Domestic issues Election 2008 Politics The Clintons

Be honest.

[digg-reddit-me]The man in question became a lawyer straight out of college, married a law professor and aspiring politician.  He fathered one child. The son of two white Republicans — he became a Democrat and remained married to his wife while she attained higher and higher levels of political success, culminating in her election and re-election as president of the United States of America.

In an unprecedented move, the first spouse was put in charge of one major area of policy – and failed miserably, as a result of his own egregious mistakes, his arrogance, and the powerful forces arrayed against him.  This colossal failure doomed this major policy initiative for a generation despite significant majorities continuing to support it.  After this failure, he maintained a lower profile and surfaced mainly to attack political opponents of his wife.

Be honest: Do you think this is the biography of someone who could be elected to the United States Senate? After one full term there, do you believe he could be a viable candidate to head the most powerful nation on earth?

Contra Gloria Steinem.

10 replies on “Be honest.”


I’ve actually been meaning to write about that. My first take is simply this:
What an offensive piece of trash, and incredibly dismissive of women. this is a clueless rant – against comedy, against South Park, against men, against women, against the Kennedy, against the Obamas.

How clearly she attacks the majority of women in the country. how dismissively and arrogantly she distorts the positions of the many who would rather another president than the sainted Ms. Clinton.

No – this is not for the women, or the men who love women – this is a Republican’s dream, an attempt to divide Americans, and to continue the politics of division.

Goodbye to this. We need a president who speaks to all Americans – black and white, male and female, Democrat and Republican, liberal and conservative and independent, Latino and Asian, and libertarians too.

But I’m developing a more thought-out piece both responding to this and to anti-Clinton, especially anti-Hillary sentiments.

And by the way – how does this piece prove that sexism is a part of the campaign? And do you think the biography above represents that of a viable candidate to head the most powerful nation on earth?

Oh, Joe… so you can write third-rate parodies on the fly, so what? It’s old hat to pretend that feminism is anti-feminist. You’re really not doing anything to dispel the accusation that Obama and his supporters are unwittingly entrenched in the Republican narrative (and as collaborators, to boot). Besides, any intelligent person should have noticed that Robin Morgan does not say that women can’t handle the sexists and sexism of the world — indeed, she suggests that Senator Clinton can and has — so I fail to see how this is insulting to women. Moreover, Ms. Morgan is not anti-Obama (indeed, she acknowledges the preponderance of their similarities) or even anti-Kennedy (you’ll notice she speaks highly of the young Kennedys, who have endorsed Senator Clintion, and first brings up Teddy not to attack him but to note an irony regarding the media coverage of his endorsement — and kudos to her for being willing to question the Kennedys, who are far more “sainted” than Senator Clinton in modern American culture). So thanks for another rhetorical rant, but I’m still waiting for some actual substance in your responses.

“And by the way – how does this piece prove that sexism is a part of the campaign?”

Why don’t you try answering the questions Ms. Morgan asks: what if someone had shouted “Shine my shoes!” at Obama? What if someone had asked McCain “How do we beat the black bastard?” Would that be met with cries of racism? I’ll let you answer on your own, but I think we both know that the answer is “yes.” Yet similar tactics based on analogous stereotypes are not sexism? Please…

“And do you think the biography above represents that of a viable candidate to head the most powerful nation on earth?”

First of all, I don’t think that the above biography is an accurate portrayal of anyone currently running for President. Secondly, your attempt at parody misses Gloria Steinem’s point, resulting in the logical fallacy known as a “false analogy.” And third, I think the reason that the above biography makes one doubt the putative candidate’s viability only proves that sexism works in two directions — that is, I do not think that the putative candidate would be considered inviable for good reasons (though the biography also suffers form a dearth of relevant details that may change this assessment) .

And just to be clear, I am not any more anti-Obama than Robin Morgan. Like her, I am excited about “what a good president he might make in eight years, when his vision and spirit are seasoned by practical know-how.” Moreover, I’m willing to go further than that and admit that he’d probably make a fine President now. He’s definitely my second choice candidate. But I think our political future is brighter and surer with Clinton first and Obama next.

I don’t know if they will work together as President and Vice President. Senator and former President Clinton are a governing team (one of the reasons I was excited about them in 1992 as well as now — I like them both, and I especially like them together), and I can see why Senator Obama might want to stay out of that. But if that should be the case, I hope Senator Clinton chooses a running mate who does not wish to run for President in 2016. I guess only time will tell.

