Posts about Politics

Facing up to sexism

We are only now — a bit late — beginning to face up to sexism as a factor in the Democratic race and as an ongoing problem in America.

Katie Couric spoke out:

Sound bite: “It isn’t just Hillary Clinton who needs to learn a lesson from this primary season, it’s all the people who crossed the line and all the women and men who let them get away with it.”

The New York Times today delivers the stock on-the-one-hand, on-the-other-hand, try-to-say-nothing roundup that comes to no conclusion but does, at least, compile a few of the sins:

Cable television has come under the most criticism. Chris Matthews, a host on MSNBC, called Mrs. Clinton a “she-devil” and said she had gotten as far as she had only because her husband had “messed around.”

Mike Barnicle, a panelist on MSNBC, said that Mrs. Clinton was “looking like everyone’s first wife standing outside a probate court.” Tucker Carlson, also on MSNBC, said, “When she comes on television, I involuntarily cross my legs.”

The establishment news media were faulted too. The New York Times wrote about Mrs. Clinton’s “cackle” and The Washington Post wrote about her cleavage.

Ken Rudin, an editor at National Public Radio, appeared on CNN, where he equated Mrs. Clinton with the actress Glenn Close in “Fatal Attraction.” “She’s going to keep coming back, and they’re not going to stop her,” Mr. Rudin said. He later apologized.

Howard Dean comes out to decry the sexism. Why didn’t he do this during the campaign?

Howard Dean, chairman of the Democratic Party, who says he was slow to pick up on charges of sexism because he is not a regular viewer of cable television, is taking up the cause after hearing an outcry from what he described as a cross-section of women, from individual voters to powerful politicians and chief executives.

“The media took a very sexist approach to Senator Clinton’s campaign,” Mr. Dean said in a recent interview.

“It’s pretty appalling,” he said, adding that the issue resonates because Mrs. Clinton “got treated the way a lot of women got treated their whole lives.”

Mr. Dean and others are now calling for a “national discussion” of sexism.

Howard Dean doesn’t watch Chris Matthews? Yeah, sure.

: And here‘s The Times’ Nick Kristof writing the speech on sexism he wishes Obama would now deliver.

The day the Democrats lost it

From Dana Milbank’s coverage of yesterday’s food fight and disenfranchisement festival:

The chaos and vitriol seemed to confirm Democrats’ fears that they might blow an election that should otherwise be an easy victory for them. Nor did the compromise fit well with the Democrats’ oft-voiced commitment to voting rights. They decided they would give Florida and Michigan half of their voting rights — one of the more arbitrary compromises since the 1787 decision that a slave should count as three-fifths of a person — and voted to award Obama 59 Michigan delegates, each with half a vote, even though his name wasn’t even on the ballot in the state.

Gold-colored ropes (along with some hired DNC muscle) kept the public and the press at a distance from the committee members. “We are strong enough to struggle and disagree and to even be angry and disappointed and still come together at the end of the day and be united,” Dean told his troops. But not this day.

Jon Ausman, representing Florida, likened the disenfranchisement of Florida to the election of 1876, in which “the Republicans stole three electoral votes from Florida and made Rutherford [B. Hayes] president instead of Tilden.” . . .

Only Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan had an irrefutable point. “We’ve got a totally irrational system of nominating our president,” he said.

Bias? What bias? We’re not biased. Just ask us. Are we?

Chris Matthews — who has been downright spiteful in his coverage of Hillary Clinton — reports that she is attacking back. But David Shuster, the correspondent, explains it all away: “Attacking the media is not new. Presidents and politicians have been doing it for a long time, usually to deflect their own problems, often to tap into a perceived voter hostility towards journalists. The problem for Hillary Clinton is that her charges may reinforce concerns about her credibility.” His illogic: Clinton says that some in the media want her to quit. Shuster says that though they have declared her campaign over, nobody asked for her to quit. And besides, he says, the continuing campaign is good for ratings. But then he then goes on to declare himself, “She will not win.”

Incredible. He says she can’t be credible accusing the media of bias because he says the media aren’t biased and he says you can believe that because he’s credible and so she’s not.

They kill horses, don’t they?

World News Tonight tonight had Jake Tapper acting as if he had a big exclusive investigative report: Hillary Clinton is now rich! And she’s a liberal! Irony? He thinks so. Uh, what about Franklin Roosevelt? John F. Kennedy? John Edwards for that matter? Another nonstory. Another attack on Hillary for the sake of it. It was followed by a softball to Obama. Bias? No, no bias. What makes you say, that, Jeff?

