Imagine if that woman at the John McCain rally in South Carolina had asked, “How do we beat the (n-word)?” to devise a strategy to take on Barack Obama.

Imagine if that woman at the John McCain rally in South Carolina had asked, “How do we beat the (n-word)?” to devise a strategy to take on Barack Obama.

Or if someone used a slur for Hispanics in looking for a way to take down former New Mexico governor Bill Richardson in the presidential race.

Or if a supporter from a Hillary Clinton gathering asked out loud the best way to defeat “that wacky Mormon,” Mitt Romney.

There would be an uproar, justifiably so, from every mainstream and fringe candidate so full and so loud it would move the offended party to the front of the race on sympathy alone.

Yet why is there such a deafening silence over the fact that Clinton was labeled a “bitch” and the candidate whose campaign triggered the offending question is raising funds off the incident?

Where is the outrage by the other candidates, especially those in her own party? Why did neither McCain nor any of the other Republican candidates distance themselves from such a guttural and partisan snipe that is sexist and demeaning to women despite coming from a woman?

The answer is simple: Because they all want that perception of Clinton to fester. That, though, does not make it an acceptable phrase and reveals that we still have a two-tiered political system in place, one for the boys and one for the girls.

In this day and age of visual candidacies, otherwise known as Youtube, the clip has been viewed millions of times as well as being played on national news shows.

McCain, who has risen to national prominence on his “straight talk” image, is shown moving away with a smirk on his face, offering some pabulum response of how he “respects” the New York senator and then saying, “Excellent question.”

It is not an excellent question because excellent questions are thoughtful, civil and devoid of invective.

It harkens back to 1984 when Geraldine Ferraro broke the national ticket glass ceiling as the running mate for Walter Mondale. Barbara Bush, wife of then-Vice President George Bush, was asked her view of Ferraro and she said it “rhymes with rich.”

Snickers abounded and no one ever chastised the white-haired grandmother. And since then it became okay to attack women with epithets as long as it was another woman doing slurring.

Clinton is the acknowledged frontrunner and as such is a legitimate target. But it should be her stances on issues, not her gender that should be the focus.

We think if the rest of the candidates were man enough to take on the attacks themselves or condemn this type of discourse, we’d see less of it.