Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Right Wing Media Turns Me Into Clinton Supporter

The recent brouhaha over Hillary Clinton's "tears" after her touchingly (and ever so slightly) emotional response to a question ("How do you do it?") has got me rethinking about who I support for president...

I think she sounds sincere and honest, and that little speech, which has caused an commotion in the press (I think the Daily Show covered it well) has even
Feminists poking fingers at each other
. Maureen Dowd's bizarre-o op-ed about Clinton's "crying" reeks with the discomfort of someone who can't stomach a powerful woman (odd, coming from a pretty powerful woman herself) with *gasp* feelings. It seems obvious to me, but people seem to forget that most people, even this guy, are at times "emotional". I just happened to catch a rerun of Sex and The City yesterday where Charlotte complains that one time she cried on the job and no one ever let her forget it. After being insulted, Samantha makes a bee-line for privacy before allowing herself to shed a tear. When men cry, Jesus Christ, isn't it touching? but when women cry, watch out! she's an unstable woman, likely to bleed all over the Oval Office.

The whole thing makes me nuts, particularly how she's referred to over and over again as "Hillary". God help me if I don't do it myself sometimes, it's so ingrained in our mentality. Does the media ever mention Barack and John? No, it's Obama, Edwards, and "Hillary" - it's a classic method of marginalizing women, and it's not acceptable. And, yes, yes, I know that even her campaign refers to "Hillary for President" but does that give the media free reign to refer to her by her first name while everyone is given the courtesy of their last name?

Gloria Steinem's NYT article was a tough pill to swallow, but mostly because what she wrote rings pretty true, whether we want to believe it or not. Steinem writes:
Gender is probably the most restricting force in American life, whether the question is who must be in the kitchen or who could be in the White House. This country is way down the list of countries electing women and, according to one study, it polarizes gender roles more than the average democracy.
I hate to say I've (until recently) been one of those women Steinem's worried about, who "hope to deny or escape the sexual caste system" because I've so far been throwing my (considerable - ha!) influence and support to Obama. Like many others, I thought that Clinton's ok, but not exactly the person I want as president. Why? I thought, maybe she's too shrewd or political, plays the game too much. But which man in the running isn't doing that right now? (Well, ok, Kusinich...)

Feministing has been making frequent posts all day in a "24 Hour Hillary Sexism Watch" that really make you wonder what century we're living in. Amidst all these ridiculous reactions to Clinton, from what she's wearing to getting a little misty-eyed when talking about how invested she is in changing this country for the better made me think, to quote an early feminist, Ain't I a woman?

Funny that the right wing media turns me into a Clinton supporter, but that's exactly what's happened. That's my SISTER they're talking about, and each jab that has to do with her gender makes me feel like myself and women everywhere don't stand a chance until we confront the caste system, like Steinem says, and support Clinton not just because she's a great candidate but also because she's a woman. I may not share every single one of her political decisions, but I want to see a woman president. And instead of waiting around for the perfect woman, why shouldn't I stand behind this one, who's brilliant, a Democrat, a Feminist, has a ridiculous amount of experience and is just maybe the perfect person to be our first female president?


Lyman said...

To which I say: why not vote for Barak Obama who just might be the perfect person to be our first black president?

That's the great thing about these candidates, they make you truly ask yourself about your own prejudices.

That being said part of me wants Edwards to get it not only because I think he's the most honest candidate but because he is a white guy. I don't know if Middle America is ready to vote for a woman or black person and if another Republican gets voted in to office ... *whew*

Indiana Fan said...

Don't get me wrong here, I can certainly live with another Clinton presidency, far more than any of the GOP candidates. But there's a couple of things I would urge you (& anyone) to think about:

1) I suspect that Hillary is branded "Hillary" because it helps differentiate her from Bill. In 2000, Bush's whole campaign was built around "W." and was pretty consistently referred to as George-W.-Bush to differentiate him from the last Bush presidency.

2) If you're going to credit Hillary as being experienced from her 8 years living in the White House, then you have to consider what that experience tells us. I'm not too fond of the memories of both Clintons supporting Welfare "Reform" and of all the constant triangulation, which of course led Hillary herself to support the Iraq invasion.

3) I would advise everyone to really check out the proposals and stands that candidates have taken at this point, as well looking at their voting records (altho' the top 3 dem candidates are all pretty thin there). While it's true that Edwards, Obama, and Clinton mostly all differ on the approach and details of their positions, only one of those three has opposed the death penalty.

All this said, I'm pleased as punch the citizens of New Hampshire gave the media what I like to think of as an "atomic wedgie." Quit telling us what we think, media! Maybe you should be doing your jobs and actually investigating something, eh?
My only hope is the Dems don't damage their candidate too badly before facing whichever flip-flopper the GOP nominates.

Kathy said...

The Democrats have had a dearth of truly experienced, legitimate candidates since Mr. Clinton left office. I don't think any liberal voter is particularly happy with the documented records of any of these three because of their heretofore brief careers. Acknowledging that much, I'm very confident from doing exactly what Indiana Fan says: reading position statements, gathering the most unbiased info I can find and comparing these Democrats side by side that Ms. Clinton, I believe, is more qualified. I think she's also the most intelligent---my only concern about her, oddly enough K., is that I'm concerned that she's not enough of a deal-maker, consensus builder. I know she's certainly grown in that regard thanks to her brutal early years as First Lady and her recent terms in the Senate but there is definitely deal-brokering required and that could be a problem for her as President. On the other hand, I'm worried about Mr. Obama getting eaten up in that regard---I'm not sure he's tough enough.

