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Wag the Blog: HRC & Obama

Welcome to week two of Wag the Blog, the latest Fix feature where we ask you to write about interesting political issues.

A few reminders before we get started.

First, the question below is intended to spark discussion and should not be read as our personal position on the issue. In fact, we will strive to ask questions that will be applicable and interesting to people of all political stripes.

Second, we'll be monitoring the comments section throughout the day and pulling out a selection of the most insightful and thought-provoking entries. Those will get their own post on The Fix later today.

Let's Wag the Blog.

Question: If elected, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) would be the first female president of the United States. Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) would be the first African-American to hold the nation's highest office. Which is the bigger impediment in American politics -- Clinton's gender or Obama's race? Or is neither trait a political impediment? Could either be a strength?

The comments section below awaits your thoughts.

By Chris Cillizza  |  January 18, 2007; 11:50 AM ET
Categories:  Wag The Blog  
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Comments

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Posted by: Clothes | February 21, 2007 2:47 PM | Report abuse

There is NO WAY anybody named "Obama" will ever be the leader of this land. He is a closet Muslim, very dangerous and uniformed on issues facing America. He is in it for the black man only - he may as well be named farrakhan!

Posted by: jeannie marie | February 17, 2007 6:42 PM | Report abuse

I've written a cool Obama'08 gadget for Live.com, Google, Spaces and can be added as a code snippet on websites and blogs. It's a cool mix of technology and politics. I thought you may want to check it out. It's at http://obama.livegadgets.net/.

Posted by: donavon | February 13, 2007 3:45 PM | Report abuse

Wow! The Swift Boat smear, smear, smear tactics are already busy, busy, busy again, I see. Hints, innuendoes, suggested sins from the past: the whole gamut of offal is starting to ooze out of these offal spilling moths. The facts? The realities? The truths? None of these matter when it comes to the petty and putrid political agendas of some creeps. And then one of these characters has the gall to talk about someone "fresh, bright, [who] "loves America and is not always demeaning others." What in the world, Johnson, do you think you just did to Obama and Hilary? Ah, Hypocrisy, the child of the politically self-righteous. When we will see and call you what you are? Garbage by a nicer name.

Posted by: Greg Van Hee | January 23, 2007 2:59 PM | Report abuse

Wow! The Swift Boat smear, smear, smear tactics are already busy, busy, busy again, I see. Hints, innuendoes, suggested sins from the past: the whole gamut of offal is starting to ooze out of these offal spilling moths. The facts? The realities? The truths? None of these matter when it comes to the petty and putrid political agendas of some creeps. And then one of these characters has the gall to talk about someone "fresh, bright, [who] "loves America and is not always demeaning others. What in the world, Johnson, do you think you just did to Obama and Hilary? Ah, Hypocrisy, the child of the politically self-righteous. When we will see and call you what you are? Garbage by a nicer name.

Posted by: Greg | January 23, 2007 2:58 PM | Report abuse

Wow! The Swift Boat smear, smear, smear tactics are already busy, busy, busy again, I see. Hints, innuendoes, suggested sins from the past: the whole gamut of offal is starting to ooze out of these offal spilling moths. The facts? The realities? The truths? None of these matter when it comes to the petty and putrid political agendas of some creeps. And then one of these characters has the gall to talk about someone "fresh, bright, [who] "loves America and is not always demeaning others. What in the world, Johnson, do you think you just did to Obama and Hilary? Ah, Hypocrisy, the child of the politically self-righteous. When we will see and call you what you are? Garbage by a nicer name.

Posted by: Greg | January 23, 2007 2:57 PM | Report abuse

Hillary brings the baggage of the Clintons. Hussein Obama was raised in a radical Muslim school, apparently used drugs and got rich on a very questionable land deal.

Of the two Hillary is the best....but no bargain.

America needs someone who is new, fresh, bright, loves America and is not always demeaning others. One who is a tested problem solver.....not a problem themselves.

Posted by: Dennis Johnson | January 20, 2007 11:12 PM | Report abuse

Sorry: I am a Dem, liberal, white woman; and I day this country will not elect either a woman or a black. Ignorance still abounds.Because all of the citizens that elected George Bush are still out there, along with some rascists and poppas. The Democrats need someone who is electable. I wish I knew who?

Posted by: Anonymous | January 20, 2007 5:52 PM | Report abuse

Sorry: I am a Dem, liberal, white woman; and I day this country will not elect either a woman or a black. Ignorance still abounds.Because all of the citizens that elected George Bush are still out there, along with some rascists and poppas. The Democrats need someone who is electable. I wish I knew who?

Posted by: Anonymous | January 20, 2007 5:52 PM | Report abuse

Either Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama would be such a relief after George Bush. Let's face it, anyone who follows Bush as President is going to look awfully good. Bush has been so bad that it may be awhile before Americans are willing to vote for another white male for President. Now is a great time to move beyond gender and race issues in elections. I can't wait!

Posted by: Don | January 20, 2007 2:12 PM | Report abuse

GW Bush said "9/11 changed everything" and his administration proceeded to change everything; from Habeas Corpus, the Geneva Conventions, the US Constitution, our Bill of Rights, the list goes on. As each of these changes and their implications sank into the psyche of Americans (unfortunately not until after the 2004 election) their cup began to runneth over with sadness.
Prior to the Nov. 2005 elections, Karl Rove boasted of his handle on "the math" for elections and predicted Republicans would retain control of both houses of congress and we all know the rest of the story.
In my life time, Americans have never been so alarmed or hearbroken.
Americans are hungry for hope. They are sick of lies, cover ups, congressional scandals, psyops "perception management" operations, government propaganda operations in the US, mercenary armies and black ops. They are alarmed about KBR internment camps being built in the US for prisoners of the so-called fifth column.
My point, yes indeed, 9/11 and G W Bush has changed everything, including election strategies and past formulas for predicting election outcomes.
Americans have moved way beyond worring about race and gender of their elected officials. Unfortunately, newpaper columinsts have not.


Posted by: blondesprite | January 19, 2007 4:46 PM | Report abuse

In this case, it is not about race or gender. It is about these two people. I truly believe either would make a great President. But Hillary can't rally other human beings the way Obama can. Even those who now are putting his middle name in ALL CAPS, would be moved by him if they took the time to listen. Hillary tends to put people off - Ombama is quite the opposite. He brings together black and white, Muslim and Christian, urban, rural, and suburban, intelligencia and the working poor. He IS the real thing and I hope our country is ready for a black President because it would be one of the best things that could happen to and for our country.

Posted by: sheridan | January 19, 2007 3:04 PM | Report abuse

I agree HRC is not Reagan,she has brains!!An HRC--Bayh ticket would sure give us some people with mental ability but of course it would be hard to get used to after what we have now.

Posted by: Granny | January 19, 2007 2:15 PM | Report abuse

Steve, I never gave a damn whether a player was black or white! If he could play he played.

Now, where's my cigar?

Posted by: Red | January 19, 2007 11:17 AM | Report abuse

It is important to keep in mind the electoral math. Many who would not vote for a woman or an African-American for President are not only already in the Republican fold solidly but are also in solidly "red states."

In a Presidential campaign, the real question is whether a woman or an African-American can win in the "blue states" and enough of the "swing states." Ultimately, it may come down to whether the candidate can win either Ohio or Florida--or possibly even some Western states that are "red" but trending Democratic, such as Colorado and Nevada (and possibly Arizona if Sen. John McCain is not the Republican nominee). New Mexico went for Gore in 2000 but I think for Bush in 2004.

So two questions are pertinent here for me. How will a woman or an African-American candidate play among swing voters in Ohio and Florida? And in the other states mentioned above, as well as in the nationwide picture, how will either play among the Hispanic population, which is coming to have an increasingly decisive role in Presidential politics?

Other factors than gender and race will certainly come into play. One is Hillary Clinton's indecisive stance on the Iraq war. Another, sadly, is Barak Obama's middle name, Hussein. I can envision Republicans always referring to him as Barak Hussein Obama whenever they mention him, though, who knows? That could actually backfire. It could serve as a reminder that Republicans' obsession with Sadam Hussein led us into a disastrous war.

One plus, I think, for Obama is that his candidacy could potentially mobilize a voting block (African Americans) that has still not reached its potential in terms of its numbers.

Posted by: Gene Lankford | January 19, 2007 10:21 AM | Report abuse

DTM-

I'll take your word on the polling vs. Ryan, though that race would certainly have tightened more than the Keyes race did, especially given Ryan's deep pockets, absent the scandal. It would have at least been a representative example for supporters to point to. The larger point, though is that IL is more open than most states to electing a qualified black, (or even a less qualified black evidenced by Carol Mosely Braun) than the country as a whole.

I think, looking at it objectively (I believe) that Obama would have a fighting chance in 2012, given 8 years of national exposure. But I've seen enough of these lovefests in my lifetime to suspect that the press is going to turn on him viciously when he isn't everything that he appears to be. And speaking in generalities and platitudes only gets you so far at some point there's going to have to be some steak to go with the sizzle, or he'll end up like Jimmy Carter, another President who ran as everything to everyone and as an anti-politician with little experience, assuming he can get elected.

Which is not a foregone conclusion. Look at the map and tell me how he holds everything that Kerry took and which states he adds to get over the top against, say John McCain, who I can confidently say would have carried Michigan and Pennsylvania in 2000.

Assuming that McCain comes out of the nominating process not having to have gone too far right, his story is almost as compelling as Obama's, and he does not have the structural disadvantages that Obama carries.

The reality, as I pointed out earlier, is that the South is not monolithically racist, and maybe Obama could put TN and MS in play, maybe even NC and VA. The problem is that the West is MUCH more racist than most Americans presume.

Speaking anectdotally, I grew up in metro Detroit, moved to MT when I was in high school and went to college in NV, I've lived in ID, WA, NE, AZ and ND since then. One of the things that shocked me the most when I moved out west was how many people wore Boston Celtics gear. Why? Because the Celtics were the whitest team in the NBA.

The truth is that while Obama might put a couple of states into play, and be able to hold the upper midwest, maybe even the whole northeast, it would take AZ and all of the mountain west out of play, and I'm not convinced that he could carry the left coast, even CA.

I'm behind Edwards again this time. I'd vote for Obama without hesitation, hell, I'd even hold my nose and vote for HRC, but Edwards is the only one of the three who could conceivably carry my adopted home state (ND), or MT, or for that matter, the state next door MN, which is shockingly racially divided.

Posted by: Steve | January 19, 2007 10:07 AM | Report abuse

By the way, I should note that I think Andra is also not giving Clinton enough credit for what she has done in New York. It is true Clinton has not ended up in competitive races, but that is largely because she has made them uncompetitive.

Posted by: DTM | January 19, 2007 8:27 AM | Report abuse

Andra,

Actually, the Democratic primary for Illinois US Senate in 2004 was highly competitive. You may be thinking of the self-destruction of Blair Hull, but you appear to be overlooking the remainder of that field. The most notable contender was Dan Hynes, who was the pick of the party establishment, but there were also several other viable candidates. Obama's ability to distinguish himself in that crowded field and actually win 53% was really the first solid indication that he was capable of doing something special in politics.

Incidentally, that was not the first highly competitive primary Obama participated in. His first was actually when he went up against incumbent Bobby Rush for his US Rep seat, and Obama got solidly defeated. As Obama has written, he learned a lot through that experience.

So, that is actually two very competitive primaries in which Obama has participated.

Posted by: DTM | January 19, 2007 8:25 AM | Report abuse

Frankly, at this point, I don't believe that Senator Obama's race or Senator Clinton's gender make a scrap of difference compared to the obvious 'hunger' of citizens to see the political process transcend the divisive polarities of recent years.

For the first time in a long while I sense a genuine willingness on the part of voters to support candidates who are likely to challenge them. We ALL have a collective, if sometimes passive, responsibility for the 'train wreck' of Iraq and the pointless waste of missed opportunities internationally and at home. It is time to move onward and upward and any candidate who speaks to this issue will gain our support.

Posted by: Shaun Appleby | January 19, 2007 2:44 AM | Report abuse

"Some dems said the same thing about an actor from Ca. when he was in fact the one they feared most, need I say more."

Hillary Clinton is not Ronald Reagan... while I may agree with her politics more than I ever did his, he had the stage presence to sell it. also, 2008 is not 1980 - there are different issues domestically and internationally, not to mention the environment, which wasn't on either party's radar back then. another poster summed it up: hillary's biggest problem is hillary. The first woman to be elected to national office - admittedly unfairly - has a huge hurdle to clear, and it can't be cleared by someone as polarizing as Hillary. doesn't matter that she has been determinedly "moving to the center" - she has (again, admittedly unfairly) been depicted a certain way by the GOP, going back to 'Harry and Louise,' and it will take a huge personality and focused effort to get around that. the effort she will undoubtedly have, but the personality is a sale she can't make to the public, especially not if running against someone who has come across so well to voters so far.

Posted by: meuphys | January 19, 2007 1:33 AM | Report abuse

Oh, my mistake. I thought there were a whole lot of reasons to think that Hillary was a crappy candidate who the Republicans would love to run against. But it turns out I was wrong, for reasons that you can't make the slighest effort to explain. Thanks for clearing that up.

At least you're honest enough to admit there's no argument for Hillary as a candidate. It's a step in the right direction.

Posted by: Blarg | January 18, 2007 10:50 PM | Report abuse

Obama is the right candidate. I'd vote for him without hesitation. HRC is a negative personality who has invented "vast right wing conspiracies" when things weren't going her way. I could never vote for Hillary Clinton, but Obama would be a positive, thoughtful and intelligent president. Let's get Obama at the head of the ticket. HRC is the wrong person for the job. Race or gender has less to do with it than we think.

