saw her as the harbinger of a better and more inclusive politics, the politics of the future.

What a disappointment yesterday, then, to read of Ms. Ferraro's ugly and bigoted comment that Barack Obama is "lucky" to be black, and that he would not be where he is today "if he were a white man" or "a woman." Make that ugly, bigoted -- and incorrect. There are no serious political observers of any political orientation who doubt Sen. Obama's political skills, including Republicans or the Clintons themselves.

Ms. Ferraro's comment may be offensive and wrong, but that doesn't mean it's stupid. On the contrary: It looks pretty shrewd. Her words play very well into white resentment of affirmative action, by harping on the notion that less-qualified black people are getting jobs that should go to hard-working and experienced white people.

Ferraro's words suggest a coded play for the bigot vote, with the "woman" reference thrown in to somehow link Obama with the oppression of women (a little something for the Erica Jong set.) It fits in nicely with the "accidental" darkening of Obama's skin in a Clinton campaign photo, or Sen. Clinton's recent statement that Sen. Obama isn't a Muslim -- "as far as I know."

If that weren't bad enough, Geraldine Ferraro went back to the well today: "I really think they're attacking me because I'm white," she said. "How's that?"

How "that" is, Ms. Ferraro, is offensive and shameful. You have dishonored the country that has given you so much.

Still, are her statements the uncensored ravings of a bigot -- or yet another example of the Clinton campaign playing the race card and then saying "who, me"? Comments like Ms. Ferraro's play into the fears and resentments of some lower-income white voters -- the same voters who just so happen to be Sen. Clinton's strongest voting bloc.

Before Hillary's devoted followers weigh in, they should consider this: Geraldine Ferraro still has a position with the Clinton campaign. Clinton's waffling rejection of Ferraro's comments stands in sharp contrast to Samantha Power's immediate resignation. (And the Powers comment was personal in nature, not a play to bigotry.)

Here's what Senator Clinton had to say today: "It is regrettable that any of our supporters on both sides, because we've both had that experience, say things that kind of veer off into the personal," she said. "We ought to keep this on the issues." Apparently she can't resist exploiting the victim role, even when an official in her campaign has transgressed the bounds of political decency.

And Ferraro isn't just some "supporter." She has an official role with the campaign as finance chair. She speaks as a Clinton surrogate. By allowing Ferraro to keep her role in the campaign, Sen. Clinton is giving Ferraro's remarksher tacit approval. She's confirming the worst fears of those who believe she will stoop at nothing to become President.

Do I believe that Sen. Clinton has a secret command center dedicated exclusively to transmitting coded messages of racial bigotry? Of course not -- er, I mean, not as far as I know. Do I think she and her staff use coded appeals to bigotry when it's convenient? Put it this way: A pattern of "accidental" racial slurs has persisted throughout the campaign, despite all the controversy, and has yet to be explained. (And, as a commenter noted, Ferraro used the same line in 1988.)

It's still possible, given enough public pressure, that Ferraro will resign from the Clinton campaign. That would be appropriate. But given the waffling today, even that would now leave the suspicion that this was an example of a time-worn and dirty political tradition: Have a surrogate inject hateful ideas in the campaign, then let them take the fall for it once the ugly message has been set loose.

Either way, it's time for Geraldine Ferraro to retire from the public stage. At this point she's no longer just an embarrassment to the Clinton campaign. Her continued presence as a Democratic figure tarnishes the entire party. At a time when American politics needs to lift its sights toward higher purpose, she is a reminder of its ugly past - one that, sadly, is apparently still alive and well in some quarters.

Oh, and one last question: Is Geraldine Ferraro by any chance a superdelegate?


Ferraro's Obama Remarks Become Talk of Campaign

Published: March 12, 2008

PHILADELPHIA - The Democratic presidential contest was jolted Tuesday by accusations surrounding race and sex, set off by remarks from Geraldine A. Ferraro that Senator Barack Obama had received preferential treatment because he is a black man.

Geraldine A. Ferraro said Barack Obama was getting preferential treatment because he is a black man.

Ms. Ferraro, the former congresswoman and vice-presidential candidate who backs Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, told The Daily Breeze, a newspaper in Torrance, Calif.: "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."

She made the comments last week, but on Tuesday, the Obama camp latched on to them, calling them outrageous and demanding that Mrs. Clinton repudiate them.

In an interview on Tuesday night, Ms. Ferraro defended her comments and said she was furious with the Obama campaign, accusing it of twisting her words.

