Posted by: mutantpoodle | May 22, 2008


clinton-mediaI have been going back and forth with my friend and former colleague, Other Lisa, with respect to the Democratic Primary (she is disappointed, depressed, and just plain fed-up with the misogyny – and doesn’t think Obama can win in the fall), and its can’t happen soon enough conclusion. I have been, I confess, perplexed by those who are angry at Barack Obama over the overt sexism and misogyny present in this campaign. I’m not perplexed by the anger – examples are plentiful of crap from Chris Matthews saying

I think the Hillary appeal has always been somewhat about her mix of toughness and sympathy for her. Let’s not forget — and I’ll be brutal — the reason she’s a U.S. senator, the reason she’s a candidate for president, the reason she may be a front-runner is her husband messed around. That’s how she got to be senator from New York. We keep forgetting it.

She didn’t win there on her merit. She won because everybody felt, “My God, this woman stood up under humiliation,” right? That’s what happened. That’s how it happened. In 1998 she went to New York and campaigned for Chuck Schumer as almost like the grieving widow of absurdity, and she did it so well and courageously, but it was about the humiliation of Bill Clinton.

…to David Shuster saying that the Clintons had “pimped out” their own daughter by having her call superdelegates on Hillarty’s behalf, to Tuesday night’s apotheosis, when GOP consultant Alex Castellanos said that perhaps “white bitch” is an accurate description of the junior Senator from New York.

There are the Hillary nutcrackers for sale (in CNBC stores!) at airports around the country, a T-shirt that says “Bros before hos”, and countless hideous comments sprinkled throughout the media’s coverage of this primary season.

And that’s not by any means exhaustive, or perhaps even fully illustrative.

Hillary herself just commented on the misogyny in an interview in the Washington Post:

The manifestation of some of the sexism that has gone on in this campaign is somehow more respectable, or at least more accepted, and . . . there should be equal rejection of the sexism and the racism when it raises its ugly head. It does seem as though the press at least is not as bothered by the incredible vitriol that has been engendered by the comments by people who are nothing but misogynists.

And she’s right- at least about that. And those who support her are right to be incredibly angry at how this has played out.

Where they aren’t right, I think, is in laying their anger at the feet of Barack Obama.

Some think he has been dismissive of her – the “likeable enough” comment in an early debate, or condescending, as in when Obama said that Hillary should stay in the race “as long as she likes.”

I remember seeing the “likeable enough” comment live, and cringing – but where I saw a bad ad-lib, others, apparently, saw arrogance. (It was a response that would make sense as a teasing remark between friendly colleagues in a small room – in a debate, it didn’t work at all.) And I don’t know what to say to people who think it’s condescending to say that Hillary should stay in as long as she wants to – what, pray tell, was his alternative?

Geraldine Ferraro, who has emerged as a lightning rod for these issues, says Obama has been terribly sexist. To which I say, how? By running against her, or winning?

If every woman who is angry and depressed at the media’s coverage of Hillary Clinton decided to boycott CNN or MSNBC or Fox News or their corporate parents, I’d think that made sense. But if they are looking to move women’s rights forward in this country, then there’s only one word for working against Barack Obama in the fall: stupid.

In the Times article in which Ferraro said she might not support Obama in the fall, there was this vignette:

Mrs. Clinton seemed to channel the lives of regular women, who often saw her as an avenging angel. Take Judith Henry, 67, for whom Mrs. Clinton’s primary losses stirred decades-old memories of working at a phone company where women were not allowed to hold management positions. “They always gave us the clerical jobs and told us we didn’t have families to support,” she said. At a rally last month in Bloomington, Ind., she sat with her daughter Susan Henry, 45, a warehouse worker, who complained that her male colleagues did less work and made more money than the women did.

Well, here’s my prediction for you: John McCain will not be putting those issues on his front burner.

Perhaps this is the problem with having two transformative candidates for the Democratic Party nomination. Someone was bound to wind up feeling like it was their turn, and they got screwed. But just as Hillary Clinton was under no obligation to get out of the way so that Obama could make history, neither was Obama conversely obligated to her.

Here’s what it comes down to for me. There is no doubt that Hillary Clinton faced – and faces – incredible levels of sexism in this campaign.

And yet, if she’d had a competent campaign organization, if Bill Clinton had kept his temper in check and not been such a distraction to her, and if her strategy didn’t boil down to, essentially, throw all the money at super-duper Tuesday, and ignore (or be ill-prepared) for caucus after caucus, she would, right now, be the presumptive Democratic party nominee. She had a flawed strategy and underestimated her opponent. And she lost.

It is not sexist to say so, nor is it sexist to support her (Democratic) opponent. But if you believe in Hillary Clinton and what she stands for, and you either sit out the election in November or vote for John McCain, then it is you who have disrespected her and her life’s work as much as any of the pinheads who have behaved so horribly towards her over the past six months of this campaign.


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