THE BLOG

Hillary's Sexist End-Game

05/28/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

This morning, on the Today Show, 1984's Vice Presidential candidate and Hillary Clinton campaign surrogate Geraldine Ferraro pulled the trigger and cynically played the unfortunate but inevitable "gender card" -- she called Barack Obama "sexist." In March 2008 she groused that "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 offended so many of us who are gender- and color-blind in this election cycle that she was rightly called on the carpet for her inane comments and removed from Clinton's "official" campaign functions.

Her comments today are no less shocking. When queried if misogyny was to blame for Clinton's defeat after a historically close and contentious campaign, she implored viewers that "it wasn't so much they were referring to gender, it was the way they attacked her. What happened in this race is every time you raised the issue, you're accused of playing the gender card. Latent sexism has been around in this country for a long time, in this campaign it was patent."

Ms. Ferraro needs a good long look in the mirror -- sexism cuts both ways and Hillary's continued presence in this campaign is, in and of itself, a manipulation of the very concept of sexism.

People throughout the U.S. and abroad are scratching their collective heads wondering why Hillary is still "going all the way to Denver" when the delegate campaign mathematics ate her for lunch weeks ago.

For all her unfathomable tenacity against NO odds, she's been curiously dubbed by political talking heads as "The Terminator", the "Energizer Bunny" and compared to Glenn Close in the film Fatal Attraction. Those pundits owe apologies to Mr. Schwarzenegger, Ms. Close and the cute pink bunny. Why?

Because the elephant in the room is a simple concept -- the Clintons' flaunting of Obama's clear and decisive victory defines nothing short of unadulterated sexism. Before this unanticipated hot-button word makes you utter "what the f---?" and turn off your brain(s), hear me out. Hillary, we'll assume, has no Y chromosome. Then how could the Clintons be playing the "gender" card and be labeled as sexists?

I know that this may seem unfathomable to you, so you'll have to temporarily suspend the logic of "conventional wisdom." A woman working the "gender card?" Say it ain't so.

Notwithstanding Bill's "racist" statements about Jesse Jackson after Obama won the South Carolina primary and their operatives' deliberate fanning of the Jeremiah Wright and "Muslim" rumor flames, there's a real reverse discriminatory narrative here that is plainly evident if you step back from the minutiae of the tiresome rhetoric and look at the whole "forest" for a moment.

Imagine if Super Tuesday had gone the way Mark Penn, Terry McAuliffe, Howard Wolfson, Patty Solis Doyle and the rest of Clinton's doomed advisors had assumed it would. Their "inevitable" candidate Hillary would have been coronated and she would have steamrolled herself into the Democratic Presidential nomination with a formidable, decades-old, well-branded, supremely-well-connected political machine and a massive bankroll to ensure that she was (like the Titanic) "unsinkable." Then she would have called on Democratic Party leaders to clear the decks for her and throw the other Democratic contenders overboard. All of them. White, black, male, female, gay, straight or transgender.

If the shoe was on the other foot, they Party leaders would no sooner tolerate an unelectable man (of any color) running around, dissing Hillary and messing with their perfectly-oiled campaign at this stage than Bill would have tolerated oatmeal for breakfast when offered a McDonald's Egg McMuffin®.

Obama is a young, brilliant, charismatic statesman with a moving personal narrative. a picture-perfect family, a stunningly effective campaign team whose strategists ran a brave, hard-fought campaign against spectacular odds and beat the most powerful Democratic political machine of the past two decades.

Obama is gutsy, articulate, elegant, unflappable and full of ideas and energy. Everything that the Clintons secretly believe is their personal bailiwick. He MUST, Clinton insiders say, be stopped at all costs, even if she takes herself and the Democratic Party down with her.

The Clintons' now plaintive cries of "it's not over by a long shot", "every state deserves a voice" and "we're doing this for the good of the party" are insulting. The Clintons do everything and anything for one purpose only -- to keep a Clinton in power.