If Obama wins the nomination, on the other hand, I will have no qualms about voting for him. Unlike some of the other people making comments on this blog, I will not stay home and sulk on election day should my first choice not be in the race at that time. Only children take the ball and go home over such trivialities.

“Third-rate parodies on the fly” – why start with the personal insults?

You entirely missed the point of my “rant”. I’m not saying that feminism is anti-feminist – rather, that Steinem is “saying goodbye” to most women as well as men – including good numbers of women who consider themselves feminists. Yet she later somehow turns a critique of the Boomer generation into an attack on women by asserting that the majority of that generation is female.

And I’m all for her questioning the Kennedys – but if she brings up Marilyn Monroe, why not bring up Vince Foster too?

This piece insults the many women who support candidates other than Ms. Clinton by attributing to them all sorts of silly arguments: “eeueweeeu yucky power” or “fearing their boyfriends will look at them funny”. Rather, there are many quality arguments both in favor of Senator Obama and against Senator Clinton.

You say that Morgan brings up Ted Kennedy first “not to attack him” – but her second reference clearly does. More important, Morgan ignores the number of young Kennedys who support Obama as well. I think the whole fuss is rather silly, but Morgan distorts reality here to make her point stick. She does this throughout her piece.

And while I agree that my piece ignores important facts about Ms. Clinton’s life – Steinem also ignores major facts about Mr. Obama’s life. That was the actual point of my piece – not to parody Steinem – but to point out the unfairness of her analogy – which if you applied the same rules to her preferred candidate would make her candidacy seem premature.

Finally as to the similarities between sexism and racism and potential double standards – again, I don’t think Morgan’s analogies ring true. She doesn’t find equivalents. And she ignores relevant facts – for example, that the “Iron my shirt” guys were excoriated by the media and the crowd – until it was discovered that one considered himself a Hillary supporter, and the other was a radio shock jock. The stunt was a joke – though one in poor taste. And one that was covered in the media as a reminder of sexism – albeit one that seemed staged to many in the media.

I will write a fuller response soon, but I just thought you should know that you conflated Gloria Steinem and Robin Morgan in your last response. They are, in fact, two different people.

My response did jump around – but I’m not sure where I confused the two…

Robin Morgan wrote the “Goodbye” piece, not Steinem, and Morgan is the one who questioned the Kennedys. But I think you are also confused about the intention of my comments: I have not said one thing to defend Steinem’s piece, and the parody I was referring to as third-rate was this comment:

“Goodbye to this. We need a president who speaks to all Americans – black and white, male and female, Democrat and Republican, liberal and conservative and independent, Latino and Asian, and libertarians too.”

While I agree with the sentiment, your phrasing is saccharine, clichéd, and over-the-top. It pales in comparison to Ms. Morgan’s prose.

Personally, I liked both Steinem and Morgan’s pieces. Barack Obama is the candidate for me, but to think sex and sexism hasn’t influenced the public’s reaction to Hillary is absurd. There is still the old fear that a woman will “push the button” at “that time of the month,” or that she won’t be able to deal with foreign heads of state who disrespect women. That’s sexism.

Plus, Joe, I think it’s a really good point that Simon makes about your parody of Steinem’s piece: the reason the man in your version is unelectable is because we don’t let men play a supporting role first and a dominant role second. So really, your piece supports Steinem’s point about how sex influences political races. So I don’t think you can continue to say that sex is not a very real issue for the way this race plays nationally.

And even though both pieces are pro-Hillary, and therefore anti-Obama in that respect, neither one is anti-Obama in the sense that many people are anti-Hillary. What I mean is, neither piece suggests that there is anything wrong with Obama.

One of my favorite lines from “Goodbye To All That (#2)” was this:

Goodbye to the phrase “polarizing figure” to describe someone who embodies the transitions women have made in the last century and are poised to make in this one.

It made be think of a really interesting cover story in USA Today last week (I think?) about how Republicans have chosen their candidate but don’t like him, whereas the Democrats have not chosen their candidate but are excited about both of the major possibilities. I think that’s a terrific position for us to be in right now.

But Simon, you seem to suggest that even Obama supporters should put their support behind Hillary and just “wait their turn” for Obama. (I get this form your “brighter and surer” line.) But if he’s the better candidate right now — and I think he is — why shouldn’t I vote for him? Isn’t that the whole point of the primaries?

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