As you know, Geraldine Ferraro quit Clinton’s finance committee today with a letter to the Clinton campaign:
“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,” Ferraro wrote in a letter to Clinton.
“The Obama campaign is attacking me to hurt you. I won’t let that happen.”
She was unrepentant, arrogant, and a victim all at once.
It’s interesting though, to take a trip back in time to read Lewis Lapham’s words about Ferraro’s memoir of her 1984 vice presidential campaign in the December, 1985 issue of Harper’s Magazine (subscription required):
Like most politicians who write self-serving memoirs, Ferraro blames as many other people as possible for her own failures. Mondale condescended to her; the sexists (mostly Republicans or insensitive newspaper reporters) didn’t take her seriously as a woman; Archbishop John O’Connor misrepresented her attitude toward abortion; bigots hated her because she was Italian, and her husband, the otherwise wonderful, supportive John Zaccaro forgot to tell her that he had been doing business with criminals. Newsweek published an abridged text of roughly 12,000 words, but over the full length of the book, I’m sure that Ferraro manages to nominate at least twenty additional individuals or historical accidents to her catalogue of recriminations.
The most grotesque aspect of this memoir is its tone. The writing attests to a mind complacently devoid of wisdom, skepticism, or humor.
Her jaunty egoism makes of the campaign the equivalent of a course in macrame or aerobic dancing. She is incapable of discovering even the tiniest flaw in her perfection, and it never occurs to her that voters in the hundreds of thousands might have failed to find her plausible because they saw her as a hack politician married to a real estate operator under criminal investigation.
Wow. I have loved Lapham’s writing for many years, but in this case his judgment of Ferraro’s character is supreme.
The major problem I saw in this whole flap was not so much the words of her first statement, but rather the lack of regret that her words could possibly be taken the wrong way. She seemed oblivious to any interpretation of why her words might be thought to be hurtful. And then to top it off, she later said:
“I really think they’re attacking me because I’m white. How’s that?”
I’ll tell you how it is Mrs. Ferraro: Lapham’s words about you seem even more accurate now than they did 23 years ago.