1 man, 0.89967 vote

CJR’s Clint Hendler does an admirable job showing just what a mess Democratic primary math is and demonstrating that we have no idea what the popular vote count is. To put that another way: we have no idea how many citizens’ votes are not being counted.

There’s the mess in Florida and Michigan, with the DNC disenfranchising their own Democrats there (fools!). And this:

The Democratic party’s nominating process is a kaleidoscope of caucuses, conventions, and primaries, sometimes all in the same state. And there’s no obvious best way to estimate a popular vote from it all.

And this: The news organizations and the campaigns, of course, all count the alleged popular vote differently.

This is shameful: undemocratic and unDemocratic. We must reform the primary system in a unified way. This idea that each state can and should do its own idiosyncratic thing is a leftover of a disorganized and unconnected past and it is hurting now.

The principle for reorganization is simple: Every citizen has a right and an opportunity to vote in a meaningful way in the primary process. One person, one vote, damnit.

What is Kos?

I’m thinking that Daily Kos is not — as it wants to be and is often painted — netroots, the voice of a popular movement.

No, it’s more like Tammany Hall, a would-be powerbroker and kingmaker. And Kos is the would-be party boss.

Notice I say would-be.

The Kos war

Jim Wolcott (fellow Hillary voter) dissects the feud — schism, actually — at Daily Kos and within the Democratic Party. Note well that the nasties in this story are the followers of Mr. Getalong.

The rancor was disproportionate in intensity and extravagant in invective, a fervor worthy of ancestral foes. Months-old grievances seethed and erupted as if they had been bubbling for centuries in a lake of bad blood. . . .

What chafed Hillary supporters was how many supposed liberal outposts chimed in with this chorus of abuse, from the op-ed pages of The New York Times (where only Paul Krugman seemed to have a kind word as Maureen Dowd kept reminding readers of Monica Lewinsky’s lipstick traces on the Clinton saga, and Gail Collins seemed to be putting on some sort of puppet show) to the studios of Air America (where hosts Randi Rhodes–who was suspended, then resigned, after calling Clinton a “whore” at a public appearance–and Thom Hartmann kept the hostility percolating), to progressive Internet mother ships such as Joshua Micah Marshall’s Talking Points Memo and the Huffington Post, where even a notable progressive such as Barbara Ehrenreich tried to tar Hillary with fascist associations. (The majority of Huffpo’s high-profile contributors were so over the rainbow about Obama that it was as if they had found rapture in the poppy fields and were rolling around on their backs like ladybugs.)

And quoting Kos himself over the departure/boycott of Hillary voters from his shrine:

“Clinton and her shrinking band of paranoid holdouts wail and scream about all those evil people who have ‘turned’ on Clinton and are no longer ‘honest power brokers’ or ‘respectable voices’ or whatnot, wearing blinders to reality, talking about silly little ‘strikes’ when in reality, Clinton is planning a far more drastic, destructive and debilitating civil war.”

Obama may paint himself as Mr. Nice Guy but he certainly has a nasty bunch of friends.

Obama’s problem

Now I’m actually angrier about Obama and the Rev. Wright than before. When I complained about what Wright said the first times, I was told that I didn’t understand the history of the black church, I didn’t understand black liberation theology, I didn’t listen to the whole context of what he said. Bull.

But now Obama repudiates Wright. And all Wright did was repeat the exact same crackpot crap that some of us had complained about before.

So before, I was as good as called racist or at least clueless for criticizing the not-so-good reverend. But now when Obama finally criticizes him, the New York Times editorial page — in a classic of doublespeak soft-headed mush from wimps — praises him for “the most forthright repudiation of an out-of-control supporter that we can remember.” Jesus.

Worse, the Times again implies that we’re all racists if we and candidates don’t criticize white crackpot crazy ministers as much as this one has been criticized. Well, I have my alibis: I’ve put in my time criticizing crackpots with white collars and white skins and protesting their bigotry. It’s the Times that is playing the race card here.

In the end, this isn’t about race at all — and I think it was a mistake, in the end, for Obama to put the needed discussion about race in America in the context of Wright.

No, this story is about a nutjob whom our potential president valued as an advisor. Obama would not repudiate Wright the first time he said all these hateful things; Obama did it only when they were repeated and when he realized that this could do him political damage.

You see, this is the problem I have with Obama. I’m still not sure what I think he is: a cynical politician who throws out empty rhetoric and makes these grand statements only when he needs to (that is, like every other cynical politician) or a mushy wimp who can’t make tough decisions because he thinks he can get along with everybody (Jimmy Carter).