Posted by: sns | January 18, 2007 10:19 PM | Report abuse

Blarg: I think you get it!

Posted by: lylepink | January 18, 2007 9:43 PM | Report abuse

Even though there are racist people around I do think the country is looking for the right person who appeals to them personally.
I live in Illinois. It's like 2 different states. the southern part is like the deep south. Yet, in 04, during his senate run, I know of alot of white, good old boys who threw their support to Obama. He was totally accepted as a person and loved. Still is. Obama has a personal appeal that transcends the sterotypes and suspicions of some whites. Here we see Obama as a great senator and appealing person who is very much respected and loved.
This is the opposite of Hillary. She is as disliked on the left as the right. If the two ever get together to oppose her it would be overwhelming.
Nancy Pelosi has a great deal of support on the left and middle. She is a much more appealing woman than Hillary.
Hillary biggest problem is not that she is a woman but, that she is Hillary. People do not like her. And her public speaking style reinforces the negative feeling. She may hope moving to the middle will help but, it did not do her any good as it is seen as pandering and obvious rather than trying to appeal.
Hillary draws suspicion for any moves she makes and announcements. It's always the "what is her angle now"
Obama can get away with alot more than most candidates and be forgiven for many things. The opposition can throw out his middle name, try to tie him to Osama, make public his smoking, reintroduce his confessions of youthful indescretions and it just doesn't stick. People will forgive him for alot. People do not care what his skeletons are.
This is the opposite for Hillary. She will be roasted for any little thing.
If she gets in it will be more painful than fullfilling for her.

Posted by: vwcat | January 18, 2007 7:05 PM | Report abuse

Add to my last post. Some dems said the same thing about an actor from Ca. when he was in fact the one they feared most, need I say more.

Posted by: lylepink | January 18, 2007 6:25 PM | Report abuse

barack HUSSEIN OBAMA WILL BE EATEN ALIVE BY THE NEWS MEDIA WHEN THEY GET SICK OF THERE TOY!!

Posted by: llewrub | January 18, 2007 6:25 PM | Report abuse

'If anyone doubts the pervasiveness or "acceptable" sexism in this country, I direct you to this from drindl at 3:43pm: "AtlasShrugs is well-known [among the batsh** winger lunatics] whose most prominent achievement is putting on her kneepads for John Bolton."

Oh please, this woman put pictures of herself hanging all over John Bolton on her website. She's proud of it. I'm a woman, but when another woman is so enthusiastically a hatemonger who champions the cause of sending other people's children off to war, and then behaves publicly as she does, I have a right to call her on it.

Posted by: drindl | January 18, 2007 6:09 PM | Report abuse

What if either Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama would be disastrous, DISASTROUS nominees and brought down House and Senate candidates as well? That could happen and then we wouldn't have either a black or woman candidate for another 50 years. I have no way of knowing whether either of these 2 could just collapse since neither one has won a competitive election, not even a competitive primary election, as far as I know. The 2008 general election will be competitive.

Theres something very weird about the first woman and the first African American to have a serious shot at a major party nomination being politicians with absolutely no track record to say what kind of candidate she/he would be in a competitive election. I'd have thought that the "first" would be someone with a substantial record - yes, a "David Palmer" (24) type. Instead, Democrats are being put on the spot to make this historic choice and both of these candidates are "pig in a poke" candidates. And right after retaking the Congress, with vulnerable House and Senate majorities dependent on the Presidential nominee at least not blowing up.

Its a bit hard to sort out the initial race/gender question from the specific situation of Hillary and Obama.

Posted by: Andra | January 18, 2007 5:55 PM | Report abuse

Blarg: Your 05:00pm Post is plainly more proof that folks like you will/are buying the idea they want Hillary to run when just the opposite is true. Proving my point is impossible for some that have no idea of what my point is about. The best way I can try and explain is to go back to 1980 and try and find some comments and then you may, and I stress may, figure it out.

Posted by: lylepink | January 18, 2007 5:53 PM | Report abuse

I'm not as current with demographics as other posters on this blog, but I do know one thing. From our Declaration of Independence to last Monday's Martin Luther King Day, we've committed ourselves to being a pluralistic and tolerant society. There's no turning back.

For the last six years we've had an appalling deficit of good leadership, including most of Congress and the last two unsuccessful Democratic candidates. If irrelevancies like race or gender keep us from choosing the best among us as leaders, we're going to suffer the most rapid decline of any great nation in human history.

Colin Powell would have made a superb president. His autobiography suggests that his wife has some secret in her medical history that he didn't want dragged through the mud. So the reason he refused to run was chivalry, not racism or the fear of it.

But still . . . . Can you image how much better off we'd be as nation if Powell had been president the last six years?

We can't afford to let Barack Obama likewise slip through our fingers. I agree that Obama is the real thing. He's inexperienced and untested, but so were Lincoln and Kennedy in their times. His second book reveals a brilliant thinker and writer who sees all sides of every issue but has firm moral commitments. He's as smart as Bill Clinton, but he's a family man and won't have any "bimbo eruptions." And he has enough charisma to charm every audience from the inner city to corporate board rooms. He has the potential to be a great president, precisely fit for our times.

As for HRC, I'd have difficulty supporting her, especially against a moral leader like John McCain. The reason has nothing to do with her gender; I'd support Senator Dianne Feinstein (D. Cal.) in a heartbeat if she chose to run. It's just that after fourteen years of following HRC, I still don't know what she stands for or really cares about. She'll be an enigma (at least for me) until she finishes re-defining herself for the general election.

If you want to know why the public won't support that kind of politician, especially now, check out the following blog:

http://jaydiatribe.blogspot.com/2007/01/senator-clintons-plan.html

After eight years of living in an alternative reality of smear, demagoguery and bumper-sticker policies, we're going to need someone with the brains to formulate real solutions for real problems, the moral commitment to pick what problems to attack, and the charisma to build consensus around solutions. Obama has those qualities, and I can't see anyone else in contention who does.

Racism be damned. Obama's my man.

Jay


Posted by: Jay | January 18, 2007 5:50 PM | Report abuse

To be successful, Obama would have to capitalize on urban centers where his race and progressive agenda are a plus without inspiring massive defections in large rural areas by talking about faith and demonstrating his patented charisma. He would do well to study another election, namely his own 2004 Senate run.

Race and gender will impact some voters' thinking, but I think Obama will fare better. The question isn't who will vote for a particular candidate because of race, but who will vote at all because of race. Although some "swing" voters might shift their vote because a minority candidate, the turnout potential for an African-American presidential candidate is too significant to ignore, especially in the South and Midwest. I don't see Hillary benefiting from the same dynamic.

Posted by: Jon | January 18, 2007 5:39 PM | Report abuse

do not judge the world by a sample of drindls venom. she is bigoted, spiteful and ugly. all you get from her is tired old hate speech. she has never debated points, only attacks persons - the sign of a truly weak argument.
I have found this country to be forgiving, generous, fair and enlightened - particularly in comparison to some of our so-called enlightened European brothers.

Posted by: kingofzouk | January 18, 2007 5:35 PM | Report abuse

If anyone doubts the pervasiveness or "acceptable" sexism in this country, I direct you to this from drindl at 3:43pm: "AtlasShrugs is well-known [among the batsh** winger lunatics] whose most prominent achievement is putting on her kneepads for John Bolton."

People have written a lot about the concerns people in this country will have with a female "Commander in Chief." What about the issue of having a First Gentleman instead of a First Lady?

And I wish I could put some stock in George's 2:08pm prediction that men (and women?) will overcome their sexism when they walk out the door and see their daughters because they want their daughters to have that opportunity some day. However, many men don't make decisions based on what they would want to be true for their daughters/mothers/sisters; if they did, we wouldn't have the prevelance of sexual and physical violence against women that we have in this country.

Posted by: HThompson | January 18, 2007 5:30 PM | Report abuse

What if the GOP ran Condi? She's in both boats.

Posted by: John | January 18, 2007 5:18 PM | Report abuse

If Obama wins, there's no way he can win a second term. 1) there will be so many shots taken at him from a now unified GOP over the course of his term and 2) between 2008 and 2012, at least 1 racial debate (think Bell shooting in NYC, the busing controversy in WA, etc) will occur and he will have to either alienate the white voters or turn his back on the black voters. It'll be a lose/lose situation. So can Obama win? Sure. Will the Dems be more comfortable with HRC? Absolutely.

Posted by: jj | January 18, 2007 5:15 PM | Report abuse

lylepink, I'm getting really tired of you interpreting everything as evidence of your preconceived notions.

I'm going to repeat myself, because you never seem to understand this: The Republicans want Hillary Clinton to run. They wanted her to run in 2004, as documented extensively in the articles I linked to. The articles also list the many reasons why they want Hillary to be their opponent.

Considering that, why do you think they're afraid of her? Give me one piece of evidence, beyond vague suggestions that supporters of other candidates are Republican hired guns. (After all, how do I know you aren't a hired gun yourself?) I've stated my evidence that they want her to run. Now you prove that they don't.

Posted by: Blarg | January 18, 2007 5:00 PM | Report abuse

The Woman Commander in Chief or the African American Leader of the Free World? Intriguing concepts.

Fox's "24" has done a nice job of prepping the country for an African American president. The funny thing is: I, like many people, always thought the first African American president would be a Republican, and I may be wrong about that.

If the G.O.P. had not been so knee-jerk, and had Colin Powell wanted it more, he might have defeated Clinton in 1996. Alas, I digress.

But I doubt another prediction of mine is wrong: That the first woman president will be a Republican. Hillary is not a closer. Her challenges stem not from her sex but from her character as defined in the media. I cannot see her winning Ohio, or Florida, even with the country's recent ideological tremors.

Hillary is very much an Ohio - Florida candidate. And this is a mistake. She will need to play across the map, places like Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona (well, no one gets that assuming McCain seizes the Republican nod.) Added to that, she has embraced this war so wholeheartedly.

Why? Well, there is the Margaret Thatcher Warrior Queen iconography. She couldn't allow herself to be seen as weak.

But that is the same skewed logic that, perhaps, aided a failed candidate like John Kerry in signing off on this war -- his desire to appear strong, even though he voted against the first Gulf War, when Hussein actually attempted to take Kuwait and there were some real stakes on the ground.

Senator Obama is long on record as anti the Iraq War. He saw through it all -- the same way men of very right wing ideologies saw through this war: Pat Buchanan, William F. Buckley and even moderate Republicans like Gerald Ford.

To be anti this war was not to be immediately consigned to Kucinich-land.
A real candidate can articulate this vision without seeming weak.

But this question posed to us boils down to this: is the country too racist or too sexist?

My answer is going to mirror a lot of others. The independent swing voters left standing won't care either way. The disenchanted mainstream Republicans won't factor this in either.

Voters are, however, going to pay attention to the appearances and issues. Hillary's Iraq War votes will probably hurt her. Obama's sentiments about Iraq will help him; he will be able to cut a clear identity away from the opposition in the sharp, distinct manner that real candidates achieve when they aren't afraid of appearing to see the political landscape differently.

Obama makes for a nice counter-point on stage standing across from a seventy-something John McCain. Add a Bill Richardson to the ticket as Veep, and you've got a close one. His lack of experience won't factor as heavily as everyone thinks either; it could even play out as a virtue.

If experience were the sole thing voters looked at, we'd be running Richardson against McCain. And then there is this: Lincoln (failed U.S. Senate candidate with a term in the House), Wilson, FDR (elected governor 1928 and pres in 1932) -- their experience was similarly paltry.

Will Obama win South Carolina? No Way! But neither would Edwards, Mrs. Clinton, or even Mark Warner, had he not flown the coop.

Posted by: Charles Coulter - Los Angeles | January 18, 2007 4:48 PM | Report abuse

I'm prepared to vote for Hillary Clinton, or Barack Obama, or John Edwards, if nominated. Obama is my first choice, not because he's black (I'm not) but because he continually shows evidence of having accumulated more real wisdom in 45 years than most politicians (and the rest of us) ever manage to do in a lifetime.

Posted by: oldhonky | January 18, 2007 4:45 PM | Report abuse

Agree with earlier post that is OK to publicly say men and women are different even though it used to be taboo for a couple decades. Also that it is not OK to publicly even hint Blacks and Whites could be different, and it has been taboo like this for a long time. But the taboo against race differences doesn't exactly mean Blacks are more accepted than (White) women the way the earlier posts said. It is hard to say what it means because it is a vacuum of information because it is totally taboo. The elephant in the room is, what if Blacks and Whites really are somehow different? But, this elephant in the room is such a violent elephant. I am imagining a marauding rogue White elephant with tusks and hate crime against Blacks. Maybe it would be good to allow conversation on this topic, finally? Or maybe not. Maybe White/Black America is not ready to even consider the idea in the same way that male/female America has been able to consider the same idea for women. Maybe it is still too dangerous to soften the taboo. America may be "ready" to elect a black president before it is "ready" to even consider discussing this dangerous question. Anyway, Obama is the best candidate running period, no matter race or sex or anything!

Posted by: timid | January 18, 2007 4:44 PM | Report abuse

Blarg: Your 02:18pm Post only helps my argument against Obama, and helps my support argument for Hillary. The support from the repubs are fairly well hidden and the articles you cite are only make believe as far as 2004 was concerned. The support for Obama is the hope of the repubs to knock out Hillary. Do not make the mistake of believing these "hired guns", as I have explained their role in previous posts. By carefully reading the various posts here I have a pretty good idea of where they stand, and I don't do this lightly but think back to around last July or August when I first became aware of this since I have been a computer user starting in the spring of last year.

