I remember being so excited when Walter Mondale added Geraldine Ferraro to the Democratic Presidential ticket in 1984. With three terms in House of Representatives, she didn't strike me as the most qualified to be VP, but neither was she the least. And she reinvigorated the Democrats in a way Mondale couldn't. (Mondale couldn't invigorate a birthday party. As Dennis Miller, back when he was funny, said after the election, "Mondale got stomped like a narc at a biker rally.")
Ferraro endured the inane and persistent "Wally and the Beaver" and "each side has a Bush for VP" jokes like a pro. Being first makes history, but not necessarily for a lot of personal happiness. I remember being particularly impressed she didn't shiv the reporter who asked her about her dress size. I was on our school paper at the time and knew any of us would have been drop-kicked for asking anything so goddamned dumb. It embarrassed me this reporter was ostensibly a pro.
I didn't think about Ferraro a lot until the 2008 election, in which she supported Hillary Clinton. I understood her support for Clinton and if Barack Obama hadn't run, I would have backed Clinton, too. But Ferraro went further than attacking Obama's policies, which would have been fair game. She started making racist statements. Like, unambiguously racist. And she kept repeating them. She was positively and baffling irate at the way Obama carried the mic when onstage and spat out, "He acted like a stand-up comedian! Like a stand-up comedian!" (Um, what?)
Then she referred to the venerable Bob Herbert, longtime New York Times editorial writer, as "one of Obama's Black surrogates in the media". As if all Blacks know each other and were sitting around a table somewhere, thinking of ways to insult the Clintons. She played into the worst kind of White fear and it disgusted me. (Herbert didn't insult Hillary; he disagreed with her. Ferraro couldn't make the distinction.)
Ferraro was no longer the person who had inspired millions of girls and women in 1984. I never respected her again.
Still, when Mondale asked her, she accepted a slot on what everyone knew was a losing ticket and gave it her all.
Peace to her friends and family.