Now Carol Moseley-Braun plans to run for president.
The former U.S. senator is one of two blacks among the glut of Democrats aiming to unseat the cowboy in the White House.
Ms. Moseley-Braun says her intention is not to split the black Democratic vote with civil rights activist Al Sharpton of New York. That's assuming that all black voters would support her or Mr. Sharpton, which certainly is not the case.
Fat chance either will get very far, don't you agree?
Can't you just hear the Republican Party snickering:
So is this the best that African-Americans can offer for presidential candidates? A civil rights activist with no experience as an elected politician and limited appeal even among blacks? And a former senator whose sole term in office was tainted with controversy and whom Illinois voters refused to re-elect?
Ms. Moseley-Braun wants to appeal to more than African-Americans and women. It's likely to not only be interesting but an uphill trek for her.
She is distinguished in that she was the first black woman elected to the U.S. Senate. With this announcement, she's the second black woman to set her eyes on the White House. A New York Democrat, U.S. Rep. Shirley Chisholm, was the first black woman to run for president in 1972; she won 152 delegates.
Women may like what Ms. Moseley-Braun said when she announced her intentions: “I am here today to take the ‘men-only' sign off the White House.”
More power to you, girl. But it will take a lot more than pithy slogans to win on the presidential campaign trail.
For one thing, Ms. Moseley-Braun comes with so many concerns about her tenure as senator that even some of her supporters wonder if she can possibly shed the baggage. While senator, she visited the late Nigerian dictator, General Sani Abacha, and the State Department did not approve the trip. Bad move.
Questions about her handling of campaign finances and spending that was unaccounted for prompted an audit by the Federal Elections Commissions. Fortunately for Ms. Moseley-Braun, the FEC identified shoddy record keeping, exonerating the former senator.
But if Ms. Moseley-Braun can overcome issues that nagged her as a senator and contributed to her loss in the 1998 election to a Republican, she could be a formidable candidate, and one not to be underestimated. As a junior senator in 1993, she took on Jesse Helms when he tried to renew a United Daughters of the Confederacy emblem showing the Confederate flag. She convinced her Senate peers that the design was reminiscent of the a time blacks “were human chattel.” That was the end of the patent.
But Democrats are relieved that Ms. Moseley-Braun has her sights on the White House rather than on her old Senate seat. Their relief indicates a lack of confidence in her, an unwillingness to back her, and proof that they have no hope for her victory.
They could be right, but nothing is impossible. Ms. Moseley-Braun has quite a following, and contributions poured in from most states for her Senate campaign. A Chicago Democratic strategist also adds that “Iowa has a significant black vote and she could connect with them better than Al Sharpton, for example, on agricultural issues.”
Besides, in her appeal to all Americans she'll address a wider range of issues, including a possible war in Iraq, national security, and the budget deficit.
All that's great, but why doesn't another African-American step forward? Most any Congressional Black Caucus member would make a better candidate than Ms. Moseley-Braun or Mr. Sharpton.
It's too bad U.S. Rep. Harold Ford, Jr. of Tennessee is too young to run for president now. Do you get the message, Maxine Waters?