Posted by: lylepink | January 18, 2007 4:40 PM | Report abuse

Just an additional note: the Obama-Ryan poll to which I was referring was conducted by the Chicago Tribune/WGN-TV May 21-24, 2004, and Obama was actually up 52-30 on Ryan.

Posted by: DTM | January 18, 2007 4:34 PM | Report abuse

HRC would make a great president. But ... her negatives are as high as her positives. Is there anyone in the country who has not made up his/her mind about her?

I care about the issues - I am a moderate, not the McGovern liberal I once was - more than the personalities. I could live with any of the talked about contenders. But, to prevail on my issues, the Democrats have to have secure majorities in both chambers.

I would not want to be a Democrat running in New Mexico or Ohio or Nevada or Virginia, or Wisconsin or Michigan, behind HRC.

The one drawback is that whatever skeletons he has in his closet have not been found - yet - by opposition research. One wonders what he has and whether it will be worse than HRC's negatives.

I hope that HRC will do the country a great service and decide not to run. She is doing a good job in the Senate (much better that Kerry) and she should stay there.
MV

Posted by: Montana Vega | January 18, 2007 4:26 PM | Report abuse

Steve,

Actually, Obama was up 20 points on Ryan in the polls before the details of his divorce became public. In both the primaries and the general, Obama won so decisively in part because he got great support from the "collar counties" around Chicago (as well as doing decently downstate). And he has remained popular in Illinois--last I saw, his job approval was something like 71%.

So, as it turns out, it appears white suburban voters in Illinois generally like Obama. And if that support translates to similar states, it would be a huge advantage for Obama.

Posted by: DTM | January 18, 2007 4:26 PM | Report abuse

In the primary fight I see no real impact because of Hilary's gender and Obama's race.

In the general election there are four classes of voters, those who will never vote Republican, never vote Democrat, those who could vote either and those who can be tempted into registering and voting for you. To measure the impact of race or gender they need to be compared to a generic white male Democrat (GWMD). As compared to a GWMD Hilary Clinton will motivate the never vote Democrat and the never vote Republican and gender has little to do with it. Hilary Clinton the person will overshadow Hilary Clinton the woman when it comes to the undecided. And while I see a generic woman registering a few more voters to vote for her then to vote against, Hilary Clinton the woman can't hope for better than a draw. I see the gender impact to be as large a negative in the female population as in the male population in attracting new voters. Those who would vote for her may frame part of their decision in gender terms, just like those who would vote against her, but in the end it is Hilary Clinton, not Hilary the woman, they are for or against.

Like Clinton overshadows her gender, Obama overshadows his race. Unlike Clinton, Obama's race will secure more votes (as measured by African-Americans who would not normally vote) then it will cost (as measured by voters who would normally vote Democrat but will either stay home or vote Republican.) Additionally, his charisma, oratory and vision (not the particular vision, just that he is the first national politician with a vision in 28 years) will attract as many votes as his more liberal than usual record will scare away: in both the undecided and don't normally vote categories. On race, Obama is a big gain over a GWMD. What's more important is his being to the left of a GWMD. However, unlike a GWMD he has charisma and oratory skills that can negate this liability. I can't tell at this time if he'll have more than a marginal affect on never vote Democrats, but if the excitement can be maintained, even Democratic voters disappointed in him could get caught up in it. I don't see him as galvanizing as Clinton among these two groups however.

What really matters are racial and gender impediments in the states that count. I see Clinton as weaker then a GWMD in the states that count and if she is running against McCain, she may not be able to defend the Northeast. Obama by himself would be weaker then a GWMD in the weakening Republican states that a Democrat needs to be competitive in AZ, CO, NM, NV & MO, but if Richardson is his running mate, these states are again competitive. Additionally, Obama is stronger then a GWMD in AR, LA, TN, IN, OH & VA. Overall, Richardson would help him a lot. I think pundits put too much emphasis on experience (Bush in '00 anyone?) unless the inexperienced candidate makes a series of unexpected gaffes.

The real advantage Obama brings is that he could skyrocket African-American voter registrations in the South and attract the half of the south that is not evangelical with his charisma. This would make a Republican fight in the South. Since the prinicipal strategy of a winning presidential campaign is to fight on your opponent's turf, Obama is much stronger than Clinton. I see no scenario where Clinton can make a Republican spend time in the South to do anything but fundraise.

Posted by: muD | January 18, 2007 4:15 PM | Report abuse

The media has the impediment, not the politicians.

Speaking as a Republican, I will honestly say that Senator Rodham-Clinton is a deft politician of unmatched accumen. More is made of her marriage and her demonization by the political right than which bathroom she uses. After her eight years as First Lady I'm not sure why she wants to be President but the fact that she has endured, persevered, and succeed in so much over the past fourteen years leads me to believe that she is the kind of person who should lead our republic.

I would comment on Senator Obama but his experience and record are so short it is difficult to make a fair comment on him.

The comment I would make, however, is that it is insulting to assume that someone would be vote for by people of like demographics merely because they are in the same demographic group is insulting to them and shows that the racism isn't just in the south, but in the 'enlightened media' as well.

Posted by: Christopher | January 18, 2007 4:11 PM | Report abuse

Echoing some of the comments above, I think the South tends to get too little credit in these discussions. For one thing, there are in fact a lot of black people living in the South. For another, there are plenty of white people in the South (including many conservatives) who are not racists.

Indeed, the real Southern problem for the Democrats is much more a matter of religion than race. And in that sense, I think Obama's manifestly sincere outreach to various religious communities, combined with his other potential strengths, could put a surprising number of states in the South into play.

And I don't think Harold Ford proves otherwise. As others pointed out, he basically did just as well in Tennessee as one would expect any Democrat to do in this cycle (and he did not get as many political gifts from his opponent as, say, people like Jim Webb, who ran a comparable campaign and barely did better than Ford in a comparable state). Moreover, my understanding from talking to people who really know the state is that in the end, the biggest problem for Ford was his family, not his race.

So, I think Harold Ford is actually a positive indicator for Obama, particularly if people continue to see Obama as a break with the political past (something Ford could not manage).

Posted by: DTM | January 18, 2007 4:11 PM | Report abuse

At some point, the shine will come off Obama, and he'll have to elaborate positions on difficult issues. Or worse, the press will start a feeding frenzy on him... at any rate, if Obama is still in contention after the first four primaries next spring, he might run through the rest to get shellacked in the general.

The votes just aren't there. People act as though the blue state/red state thing is cast in stone, but Michigan (my original home state) is a competitive state, most of my 36 years, they've had Republican governors, and while people keep saying its about the south being racist, there are suburbs in Detroit, Philly, Pittsburgh, Chicago and Cleveland that are lily white because of northern racism.

People keep mentioning how extraordinary he is, but tell me, where has his "extraordinary" ability to turn out white voters ever been tested. His race with Jack Ryan was neck and neck when Ryan was forced out of the race, and he ended up winning against a carpet bagger who'd run for Senate in another state.

Nobody contests that he'd have to carry NY, CA, PA, MI and FL, but show me a black candidate who has won a statewide top of ticket race in any of those states. People act as though those states (exc FL) are monolithically blue, but NY has had a Republican governor for 3 terms as recently as last year, Repubs have won 5 of the last 7 governors elections in CA, 5 of last 6 US Senate races in PA, and 5 of 10 governors races in MI, further PA has been in play in Presidential elections as far back as I can remember, and while MI has gone blue in the last 4, it was Red in 5 of 7 before that.

The trick is to nominate a candidate who can consolidate the blue states and at least put most of the red ones in some state of play. Obama can't do that.

Posted by: Steve | January 18, 2007 4:10 PM | Report abuse

I think we are likely to have a male African-American president before a female president.

American public culture currently treats race as a kind of construct, signifying little about a person's abilities. Thus, it's not socially acceptable to say something like,
"There are some jobs that blacks just can't do."

To say something similar about women ("Women just aren't cut out for some jobs") is considered far less offensive. This is because many Americans do think that a person's gender is indicative of their abilities. So it's likely that more Americans will harbor doubts about a female president than a black one.

Posted by: ibnishaaq | January 18, 2007 4:06 PM | Report abuse

Obama transcends race but Clinton won't be able to transcend the "Lady MacBeth" identity she developed as unofficial co-president.

I remember the resentment she engendered among my friends when she was held up as the quintessential modern woman. If we had aspired to be manipulative, power-hungry, non-bakers of cookies, yes, she would've been our girl. I mean woman. I am actually going to give her a chance to win me over. However, "Out damn spot!" will be playing over and over in my head.

Obama isn't really black, he's not really white, he's ... Obama. If he remains clear-eyed and honest, even the racists will be compelled to listen. My bull**** detector rarely goes off when he speaks. I think that is the true test of a real leader. He may not win in 2008 but I do think he will be president someday.

Hillary? No.

Posted by: N. L. MacLeod | January 18, 2007 4:03 PM | Report abuse

Because Sen. Obama is not a descendant of an African slave, I do not think he is carries the same socio-economic baggage or suffers the same political disadvantages as, say, Jesse Jackson did.

Posted by: Al Cannistraro | January 18, 2007 4:03 PM | Report abuse

Obama is on track for executive levels. The committees he is assigned are going to give him domestic and international experience that the current President never had and currently doesnt have. There is a division that still lies below the Mason Dixon line, but I feel if there is mobilization that a few of those states may fold and offer some valuable electoral votes for a minority candidate. TN is a possibility as long as the TV mud ads can be countered by a strong campaign. I also think that there can be strong turnouts in metro areas of GA, AL, and FL that would make Barack Obama a viable candidate. Couple him with a veep candidate that can take some of the western states (TBD) and I think the dems rule the roost (so to speak).

Posted by: Chicagoan | January 18, 2007 4:01 PM | Report abuse

It's not just racism against blacks. You can see that the wingers will try to hang the fact that his father was muslim on him. Started already.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 18, 2007 4:01 PM | Report abuse

I'm less worried about the white southern racists than whe white northern racists.

Posted by: dan | January 18, 2007 3:57 PM | Report abuse

I'm less worried about the white southern racists than whe white northern racists.

Posted by: dan | January 18, 2007 3:56 PM | Report abuse

I don't think gender or race are political impediments anymore. Perhaps religion would be if there were a Muslim running.

As for being a strength, I think Obama's race would be more likely to help him and Hilary's gender would be less likely to help her.

Posted by: David | January 18, 2007 3:54 PM | Report abuse

In 2008 it will be easier for a woman to be elected than an African-American (or for Tina's sake, African-American man or woman).

Just visualize Jessee Jackson and Al Sharpton flanking any national African-American candidate as they did Ned Lamont on the night of his victory, and you can see one major problem.

Correction on a post above:
"...VA elected a black man to Governor as much as a rebuke to his opponent as an affirmative election of Gov. Wilder, as exemplified by Wilder's inability to win any further elective office."

Wilder, who considered running for President and Senator but didn't, succeeded Gov. Tim Kaine as Mayor of Richmond, Virginia.

Posted by: Nor'Easter | January 18, 2007 3:50 PM | Report abuse

I think people who dismiss Senator Obama as too inexperienced or lacking in accomplishments say that without even bothering to learn about Senator Obama. If they did, they wouldn't be making such statements. I think it's just a PC way for many people to avoid saying that they don't feel comfortable voting for someone with dark skin. Even nonracists have been bombarded with enough stereotypes about Black Americans that they may be initially a little uncomfortable with a Black candidate. But I believe most Americans want to believe they are good people and not racist, and will give Senator Obama the opportunity to prove that he's 120% as qualified as any white candidate, and "therefore" - in their minds - the equal of a white candidate.

Posted by: Robert* | January 18, 2007 3:49 PM | Report abuse

Drindl, thanks for flagging AtlasShrugs.

Lis, you bring up a real concern of mine too, as a white Obama supporter. Fellow white Obama supporters - if you feel yourself start to get thinking how cool and ahead of the curve you are for your race-blind voting preference - get a grip and some perspective! A smug attitude is unattractive and smug "supporters" actually weaken candidates.

Posted by: Golgi | January 18, 2007 3:49 PM | Report abuse

If a more insightful and thought-provoking question was asked, I would post a better response. How long are we going to keep posing this same question? Let's not focus on race and gender, but on the issues both candidates hope to run on. And due to the fact that it's January 2007, that remains to be seen.

Posted by: Libby | January 18, 2007 3:48 PM | Report abuse

AtlasShrugs is well-known [among the batsh** winger lunatics] whose most prominent achievement is putting on her kneepads for John Bolton. As you can see by her post, she is also violently racist against muslims.

She and her ilk [see the Dauo report if you want a cross section of the looniest wingers out there] do everything they can to promote hatred and divisiveness. They support everything the Chimp in Chief does mindlessly, and regularly drool and froth their rabid hatred of anyone who dare question the King.

Whatsamatter, Pam? Why you over here? Traffic down on your blog, dear?

Posted by: drindl | January 18, 2007 3:43 PM | Report abuse

Ms. Clinton is too right wing and too much inclined to follow the polls rather than her consciouos. Mr. Obama is too centrist, and also far too young and inexperienced to be a good candidate for president. It is absolutely thrilling, to me as a 60's survivor, to see an African-American and a woman being considered! But while I believe both are playing an important role in their current positions, I do not see either of them as my choice for a presidential candidate.

Posted by: Susan H | January 18, 2007 3:43 PM | Report abuse

I think racism is still a far bigger obstacle in this country than sexism. All men know some women, and this humanizes "the other" and makes the other three dimensional real people. Many whites do not have close personal relationships with many Black Americans, and so stereotypes about Black Americans are perpetuated as two dimensional cartoon figures.

