The Blog

Et tu, Geraldine?

1:10 PM, May 19, 2008 • By DEAN BARNETT
Widget tooltip
Single Page Print Larger Text Smaller Text Alerts

The wages of identity politics continue to ravage the Democratic party. Now comes a blow of the cruelest sort.

Path breaking gyno-politician Geraldine Ferraro has told the New York Times she might not vote for Barack Obama if he's the Democratic nominee (which of course he will be). What has driven the woman who managed the nearly impossible feat of dragging down a ticket with Walter Mondale at its head to such an extreme measure? "I think Obama was terribly sexist," said Ferraro.

As you know, I'm not in the habit of defending Barack Obama on this site. But for the life of me, I have no idea what Ferraro is talking about. Perhaps she figures that out of a sense of political chivalry, Obama should have just let the girl in the race win. On second thought, that's probably not it.

With her comments, Ferraro wonderfully illustrates the political hazard of jamming everything into an identity-based framework. A certain faction of Hillary supporters decided early on that any attack on Hillary was by definition sexism of the most odious sort. Of course, this was always nonsense on stilts. It's not like white men are able to enter presidential politics without getting attacked.

The problem for the Hillary people is they seemed to think that if they cried "sexism" often enough, the electorate would eventually agree. Even if the media echoed their cries (which they didn't), the electorate wouldn't have necessarily concurred. Four years ago, the media dutifully repeated the Kerry campaign's anguished whines of "Swiftboating." All the carping did nothing for Kerry.

There's a cautionary tale in here for the Obama campaign. The question is whether the Democrats have become so attached to claiming victim status that they're now unable to break the habit.