"Every time that campaign is upset about something, they call it racist," she said. "I will not be discriminated against because I'm white. If they think they're going to shut up Geraldine Ferraro with that kind of stuff, they don't know me."

Despite calls that Ms. Ferraro step down from the Clinton campaign, where she is a member of the finance committee, there was no indication on Tuesday that she would.

The Ferraro comments overshadowed an increasingly bitter dispute between the campaigns about the candidates' qualifications to serve as commander in chief. On Tuesday, Greg Craig, a former official in the administration of President Bill Clinton, and now a vocal supporter of Mr. Obama, issued a blistering rebuttal to Mrs. Clinton's assertions that she had been deeply involved in her husband's foreign policy successes.

"She never managed a foreign policy crisis, and there is no evidence to suggest that she participated in the decision-making that occurred in connection with any such crisis," Mr. Craig said. Referring to her "red phone" commercial, he said, "As far as the record shows, Senator Clinton never answered the phone either to make a decision on any pressing national security issue - not at 3 a.m. or at any other time of day."

The Clinton campaign said that Mr. Craig's memorandum was baseless and that the Obama campaign had been unable to make a positive case for Mr. Obama's experience.

Mr. Obama and the Clintons campaigned Tuesday in Pennsylvania, opening up a new front in the long-running and increasingly bitter contest for the Democratic presidential nomination. The state does not vote until April 22, and there are no contests before then, leaving the candidates six full weeks to try to make news here while their surrogates proceed to eviscerate the opposition.

Mrs. Clinton, of New York, delivered an intensely populist speech here and at a rally earlier in Harrisburg, blasting the oil companies and promising to create jobs and make college affordable. She also reprised her past complaints that Mr. Obama, of Illinois, did not always say what he meant. She said that while he had suggested that, as president, he would renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement and withdraw troops from Iraq in 16 months, for example, his top advisers had indicated otherwise.

Mr. Obama, in his first campaign visit to Pennsylvania, did not hold one of his usual big rallies. Instead, he appeared before a few dozen people at a factory in Bucks County that makes wind turbines, reprising glimpses of his plan to expand health care, create more environmentally friendly jobs and provide tax breaks to working families.

But Ms. Ferraro's comments dominated the day. Reached at her home in Manhattan on Tuesday evening, she said that, in her original remarks, she was asked why there had been so much excitement about Mr. Obama's candidacy. "And I said, 'I think part of it is because he's black,' " she said. "People are excited about this historic candidacy. I am, too."

But the Obama campaign "twisted" her remarks, she said. "I am livid at this thing," she said. "Any time you say anything to anybody about the Obama campaign, it immediately becomes a racist attack."

The Clinton campaign did not contact her on Tuesday, Ms. Ferraro said. "I don't want them to reach out to me," she said. "I'm exercising my First Amendment rights. If they don't like it, tough. I don't intend ever to have anybody tell me that I can't say what I want to say."

Ms. Ferraro said her involvement with the Clinton campaign had been vastly overstated. When asked what her role is, she said: "None. None."

Last fall, Ms. Ferraro also indicated that she thought Mr. Obama was getting preferential treatment from the press. "It's O.K. in this country to be sexist," she said then. "'It's certainly not O.K. to be racist. I think if Barack Obama had been attacked for two hours - well, I don't think Barack Obama would have been attacked for two hours," she said, referring to a Democratic debate.

As the day went along, the Obama campaign grew increasingly angry over the remarks, and in the late afternoon, Mr. Obama himself called them "divisive" and "patently absurd."

Mrs. Clinton later distanced herself from Ms. Ferraro's comments, telling The Associated Press that she did not agree with what Ms. Ferraro had said.

"It is regrettable that any of our supporters, on both sides, because we've both had that experience, say things that kind of veer off into the personal," Mrs. Clinton said.

Katharine Q. Seelye reported from Philadelphia, and Julie Bosman from New York. Jeff Zeleny contributed reporting from Fairless Hills, Pa.


Geraldine Ferraro defends remarks about Obama
Wed Mar 12, 2008 9:16am EDT

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Former vice presidential candidate Geraldine Ferraro on Wednesday stood by her comment that Democrat Barack Obama is only where he is because he is black and said the reaction by his campaign was dividing the party.

"My comments have been taken so out of context and have been spun by the Obama campaign as racist that it's doing precisely what they don't want done -- it's going to the Democratic Party and dividing us even more," Ferraro said in an interview with ABC's "Good Morning America."

