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Archive for Saturday, May 24, 2008

Campaign diversity takes ugly turn

May 24, 2008

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— Is there anyone who still remembers the folksy winter tableau? Eight Democratic candidates against the picturesque backdrop of Iowa and New Hampshire. It was a feel-good photo-op of diversity. The Democratic Party was black and white and Hispanic, male and female and proud. Our party, its leaders said, looks like America.

As for Barack and Hillary? Yes, there were the predictable magazine cover stories asking whether America was "ready" for an African-American or a woman. But these were not long-shot candidates, a favorite son or daughter running to prove a point.

Obama presented himself as the American sum of his roots. He wasn't "the African-American candidate" but the post-racial, post-divisive orator whose presence and eloquence promised to turn that page. For her part, Clinton seemed to leap over the old gender barriers simply by being the front-runner. For once, a woman was the experienced candidate, the tough guy in the race.

Now what? The sense of freshness, the pleasure of breaking barriers, has been nearly exhausted. We've gone from party lovefest to food fight, from having our eyes on the prize to feeling like partisans at a prizefight.

Look at any blog where opinion-hurling - Racist! Sexist! - has become a bitter sport. The pollsters have sliced and diced us into demographic tidbits of race, gender, class and age, producing self-fulfilling prophecies of splinter. Now national polls say a quarter of all Hillary supporters won't vote for Barack. And the feeling is mutual.

This is what America looks like?

As one supporter told Hillary in an e-mail, "It's not over until the lady in the pantsuit says it is." But the campaign obits are written and waiting for release. So, for many women, the feel-good tableau is tainted by a 5 o'clock shadow of bad feelings. A historic campaign has opened fissures along historic fault lines.

The deepest is between women and our culture. The campaign was rife with reminders of how women charging forward are pushed backward. Hillary supporters aren't the only women who have rediscovered a word rarely spoken outside of women's studies class: misogyny. How else to explain the focus on Hillary's cackle and cleavage, the T-shirt that read "If Only Hillary Had Married OJ Instead"? Or the casual use of the b-word? Or the "hilarious collectible" given to the husband of a prominent politician on his birthday: a Hillary nutcracker?

All season, cable news anchors displayed boorish contempt for a woman Chris Matthews called "Nurse Ratched." A radio host, Randi Rhodes, called the senator a "f--ing whore" while calling herself a progressive. In offices, sly jokes are forwarded by e-mail and women who do not laugh are accused of being "too sensitive." Women who protest are accused of playing the gender card.

There are fractures as well, long dormant, between African-American and white women. Sisters and sisterhood. Who defines a double bind? Who limits that identity?

And the generation gap? Has it become an unbridgeable chasm? Many feminist elders see Obama as just another man leapfrogging over a qualified woman to the corner office. Many post-feminist daughters describe the former first lady as "old politics" and define progress as voting for the person, not the gender.

As for class divisions? Many urban professional women whose lives followed the same arc judge Hillary as if she were running for Perfect Woman while down-the-economic-ladder women identified more with this Wellesley graduate for president.

And as if that weren't enough, at the last minute there was a wedge driven into the reliably Democratic pro-choice community. In a gratuitous slap, NARAL Pro-Choice America pre-emptively endorsed Obama, prompting one among thousands of angry pro-choice women to write: "Et tu, Brute?"

I am sure there will be endless postmortems and Ph.D. theses written on this primary. How did race and gender tip the balance? Was this a loss for women or one woman? Did Hillary blaze the path or leave an ugly footprint for the next woman?

Time and the specter of John McCain may patch these crevices. But we have watched the political become (too) personal. We have watched the first optimistic blush of diversity get bloodied with tribalism.

Both Clinton and Obama brought new voters and energy into the compelling narrative of this campaign. But how hard will it be to rebuild the Humpty Dumpty of diversity into the portrait of what America looks like ... at its best?

- Ellen Goodman is a columnist for Washington Post Writers Group.

