Hillary Clinton sure was contrite yesterday! The Senator from New York apologized at least three times with regard to her campaign’s often contentious take on race in America. It’s always nice to hear politicians apology – it does happen so rarely! – but we can’t help but wonder why Clinton’s made such a push.
Clinton’s apology came in the context of Geraldine Ferraro’s resignation. Ferraro, who ran for Vice-President alongside Walter Mondale in 1984, stepped down after making some contentious comments about Barack Obama. As we’re sure you’ve heard, Ferraro insisted that Obama’s success has been based on his blackness.
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.
Many took Ferraro’s comment to be racist in nature and accused of Ferraro of playing on white people’s affirmative action fears. Ferraro repeatedly denied those charges and accused the Obama campaign of attacking her because she’s white.
Ferraro finally stepped down yesterday so that she can “speak for myself,” she wrote to Senator 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.
Apparently Clinton didn’t want anyone attacking her, either, because she made an incredible apology tour yesterday, telling black voters she’s sorry for any offense they may felt over Ferraro’s comments. While Ferraro made the most recent race-tinged headlines, Clinton again found herself defending her husband, former President Bill Clinton, who caused a controversy in South Carolina last month when he made a negative comparison between Obama and 1988 presidential hopeful, Jesse Jackson.
Said Mrs. Clinton yesterday:
You know I am sorry if anyone was offended. It was certainly not meant in any way to be offensive. We can be proud of both Jesse Jackson and Senator Obama.
Anyone who has followed my husband’s public life or my public life know very well where we have stood and what we have stood for and who we have stood with.
The Clintons have long stood by black Americans, but Barack Obama’s candidacy has thrown a serious wrench in their strategy.
The Mississippi primary numbers represent the most extreme example of race-based voting her in America. 90% of black people voted for Barack Obama, which no doubt worried the lagging Clinton campaign.
Clinton’s vociferous atonements are not solely to express what we’ll assume to be the candidate’s heartfelt emotions, but a push to recapture the black voters’ imagination. Clinton’s Bill apology continued:
Once one of us has the nomination there will be a great effort to unify the Democratic party and we will do so, because, remember I have a lot of supporters who have voted for me in very large numbers and I would expect them to support Senator Obama if he were the nominee.
Now that Obama has squashed Clinton’s veep suggestion, the Senator needs to take a more cooperative stance. She claims she wants to unify the party, but only after attempting – and failing – to split it in her favor.
If Clinton were so concerned about party unity, she would acknowledge the unfairness of the Michigan primary and would have asked Ferraro to step down immediately. Letting the story drag out, however, Clinton not only insured she dominated the news, but left herself with a tidy space in which to apologize, an appreciated rarity in national politics.