As regards her "emotional outburst" I'd encourage all of America (and they'll certainly all see this here...) to consider whether they would be content to accept less heartfelt conviction from any candidate regarding their desire to lead and build a great nation. For me, you've no business in office without it. I appreciate how sincerely she expressed it. Its a big mark in her favor.

We should also all keep our heads on here. I wouldn't vote for a candidate who is pro-death penalty but on the other hand, given the current balance of power and records in both houses of Congress, the incredibly conservative Supreme Court, the views of the Executive Branch on this issue are essentially irrelevant. It will, unfortunately, remain in the hands of the States for a very, very long time.

Caitlin said...

maybe it's true that middle america isn't "ready for a woman or a black person," and I do understand the fear of voting for someone who might be too controversial to win overall -- but I am SO TIRED of hearing that America isn't "ready" for this or that. That rhetoric is scaring people across the board, and I hate to see people intimidated into voting against their interests because the media (and people like us) repeat tidbits like "middle america isn't ready for ..."
I myself have been guilty of echoing that sentiment (specifically I'm afraid that this sexist country won't vote for a woman, no matter the woman), but I've come to the realization that it's the dirtiest trick in the book. The more we hear it (and we hear it A LOT), the more it affects our own beliefs, and plays on our fear.
I say we challenge middle America! People are going to vote for who they vote for. Let's decide ourselves what we're ready for.

Lyman said...

I hear what you are saying but at this point I'm ready to compromise. I'm going to have no problem voting with "whoever can win" as opposed to my "ideal candidate". That probably sounds tough but if the GOP can steal a close election then I'm going to vote strategically.

Kathy said...

I think given where we are, that's not a bad strategy, Lyman. We all get to make our choices for our own reasons. We've all been beaten by 8 years of an unelected president.

Who'd have thought that with the collective talents of Obama and Clinton anyone would find themselves contemplating this position? Its mind boggling.

Indiana Fan said...

Devin here again with one follow-up:

I actually do think it is a bad campaign strategy to choose the candidates who you think will offend racists and sexists the least. The more we the pander to the right-wing, the more they deride us as spineless and the more progressives we alienate. The Clintons are great example of using the frothy, crazed attacks by right-wingers to their advantage. Time and time again, the Clintons won over the moderates and came up big winners on anything they wanted to do. There's plenty of reason to believe that's what happened in New Hampshire as well.

Also, I don't think we should try to run on what states in the South and plains want, because the Dems probably won't win there for now, but winning over moderates in the Midwest (Iowa, Missouri, and Ohio) and both coasts would help to marginalize the South.

For this reason (among others), I think Obama and Clinton are both more electable than Edwards. I think Edwards can win, but that's just because the GOP is a mess right now. While I like Edwards the best on the issues, I also like what Obama is doing in terms of running positively without triangulating to the middle. But I do think issues like the Federal Death Penalty and Civil Liberties are important.

I say a little more about basically the same things here:

BT said...

Well I like the thoughts that I have read, all good opinions and insight into what we know as viewers of a slanted media Left & Right.

In my opinion Hillary is a good way of setting her apart from her husband, and if her own camp is doing it then the press has free will to. If it is a ploy to influence gender assosication with females good strategy on her camp bad outcome of the uncontrolable media.

As for her crying, I think it is only important to jam the air waves if it is a act or political manuvering in her camp. I enjoy watching public figures play to the cameras, left&right...because Bill did it the best. ie:memorial for Ron Brown.

For us right wingers, we like our chances in a run of ours vs. yours. In no order, Rudy, Fred, Mitt

I myself like Fred, but think Mitt will get the nomination. As for Mike and John, they are RINOs to me. Mike especially.

My thoughts of the Dems are that people are putting to much on Baracks lack of experience because I think Hillary's past will speak for itself. There is enough information out there on her to see that she could make a presidency interesting in a bad way. (I will have to do some research for specifics before I can argue a point).

But I am willing to read and be open minded to ours thoughts or another topic.

Carrie said...

What's a RINO?

Thanks K for getting us started on what is to be a great conversation year! I don't know who will get my vote yet, but I feel with Clinton or Obama we win something mounmental for this country. I think their families are both very brave endure what, I am sure, is to come from the sexists and racists.

For me, it's time for someone other than a white guy. In some ways, I guess, my desire to piok someone other than a white guy is just like someone who picks someone who is the white guy- pretty ignorant. After all, we have had some killer white guys run this place.

This week, I have been helping some of my students research a president for a history report. I ask them who they have chosen, and they say they don't know. So, I pull up a website listing all the presidents and their faces. Here we are in 2008, a diverse, demoractic, free country, and all my minority students and I see are white faces. I get so excited about the possibilty of changing that website to reflect who we really are as a country.

Amber said...

Oh my god! I gotta run off real quick but I just wanted to say, absolutely, I felt this same way after the whole blow-up over Clinton's "emotional display", for the same reasons you described...and like you, I am giving her a second look when I had originally dismissed her because so many of her views are more conservative than my own. But I'm considering supporting her right now - over candidates like Obama and Edwards with whom maybe I have more in common ideologically ....
ok, gotta run