Wednesday, March 12, 2008


I've been assuming that there was forethought behind the rollout of Geraldine Ferraro's recent comments about Barack Obama, but Kevin Drum thinks that's unlikely:

... the Torrance Daily Breeze is a faceless little local newspaper with a circulation of about 60,000. Nobody outside the South Bay reads it, Ferraro's comment was buried near the end of the original article, California has already voted, and no one in the Obama campaign cared about it. In fact, nobody would ever have noticed her remarks in the first place if Kos hadn't highlighted them three days after they appeared. Ferraro's moment in the national press didn't start until after the blogosphere erupted.

If Ferraro was trying to do some dog whistling, she sure picked an unusually ineffective forum for it. It's way more likely that she just blurted out something dumb to a local reporter, and then got her dander up when people started piling on about it....

Well, OK. On the other hand, everything -- certainly everything said by a prominent supporter of either of the candidates -- eventually gets read all over the country, because of this wacky thing they call the Internet. So this was said more or less out of the limelight, but not in complete obscurity, because there's no such thing anymore.

So was this a spontaneous outburst that was never meant to be noticed, or was it a dry run/trial balloon? If it had never been noticed, is Drum sure it wouldn't have been repeated in a more prominent setting until it was noticed? Remember, we've got nearly six weeks to go till Pennsylvania votes.

In any event, if this was a supporter going off message, there was a simple solution: The Clinton campaign could have done everything in its power to get Ferraro to stop, and could have put the maximum amount of distance between itself and her as quickly as possible. Instead, the initial response was tepid (Washington Post headline: "Clinton Disagrees With but Declines to Press Ferraro"). It clearly didn't horrify to the campaign. Make of that what you will.

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