Sexism, racism, cynicism & whining about Hillary

Hillary Clinton won in New Hampshire. It’s as simple as that, right? No, not if you listen to the narratives around her victory in the media, where they continue to root against her.

The sexist narrative comes, shockingly, from New York Times columnist Gail Collins, who argues that Clinton won because, after the bully boys slapped her around on Saturday’s debate and her eyes welled up, women gave her pity votes: “But for one moment, women knew just how Hillary felt, and they gave her a sympathy vote. It wasn’t a long-term commitment, just a brief strike by the sisters against their overscheduled world.”

That’s a sexist insult to both Clinton and her voters. It says that women are emotional and not rational and that they’d throw away their votes and their country over a moment of reality-show drama. Sister, for shame.

The racist narrative, far more shocking, comes in the Times from pollster Andrew Kohut, apologist for his obviously incompetent profession, who argues that the head-counters and the pundits all predicted the vote wrong because poor, white voters — Yankee crackers — left to their own devices in private polling booths would not vote for a black man: “But gender and age patterns tend not to be as confounding to pollsters as race, which to my mind was a key reason the polls got New Hampshire so wrong. Poorer, less well-educated white people refuse surveys more often than affluent, better-educated whites. Polls generally adjust their samples for this tendency. But here’s the problem: these whites who do not respond to surveys tend to have more unfavorable views of blacks than respondents who do the interviews.” In short: Clinton got the trailer trash vote and Obama didn’t.

So what that says is that Clinton’s resurgence is a victory for racism. What an insult that is to her and to her voters and to the nation. That devalues and corrupts her victory.

The whining comes from the press, who complain that the Clinton campaign wasn’t as nice to them as the Obama campaign. As a fellow journalist, I suppose I should be sympathetic to them, but I’m not. That’s inside baseball. Its their job to get the story; that’s what they’re paid to do. What difference should it make to the voters and the fate of the nation that they don’t like a candidate’s flacks? I’ve seen this narrative all over in the last few weeks. The most convenient example comes from the UK, where the Telegraph’s Toby Harnden moans and mewls: “The Hillary Clinton staff excluded all foreign press from their “victory” celebration. . . . Contrast that with the Obama staff. Senior aides chatting away to big shot and small fry reporters alike. Credentials and access to as many reporters and members of the public who wanted it. Throughout the Iowa campaign, Obama volunteers would thank us for coming, accompany us to the correct entrance if we asked the way. Clinton staffers treated us as an inconvenience at best and at worst like a bad smell. As this exchange was taking place, an American reporter I know came over to us and said: “Get used to it – this is what the next eight years could be like.” Except that after tonight’s result it looks like we won’t have to get used to it after all.” And why should we care?

That is — or should be considered — an insult to journalists, who should be able to exclude their inconvenience and annoyance from their stories. But it makes one wonder whether they did.

None of these narratives says that voters voted for Clinton because they thought about it, because they are intelligent, because they cared for the country, because they agreed with her about issues, because they thought she could deal with the economy — our No. 1 issue, say the pollsters, and the one Clinton attacked most aggressively in the last debate before the New Hampshire primary. No, there has to be some reason other than those for voting for Clinton.

Now to the cynical narrative: change. Inspired by a Max Kalehof comment in my post here, I created this Blogpulse chart showing the frequency of the words “change”, “Obama”, and “Edwards” in the blogosphere in the last six months. Note the synchronous rise: the moment in late October when Obama, especially, harped on the word and the blogosphere followed.


I went to the record on YouTube to see when this change for “change” visibly and aggressively entered Obama’s campaign. Note that this video from September had no “change” signs:

But this video from October had the new “change” signage on the podium but not in the audience:

Now look at the Oprah rally in December. By then, the “change” narrative was fully in place — clearly tested and approved — and all the signs in the crowd are new from the printer. All of them scream “change”:

I’m coming to think that “change” is more than an empty word. This movement to “change” is looking more and more like a cynical act. It is an effort to pander to an audience — the young voters, the media say — with a simple, shallow idea, as if that should be enough to sway them. To say that they would is to insult them. It says that they buy candidates like they buy deodorant.

I spoke with a reporter tonight who’s writing a story on what brought out young people for Obama in Iowa and New Hampshire and she is hearing that they are seeing through “change” and making their judgments on issues. I believe that women, white voters, black voters, and young voters do likewise. Not to believe that is to dismiss their opinions and their votes.

  • You’re leaving out Hillary from the “change” rhetoric, and it hurts your argument a little. She jumped on that bandwagon after it “worked” for Obama in Iowa.

  • Bill

    the racial voting angle is false because “it devalues and corrupts her victory?”

    ipse dixit…

  • Ray

    Yes, “Change” replaced ‘experience’ in the Hillary campaign after Iowa, and her signs feature it just as prominently now (though I think the text that follows is a little bit different.)

  • Mickey

    I feel so bad for the Great people of New Hampshire and Iowa. I am so angry with the media pundits because they have forgotten to look in that invention called a mirror. They messed up and rather than have egg on their face, they must blame everyone else. It is a disgraceful event and the pundits should all appologize to all of the candidates and the voters. Their enthusiasm possibly cost votes for other candidates. That sure fire slam dunk victory rhetoric could have influenced some and that is unfair to the process.