But after LBJ's Civil Rights Act of 1965, the parties have largely split on race. The Democratic party has become inextricably linked with support of affirmative action (for both minorities and women); prochoice judges, gay rights. Al Gore couldn't carry Tennessee, and John Edwards couldn't carry N Carolina as the VP candidate, because racists associate nearly all Democrats with LBJ's Civil Rights Act of 1965. So while there is more racism than sexism, Republicans already have a lock on the xenophobic vote; they don't have a lock on the sexist vote. LBJ never pushed through an ERA.

I believe Barack Obama is being held to a much higher standard by the liberal media and by other readers, than is any white candidate - including H Clinton. He is frequently told to "wait" for the right time to run - just as MLK was told to wait when he tried to desegregate the South. He is judged as inexperienced, when none of his competitors have much more experience except for John McCain. And McCain is too tied to Iraq. Others who ask what Obama has accomplished - and I can name quite a few - often can't name the accomplishments of their favorite candidate.

In the end, Obama can win it all. He appeals to too many independents and moderate Republicans. He will bring out record Black turnout. Once he becomes better known, he will also been seen as being the best candidate and best president. He is not running on a left wing platform nor was wrong on Iraq like Edwards. He is not seen as overly ideological and lacking in charisma, like H Clinton.

Posted by: Robert* | January 18, 2007 3:40 PM | Report abuse

I'll go with race being the bigger impediment because it always turns into attacking white voters and that produces quiet backlash. I already see a superior attitude among white commenters who are puffing Obama. They are so much better than the run of the mill white person because they are inspired by Barack Obama.

Isn't Hillary Clinton the impediment to OTHER Democratic women senators running? They all feel they have to step aside for her.

Posted by: Lis | January 18, 2007 3:38 PM | Report abuse

Actually, Atlas, the issue is discussed in the book even if (perhaps) it was edited out of a shorter version in Time Magazine.

The school you mentioned had a lot of international kids who belonged to all different religions. Besides the Muslim school in Indonesia, Obama also attended a Catholic school in Indonesia. In the Audacity of Hope he mentioned something about his mother sending him to both schools in Indonesia to learn the three R's, not to learn the Catholic rosary or the Koran.

This is an interesting possibility you bring up, Atlas, but I am not sure that it will be a serious issue realistically.

Posted by: Golgi | January 18, 2007 3:33 PM | Report abuse

Sex and race are qualities that can both polarize and unite voters. Sexism and racism remain very much alive in this country. However, do not forget that the basic ingredients for a successful presidential race still remain: effective messaging, efficient ground operations, fundraising and an articulate candidate. I believe both Clinton and Obama will make every effort to fund and operate sound campaigns. Ultimately,I believe the race will turn on three qualities: likability, competence and errors. Which candidate will prove likable? Which candidate will demonstrate sound competence? And which candidate will make the least costly mistakes. Yes, sex and race will be factors but we cannot forget the importance of sound political mechanics.

Posted by: RPE | January 18, 2007 3:32 PM | Report abuse

'DALLAS, Texas (AP) -- A group of Methodist ministers from across the nation launched an online petition drive Thursday urging Southern Methodist University to stop trying to land George W. Bush's presidential library.

The petition, on a newly created Web site, http://www.protectsmu.org, says that "as United Methodists, we believe that the linking of his presidency with a university bearing the Methodist name is utterly inappropriate."

"Methodists have a long history of social conscience, so questions about the conduct of this president are very concerning," said one of the petition's organizers, the Rev. Andrew J. Weaver of New York, who graduated from SMU's Perkins School of Theology.'

--isn't bush an alleged methodist? man, nobody except a small core of real losers likes him anymore.

I'm going with the idea that whomever is the Anti-Bush is the election winner.

Posted by: drindl | January 18, 2007 3:31 PM | Report abuse

Clinton will not get my vote for one simple reason: Rupert Murdoch hosted a fund-raiser for her. This proves she is nothing more than a power-hungry politician.

If we cannot find a better candidate than her in '08, our country is pretty damn pathetic.

Posted by: kinbrookland | January 18, 2007 3:25 PM | Report abuse

many are saying a woman before a black man, but I must disagree. While, yes, women make up 51.5% of the electorate, they are also the most likely to be open to a black candidate. African-Americans vote at one of the lowest rate amongst demographic groups, the presence of an African-American on a Presidential ticket may so disproportionately turnout to vote in comparison to normal turnout that a win in the general election becomes much more likely that it would be for a woman.

Posted by: JOToole | January 18, 2007 3:24 PM | Report abuse

The question really is, will the Islamic world issue a fatwa on Obama Hussein Barack. Having converted out of Islam and into Christianity, Obama is a apostate.


The audacity of apostasy: Barack Obama's Muslim links Dr. Jack Wheeler BrookesNews.Com

One of the most entertaining opportunities that will emerge in 2007 will be using Barack Obama to fight Islamofascism. He is the product of a black Moslem from Kenya, Barrack Hussein Obama, and a white atheist from Kansas, Shirley Ann Dunham, who met at the University of Hawaii in Honolulu. That is why his middle name is the same as Saddam's: Barack Hussein Obama, Jr. His first name is taken from the Islamic term in Arabic for "blessed," baraka, used in the Koran.

His father deserted the family when Barack Jr. was two and returned to Kenya. His mother then married another Moslem studying at UH, Lolo Soetoro from Indonesia. He moved with his mother and stepfather to Jakarta when he was six, where he attended a Moslem medressa (religious school). That makes him a Moslem. There is no mention of this in the chapter of his book, The Audacity of Hope, where he discusses his religion, My Spiritual Journey (reprinted in Time Magazine). Obama claims he is a Christian, that he and his wife Michelle are members of the United Church of Christ.

The opportunity in this is not accusing him of being a "closet Moslem." It requires taking him at his word that he has become a Christian -- for that means he is an apostate. There is no dispute among either ancient or modern Moslem scholars that under Islamic law, a murtadd, "one who turns his back on Islam," an apostate, must be put to death. Irtidad, apostasy, is committing treason against God, and traitors deserve to be killed.

Posted by: AtlasShrugs.com | January 18, 2007 3:22 PM | Report abuse

If anything, the gender/race issue could prove a positive element for both candidates - particularly for Obama. His writings seem to suggest a life spent looking for an identity - who better to lead a divided nation unsure of itself than a man with this very experience? Hillary is a difficult case to comment on. She is 'Hillary Clinton', rather than 'Hillary Clinton, Woman' - inotherwords, the fact that she is a woman is no longer a stumbling block for the public.

Posted by: Carabini | January 18, 2007 3:22 PM | Report abuse

I have a unique perspective of living in South Carolina, an early primary state. Everyone here sees the Democratic Primary as historic. We will have a woman or a black nominee heading the top of the ticket once we leave Denver in 2008. From what I'm seeing on the ground here, this is a two person race between HRC and BHO (sorry John Edwards).

Clinton is exciting because, well, she's a Clinton. But Senator Obama on the other hand, has star power like I've never seen. In a state that's 30% black, Obama embodies the civil rights movement that my parents always talk about.

People forget that the southern states have a large African-American population. Yes, the south has been trending GOP, but it isn't because the GOP candidates are better, black democrats just aren't excited to vote. So don't be surprised if see some parts of Dixie in play. If BHO is leading the ticket, we'll finally get to see how good Donna Brazile's turnout juggernaut is. I'm sure she's salivating at the opportunity.

Posted by: SC Dem | January 18, 2007 3:17 PM | Report abuse

The question is whether a black male candidate faces impediments equal to those of a white female under the same circumstances. This hits all the expected cultural cylinders even with the 'average' voter: black versus white, male versus female. Added to this is another factor: in our culture, men 'age' better than women. A male looks 'distinguished' with a little grey at the temples; a woman just looks old. In this analysis, Hillary Clinton will suffer in comparison to Barack Obama.

Can we consider the real public instead of this mythical average voter? Putting it delicately, where prejudice exists will it be stronger against a black male than against a white female? For some, the fear of a black male in office will far outweigh any bias caused by their lack of regard for women in general. Interestingly, though, since Hillary Clinton has been demonized by the right for so many years this may make Barack Obama look palatable in comparison.

Posted by: Judge C. Crater | January 18, 2007 3:17 PM | Report abuse

If the debate is gender v. race, Hillary's gender would be a greater obstacle than Obama's race. Racism has been prevalent in our nation's history (not just in the South), but African Americans are dealing with roughly 400 years of discrimination and cruelty while women were oppressed long before the settlement of North America. Comparatively, equal rights for African Americans have come further than women in a much shorter amount of time. Still, the biggest potential obstacles will lay in the personalities of the candidates. Hillary's biggest problem won't be that she's a woman - it will be that she is Hillary (one of the most polarizing figures in American politics). Race seems especially secondary with Obama. Many voters are like "Here's an interesting, sharp guy who speaks differently from the others. Oh, and he happens to be black." This is what I am hearing even in SOUTH CAROLINA.

Posted by: Rhodes | January 18, 2007 3:15 PM | Report abuse

'To list a male candidate who did not 'look' presidential, I need go back only two and a half years to John Kerry.'

GW Bush looks like a chimp in the middle of a difficult bowel movement. Do you call that presidential?

Posted by: Anonymous | January 18, 2007 3:10 PM | Report abuse

I would say, "Chris, what are YOU doing to answer every voter's basic question of every candidate: 'What would you do if elected'?"

The answer remains unchanged: Lemming journalism. You and your colleagues lock arms and cheerfully charge off the same cliff, day after day after tiring day: talking about polls, fundraising and all the rest that gives adrenaline junkies their daily buzz.

Then, come election night, you and your lemming colleagues are routinely stunned that, somehow (somehow), the underdog won.

You can't figure out why underdogs win (correct answer: they simply answered that basic question of enough voters: "Here is what I'd do if elected:...") and you can't figure out how (a plurality of voters got the message -- in spite of the fact that you and your lemming brethren and sistren keep talking about irrelevant nonsense that no one in the world cares about except for, oh, 11 highly paid political consultants who have hijacked the public debate with your cheerful complicance.

Maybe on your lunch hour, you could go "out there" and talk to a few regular voters. You know, maybe learn what VOTERS care about (hint: an answer to their basic question, the one above, the one you cheerfully ignore).

My, my: what epiphanies await you and your editors and publishers and colleagues in the lemming profession.

Meantime, the rest of us will keep trying to get answers to our basic question of candidates (in spite of your "efforts"). We the voters will struggle on, the only functional leg in this increasingly, remarkably dysfunctional triad (voters, candidates, media) called American democracy in the early 21st century.

Cool? Cool! You stay over there, doing whatever is you guys do. We'll look... elsewhere for answers to our questions.

Posted by: Ron Riley, Evergreen Colorado | January 18, 2007 3:06 PM | Report abuse

Do you people really believe that Blacks who voted for Carter, Mondale, Dukakis, Clinton, Gore and Kerry would actually decide to not vote for Obama because "he's light-skinned and a sellout."!?!

Do you people honestly believe that some Blacks who saw no reason to get out and vote for one or more of the aforementioned candidates wouldn't decide that Obama's candidacy, especially if he had a legitimate chance of winning in 11/08, would be a good reason to start voting!?!

Are you people serious!?! Black people aren't cynical about Obama's chances because he "isn't Black enough." Black people are cynical about Obama's chances because they don't think that enough of the rest of America would be willing put him in a position where their vote would make a difference.

Do you think Black people don't vote because they're stupid or something!?! A lot of Black people pass because it doesn't make a difference anyway. I've met more than a handful of Black people in their 40s and 50s who have told me about how inspired they were to register and vote for Jesse Jackson in the 80s.

Obama's candidacy will do at least as much to mobilize the Black vote as Jackson's did, if for no other reason than pure necessity. Sure, a few Black people will vote for another candidate for petty reasons and/or legitimate political disagreements, but if anyone thinks that those people will not be far outnumbered by the loads of Blacks who wil flock to Obama you are either incredibly naive and/or willfully fooling yourself.

Posted by: acarriedo | January 18, 2007 2:55 PM | Report abuse

If you saw the Frontline episode "Once Upon A Time in Arkansas" you know that Ms. Clinton will eventually be a plummeting deadweight as a candidate. If you never saw it and she somehow becomes the nominee, you will see and hear bites from it until you do comprehend. Her gender will not be an issue.

I suspect that the net negative for Sen. Obama because he is of mixed race would be enough to cost him an otherwise very close election; however, his charm and other true positives are such that he might pull off a victory that would not be close at all.

Let me add Bill Richardson to this mix - we have never had a Mexican-American President, either, but Richardson's plusses outweigh the potential net negative of his ethnicity, too.

Austin Attorney

Posted by: mark | January 18, 2007 2:49 PM | Report abuse

Don't assume that Sen. Obama's inexperience or race will kill his chances to be president. As several posters have pointed out, Bush was elected in 2000 (sort-of) because he was the anti-Clinton. Obama is everything that Bush is not: he conveys great intelligence, he is well-spoken, and he has more charisma in his little finger than Bush has in his whole body.

I had the privilege to see Sen. Obama speak during a rally in Tempe, AZ. He's the real thing. Go to his senate website, you'll see his platform. And it is very hard to argue many of the strong similarities between Sen. Obama and the last U.S. Senator to be elected President: a young man from Massachusetts named Kennedy.

Sen. Obama's lack of experience in on the national stage could be a benefit to him, not a liability. Think of how the GOP smear machine picked apart Sen. Kerry's voting record in Congress. They don't have much ammunition against Sen. Obama. And don't think for a minute that they don't already have tons of opposition research against him from his Senate campaign. The shine won't come off the apple if his campaign is handled well. the negative campaigning will backfire. He's the best option that can't be tagged with also-ran status like Gore or Edwards.

