Geraldine Ferraro’s comments that Barack Obama’s candidacy benefits from his being black has re-launched a new wave of media stories examining the race factor. Newspapers across the country – including in Pennsylvania where the next primary happens – are analyzing whether the Clinton campaign benefits from these types of racial comments which wind up overshadowing the campaign at large.
Some papers dub it the “Archie Bunker strategy”, an attempt to tap into potential prejudices in white ethnic voters by forcing them to focus on Obama’s “blackness.”
Reckless and irresponsible comments have turned this historic race into a divisive and at times ugly campaign, and consequently racial politics has firmly burrowed itself into the election. We are still almost six weeks away from the Pennsylvania primary and given the pattern thus far, Ferraro probably won’t be the last to discuss Obama’s skin color.
So how do the candidates handle these moments? It’s hard to imagine Clinton orchestrated the latest salvo, but should she have spoken out against it more forcefully? Should she be held responsible for divisive comments made by a woman associated with her campaign?
For Obama, does it do him a disservice to respond to all these kinds of statements? Does he risk a backlash by appearing to play the race card himself even though he was attacked?
And what about the Democratic Party itself? Democrats constantly accuse Republicans of playing the politics of fear and division, but they seem to know their way around the block all too well. They love advertising the fact the first black or female nominee will head their ticket, but shouldn’t the path to this remarkable moment strengthen the party and not leave it divided?
– Eric Bloom, 360° Producer
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