    Then to say racism, sexism, young pollsters that were not professional, machines, paper ballots….lions and tigers and bears oh my. I am so angry about this but it is not surprising considering we have lost 90% of the credible journalists with egomaniacs.

    It is sick!

  • Harold

    You just don’t get it.

    Obama is a black man, the son of an Immigrant who lived overseas.

    We’ve never had a person every get this close to the Presidency who is either black, or an immigrant.

    This is a country where up until 50 years ago, Black men and women couldn’t drink from the same water fountain as whites.

    The changes– the real, hard, painful, important changes this country has made for the better are physically embodied in this man running for president. A man who is talking about uniting people and isn’t using his race as a crutch when discussing it.

    I think your interpretation of what Obama means to young voters, themselves children of the era of globalization who look back at the last 43 presidents and sees that every single candidate except for 2 was a white protestant male, is what’s cynical here.

  • You’re missing the “Diebold narrative”.

    In precincts that used Diebold Accuvote scanners to count the votes, whether they be large, medium, or small, Hillary got a LOT higher percentage of the vote than in precincts that counted the votes by hand. In fact, if you look at the hand-counted precincts only, Obama won.

    Same thing happened on the GOP side. Romney got a LOT higher vote in precincts Diebold Accuvote was used, although it wasn’t enough to change the results.

    I don’t have any legal standing to formally ask for a recount; I don’t live in New Hampshire, and I’m registered as a Republican, anyway, but honest elections are imperative in a democracy. Stealing an election is treason.

  • Jens

    Can we go back to discussing online journalism and publishing again? Please? All this talk about “change” and politics is starting to bore me…

  • Harold,
    And neither have we had a woman so close to the presidency and only a century ago they could not vote for the office. Are you dismissing that? Enough. I think that voters are voting and should vote for who will do the job best.
    Oh, spare me. Your tinfoil hat is crinkling.
    Such are blogs. Take more or leave me. Oh, and this is a media story, you know.

  • Cooler Heads


    You’ve got the racist narrative wrong. Hillary did not WIN because of racism. Obama LOST. It’s not the same thing. People told the pollsters they would vote for Obama because they wanted to be viewed by the questioner as unbiased. But in the privacy of the voting booth they didn’t have that concern and didn’t vote for the minority. If it wasn’t Hillary running against him, it would have been the other leading candidate who won because of racism.

    How much is the Hillary campaign paying you?

  • This Diebold thing is all over the net. Do you think there’s anything too it? After 2000 I dont dismiss anything in politics any more.

  • My belief on conspiracy theories is that the world is too disorganized to conspire. Fuckups are far more likely.

  • Jens

    @ Jeff

    Sure it is :) and obviously it is an important media event, too. But you have to admit that the ‘change’ slogan really got you somehwat worked up. Interestingly, Bill Clinton had the same slogan in 1992 (it is just that most people have forgotten about that by now). Taken from Wikipedia:

    “In order to keep the campaign on message, Carville hung a sign in Bill Clinton’s Little Rock campaign headquarters with the following three points:

    1. Change vs. more of the same
    2. The economy, stupid
    3. Don’t forget health care.

    Although the sign was intended for an internal audience of campaign workers, the phrase [The economy, stupid] became something of a slogan for the Clinton election campaign. Clinton’s campaign used the recession to successfully unseat George H.W. Bush, whose approval ratings had been in the 80% range one year prior.”

  • Harold

    A. There’s no way to accurately compare the suffering of White women in this country to blacks.

    B. The world has seen many female leaders (even though most of them, like Hillary, are either spouses or daughters of successful leaders) but never, except for India, seen an ethnic minority elected to the highest office.

    C. You’re right, the voters are going with who they think will do the best job, and that’s why those who believe in “change”, especially the young, love Obama. His very election will shake up this nation, and the world, in ways that are difficult to predict but apparent just because of where he comes from and who he is.

  • Eric Jaffa

    Jeff Jarvis –

    RE “My belief on conspiracy theories is that the world is too disorganized to conspire. Fuckups are far more likely.”

    Do you support a recount to determine if an accidental computer mistake produced the wrong totals?

  • chico haas

    Gonna be entertaining as the usual character-record-ability bombs, which have always been lobbed during our presidential elections, now explode around those who incapable of distinguishing between hardball political fighting and Sexism! Racism!

  • Jim Mullen

    This idea that the New Hampshire voters told the pollsters one thing and did another in the voting booth means that New Hampshire voters are not only racists, they are liars. Isn’t it far more likely that the pollsters screwed up? Wrong samples, wrong questions, whatever. I mention it because one day in Manhattan I was approached by an attractive young person with a clip board and asked if I would mind answering a few questions. How random. The questions were about Time magazine. We were on the sidewalk plaza in front of the forty-story Time Warner Building on Sixth Avenue at lunch time packed with Time Warner employees. The poll taker didn’t have a clue.