Comments

max1 5 years, 11 months ago

"McCain and Bush are opposites, on ideological and personal issues." -GodotLike what for instance, Godot? Their views on immigration? Their views on Cuba? Their views on Iran? Their willingness to pimp for special interest groups? Where are they "ideological opposites"?McCain is too senile to know that the tide has been turning in Florida, and spouting anti-Cuban rhetoric as Bush has in the past no longer has the same impact it did a few years ago. Cuban-Americans are a minority (31%) among Florida's Hispanics, and some studies have indicated that 73% of those Cuban-Americans would like to normalize relations with Cuba.http://uk.reuters.com/article/topNews/idUKN2031584520080520Republican presidential candidate John McCain accused Democratic front-runner Barack Obama on Tuesday of wanting to soften the U.S. embargo on Cuba and meet Cuban President Raul Castro.http://edition.cnn.com/2007/POLITICS/10/25/bush.cuba/index.htmlU.S. President George W. Bush ruled out any easing of the decades-old U.S. trade embargo on Cuba . . easing the embargo would be "giving oxygen to a criminal regime," he said.http://ndnblog.org/node/2321Florida's Hispanic community is changing. Waves of new Puerto Rican, Mexican, Central and South American immigrants have made the historically powerful Cuban-American community a minority of the statewide Hispanic vote. And the Cuban-American community itself is changing, with many more post-1980 immigrants and 2nd generation American-born Cuban-Americans entering the electorate. These changes have made the Florida Hispanic electorate much more Democratic, and much less open to the failed hard-line Cuban policies advocated by President George W. Bush and McCain.In a comprehensive poll of the Cuban-American community conducted by NDN in 2006, an overwhelming majority of Cuban-Americans favored negotiation with a Cuban government led by Raul Castro, and a majority of those who arrived in the United States after 1980 favored the relaxation of travel and remittance restrictions imposed by Bush and supported by McCain. The poll did not find deep support in the Cuban-American community for McCain's current Cuba policy

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max1 5 years, 11 months ago

"they are not direct talks. and bush, you know, was referring to the idiots like o'bama who want to negotizate with the president of iran . . . again, maxy cites irrelevant web content trying to make his vacuous points" That is a feeble spin even for a mental_midget.Isn't it funny that McCain and Bush are both against holding talks with Iran, while the Iraqi Prime Minister al-Maliki, the Iraqi President Talabani, General Petraeus and the Defense Secretary Gates are in favor of such talks? Twist your little mind around these "vacuous points".http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/05/21/AR2008052103007.htmlPetraeus: Diplomacy, Not Force, With IranPetraeus's views echoed those expressed by Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, who this month said that talks with Iran could be useful if the right combination of incentives and pressures could be developed.http://www2.ljworld.com/news/2008/may/16/bushs_comments_israel_fuel_anger_mideast_us/President Bush on Thursday compared people seeking talks with Iran and radical Islamic groups to the Nazis' appeasershttp://www.nytimes.com/2008/05/23/world/middleeast/23olmert.html?ref=middleeastOne point that several analysts have made is that an effort to make a deal with Syria, while not politically popular, is favored by the military intelligence establishment . . . Israeli military analysts also say that the very act of negotiating with Syria could bring benefits on Israel's northern border because Syria has considerable influence over Hezbollah, the anti-Israel militant group in southern Lebanon. And while a truce with Hamas does not look likely, negotiating over it could also act to reduce its anti-Israel terrorism.

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bearded_gnome 5 years, 11 months ago

note, they are not direct talks. and bush, you know, was referring to the idiots like o'bama who want to negotizate with the president of iran, and Jimmy carter who met with hamas. note, israel is not meeting with hamas. again, maxy cites irrelevant web content trying to make his vacuous points.

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max1 5 years, 11 months ago

http://www.jta.org/cgi-bin/iowa/breaking/108727.html"I can say that we are taking these negotiations seriously," the Israeli prime minister told his cabinet on Sunday, referring to indirect talks with Damascus that were launched in Turkey last week . . . The Israeli prime minister described the talks as discreet and potentially protracted."I want to say here and now that we have no intention of conducting these negotiations neither in the media, nor in daily statements, nor in slogans," he said.