Posted by: JamesCH | January 18, 2007 2:41 PM | Report abuse

Don't assume that Sen. Obama's inexperience or race will kill his chances to be president. As several posters have pointed out, Bush was elected in 2000 (sort-of) because he was the anti-Clinton. Obama is everything that Bush is not: he conveys great intelligence, he is well-spoken, and he has more charisma in his little finger than Bush has in his whole body.

I had the privilege to see Sen. Obama speak during a rally in Tempe, AZ. He's the real thing. Go to his senate website, you'll see his platform. And it is very hard to argue many of the strong similarities between Sen. Obama and the last U.S. Senator to be elected President: a young man from Massachusetts named Kennedy.

Sen. Obama's lack of experience in on the national stage could be a benefit to him, not a liability. Think of how the GOP smear machine picked apart Sen. Kerry's voting record in Congress. They don't have much ammunition against Sen. Obama. And don't think for a minute that they don't already have tons of opposition research against him from his Senate campaign. The shine won't come off the apple if his campaign is handled well. He's the best option that can't be tagged with also-ran status like Gore or Edwards.

Posted by: JamesCH | January 18, 2007 2:39 PM | Report abuse

"... many Blacks are racist amongst themselves and it is true, but it is not true that Blacks would vote for a Republican instead of a "light-skinned/bougie/sellout" Black person."

no, they just won't vote at all which would be worse for dems in the long run.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 18, 2007 2:36 PM | Report abuse

The issue of race/gender is likely to be a benefit more than a detriment. Some people's political views are so easily swayed that they will vote against their beliefs "because the candidate is (insert characteristic here." (kind of like people who voted for Bush because Kerry seemed "too intellectual") More, it might even become in vogue to do so. Here's a slogan I could see happening: "Proud to vote for somebody other than a white male."

Posted by: D | January 18, 2007 2:33 PM | Report abuse

To clarify the above - Hillary's gender encourages her to lean to the right on national security, i.e. Golda Meir, the Iron Lady, Indira Gandhi. In 2003-4, as Kerry was going down in flames, the folks in Hillaryland must have reasoned that running as a tough critic yet pro-war candidate would clear the way to a nomination many considered their's for the taking.

Obama, having gotten the war right from the beginning, faces none of that difficulty. What kind of hawkish posturing he'll have to engage in is up in the air, but I would guess his work with Lugar on proliferation will have to suffice.

Posted by: motherjones | January 18, 2007 2:30 PM | Report abuse

The idea that Obama is "not Black enough" is racist in and of itself. In Boston in 2004 white people were telling me that he wasn't really Black because he went to Harvard Law. NEWS FLASH, Harvard Law, Georgetown Law Center, Univ. VA Law and all of the top 20 Law schools actively recruit Black students.

Howard has a law school as do many HBCUs, but that does not mean that all Black lawyers graduate from HBCUs.

Someone mentioned that many Blacks are racist amongst themselves and it is true, but it is not true that Blacks would vote for a Republican instead of a "light-skinned/bougie/sellout" Black person. It's the people who aren't Black and have no idea what they are talking about who will use that as their excuse for voting for Clinton or Edwards or Dodd or whoever. These people are just as much closet racists as any Southerner who refuses to vote for a Black person even though he/she can't explain why.

Posted by: acarriedo | January 18, 2007 2:30 PM | Report abuse

Hillary's gender and Barack's descent are issues that cut both ways; it just happens to be the case that HRC's gender boxes her into a certain set of national security policies that, three years ago, seemed absolutely required for the Presidency, and now seem like nothing short of an anchor. Barack's descent is, as with so much else about his candidacy, being spun/painted as a kind of canny gesture of centrism. A uniter, not a divider, by blood as well as policy. Hillary's brand of 'centrism' - a well-earned reputation for hawkishness - is now identifying her with the status quo on Iraq, no matter how hard she backpedals. The poor politico's plight, actually, is worse - she's made her centrism the centerpiece of her Senate career, and yet she's pegged inevitably as a partisan liberal. Barack was a community organizer, and voted with the left throughout his career, and yet his charisma and easy way with the Lord position him in the middle despite his progressive leanings and history.

I really think Barack will be able to campaign as Bush did, with codewords and dog-whistles to remind the activist left of his background as he speaks warm words of moderation while battling Hillary.

Oh, and Katy bar the door - Chuck Todd has a lovely wish-fulfillment piece (at the Hotline blog) about the possibility of a prolonged primary battle between BHO and HRC. While were this to occur I too would quiver with delight, it's plausibility is limited by the paper tiger quality of HRC's candidacy. Obama is like crack to my people, we love him and can never get enough of him, and the evident difficulties of HRC's position really make the nomination's Barack's to lose.


And God willing they won't kill him.

Posted by: motherjones | January 18, 2007 2:22 PM | Report abuse

lylepink, why do you think the Republicans fear Hillary? They'd love for her to run! Look at these Slate articles, particularly the ones from 2003-2004:
http://www.slate.com/default.aspx?id=2077581&qt=%22republicans+for+hillary%22

Granted, the series is a little old, since it was about the 2004 election. But it details all the Republicans who were looking forward to Hillary's run. Part 2 lists some of the reasons why. The right loves bashing Hillary. It brings them together and reminds them of the good old days.

If Hillary is the candidate, the Republicans have plenty of ammunition against her: Whitewater, Monica, Bill Clinton's perceived failures as a president, etc. Why would they be afraid of a candidate that's so easy to bash, caricature, and defeat?

Posted by: Blarg | January 18, 2007 2:18 PM | Report abuse

Spare me the South is so racist because they did not elect Ford but Corker (not Cracker...I am sure that was an intended pun...this too is an ethnic slur but I guess that type of slur is tolerable in the Northeast). Answer me this is Maryland a racist state since it did not elect Steele or maybe he was a little too right of the average Maryland voter. The same may hold for Ford.

Posted by: SVoter | January 18, 2007 2:17 PM | Report abuse

Let's get real neither one of them can be elected in this country. And by having HRC and Obama in the race at the same time will ensure another 4 years of a Republican in the white. I can see the commercials all ready. Down and dirty. I don't look forward to this election at all.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 18, 2007 2:14 PM | Report abuse

Will black folks support Obama? Well, he is wildly popular on the south side of Chicago. Maybe that won't be true in other parts of the country, but in Chicago he thrills African-Americans. And that pre-dates his national exposure. While his national experience is short, he has a good record at the IL state level. Just like Lincoln. That is a comparison we will hear many times.

Posted by: Adam Hammond | January 18, 2007 2:12 PM | Report abuse

I believe that Obama's race can be an impediment. It is sad to say that there is still some percentage of Americans (people generally disagree with what percentage that is) that will not vote for an African American. I think that this will not be the reason he does not get the nod. I think his lack of experience will hurt him FAR more than his race ever could.

I think that Hillary's gender will hurt her in some initial polls but will ultimately help her. I believe that in the beginning a lot of people, particularly some middle of the road men that lean slighly right will be put off by the idea of having a former first lady be the President but that will subside when they look at their daughters as they go to vote. They will be going to vote and when they see their daughters on the way out they will vote for the woman so that their daughter's have that oppotunity.

I think Obama will not have that same effect because African Americans are not as large of a voting block as women.

Happy Blogging.

Posted by: George | January 18, 2007 2:08 PM | Report abuse

Anyone who has never lived in the south and been part of the culture there cannot undertstand why being black is a much bigger obstical than being a woman. I've lived there. There is a very fake exterior on southerners many of whom act open minded and tolerant on the exterior and yet they would never vote for a black person under any circumstances. They fake tolerance in public or they honestly believe they are not racists because they don't even have a concept of what racism is...

Posted by: huangagain | January 18, 2007 2:02 PM | Report abuse

meuphys: I am the only one on the Fix, to my knowledge, that has been a consistent Hillary supporter. Others have stated their favorites as well and when it appears that, according to polls, that there are three at the top and Hillary and Obama are among the three, most of the other posters have, to an extent, given up on their arguments. My argument against Obama has been stated time and time again and will continue until he is actually eliminated from the 08 race. You will find that Obama's support comes mainly from the far left of the dem party and most telling of all from the repub party, which alone should tell you the repubs have no fear of him. The only one I can find they [the repubs] fear is Hillary. The far left of the dem party has not ever, or even come close, to winning the POTUS. I am only stating as to what I see in the real world we live.

Posted by: lylepink | January 18, 2007 1:57 PM | Report abuse

Another consideration: will blacks necessarily support Obama? or will they attack him because he is not "black enough"? Sometimes blacks are the most racist of all amongst themselves; black people have told me this and I have seen it to be true. This conversation will definitely come up, especially if he is percieved as a sell-out (ie: not cozying up to the Rainbow coalition or CBC).

Posted by: proudtobeGOP | January 18, 2007 1:55 PM | Report abuse

Unfortunately, I don't have very high opinion of the majority of Americans (hence the past two Presidential elections). While I would VERY much like to see either Clinton or Obama in the White House, I just can't see this becoming a reality.

Who has the better (long) shot? My money is on Clinton.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 18, 2007 1:53 PM | Report abuse

America, particularly the south, is a deeply racist country. Look at what they did in Tenn. electing Bob Cracker over the inspiring candidacy of Harold Ford Jr.

Obama is very impressive. He may be talented, committed and young enough to see America change, but we are not there yet.

Sad...

Posted by: windserf | January 18, 2007 1:53 PM | Report abuse

I do not believe Obama's race will be much of a factor. In the recent elections, Harold Ford did just as well in the final election as he did in the polls, indicating the "15% lie" where a number of whites lie about who they will vote for is no longer operative. In addition, the average democrat in 2006 did about 6% better than the average democrat in 2004, and Ford did no better or worse than that. These results are in a borderline southern state, too.

Nearly 93% of Americans say they are ready for a black president (86%, for a female president.) However, far fewer believe the country as a whole can elect a black or female present. There's a disconnect there that Obama and Clinton must address to get out of the primaries. As long as Obama retains his overwhelming favorable/unfavorable split (52/31) ratings, the best of any democratic candidate, I believe he can make the sale to the democratic party. I do not, however, believe Clinton can, because her ratings (50/48) are significantly worse.

Posted by: Nissl | January 18, 2007 1:51 PM | Report abuse

To be bluntly honest, voting Americans might think it's "cute" that the former First Lady stayed in politics but they hardly think that she has what it takes to actually run the country. Obama doesn't have any executive experience but that's OK so long as he represents the majority on whatever the issue at hand is. Sure he's Black but he doesn't "act" Black. And that makes him OK to voting America - not to be confused with actual America. People say one thing but when it actually comes to voting, they pick the candidate they're most comfortable with, not the candidate best representing the population that seems "due" for a taste of political power.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 18, 2007 1:48 PM | Report abuse

I don't think there is a real impediment in either case, in the sense that I do not think there is a sufficiently significant number of people who would not vote for a candidate they otherwise liked politically because of that person's gender or race. A practical impediment might exist nonetheless, however, if too many Democrats accept the proposition that there is a real impediment. In other words, the relevant threat to Clinton and Obama is not general election voters, but rather primary voters who have mistaken views about general election voters.

Posted by: DTM | January 18, 2007 1:47 PM | Report abuse

I've always been bothered by the idea that voters will pick the candidate who resembles them the most. (Women want to vote for a woman, minorities want to vote for a minority, etc.) So I want to look at the exit polls for Maryland Senate races in 2004 and 2006. It's an unscientific study, but it still might be informative.

In 2004, the race was a white woman (Mikulski, D) vs. a white man (Pipkin, R). In 2006, it was a white man (Cardin, D) vs. a black man (Steele, R.)

Mikulski did 7 points better among women than among men. Cardin did 10 points better among women than among men. Steele did 25 points better among whites than blacks. Pipkin did 36% better among whites than blacks.

So it looks like women didn't particularly vote for the female candidate. Blacks did vote for the black candidate more than the previous white candidate. There are other factors to consider, of course, like the fact that Steele was generally a lot more popular than Pipkin. But based on this limited evidence, it looks like women won't vote for Hillary Clinton just because she's a woman. Of course, that was obvious anyway; if women voted overwhelmingly for women, we'd have a lot more female elected officials, because women make up more than half of the voting population.

Posted by: Blarg | January 18, 2007 1:46 PM | Report abuse

HThompson,
It has nothing to do with the fact that she is a woman. She does look presidential, in my opinion, because she does not exude the charisma. I cannot, at the moment think of a woman who comes to mind who does 'look' presidential, but I assure you this is not to say that a woman cannot do so. To list a male candidate who did not 'look' presidential, I need go back only two and a half years to John Kerry.

Posted by: bmalbert | January 18, 2007 1:40 PM | Report abuse

It's really a sad statement on our country that the skin color or sex of a candidate even bear mentioning, much less play a role in one's perception of that candidate's leadership ability.

Having said that and getting back to the original question, I'd say that skin color is the larger impediment though the fact that Obama is only half black MAY mitigate that somewhat.

Much as I hate to admit it, our nation is still very much racially prejudiced, and would likely vote that way regardless of the validity of the candidate.

Posted by: Scott Voss | January 18, 2007 1:40 PM | Report abuse

PREDICTION OF A FUTURE HEADLINE !!! ARE YOU READY FOR IT ?? OBAMA OUT,RACISM ALIVE AND WELL !!! CANT YOU SEE IT COMING???

Posted by: llewrub | January 18, 2007 1:39 PM | Report abuse

Hillary's biggest impediment...She is a Clinton, for better or for worse as it were.

I suspect most voters will flock to any candidate not named 'Bush' or 'Clinton'.

Oh. And will Bill get his own office....with a door? That closes?