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  • Hey Jeff,

    I distinctly remember Clinton using “Change” as his key campaigning hook in 1992. Plus ca change…

  • disgusted

    Saying that people who don’t support Obama–who votes for coal gassification in his own state–and disgusts the people (yes some of us are white) who campaigned him into the senate with his lack of backbone–saying that we are racist because we’re supporting someone other than him is beyond insulting.
    And it won’t help him get elected.
    So stop being nasty with people who are with you on 99.1% of the issues, huh?

  • change is the constant, so who can say what stays the same? certainly not politicians once they are elected

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  • Joanne

    After all, each of the Obama is much more female than either of the Clintons.

  • Mitch

    I get sooooo tired of one section claiming to have suffered more then another
    where did we get on this pity party anyway, if it’s not the blacks,indians,japenese,chinese,women,jews,christians,…stop it already and pick up your cross and do like the comedian said use the wood from it to build a bridge and get over it, if it was not for helen keller saying there is a lot of suffering in this world but there is a lot of overcoming it, anyone who does feel they havn’t been treated right can alway’s go somewhere where they will feel better treated, I never have heard the whining stop, but the process of healing does not begin until it does, why does no one ask me what my life as a caucasion has been like with drunken abusive fathers/plural and single working mother, hell by the time I was thirteen I had moved 29 times and was in foster home two years where I got to see what stability was for once, whine whine whine, don’t do sh*t, what does do something is picking up my load and getting along to responcible grown behavior and not making excuses for behaving like a raving sociopathic murderer, or sitting on the curb crying poor me oh poor me, vote on the issues and not the genetics,,,,,, and get on with it, what a way to start 2008.

  • To many of us in countries other than the US of A too, (I am from India), who’ll win the next US presidential election is important, for, it does effect our own economy, our policies, our future.
    And to many of us Hillary Clinton comes across as capable and clear-headed, but unfeminine(which essentially means lacking in feminine positives), opportunistic, obsessed with winning the presidency, and with finally retorting to all of the rottenness she went through during the Lewinsky Clinton trials.
    My country had Indira Gandhi as a powerful Prime Minister who’s maligned with having twisted the Constitution as per her reason and logic, but credited with unshakable love and pride in her country.
    Hillary looks only proud of herself, not of USA.
    We dont know if Obama is the man, but Hillary, I feel is not the right person.

  • Timothy

    Questionable selection of options, I believe this article would fall under the whining category. Hillary won New Hampshire, there is no reason to be an apologetic for winning. She won, let’s move on! Or do we need to leak another tear first?

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  • Let the higher mind prevail…

    Except for the American Indian, everyone in American is from somewhere else and even the American Indian once migrated across a strip of open land that once linked Alaska with Eastern Siberia.

    Skip the race thing, the gender thing and all the novel trivia that young people are fascinated by with this election.

    How do either of the candidates actually represent themselves on the major issues?

    This should be our concern…

    Websites like the one listed below could ultimately determine why more and more Democrats will defect to John McCain’s camp. Unfortunately, there is little about Obama that a website like this says that can be argued with…that is, unless you’ve flunked Philosphy 101 in college or never got to college in the first place.

    Check it out: What can be done?

    Sooner or later all of us have to reckon with our consience and our higher intellectual powers and when this happens we will be invariably forced to choose between our higher principles or a particular candidate.

    Which candidate is traveling down the wrong road with this?

    Which do you think is going to win out?

    Our higher principles or the intellectual and physical attributes of a particular candidate?

    Predictably, older voters will vote in favor of their ‘principles’…obviously, because they are more concerned about what happens after death and the legacy they will leave behind.

    The younger voters (in contrast), since they have more time left in life to recant, are more likely to be reckless and prograstinate with principle in favor of ‘idealism’.

    These are the young and youthful voters that Obama appeals to and also why a lot of us older folks see Obama as ‘the Pied Piper of the niave’.

    However, (which is the next question to beg itself): ‘When does Barack’s own conscience begin to bother him?’

    Personally, I think Obama needs to start thinking about what he can do to ‘remake’ his image if he wants to win this election.

    I’m not sure that he’ll want to be that person he’s beginning to look like against John McCain…who today represents everything that America stands for.

    BUT, if Obama thinks he can win going the way he’s headed, then let him go for it.

    But, as for me and many like me who still sit on the fence until election time in November, we’ll still be thinking that we’ll have to live with ourselves long after this election is over in November and maybe these are the thoughts that the new young voters haven’t considered yet…and there’s still a lot that can happen between now and November…

    And, this probably means that Obama faces a huge political swamp ahead…one that he has created for himself by already being impetuous on some very important issues.

  • regarding harolds comments that there is no way to compare the suffering of white women to blacks historically in america. well he is 100%wrong . white women have suffered far more and continue to do so by black on white rapes of more than 20,000 annually and over 37,000 black on white rapes in 2005 alone.people have been hearing this pathetic 1965 antiquated rhetoric for years while blacks are awarded every type of advantage possible to succeed and still cant so i say stfu and face some cold hard truth for once in your life