Rich Lowry

That the race card outranks the gender card has to be galling to Hillary's feminist supporters, giving some of Ferraro's comments their splenetic edge. The left has long had a holy trinity of class, gender and race. As a woman candidate who appeals to lower-income voters, Hillary is two-for-three in the sacrosanct categories of grievance, but race is the holy of holies.

Clinton's campaign and its supporters can cry sexism when she is sharply questioned in debates and loses the Iowa caucus, but it won't have the same resonance as the charges of racism hurled at them, leaving the likes of Gloria Steinem to rue that "the sex barrier [is] not taken as seriously as the racial one." Even as victims, women are second-class citizens.

Why can't the two sides tone down the victimological grudge match? Because charging bias has become a convenient political tool and an ingrained habit of mind. Nothing puts an adversary on the defensive like allegations of sexism or racism, so Obama and Clinton supporters naturally resort to them. And the left has cultivated a deeply paranoid worldview that sees everything through the prism of identity politics and assumes malign motives on the part of anyone not the "correct" gender or race.

The Obama-Clinton contest is merely an intramural warm-up. If a trail-blazing Democrat like Ferraro can get chewed up, just wait to see what happens to Republicans in the fall. The oversensitivity, and divisiveness, has just begun.

Rich Lowry

Rich Lowry is author of Legacy: Paying the Price for the Clinton Years .
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