Race, Gender Take Center Stage in '08 Elections : Tell Me More Is there a "Mommy" effect in the Presidential race? ... A "Jackie Robinson" effect?
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Race, Gender Take Center Stage in '08 Elections

Republican candidate Ron Paul, pictured recently in South Carolina, has come under fire for a series of old newsletters that appear to be racially and culturally insensitive. Getty Images hide caption

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As I was saying ...

Race and gender. Race and class.

Those are grad school words, or newspaper words. Who goes around saying things like "the intersection of race and gender," except college professors and reporters, like us? But those terms are lived.

As I was mentioning yesterday, the whole thing with the guy asking me to wash his dishes — some guy I never met — do you really think he would have asked NPR's Robert Siegel or Neal Conan, or Steve Inskeep?

A man whom I interviewed a year or so ago, back when I was filling-in frequently for Talk of the Nation, talked about "micro insults" — the little jibs and jabs that remind us of how we are viewed by others, especially as members of groups. I have a friend who is quite tall and robust, a big guy. He's a minister and a seminary president so he wears a suit and tie quite often. No matter what he's wearing, though, he is frequently approached for directions, asked for help, and for his opinions. He calls it the "Moses" effect. He says he's a big white guy with a beard, so he's presumed to know what to do. I've seen it first hand, trust me. We've had coffee or lunch together three times and EVERYTIME someone has asked him for directions.

Is there a "Mommy" effect in the Presidential race? Does Hillary Clinton have to prove she's a "nice mommy" or a "mean mommy," or not a mommy at all? Is there a, who knows, "Jackie Robinson" effect with Barack Obama? Is there a "Jack Kennedy" thing with Mit Romney, or Mike Huckabee, for that matter? Do they have to prove that their religious commitments — Romney is, of course, Mormon and Huckabee is a Baptist minister — won't take over their lives and shut out other people's truths?

These are some of the hard questions I think we should grapple with. You'll note I mentioned the whole question of whether the Tom Bradley effect had been in effect in the New Hampshire primary numbers. Not to pick a fight but, when I raised it, certain people got a little huffy.

But I'm not the only one. Look at Andy Kohut's Op-ed in The New York Times. And, and our occasional contributor Eugene Robinson's piece in The Washington Post.

Speaking of race, our college newspaper editors pointed out that Ron Paul has been a popular candidate among college students. Few seem to think he can win, but some reporters are now starting to dig into his record a bit. It isn't a pretty sight. Check this out and tell us what you think.

Disqualifying? Or not?

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