2008-03-28 / Columnists

From the Editor's Desk

Commentary By Howard Schwach

Anybody who believes that the Democratic primary isn't about race and gender has not been paying attention to the pretty CNN graphics that dazzle the eye and enlighten the mind.

When a large percentage of white voters poll for a white candidate over a black candidate, that's considered racism at work.

When 81 percent of black voters poll for Barack Obama, the first black man to have a legitimate shot at the presidency, however, the media considers that "diversity at work."

Take a look at the results of the primaries to date.

Eighty-one percent of the black Democratic voters have voted for Obama, seven percent for Clinton.

White voters have come out 50 percent for Clinton, thirty-nine percent for Obama, leading to the thought that more black people vote along racial lines than white people.

Sixty percent of the men (both white and black) have voted for Obama, while 28 percent of all men voted for Clinton.

On the other hand, 51 percent of women have voted for Clinton while 40 percent have voted for Obama.

Tell me again that race and gender have no place in this election.

That is why Clinton campaign aide and former vice-presidential candidate Geraldine Ferrara was telling a political truth when she said that if Obama race with Clinton.

What she meant was that many of the black women who voted for Obama because he is black would have voted instead for Clinton, a woman, if Obama were white.

She was forced to retire from Clinton's campaign and the candidate was forced to repudiate what she said even though you can bet she knew that it is true.

You're not allowed to tell the truth this year, not with a black man and a white woman the front-runners.

And, while Clinton was forced to repudiate Ferrara, Obama continues to support the Reverend Jeremiah Wright, his long-time preacher and mentor, who has made statements such as "We bombed Hiroshima. We bombed Nagasaki. And we nuked far more than the thousands in New York and the Pentagon, and we never batted an eye."

And, "Hillary ain't never been called a Nr." And, "Not God bless American, but God damn America."

What has Obama said about his mentor, the man who was on his campaign listed as a "Spiritual Advisor?"

"I never heard him say anything like that, and I repudiate those sayings, but not the man.

He is my friend." On a Sunday morning television show, the Reverend Calvin Butts, one of the most influential church leaders in the nation, said, "Those who go to church know the rhetoric when they hear it.

They separate the rhetoric from the word of God."

Can Obama separate the rhetoric that his friend and spiritual advisor regularly spews from his pulpit?

Clinton was forced to repudiate Ferrara for telling the truth, but Obama gets away with repudiating the message but not the man.

Tell me again that this election is not about race and gender.

Obama finally addressed the racial firestorm caused by the rants and ravings of his favorite pastor, the man who married him and his wife, who baptized his children, who he called his "life-long spiritual advisor, in a speech last week.

The speech was well-crafted not to denounce his good friend. It recognized the long-standing legacy of racism and discrimination, but it stopped short of excusing Wright's own racist statements.

Yes, Virginia, black people can be racist and sometimes are.

Obama condemned the statements that you see all over the cable news shows without disavowing Wright. He should have. Wright's rhetoric can best be described as inflammatory and toxic and that is being kind.

Wright blamed 9/11 on the United States and this nation's actions around the world. He excoriated America's support of Israel as being the root of many of our problems. He glorified Elijah Muhammad and his minions.

Obama tried to put Wright's words in some historical context, but I think that he failed.

He tried to condemn Wright's words without condemning the man who spoke them. That seldom works.

What sealed the deal for me was Wright's screaming screed proclaiming that Obama is somehow better than Hillary Clinton because "She ain't never been called a N***r."

If that isn't racist, I don't know what is.

It is unfortunate that Clinton won't be allowed by party leaders to use the Wright connection to her own benefit, because it would be legitimate for her to do so.

Clinton is ignoring the Wright case, probably because she is not really allowed by the party honchos to use the race card to move against Obama, even if she is right to do it.

You can be sure that John McCain will not ignore Wright should Obama win the nomination.

You will see advertisements with a split-screen showing Obama on the one side talking about everybody getting together and making a change and Wright on the other, saying that 9/11 was America's fault and that this nation should be excoriated throughout the world for its policies.

How about a political ad that shows Wright screaming "God damn America," intertwined with Michelle Obama's statement that she is proud of America for the first time because of her husband's candidacy, intercut with photos of Obama's lapel minus an American Flag. That will all sell in middle America, and perhaps in the blue states as well.

That should be interesting.

I am willing to bet my dollars against your donuts that either race or gender will become major issues once the Democratic nomination is decided.

Should Obama win, the issue will be race and his connection to the racist pastor, Jeremiah Wright.

Should Clinton win, the issue will be gender and just how much of a part she played in her husband's administration.

By the way, while we're at it, Clinton's daily logs for her White House days has been released and checked twice by the media.

Many pundits have excoriated her, saying that she did not do enough to earn her contention that she was gaining experience during that time

She didn't help herself by lying about some of her foreign trips, stating that she was "under sniper fire," when, in fact, she was not.

I would like to see Obama's timesheets from the same period. I'll bet what he was doing pales in comparison to what she was doing, whatever it was she was doing.

November is a long way away. Much can happen between now and then.

Always remember, however. This Democratic fight involves race and gender and anybody who says that it doesn't has their head buried in the sand.

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Mr. Schwach,

A fifty-cent word like excorciate loses its punch when it is twice preceded with the misspelling of a former U.S. Vice Presidential candidate's last name. It's Ferraro...with an "o."

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