Posted by: bob | January 18, 2007 1:37 PM | Report abuse

Former Congressman Gary Franks said something during a lecture concerning the effect race has on an election that I will always remember. He was discussing his decision to run for a Senate seat in Connecticut and the prospects of a Black man winning a Senate seat in an overwhelmingly white state. He began with the age old refrain that, "you can't win if you don't run," but the thing that I never understood until he said it was that the 5% of the population that was Black were the swing voters he needed to win his congressional elections and they could have conceivably been the difference in a tossup statewide election.

According to this line of thinking, one first has to become the most qualified candidate within his/her own party. Obama and Clinton are well on their way to doing that. Of course that pesky John Edwards (j/k. I have nothing against Edwards) won't let them run away with it, but they are the leading the field right now.

If either Clinton or Obama wins the Democratic nomination he/she will get at least 90% of the reliably Democratic vote. They will then have to find a connection to the swing voters. On the surface, Clinton appears to have the upperhand based on the fact that women are more likely to be swing voters than Blacks. However, by that point in the cycle, one might be willing to believe that it will all boil down to issues, attack ads and debates and that race and/or gender won't mean a damn thing anymore.

If we look at it from that perspective, it is the candidate's duty to put him or herself in a position where their gender or race is not the focal point, but rather just a cheap easy lede in their story. That seems to be the only way that woman or Black man can win a presidential election. In a way, it's sad that it has to be that way. For all the bagage that comes along with being a minority, it is a sense of pride and something most of us like to celebrate. The fact that it must be downplayed in order to be electable (read: likable) on the national stage is still troubling to me, even if it make white males feel more comfortable in the voting booth.

Posted by: acarriedo | January 18, 2007 1:36 PM | Report abuse

Easy question: race is the bigger impediment. How many times in this country has a member of a racial minority been elected to an office in which the racial group he or she represents was not a majority of the voting population? It almost never happens, and the exceptions are always notable: Doug Wilder in Virginia, governor Patrick in Massachusetts, a former governor in Washington (I forget his name). Virtually all of the racial minorities in Congress are from majority minority districts. Any time a woman runs for office, however, she can be assured that roughly half of the electorate is female. Race is clearly a bigger obstacle.

Posted by: Michael | January 18, 2007 1:36 PM | Report abuse

And also, Howard Dean is nothing but a clown, and Kerry is a delusional buffoon

Posted by: Sandy | January 18, 2007 1:34 PM | Report abuse

Even as we claim to be the most advanced and greatest country in the world we are ice ages behind.

That even a question must still be considered and discussed is a sad thing. We have failed in so many ways to see the bigger picture.

It is unfortunate that in such a country as America that prides itself on freedom and opportunity for all that we are still psychologically stuck on questions of race and gender.

I am not blaming the post for posing these questions because I realize that it is an issue for all too many americans.

Why is it normal to talk about race and gender as a hinderance? Is it vanity or ignorance that we only have confidence in people who look like us?

Posted by: Sharonda | January 18, 2007 1:33 PM | Report abuse

also, it shouldn't be an impediment so long as the media don't constantly frame the campaign in terms of whether or not gender and race will be an issue. consistently asking those questions creates doubt in the minds of voters and thus pushes them to use gender and race as a factor in deciding. its fair to compare issues and personalities when judging someone's candidacy but not traits that those in the media well know have no effect on their presidential qualifications. the media don't tell voters what to think in this instance, but they do tell them what to think about.

Posted by: new orange again | January 18, 2007 1:32 PM | Report abuse

Matt posted "How about the media stops harping on it? The media and the TV pundits are the only ones that really care. One of the most disgusting and insulting questions posed by the media, as of late, are the "Is America Ready? nonsense."

I have to agree... if the media stopped putting the race/gender spin on this and focused instead on where they stood on real issues, maybe America too will forget the Black/Female element and consider what really matters.

Wayne P writes: "Both gender and race have been not only an obstacle, but an unmovable barrier in this country until relatively recently. In spite of many glaring exceptions around the country, I believe that we have evolved beyond that. Given the right woman, or the right African-American candidate, either can be elected president."

I'm with you Wayne...

Wayne also writes: "I have also admired HRC, but do not believe that she is the right woman, simply because there is no human way to get beyond the extreme, unreasonable though it be, hatred of her by a huge segment of the population that would leave us a highly polarized nation even if she were to be elected."

I beg to differ on the point of "...hatred of her by a huge segment of the population that would leave us a highly polarized nation even if she were to be elected..."

I am hearing that more and more people are ready for her. The gut feeling those of us who support her have, related to our doubts that she can win, is just that, a gut feeling.

Check out these Gallup Polls:
http://www.pollingreport.com/WH08dem.htm

And this on CNN...
http://www.cnn.com/2005/POLITICS/05/26/hillary.clinton/index.html

She may not be as off the mark as some of us think... give the public a chance to hear what she has to say, not what others say about her.

Maybe we have already gotten around that "extreme, unreasonable though it be, hatred of her by a huge segment of the population"

Wayne continues: "We need a unifying president at this point, in reality, not in words! I do believe that Obama can be elected, and can unify this country in ways that no president ever has in the past. He has my complete support."

So what do you think of an Obama/Clinton team, one to unify and relate to the people and the one with the hard core experience and political know how to back him up? They just might compliment each others strengths and weakness perfectly. I dream of 16 more years of peace and prosperity between these two.


Posted by: dj | January 18, 2007 1:31 PM | Report abuse

neither should be an impediment. obama transcends race and is running on issues applicable to many americans, including but not limited to african americans. for hillary, the 'woman commander-in-chief' issue is negated by the 'a bunch of white men just dragged us into an unnecessary war and botched the whole thing issue.'

Posted by: new orange | January 18, 2007 1:29 PM | Report abuse

Obama is a joke. He has virtually no experience. Just because People Magazine and Entertainment Tonight are salivating over him now does not mean that he will be a credible candidate even one year from now. H. Clinton cannot get elected. Republican Party would rejoice if either of these two were the Democratic nominee.

The only credible, experienced war opponent is Gore.

Obama = four more years of Republican Party in the White House.

Posted by: Sandy | January 18, 2007 1:29 PM | Report abuse

I think that both being black and/or a woman would be an impediment to national office. I do think that we will see a woman president before we see a black of either gender. If we are to go back to the founding of the country we can see the argument against black equality in the reasons for Jefferson's revisions of the Declaration of Independence. De Tocqueville addressed the problems with black subordination in 1829 saying that the country would never completely overcome our prejudices on race. Although I have seen things get better over the years, I still see and hear too many things that lead me to believe that that these feelings are still alive and well in a large minority of our white citizens. As an educator I have even heard some of this intolerance coming from various Asians.

I do think that should a black person, particularly a female black, run against a woman with as large a negative as say Hillary Clinton, that other person may negate what I have previously said on this subject

Posted by: Larry Estes | January 18, 2007 1:27 PM | Report abuse

The statistics speak for themselves. African Americans make up 12% of the US poulation. Only 1% of Senators are African Americans. This is an 8% index. Women make up 51% of US Population. 17% of US Senators are women. This is a 33% index. Both goups are underrepresented. The numbers indicate that being an African American is a bigger impediment to being elected to high office.

Posted by: EGold | January 18, 2007 1:25 PM | Report abuse

I listen to other's tell me why they will not vote for Hilary Clinton and it reminds me of when whites used to say: "I'm not prejudiced, but.. . ". The bias against women is so pervasive that most, including most women, are unaware of it. Clinton, like all females in power, is held to a much higher standard than are any of the men who are running for president. She has been attacked for traits no man would be. People, including reporters, hide deeply their prejudices against women in power.

Posted by: CathiSmith | January 18, 2007 1:24 PM | Report abuse

I'm not suggesting this all reduces to a matter of block voting, but just look at the numbers: over half the electorate is female; just 13% is black. Take into account turnout, differences in eligible voters (with so many blacks disenfranchised because of felony convictions or other reasons), and you see the peak of the iceberg.

Then, take it one level deeper:
We just elected a female Speaker, and the person making the most fuss over it is her (for good reason, perhaps). We've had two female Secretaries of State, females at most of the other major departments (with Defense being the notable exception), and I think now more than a quarter of all governorships, and similar percentages in both the House and Senate.

Meanwhile, we've had at best token minorities as Cabinet-level officials until this adminstration (and one could make a compelling case that Powell's military background makes him an exception), just three blacks in the Senate, just two black governors (one of whom was just elected this past November), and a Congressional Black Caucus nearly completley composed of members from gerrymandered or racially protected urban districts with overwhelmingly black voters. You could even extend the overgeneralization and include Hispanics in this, and the picture is just as bleak.

And before someone jumps on me for bending statistics, the numbers don't line up even when you look at representation relative to proportion of the population, either.

I don't mean to suggest by any means that women have it easy, nor am I suggesting that gender bias doesn't exist, but just by the numbers, Barack's got a much larger hill to climb. The political glass ceiling is cracked already, if not gone; the racial barrier, much less so -- and that's before you get to the regional arguments and other issues that are being put up.

And finally, for those people who argue that neither is important, while that may be the case for you, it's simply ignoring the reality that both of these issues remain pertinent today. Simply because one chooses to close their eyes and wish something away doesn't end the problem or make it better, and race and gender remain two of the most problematic issues in American society today. You're doing a disservice to the very color-blind and gender-neutral society you want to exist (I presume) by failing to acknowledge the reality that we're not there yet.

Posted by: Anthony | January 18, 2007 1:23 PM | Report abuse

I don't mean to introduce unintended players into the debate, but what about Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico, a Latino? Does a Latino male (and in his case you can barely tell he is latino) have a better chance than a Black male? I heard someone say yesterday that a Richardson (Pres) & Obama (VP) ticket would be exciting, and I whole heartedly agree!

Posted by: BentheDem | January 18, 2007 1:22 PM | Report abuse

It would be naive to deny the very real racism in this country. However, assuming that anyone who is running for President is well-educated, poised, and an achiever, the bigger impediment for individual candidates is probably gender.

Consider that both women and African-Americans in particular have made their major legal strides within the last 60 years. While there is probably a sizeable chunk of the country that would prefer de facto segregation, it is probably only the rare, dyed in the wool racist who really wants to re-establish legal separation. On the other hand, there are many people who openly lament the legal strides of the women's movement (I've personally been treated to more than one argument that even the franchise for women is dangerous).

The part of our population that desires a return to the brand of racial inequality of 60 years ago is small and out of the mainstream. A far larger, and far more mainstream portion of our society would really like to return America's women to the 50s or earlier.

This may not be an opperative difference for every individual candidate, but I suspect it will be especially powerful in the Obama-Clinton showdown.

Posted by: Monica | January 18, 2007 1:22 PM | Report abuse

The strength of a potential candidate for POTUS can be found in different ways, and among these, to name a few, are how far the opposition party will go early on, even before an announcement is made. The attack its self, whether it is on a personal or policy level, just who is behind them is critical for then you will pretty well know what will be coming as the race gets started. Political cartoons are a great indicater as they do show the day to day "goings on".

Posted by: lylepink | January 18, 2007 1:21 PM | Report abuse

An interesting speculation came up on this blog recently. Someone suggested that people who say "I just fear America isn't ready for a black president even though that's a tragedy" are subconsciously voicing their own racist reluctance to vote for a black presidential candidate.

Now, that can't be true for ALL the people who say this. Some of the people saying that must just be calculating the odds objectively. But let's imagine it is true for a certain percentage. That statement has been coming up so often that there truly must be a lot of people out there who will refuse to vote for any black candidate.

The inverse statement, "I just fear America isn't ready for a female president even though that's a tragedy" has not been appearing anywhere, at least that I've seen it. So maybe there are fewer people out there who will refuse to vote for any female candidate.

That suggests that all else being equal, being black is a worse impediment than being female.

Of course, though, all else is not equal. In any given election there are two unique candidates, each with their own individual strengths and weaknesses.

Posted by: Golgi | January 18, 2007 1:19 PM | Report abuse

Questions of theis general nature can typically be answered only with "it depends". Since Obama is only half-black, his personality may outweigh any negative. And since prro Hillary cannot be half-female, there is absolutely no chance in her overcoming her own negatives because her personality is a greater negative thatn her gender. So, it depends on the candidate.
Colin Powell was a very popular-looking potential candidate a few years back, and many of us reacll the disappointment we felt at his unwillingness to run for higher office due to family concerns regarding prejudice towards him. Those are some pretty big shoes to fill for Obama, politically speaking.

Posted by: proudtobeGOP | January 18, 2007 1:17 PM | Report abuse

I think the historical gender bias dating from the times of Mesopotamia, through the Medieval Period, and continuing to date is still stronger than the present day racial bias. If the people of today are anxious to make a statement they have left behind some of their long held biases, they would be more willing to elect a black male than a white female. However, I also think that Hillary's long exposure to the political process is a very big plus on her side. I just wish she would stop being so conservative in expressing her views.

Posted by: Nels | January 18, 2007 1:11 PM | Report abuse

Cristen writes
"Bsimon, That's exactly what I'm saying. That's a terrible reason to make a decision, especially when it involves choosing the future leader of the U.S."

I agree it didn't work last time, but now, I dunno... The most unlike Bush sounds pretty good...

Posted by: bsimon | January 18, 2007 1:10 PM | Report abuse

A question- does a minority on the ticket increase or decrease the get out the vote? and for which side?

Posted by: Aussie Bill | January 18, 2007 1:09 PM | Report abuse

I think it's terrific that it's even possible to consider either one of them. It means we have made great strides. I still remember when I was a child and women who worked were considered 'loose' and abnormal and there were still separate water fountains for 'whites' and 'coloreds'.

Obama has a great American story and real courage. Hillary is tough and a fighter. I wish them both luck.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 18, 2007 1:06 PM | Report abuse

Bsimon, That's exactly what I'm saying. That's a terrible reason to make a decision, especially when it involves choosing the future leader of the U.S.