Ferraro, the Democratic vice presidential candidate in 1984 and the only woman ever nominated by a major party for either of the top two U.S. political offices, ignited a flap by telling a California newspaper that "if Obama was a white man, he would not be in this position."

"And if he was a woman 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," Ferraro said.

Ferraro, who is supporting Hillary Clinton's campaign to become the Democratic nominee in November's presidential election, told ABC she believed that was true and that she was hurt by reaction by the Obama campaign that she said painted the comments as racist. She said she has fought against discrimination for 40 years.

"My concern has been over how I've been treated as well and hurt, absolutely hurt by how they have taken this thing and spun it to imply that in any way, any way I am racist," she said.

When asked about Ferraro's remarks, Obama said that being an "African American man named Barack Obama" was not the quickest path to becoming U.S. president.

"Anybody who knows the history of this country I think would not take too seriously the notion that this has been a huge advantage, but I don't think it's disadvantaged either," Obama said.

Obama, who would be the first black U.S. president, rode a wave of heavy black support to victory on Tuesday in a primary race in Mississippi and extended his lead over Clinton in pledged delegates to the August nominating convention. The Illinois senator also won on Saturday in Wyoming.

Clinton, who would be the first woman U.S. president, said on Tuesday she did not agree with the comments and called them "regrettable," but the Obama camp accused her of a double standard for refusing to rebuke Ferraro and remove her from her finance position with the campaign.

An Obama foreign policy adviser resigned last week after telling a British newspaper Clinton was "a monster."

(Reporting by Donna Smith, editing by Eric Walsh)

© Reuters 2008 All rights reserved


Ferraro's Remarks About Obama Decried
ANN SANNER | March 11, 2008 05:22 PM EST |

WASHINGTON - Hillary Rodham Clinton said Tuesday she disagrees with Geraldine Ferraro, one of her fundraisers and the 1984 vice presidential candidate, for suggesting that Barack Obama only achieved his status in the presidential race because he's black. In a brief interview with The Associated Press, Clinton was questioned about Ferraro's remarks.

The Obama campaign has called on the New York senator to denounce them.

Ferraro told the Daily Breeze of Torrance, Calif.: "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."

The newspaper published the interview last Friday.

Clinton said, "I do not agree with that," and later added, "It's regrettable that any of our supporters _ on both sides, because we both have this experience _ say things that kind of veer off into the personal."

"We ought to keep this on the issues. there are differences between us" on approaches to health care, energy, experience.

Ferraro is a former New York congresswoman and was Walter Mondale's running mate when he was the Democratic presidential nominee in 1984. She has endorsed Clinton and raised money for her campaign.

Obama called Ferraro's comments "patently absurd."

"I don't think Geraldine Ferraro's comments have any place in our politics or in the Democratic Party. They are divisive. I think anybody who understands the history of this country knows they are patently absurd," he told the Allentown Morning Call. "And I would expect that the same way those comments don't have a place in my campaign they shouldn't have a place in Senator Clinton's either."

Obama senior adviser David Axelrod said Ferraro should be removed from her position with the Clinton campaign because of her comments.

"The bottom line is this, when you wink and nod at offensive statements, you're really sending a signal to your supporters that anything goes," Axelrod said in a conference call with reporters on Tuesday.

"There's no other way to send a serious signal that you want to police the tone of this campaign," he added. "And if you don't do those things then you are simply adding to the growing compendium of evidence that you really are encouraging that."

Axelrod said Clinton has encountered problems because people view her as a "divisive and polarizing force."

"The best way to address those concerns is to not allow divisiveness and negativity to flourish among your supporters," he said. "And this is an opportunity for her to address that."

Jan Schakowsky, an Obama supporter and Illinois congresswoman, said Democrats should not tear each other down, and instead focus on defeating John McCain, the Republican nominee-in-waiting.

"I respect every person's right to promote his or her candidate, but any and all remarks that diminish Senator Obama's candidacy because of his race are completely out of line," Schakowsky said on the conference call.

Ferraro also said Obama has it easy because of a "very sexist media."

"I think what America feels about a woman becoming president takes a very secondary place to Obama's campaign _ to a kind of campaign that it would be hard for anyone to run against," she said. "For one thing, you have the press, which has been uniquely hard on her. It's been a very sexist media. Some just don't like her. The others have gotten caught up in the Obama campaign."

Last week, a former adviser to Obama resigned after calling Clinton "a monster."




The Red Phone in Black and White

Published: March 11, 2008
Cambridge, Mass.

