Sunday, June 22, 2008

Meet the New Politics, Same as the Old Politics

From Zuzu at Shakesville (

This is wrong on so many levels.

Sources at the [Congressional Black Caucus] meeting said that Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, a Clinton supporter, expressed the desire that Obama and his campaign would reach out [to] the millions of women still aggrieved about what happened in the campaign and still disappointed that Clinton lost.

Obama agreed that a lot of work needs to be done to heal the Democratic Party, and that he hoped the Clinton supporters in the room would help as much as possible.

According to Rep. Yvette Clarke, D-N.Y., Obama then said, "However, I need to make a decision in the next few months as to how I manage that since I'm running against John McCain, which takes a lot of time. If women take a moment to realize that on every issue important to women, John McCain is not in their corner, that would help them get over it."

Come on, ladies! Get over it! I don't have time to deal with your issues!

Where to start? Well, I guess with some caveats: this is by Jake Tapper, with some atrocious editing. But it does have named sources (including my Congresswoman, Clarke), so at least it's not an anonymous hit piece.

So, if we can assume that Tapper has reported Clarke's comments correctly, and Clarke has reported Obama's comments correctly, then where does that leave us?

With a candidate who's STILL Not Quite Getting It. Here's what he's not getting: the women who are angry about the way that Clinton was treated during the campaign, and about Obama's silence -- what one British writer aptly termed the "malign acceptance" of misogyny -- are not under any illusions that John McCain is better on women's issues than Obama would be. The relative positions of the parties is beside the point. What they don't want to hear is what Obama's saying here: I don't have to deal with your silly issues, which I don't consider to be important or central, because where else are you going to go?

I've been paying attention to the people who are fed up with that line, and I can say one thing: that's just not going to work anymore. They've heard this for decades now, and nothing gets any better, because the party knows they have nowhere else to go. It's not about McCain being some champion for women's rights; they know he's not. What it *is* about is Obama, and the Democratic Party, and the fact that Obama is running to be President on the ticket of the Democratic Party, which is ostensibly supposed to champion women's rights. But this year, that was revealed to be an expedient lie. And the people who are fed up with the lies want to give the Party a wakeup call, and to let the party -- and Obama -- know that they expect action, not just promises and lies.

Because really, what has the Democratic Party done for women lately? It hasn't stood firm on Roe; instead, it's allowed our reproductive rights to be chipped away so far that even contraception is threatened now. Roe has had only one use for the Democratic Party in the past 25 or so years -- as a club to beat women with every four years. Because they have nowhere else to go, right?

Fair pay? Health care? Domestic violence? Where has the Party been on those issues?

But the laughs don't end there, folks! Obama wasn't finished; pay careful attention to this exchange (emphasis mine):

Rep. Diane Watson, D-Calif., a longtime Clinton supporter, did not like those last three words -- "Get over it." She found them dismissive, off-putting.

"Don't use that terminology," Watson told Obama.

Clarke did not react the same way.

"I, personally, as a Hillary supporter, did not take that as something distasteful," Clarke said. "Nothing like that."

But, Clarke said, Watson "latched on to those three words."

In Clarke's view, Watson thought Obama had just told her to "get over it." She didn't appreciate that, and she told him so and emphasized that it was a heated campaign and lot of healing remains to be done.

"I agree," Obama said. "There's healing on both sides."

Obama then said two sources at the meeting said that he'd held his tongue many times during the campaign against Clinton in the interest of party unity and sensitivity. Clinton and her allies had suggested he was a Muslim, had said he wasn't qualified to be president.

Did you see what he did there?

The discussion started off being about women and their reaction to the way Clinton was treated. Obama turned that around to sniffling that Hillary was mean to him, and he could have said something, but didn't.

Well, first of all, suck it up, pumpkin. You're running for office, and politics ain't beanbag. Second, are you still repeating that "Hillary said I was a Muslim" smear? That's been thoroughly debunked (and by the way, you might want to reconsider the idea that being called a Muslim is a smear. Muslims are Americans, too, yanno). And when you run for President after eight years as a part-time state legislator and less than a full term in the Senate, your qualifications are very much fair game, so you need to find a way to deal with the experience issue other than whining about it and trying to pin all the blame on Hillary. Because the Republicans? Would have noticed this all on their own.

Which, again, gets us back to you Not Getting It. Instead of making it All About You, and trying to blame Hillary instead of taking responsibility for your own shortcomings as a candidate, maybe you could listen to people like Sheila Jackson Lee and Diane Watson and perhaps find a moment in your busy, busy schedule when you're not dealing with John McCain to find out why there are so many people who feel slighted by you and by the party. Because you're now the putative head of the Democratic Party, and therefore it's on you to deal with these problems.

You want to know who you should ask about this? Hillary Clinton. Because she Gets It (emphasis mine):

But the Clintons’ frustration with Obama’s people pales beside the simmering anger they harbor toward the media. And in this they are not alone. For months now, my e-mail box has been full of messages from women across the country, explaining what Hillary’s run meant to them, why it was so important. The reasons vary depending on age and race and region, but the one element almost all my correspondents express in common is a furious resentment at the press for what they see as blatant misogyny in the coverage of Clinton.

When I mention this to Hillary, she laughs and exclaims, “I’d love to get a look at your e-mail!” And then, more soberly, she goes on, “There’s a reason for the resentment. The level of dismissive and condescending comments, not just about me—what do I care?—but about the people who support me and in particular the women who support me, has been shocking. Shocking to women and to fair-minded men. But what has really been more disappointing to me is how few voices that have a platform have spoken out against it. And that’s really why you seen this enormous grassroots outrage. There is no outlet. It is rare that you have anybody on these shows or in a position of responsibility at major publications who really says, ‘Wait a minute! What are we talking about here? I have a wife! I have a daughter! I want the best for them.’ ”

Clinton is fairly worked up now, but she’s far from finished. “I didn’t think I was in a position to take it on because it would have looked like it was just about me. And I didn’t think it was just about me. So the only time we took it on was in the thing about Chelsea, which was so far beyond the bounds, I mean, what planet are we living on? But nobody said anything until I made it an issue. So I just want everybody to really think hard about the larger lesson here. I know you can’t take me out of the equation, because I’m in the center of the storm. But it’s much bigger than me. And women know that. Because if it were just about me, those who sympathize with me would say, ‘I’m so sorry.’ But instead it’s, ‘Wait a minute! This is not just about her! It’s about us! And when are we going to see somebody stand up and say, What are you doing here?’ ”

Old, bitter and clinging to guns and god

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