Posted by: Cristen | January 18, 2007 1:05 PM | Report abuse

Senator Obama is interesting for different reasons. The claim of being inexperienced, well some want the Senator to get a committee chair. How much experience is enough? To get a chair on something like Appropriations, Senator Obama would have to be almost as old as Senator John McCain, by which point questions would be raised (rightly or wrongly) about suitability to run.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 18, 2007 1:05 PM | Report abuse

bsimon, that's exactly what I'm saying.

Posted by: Cristen | January 18, 2007 1:03 PM | Report abuse

Obama's race is absolutely the bigger impediment. Though existing under the surface, we all saw the effects of Congressman Harold Ford's race in the Senate campaign in Tennessee; if Ford had been white, the ad that sent him spiraling off-message wouldn't have been remarkable at all.

Meanwhile, we're past the point where a woman running for office raises serious questions. Women running for Senator or Governor are rarely seen as "the female candidate", and the interest around Hillary has more to do with her being a Clinton than a woman. That strategists and voters have doubts about her ability to win the nomination is not because of Hillary's gender, it's because a lot of people are still unsure about Hillary herself.

Posted by: Trevor | January 18, 2007 1:02 PM | Report abuse

I think that in a surprising change it has to do with the quality of the candidates not their race. There have been minority's in the primaries before, but now there are two genuine challengers for the top job.

For mine I feel Obama is Death and Taxes, not because he is Black but because he is a fairly incredible man. From all that I've read and seen (i.e. the speech at the convention) he is the real deal. Clinton on the other hand is really only so popular because she is Bill's wife and a women, ask yourself- would she be in the position she is in if she didn't have a last name like Clinton?

Posted by: Aussie Bill | January 18, 2007 1:02 PM | Report abuse

bmalbert wrote: "In my opinion, Senator Clinton, regardless of her gender, simply does not look presidential."

I ask: what about her doesn't look presidential? the skirt suit? the hair? the shoulders that aren't as broad? the hips?

Are you sure it's not her gender that makes her not look presidential to you and much of the country. If so, which women do look "presidential" to you?

Posted by: HThompson | January 18, 2007 1:02 PM | Report abuse

While I won't dispute that Senator Clinton's gender may play into the equation, I don't think that that is her biggest problem. Her biggest problem is her image of basing her opinions on which way the political wind is blowing. Whether or not, in reality, she does this any more that any one else is a judgement call.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 18, 2007 12:59 PM | Report abuse

Cristen writes "it seems our first instinct is to jump on the bandwagon of the candidate with the most 'non-Bush' persona. With what's happened over the past eight years, it's important for Americans not be near-sighted."


Are you saying that voting for the most 'non-Clinton' candidate wasn't the best choice for the US?

Posted by: bsimon | January 18, 2007 12:57 PM | Report abuse

Should either of Senators Hilary Clinton or Barak Obama manage to win the Democratic Party's nomination for President in 2008, their candidacy will be beset by a unique set of challenges and, potentially, opportunities caused by their being members of two distinct power-minorities in American society.

Sen. Clinton, as a women, will test the remnants of chauvinism and see how far modern attitudes towards women in the United States has truly progressed. For her the hope has to be that the American people are sufficiently advanced in their thinking to be able to accept a woman in the ultimate power role as both President and, more specifically for the chauvinists, Commander in Chief. Her gender could work to her advantage though, as a female candidate could elicit support from other women across the political spectrum as a matter of female advancement, and due to her particular appreciation of their concerns.

Sen. Obama's challenge as a member of a minority is obviously to answer the question as to whether race is or is not a valid concern in modern American politics. While the very idea of electing an African-American President would have been impossible to consider in past political eras, early indications seem to show Obama's appeal as a fresh face and a progressive, modern thinker may be able to move beyond the trivialities of race. His status as a minority, similar to Clinton's gender, also offers an opportunity to speak to a vast constituency in a unique manner. The chance to be the voice of all minorities could provide a cross party edge, especially in key southern States with large Hispanic populations.

Clinton and Obama represent an important milestone in American politics. Both Senators would represent important firsts in terms of Presidential nominations and, as the definite current front runners for the Democratic candidacy, stand a good chance of setting a new bar for equality one way or the other. However, if properly addressed and used as a legitimate part of a political platform, the challenges which make them the firsts from their respective power-minorities to potentially campaign seriously for the Oval Office could present opportunities to make their campaigns in the primary to be a first just a first step on the road to the Presidency.

Posted by: Paul S. Boudreau | January 18, 2007 12:56 PM | Report abuse

Matt - no, the US is not an extraordinarily racist country. But it is a racist country.

Lyle, if Obama has zero, zip etc. chance of being elected, why do you feel compelled to remind us of this every day? is it because more and more of us disagree? between the 2, neither has that much formal electoral experience, although both have nontraditional experience (Hillary more, i'll give you that.) With what little experience they have, however, both have done and said good things. Neither is a member of a traditionally powerful group. Obama's past is pretty clean, and so is Clinton's, the key difference being her failed attempt to establish national health care in the '90s. However, that incident - coupled with the other admittedly overblown and relatively unimportant "scandals" of the Clinton years - have been enough to paint a big "don't go there" label on Hillary. will it stick? too early to tell, but in a time of increasingly negative and personal campaigning, that may have made her - admittedly, mostly not her fault - unelectable. and then there's the personality aspect, in which any impartial observer would give the edge to Obama. what does it mean? I have my ideas, but don't know - yet - and neither do you. and while "electable" is a valid criterion, at this point I'd really like to focus more on policy proposals / discussions.... now, before the electability thing becomes the only thing discussed. the election is still 2 years away, and i would hope that in that time i will be able to learn enough about the candidates' positions that i am not voting for one of them ONLY because he / she is the most likely to win.

Posted by: meuphys | January 18, 2007 12:55 PM | Report abuse

Also, and I hope this doesn't sound overly-biased, but the type of people whose vote would be negatively affected by a female or African-American candidate are probably more likely to vote Republican anyway. The real issue is if more people (from either end of the spectrum) will be drawn to the polls if HRC or Obama makes it through the primaries.

Posted by: Cristen | January 18, 2007 12:54 PM | Report abuse

I guess the real question is, just how big is the moron vote?

Posted by: Anonymous | January 18, 2007 12:53 PM | Report abuse

Obvious point that apparently needs to be made: the theory that Mr. Obama cannot win because he cannot win a southern state is irrelevant. As most of you know, he could receive not a single vote in any southern state and still run away with the presidency. All that would be needed for a deomocratic victory is to hold the states won by John Kerry in 2004, and pick up either Florida or Ohio. So forgive me if I'm tired of hearing people say that he can't win because white southern racists won't vote for him.

Posted by: John | January 18, 2007 12:53 PM | Report abuse

For the Senator from New York, the biggest impediment is not her gender, it is her family & her past. She has to overcome over a decade of attacks from her opponents, there likely aren't many potential voters that don't already have an opinion of her; of those, many already have a negative opinion. Overcoming that hurdle will be her challenge.

For the Senator from Illinois, it is not his race, but his age & relative (in)experience that will be most difficult to overcome. If you compare Senator Obama to another mixed race potential candidate, Colin Powell, the former Secretary of State is likely to have a far higher level of support than the youngster from Chicago.

Posted by: bsimon | January 18, 2007 12:53 PM | Report abuse

So, (re: Obama) to what extent should voters value 'softer' traits like charisma and good looks over the real nitty-gritty stuff, like how he'll tackle our deficit, social security, the Iraq quagmire, etc? I'm not saying Barack Obama is a bad candidate. In fact, other than his published books and DNC speech, I know absolutely nothing about him. That said, most Americans are desparate for a White House makeover (WP fashion article notwithstanding), and it seems our first instinct is to jump on the bandwagon of the candidate with the most 'non-Bush' persona. With what's happened over the past eight years, it's important for Americans not be near-sighted.

Posted by: Cristen | January 18, 2007 12:50 PM | Report abuse

Inevitably in politics every politician carries around liabilities (here I refer to being female or Black) and strengths. I want to believe that our nation is prepared for a president who doesn't fit the mold of a "Good ol' Boy;" being male and white, of course, as the primary qualifiers.

As it stands now, a greater majority of the population knows of HRC, while people are still learning who this Obama person is. IF the Democratic primary were held today, Hillary would win. However, Obama has the advantage of being a relative unknown, but an up-and-coming unknown. His slate isn't squeaky clean, b/c we know of his past through his memoirs, but that's OK. He's a fallible human being like all of us. What matters today is if he can offer our country something different from all the rest, including Hillary.

As a male, I do believe he holds a slight advantage during this time of war and the on going commitment of the U.S. to fight terrorism. Men are seen as better suited to handle these issues. This is a notion as an educated person I disagree with, but one I believe the average U.S. citizen holds. It also speaks to a larger issue of the need to end gender and racial stereotypes and replace them with, for starters, thoughtfulness, common sense and consideration.

Should Obama decide to run, once his name is out in the media, scrolling across every ticker on cable news, people will be seduced as I've been, not because he's black, but b/c he's intelligent, able to articulate his message clearly, and commands his every move like that of a leader this country needs and the world can respect.

Posted by: BentheDem | January 18, 2007 12:50 PM | Report abuse

llewrub:

So "Barack HUSSEIN Obama" has changed to "Barack HUSSEIN OBAMA" now?

Very interesting. The earlier version was supposed to suggest that the Muslim name "Hussein" meant "Arab" even though there are Husseins all over the world, of all different ethnicities. But in this latest version, I guess the African name "Obama" is supposed to be Arab too. Good luck.

Or do you just think the name Obama sounds funny?

Posted by: Golgi | January 18, 2007 12:49 PM | Report abuse

Generically, both race and gender are likely to be at least mild impediments. But you can't judge the general characteristics of any candidate separate from the personal history of that candidate. That said, I believe Obama's race is a much smaller impediment -- and is potentially a small plus -- compared to Clinton's gender.

I believe a majority of American voters would like to see both of these barriers broken by the right person. Because Obama's father was Kenyan, his story would be, I believe, a more widely embraced immigrant success narrative that most Americans find appealing. Absent from Obama's story, for the most part, would be the "up from slavery" narrative that would dredge up many painful feelings around the tragic history of race relations in America.

Senator Clinton, on the other hand, seems like the wrong woman to break the gender barrier as her success, whatever her personal attributes, is nonetheless the direct result of whom she married. Whether Mrs. Clinton would have been a national figure with a different husband, we'll never know, but it seems as if the first woman president will more likely be someone who is seen as having succeeded on her own merits -- and there are female politicians on both sides of the aisle who fit that bill far better than Mrs. Clinton.

So, Obama's personal history could allow voters to feel good about being "color blind" without necessarily having to confront a painful and shameful history many would like to forget, while Clinton's personal circumstance makes her breaking the gender barrier seem less of an accomplishment that is also fraught with all sorts of side issues that are predominantly negative in nature.

Posted by: Scott F. | January 18, 2007 12:45 PM | Report abuse

Matt is correct. I mis-wrote. I should have said "an extremely racist and sexist country" instead of "an extraordinarily racist and sexist country." Unfortunately it is an ordinary thing for countries (well, actually their populaces) to be racist and sexist.

Posted by: HThompson | January 18, 2007 12:43 PM | Report abuse

Voter turnout is such a critical issue in presidential elections, and African-American turnout has a lot of room for improvement. If the fundamentalist turnout is not high (or a third candidate splits the vote) and Obama turns out the black vote, then he could win some southern states. Missippi's population is more than 1/3 African-American (http://www.censusscope.org/index.html).

If Obama is the Democratic candidate and increases turnout, '08 will be a very good year for African-American mayors and representatives.

Posted by: Adam Hammond | January 18, 2007 12:38 PM | Report abuse

I believe that, in order for somebody to become a viable candidate in the first place, race is a bigger issue than gender. The combination of a poor education system with the high number of entrenched (white) political elites means that the pool of well-positioned minority candidates is far smaller than the pool of well-positioned white candidates. True, there are many factors working against women as well, but a glance at the number of women who run for office (and particularly female governors) versus the number of black men shows that the bias against minority males is stronger than against white females.

When it comes to actual electability, however - for example, now that we have a viable black male and white female candidate for president - I believe the reverse is true. There is a crude paradox that keeps women from being as electable of men, regardless of ethnicity. Women are, as is frequently mentioned, stereotyped as weak and emotional; in order to overcome this stereotype, many female candidates rise to the top because they are reputed to be strong and dispassionate. Think Margaret Thatcher and Angela Merkel (Nancy Pelosi is a counterexample, but note that she has never won a national election, or indeed a statewide election). This type of personality is necessary for viability, and very damaging for actual electability - remember, the biggest criticism of HRC is that she doesn't seem "charismatic" or "warm." I believe that, because of cultural biases, HRC's biggest weaknesses are also some of the primary reasons she has risen to the position she is at currently. On the other hand, for black males, although there are cultural biases, they do not force candidates to assume very specific attitudes. Further, in terms of actual electability, the number of white voters who would feel great about getting to vote for a black candidate is far more significant than the number who would vote against a black candidate because of race (most of whom probably wouldn't vote for a Democrat anyway).

Of course, these are stereotypes. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama (the people, not the stereotypes) are far more than their gender and ethnicity; they are two brilliant, courageous politicians, and I believe either of them is electable and would make a great president.

Posted by: Jesse | January 18, 2007 12:37 PM | Report abuse

Although there is no reason that either Clinton or Obama shouldn't be president,the level of thoughtful decision-making in our electorate is so low that almost any white male will beat them in a presidential election. I am convinced that women and blacks get elected in the country as a kind of trial run to see how they'll do. And no matter how well they do we are one or two generations away from accepting either one as a viable candidate. As of right now, I would vote for either one but I probably won't get the chance. We still vote image for the most part and we get what we deserve. And that is a shame.