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max1 5 years, 11 months ago

"O'bama's advisor had to quit his campaign because of his ties to Hamas! and, he had advocated for the terrorist organization to be included in peacetalks," -bearded_dwarfhttp://www.boston.com/news/politics/politicalintelligence/2008/05/new_negotiation.htmlA week ago, President Bush gave a speech in Israel criticizing those who advocate negotiating "with the terrorists and radicals," saying that Jews and Americans learned during World War II of the dangers of "appeasing" rather than confronting such villains.But in the six days since Bush delivered his speech, negotiations with such radicals and terrorists have become the order of the day.Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert announced today that he has restarted peace negotiations with Syria -- a key backer of Hamas and Hezbollah

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justfornow 5 years, 11 months ago

The media has chosen these candidates for us, AGAIN. Why do we let that happen? Because the American public is Stupid.

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bearded_gnome 5 years, 11 months ago

oh, max1 in all his exaggeration of minor news through nearly irrelevant links/quotes, of course misses the really big fish:recently O'bama's advisor had to quit his campaign because of his ties to Hamas! and, he had advocated for the terrorist organization to be included in peacetalks, without Hamas renouncing its founding purpose of destroying the nation of israel! barry h. o'bama, one more of his questionable associations, besides his pastor of 20 years; his church with black liberation theology; his wife who hasn't been proud of america for most of her adult life, and his domestic terrorist bomber buddy who si still proud of what they did bombing the pentagon and nypd hq. ***this collumn by EG: waaaaaaah!

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Marion Lynn 5 years, 11 months ago

Kinda like the so-called "diversity" found in Lawrence?

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max1 5 years, 11 months ago

"max1, I am a Ron Paul supporter"Yeah? Well, let's see how that works out for you and snap_pop_crackerMay 23, 2008http://online.wsj.com/article/SB121149054333215289.html?mod=googlenews_wsj The Libertarian Convention starts today in Denver, but the party's real inspiration this year will be there only in spirit. Ron Paul is still out campaigning in the Republican primaries, despite a nomination that has been secured by John McCain.Mr. Paul has reiterated that he won't run as a third party candidate and it's a lock that he isn't getting the GOP nomination, so his continued presence on the trail is an eccentricity . . . Ron Paul voters aren't substantial in their numbers he won support in the low single digits for most of the contested primary season.http://www.snopes.com/history/titanic/lastsong.asp

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Godot 5 years, 11 months ago

Earth to Beo: McCain and Bush are opposites, on ideological and personal issues. If you Dems are counting on that "3rd Bush Presidency" spin to throw the election your way, you are delusional.

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beobachter 5 years, 11 months ago

godot, doesn't really matter who Democrats run, majority of voters do not want a 3rd Bush term.

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Godot 5 years, 11 months ago

max1, I am a Ron Paul supporter; good try, but no prize, at attempting to divert attention from the cannibalism afflicting the Democrat party.

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tunahelper 5 years, 11 months ago

obama bin laden is gonna lose!!!