ON first watching Hillary Clinton's recent "It's 3 a.m." advertisement, I was left with an uneasy feeling that something was not quite right - something that went beyond my disappointment that she had decided to go negative. Repeated watching of the ad on YouTube increased my unease. I realized that I had only too often in my study of America's racial history seen images much like these, and the sentiments to which they allude.

I am not referring to the fact that the ad is unoriginal; as several others have noted, it mimics a similar ad made for Walter Mondale in his 1984 campaign for the Democratic nomination. What bothers me is the difference between this and the Mondale ad. The Mondale ad directly and unequivocally played on the issue of experience. The danger was that the red telephone might be answered by someone who was "unsure, unsteady, untested." Why do I believe this? Because the phone and Mr. Mondale are the only images in the ad. Fair game in the normal politics of fear.

Not so this Clinton ad. To be sure, it states that something is "happening in the world" - although it never says what this is - and that Mrs. Clinton is better able to handle such danger because of her experience with foreign leaders. But every ad-maker, like every social linguist, knows that words are often the least important aspect of a message and are easily muted by powerful images.

I have spent my life studying the pictures and symbols of racism and slavery, and when I saw the Clinton ad's central image - innocent sleeping children and a mother in the middle of the night at risk of mortal danger - it brought to my mind scenes from the past. I couldn't help but think of D. W. Griffith's "Birth of a Nation," the racist movie epic that helped revive the Ku Klux Klan, with its portrayal of black men lurking in the bushes around white society. The danger implicit in the phone ad - as I see it - is that the person answering the phone might be a black man, someone who could not be trusted to protect us from this threat.

The ad could easily have removed its racist sub-message by including images of a black child, mother or father - or by stating that the danger was external terrorism. Instead, the child on whom the camera first focuses is blond. Two other sleeping children, presumably in another bed, are not blond, but they are dimly lighted, leaving them ambiguous. Still it is obvious that they are not black - both, in fact, seem vaguely Latino.

Finally, Hillary Clinton appears, wearing a business suit at 3 a.m., answering the phone. The message: our loved ones are in grave danger and only Mrs. Clinton can save them. An Obama presidency would be dangerous - and not just because of his lack of experience. In my reading, the ad, in the insidious language of symbolism, says that Mr. Obama is himself the danger, the outsider within.

Did the message get through? Well, consider this: people who voted early went overwhelmingly for Mr. Obama; those who made up their minds during the three days after the ad was broadcast voted heavily for Mrs. Clinton.

For more than a century, American politicians have played on racial fears to divide the electorate and mobilize xenophobic parties. Blacks have been the "domestic enemy," the eternal outsider within, who could always inspire unity among "we whites." Richard Nixon's Southern strategy was built on this premise, using coded language - "law and order," "silent majority" - to destroy the alliance between blacks and white labor that had been the foundation of the Democratic Party, and to bring about the Republican ascendancy of the past several decades. The Willie Horton ad that George H. W. Bush used against Michael Dukakis in 1988 was a crude manifestation of this strategy - as was the racist attack used against John McCain's daughter, who was adopted from Bangladesh, in the South Carolina Republican primary in 2000.

It is significant that the Clinton campaign used its telephone ad in Texas, where a Fox poll conducted Feb. 26 to 28 showed that whites favored Mr. Obama over Mrs. Clinton 47 percent to 44 percent, and not in Ohio, where she held a comfortable 16-point lead among whites. Exit polls on March 4 showed the ad's effect in Texas: a 12-point swing to 56 percent of white votes toward Mrs. Clinton. It is striking, too, that during the same weekend the ad was broadcast, Mrs. Clinton refused to state unambiguously that Mr. Obama is a Christian and has never been a Muslim.

It is possible that what I saw in the ad is different from what Mrs. Clinton and her operatives saw and intended. But as I watched it again and again I could not help but think of the sorry pass to which we may have come - that someone could be trading on the darkened memories of a twisted past that Mr. Obama has struggled to transcend.

Orlando Patterson is a professor of sociology at Harvard and the author of "The Ordeal of Integration: Progress and Resentment in America's 'Racial' Crisis."

This kind of racist fear mongering by the Clinton Machine is going to continue and it's GOING TO GET WORSE. The entire national black community better raise their voices in loud and relentless PROTEST at the sheer injustice of all this very soon because these loathsome attacks on Obama are ALSO ATTACKS ON THE AFRICAN AMERICAN POPULATION AS WELL. I CURSE THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY AND ESPECIALLY THE DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL COMMITTEE FOR ALLOWING THE SCUMBAGS KNOWN AS THE CLINTONS TO GET AWAY WITH ALL THIS...