Posted by: Pat D. | January 18, 2007 12:36 PM | Report abuse

Anyone who says that the USA is an "extraordinarily" racist country should take a look at anti-Indian bias throughout Latin America; anti-Semitism in France, Argentina, or anywhere in the Arab world; anti-Asian pogroms in East Africa, the cultural genocide of Australian aboriginals; the real-life genocide by the Turkish state of its Armenian subjects; and of course the Yugoslav wars of the 1990s. Please explain how the USA "extraordinarily" distinguishes itself in interethnic hatred from any other place on earth.

Posted by: Matt | January 18, 2007 12:36 PM | Report abuse

Although there is no reason that either Clinton or Obama shouldn't be president,the level of thoughtful decision-making in our electorate is so low that almost any white male will beat them in a presidential election. I am convinced that women and blacks get elected in the country as a kind of trial run to see how they'll do. And no matter how well they do we are one or two generations away from accepting either one as a viable candidate. As of right now, I would vote for either one but I probably won't get the chance. We still vote image for the most part and we get what we deserve. And that is a shame.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 18, 2007 12:35 PM | Report abuse

Hillary will be the next POTUS should she choose to run and I do think she will. Obama has zero chance. This has been my opinion for quite some time and as each day passes I am that much more convinced that I am correct in my opinion. The media's creation of Obama as a sort of "rock star" will, IMO, hurt him over time because of the way they will now have to go through his entire life and there will be many things a lot of folks will not find to their liking.

Posted by: lylepink | January 18, 2007 12:35 PM | Report abuse

Of course, race and gender should NOT be a factor, and won't be for most thinking voters (the percentage of which we have casting ballots is subject for debate). A bigger issue for both should be their short resumes: One Senate term for Clinton, part of a term for Obama, and no executive experience for either. It's unfortunate that if either loses in a general election, their gender/race might be blamed as a factor rather than their relative lack of executive experience. Only when we have a woman or African-American whose qualifications are unquestioned (Colin Powell? Condi Rice?) and who can attract moderate voters will we know for sure if the other factors are no longer applicable.

Posted by: ska915 | January 18, 2007 12:34 PM | Report abuse

So much of what makes a potential candidate a real contender is reliant upon the candidate's image/persona/character/whatever you want to call it. Most voters do not even know where each candidate stands on many issues, in particular, the "non-spicy" issues. They have a general idea, based on the candidate's party, what the candidate stands for, and aside from that, they vote based on who looks like he (or, she) should be the President.
In my opinion, Senator Clinton, regardless of her gender, simply does not look presidential. Senator Obama, regardless of his race, most certainly does. He has a candor and genuinity about him that commands respect and adoration. I do not think that race or gender are significantly important in this respect.

Posted by: bmalbert | January 18, 2007 12:33 PM | Report abuse

Unfortunately both are impediments. But to answer the question, being black is more of an impediment at this point. We'll have a female President before we have a black or hispanic one, if for no other reason than because women make up roughly 50% of the population while blacks and hispanics are a fraction of that.

Put another way, HRC and Obama start with the same 40/40 split of the populace, and have to win over 51% of the people who don't go in with an overwhelming bias to one party or the other. If HRC was a generic woman, it would be hands down easier for her to convince the general electorate to support her.

The fact is that black candidates have only won 5 statewide top of the ticket elections in US History. We just recently watched Harold Ford, who was as strong a candidate as you'll find, lose to an underwhelming opponent in TN in a Senate race that the margin was almost certainly all about race.

On the flipside, virtually every state in the Union has either had a female governor or at the very least a strong female contender for Governor. People will elect a qualified woman to the top slot in the state, and also to the US Senate. History would indicate that they will not do the same with blacks. Of the five blacks elected statewide, two were from Illinois, two from Mass, and one from Virginia. The two elections in IL were with only nominal opposition, the one in Virginia was a fluke, in that the Republican was so thoroughly despised that VA elected a black man to Governor as much as a rebuke to his opponent as an affirmative election of Gov. Wilder, as exemplified by Wilder's inability to win any further elective office.

I wish it weren't so, but Obama would be on the defensive just to keep the blue states blue. Heck, Tom Bradley, as admirable a candidate as you'll find, couldn't beat Geo. Dukmajian in California, and if you can't carry Cali, as a Dem, you cannot win the election.

Posted by: steve | January 18, 2007 12:32 PM | Report abuse

I agree with poster above -- gender and race can be both strengths and impediments. But in Hillary's case, several factors work against her. The most difficult is the public perception of a female Commander in Chief. Still very hard for many men, I think, to accept. Or consevative women for that matter. There is that impossible balance for a women to be tough enough vs. a 'bit**'. So Clinton needs to stand tough militarily, at a time wwhen the US is bogged down in an unwinnable occupation and a lot of the country want to -- move on. And of course the media has already started officially piling on Hillary as of yesterday. Their romance with her is over now... she goes under the bus.

As for Obama, please, the south is the south. i have lived in the south, I have relatives there. They do not think they are racist, but they will NEVER vote for a black man. And check out a poster's comment about his name -- the rightwing media echo machine has already been flogging that for weeks now. And trying to tie him [in any way possible] to their favorite black boogeymen, Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson. While I think Obama is terrific, there is an enormous population of angry workingclass white men, who are looking for someone to blame for their own failures -- and the blame always falls on 'liberals' women and anyone not white.

They could vote for Bill, they kinda got him, but never hillary or obama.

Posted by: drindl | January 18, 2007 12:30 PM | Report abuse

My problem is that I have had it up to here with those old Washington hacks like HRC and would love to see new blood in the White House. Between the Bush family and the Clinton family, it has become Bush-Clinton overload. Too many years of power for those two familes! Also, HRC just isn't very refreshing to me. She comes across as robotic and too stern. Obama, on the other hand, comes across as nice, smart, sharp, somebody you would be proud to represent you when he visits foreign soil. His race will undoubtedly be a factor to some who still carries the vestiges of racism deep within their bellies, but for most Americans I do not feel that his race will be much of a factor at all.

Posted by: Teresa MW | January 18, 2007 12:28 PM | Report abuse

Oh, I think that it is harder for a black man to win, but likely easier time because he won't be subjected to constant style section articles on today's clothing choice that any women has to deal with constantly.

Posted by: ga73 | January 18, 2007 12:28 PM | Report abuse

Actually, I disagree with huangagain and think we are likely to have a black president before we have a female president (especially if we have African-American candidates who are fairly light-skinned). I think this is even more likely in a situation in which "the country is at war."

We are an extraordinarily racist country and an extraordinarily sexist country and we are in denial about both. However, I do think that type of racism that is most prevelant in political situations is not as strongly perpetuated against people of color (especially African Americans) who are financially well off and have affiliated themselves largely with the insitutions dominated by white people (including Congress) as the type of sexism we have is perpetuated against women who are finacially well off and have affiliated themselves largely with the insitutions dominated by men (including Congress).

That being said, I agree with Matt that to an extent we create electability by how we talk early-on about a candidate. And certainly the longer it takes us to support men of color, white women, or women of color in their bids for Presidency, the longer it will be before we have a person of color or a white woman as President.

We should not base our support for Senator Obama or Senator Clinton (or any other white woman or person of color) on whether we think our country is too (consciously or subconciously) racist or sexist to elect them. We should base our support (or lack thereof) on whether we feel that their leadership abilities and agenda for the country are in line with what we need. Additionally, we as men of color, white women, or women of color (or conscientious white men) should not base our support for them simply on our desire to have a black President or a female President. I do not want a black President who is disconnected from the issues faced by people of color and women and I do not want a female President who is disconnected from the issues faced by women and people of color. (Of course, maybe given the alternatives--white men who are disconnected from the issues faced by people of color and women--even a disconnected person of color or white woman is worth it.)

Posted by: HThompson | January 18, 2007 12:25 PM | Report abuse

Congratulations llewrub! You found the link between Iraq and Al-Queda!

Posted by: Chris M. | January 18, 2007 12:19 PM | Report abuse

The Press has made barack HUSSEIN OBAMA and when they get done with there new toy, they will eat him alive !!!!

Posted by: llewrub | January 18, 2007 12:14 PM | Report abuse

I get awful nervous when i see the name barack HUSSEIN OBAMA!!!

Posted by: llewrub | January 18, 2007 12:12 PM | Report abuse

For me personally, neither is a factor. I just don't find Hillary likable. Not in the dumb "have a beer with her" kind of way. There's just nothing about her that resonates with me. Obama pretty much won my heart with his 2004 DNC speech (which I still keep on my iPod close to my heart). They'd have to discover something pretty dire to break that image of him for me.

Posted by: C. Froggenhall | January 18, 2007 12:11 PM | Report abuse

I think that America is ready for either a woman or an African-American. Ironically, it could be viewed as "stylish" to support either because of the deomographic characteristic at hand.

In this specific case, however, I believe that neither will be elected. Obama is being rapidly perceived as all substance, while Clinton is too polarizing -- even among Democrats.

Posted by: greg smith | January 18, 2007 12:10 PM | Report abuse

Both gender and race have been not only an obstacle, but an unmovable barrier in this country until relatively recently. In spite of many glaring exceptions around the country, I believe that we have evolved beyond that. Given the right woman, or the right African-American candidate, either can be elected president. I have also admired HRC, but do not believe that she is the right woman, simply because there is no human way to get beyond the extreme, unreasonable tho it be, hatred of her by a huge segment of the population that would leave us a highly polarized nation even if she were to be elected. We need a unifying president at this point, in reality, not in words! I do believe that Obama can be elected , and can unify this country in ways that no president ever has in the past. He has my complete support.

Posted by: Wayne P | January 18, 2007 12:08 PM | Report abuse

One oft-overlooked fact: two-thirds of Dem primary voters are women and African-Americans. That makes membership in one of those groups a huge political plus -- in the primary. Whether it's a political liability in the general election remains to be seen.

Posted by: JA | January 18, 2007 12:07 PM | Report abuse

I'm not convinced that HRC's gender will play a significant role in 2008, but her reputation as a un-electable liberal will be.

For Obama, I haven't seen conclusively. Some say that his race will have significant impact in the South, but is he really using the South is his electoral scheme? Is he not "Whistling Past Dixie"? His reputation as almost "post-partisan" (and his signing on with the McCain-Lieberman climate change bill) as CA Governor calls himself, and his rhetorical star power will be powerful tools. But his race, I think Americans are looking past it. If he can win a Senate seat in Illinois, I find it hard to believe his race will hurt him anywhere else in the Midwest. If he can win the Northeast, the Midwest, Florida and the West Coast, I don't think any Deep South problems will prevent him from being President.

That, and I don't really buy that Ford's race had much to do with his Senate loss in TN. If Obama were able to win TN, he would be unstoppable.

Posted by: BHH | January 18, 2007 12:07 PM | Report abuse

I think the presidential race in 2008 will be decided by the degree to which a candidate is able to convey to us a sense of compassion and empathy with the needs and the plight of the least and neglected of our country and world. We have had enough of those who embrace abstract principles of freedom, liberty and democracy. I think voters want to see someone who is able to demonstrate in word and action that he/she is leading us to be the people whom we have been in our best moments of our history.

The two candidates, Obama and Clinton, will be judged on these criteria and Obama will be the clear leader. Issues of race or gender will not be the critical issues. Clinton may have the compassion and the empathy but she has not demonstrated it in any clear way up to this point. Obama has done it in writing and in his personal journeys.

Posted by: therev61 | January 18, 2007 12:07 PM | Report abuse

How about the media stops harping on it?

The media and the TV pundits are the only ones that really care.

One of the most disgusting and insulting questions posed by the media, as of late, are the "Is America Ready?" nonsense.

Posted by: Matt | January 18, 2007 12:05 PM | Report abuse

We will have a female president before we have a black president. As someone who lived in the south for 6 years (and hated it), there is so much "bubbling under the tolerance surface" racism that winning any state in the south would be impossible. I think the midwest would pose the same problem. These closet racists (who really believe they are not) make it easier for a white woman to succeed.

Posted by: huangagain | January 18, 2007 12:04 PM | Report abuse

I would say both can be an impediment and a strength

For women, there is an almost impossible balance between "too weak" and "she is a b*tch". I think this is the primary reason the Mrs. Clinton is so polarizing and in a primary that will emphasize strength and electability, the conundrum will be difficult for HRC.

For race, there is this image burned into the American psyche of the militant African American embodied in Malcolm X, Louis Farrakhan, and in some respects Jesse Jackson. America still has serious race issues, but most Amenricans just want to ignore it and move on. Mr. Obama provides a way for Americans to do that without the "race/slavery issue" that many white Americans would rather avoid confronting. Obama embodies the success of the civil rights movement with none of its baggage, a net plus and not placing any obstacle in his primary bid.

Posted by: JOToole | January 18, 2007 11:59 AM | Report abuse

I would say both can be an impediment and a strength

For women, there is an almost impossible balance between "too weak" and "she is a b*tch". I think this is the primary reason the Mrs. Clinton is so polarizing and in a primary that will emphasize strength and electability, the conundrum will be difficult for HRC.

For race, there is this image burned into the American psyche of the militant African American embodied in Malcolm X, Louis Farrakhan, and in some respects Jesse Jackson. America still has serious race issues, but most Amenricans just want to ignore it and move on. Mr. Obama provides a way for Americans to do that without the "race/slavery issue" that many white Americans would rather avoid confronting. Obama embodies the success of the civil rights movement with none of its baggage, a net plus and not placing any obstacle in his primary bid.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 18, 2007 11:59 AM | Report abuse

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