And they are not going to let someone less seasoned take what is "rightfully theirs." He hasn't yet "paid his dues." It's "not his time." She did her time as an educated and ambitious woman at "the back of the bus." He should sit quietly in the rear and respect the nice lady up front.

Lest you think my sexism label is misapplied, let me suggest that this behavior is not just your typical Clintonian gall or bravado. Politics is too nasty a contact sport to tolerate such petulance, especially when the stakes are so high. It is a highly calculated gamble by Hillary that no one will call her on the reverse discrimination of her own overt sexism.

Do you really believe that, if the tables were turned, the Democratic elite and the Clintons would tolerate a man who is mathematically unelectable pulling out the Karl Rove playbook and playing the "gender" card? Or dismissing Hillary's ability to be "Commander in Chief on Day One?" Or brazenly suggesting that THE REPUBLICAN CANDIDATE (the ancient, mealy-mouthed, flip-flopping, newly-evangelical "maverick" John McBush) would be a better person to answer that ringing phone at 3 AM?

Quite simply and sadly, this tragic passion play is an exercise of deeply ingrained Democratic "wussiness" and sexism.

The Democrats are so afraid of fracturing the party more deeply than the destructive Mrs. Clinton has already done (quite deliberately and expertly, I might add) and alienating the women, minorities and Independents that the Party needs to win the general election that they have stood on the sidelines like scared schoolchildren who are afraid to tell the class bully that the game is over and that she lost.

If Hillary were a man -- for example, a terrific populist candidate like John Edwards -- she would have been long gone. Then why is this woman still on the stump with the blessings of her own political party, her supporters and the media pundits who are witnessing this train wreck in slow motion?

By their deliberate inertia, the Democratic elite are allowing Hillary to continue to smear the Party's democratically-elected candidate and to undermine his position in the general election. So Obama will lose and she can run again in 2012? So she can say "I told you so about the electability of a candidate of color?" So the Clintons' political "brand" is preserved and enshrined as a team of "gritty fighters" that they would like as their legacy? Maybe.

Or could it be that SHE'S playing the gender card and she knows that no one will touch her because of legitimate fears of being labeled (by the outspoken but out-of-touch Geraldine Ferraro and her minions) as "misogynist."

One thing is clear. This is not just about sour grapes. No one in the Democratic Party - especially in this unique political climate of inevitable change from disastrous Republican rule -- would tolerate this level of disrespect and peevishness from a loser if it were anyone other than a Clinton.

But the fact is that she IS being tolerated, even excused for this inexcusable behavior. And I need not point out the obvious in this historic election year except for the fact that it bespeaks the aforementioned "elephant in the room" -- that she's the first woman of any color to get this far and he's the first black man to have a clear shot at the Presidency.

The implied sexism of Hillary's continued presence in this campaign is self-evident. And she's working it for every last ounce of political capital. Her "run to Denver" implies that the people of the United States are not ready to throw a woman overboard or inaugurate a black man as President. But sexism - like racism -- is a word (or concept) that dare not speak its name. It's too dangerous. Too uncomfortable. Too politically incorrect. Except when it's the truth.

Where are the thoughtful, outspoken and outraged feminists of this country - including the disappointed crowd who ardently supported Hillary's brave campaign yet still love this country - to tell her that enough is enough. Why don't these women point out that Ferraro's playing of the "gender card" is as insulting to the electorate as it is to her highly qualified but short-on-delegates candidate? Why are they not incensed that we will not and cannot allow one person's ego to drag down the entire party down for one person's future political ambitions?

We all know that this psychodrama is precisely what Republican strategists' wet dreams are made of -- a never-ending, self-immolating Democratic campaign that will forever validate the notion that the Democrats will continue to be the champions of "snatching defeat from the jaws of victory."

Senator Obama's Democratic Presidential campaign victory is no "fairy tale." Mrs. Clinton's continued defense of her presence on the national electoral stage is.