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max1 5 years, 11 months ago

http://www.usatoday.com/news/politics/election2008/2008-05-20-McCainadviser_N.htmFive staffers and advisers have left McCain's campaign in recent weeks . . . McCain has been surrounded by lobbyists while decrying their influence in Washington.http://marcambinder.theatlantic.com/archives/2008/05/a_second_mccain_aide_resigns.php"Doug [Davenport] has tendered his resignation and we have accepted it," Jill Hazelbaker, McCain's communications director, wrote in a e-mail. He joins former DCI Group CEO Doug Goodyear, who resigned yesterday from the post of convention CEO after Newsweek reported that DCI was paid more than $300,000 to represent Myanmar's ruling juntahttp://elections.foxnews.com/2008/05/15/report-mccain-adviser-booted-over-special-interest-group-work/A John McCain adviser [Craig Shirley] has been asked to leave the campaign following inquiries about the consultant's work with an independent "527" grouphttp://www.thecarpetbaggerreport.com/archives/15602.htmlComplicating matters is Charles Black, McCain's senior strategist, whose work on behalf of some nefarious international thugs has prompted calls for his resignation. . . The delicate task of writing and enforcing the new conflict-of-interest policy has fallen to Mr. McCain's campaign manager, Rick Davis, who was himself a lobbyist . . . In 2005, Mr. Davis was registered as a lobbyist for corporate clients like the telecommunications company Verizon.http://www.nytimes.com/2008/05/25/us/politics/25davis.html?pagewanted=2&adxnnl=1&ref=us&adxnnlx=1211663066-JBKGRrUEseZ89TWnqTV5/QIn McCain Campaign, a Lobbying LabyrinthAlong with his work as a lobbyist, Mr. Davis at the time was also drawing a salary as the part-time president of the Reform Institute, a Washington group that Mr. McCain helped found to reduce "the influence of special interests" in politics and government.http://www.buzzflash.com/articles/carpenter/082Charlie Black, veteran lobbyist largely for a little shop of foreign horrors once inhabited by the collective likes of Angolan guerrilla Jonas Savimbi, Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos, Mobutu Sese Seko of Zaire, Nigerian Gen. Ibrahim Babangida and Somali President Mohamed Siad Barre.Mr. Black had quite the profitable racket going. He'd scoop up buckets of overseas cash from bloody tyrants and dictators and then turn around, The Washington Post tell the tale, to help "elect a slew of lawmakers -- including Sens. Phil Gramm, Jesse Helms, Charles McC. Mathias Jr., Arlen Specter, Paula Hawkins and David F. Durenberger -- who worked on legislation that directly impacted [his] firm's clients" both abroad and at home, such as the Tobacco Institute.http://online.wsj.com/article/SB121150820049216387.html?mod=googlenews_wsjCharlie Black, a McCain campaign senior adviser, has represented foreign leaders accused of corruption and human-rights abuses, such as Mobutu Sese Seko

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max1 5 years, 11 months ago

"The people who support and advise Obama are enough to make me fear an Obama presidency." -Godothttp://www.nytimes.com/2008/05/25/us/politics/25mccain.html?em&ex=1211774400&en=193a840d464dd364&ei=5087%0AIn interviews, some party leaders said they were worried about signs of disorder in his campaign . . . "The core image of John McCain is as a reformer in Washington - and the more dominant the story is about the lobbying teams around him, the more you put that into question," said Terry Nelson, who was Mr. McCain's campaign manager until he was forced out last year. http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/chi-mccainmay19,0,3642652.storyFormer Rep. Thomas Loeffler, John McCain's national finance co-chairman, has stepped down in the wake of the campaign's new policy on lobbyists. The former congressman from Texas runs the lobbying firm The Loeffler Group. Among Loeffler's clients is the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Co., the parent company of plane manufacturer Airbus. . . McCain helped scuttle an earlier contract in 2004 that would have gone to a competitor, Boeing Co. Loeffler's firm has lobbied for other foreign interests. Newsweek reported that his firm was paid $15 million by Saudi Arabia.http://www.nytimes.com/2008/05/21/us/politics/21consult.html?_r=1&em&ex=1211515200&en=92f3379405fadd4d&ei=5087%0A&oref=sloginSenator John McCain's chief advertising strategist, Mark McKinnon, announced Tuesday that he was resigning . . . His resignation follows the departures of five other aides in recent days because work they have done outside the campaign - as lobbyists for corporations and foreign nations, and, in one case, as a strategist for an independent political group - had presented conflict of interest issues.

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ChristmasCarol 5 years, 11 months ago

OH I am sorry I forgot to add that is what you get for focusing on your "quota system" and not the conduct and plan planks presented by candidates.Does anybody remember Paul Simon from Illinois and his economic package?Where did he go anyway?today I heard from Buster Filibuster and the campaign clowns. They sure had fluff and moralistic syllioquios and sloganistic fodder.

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ChristmasCarol 5 years, 11 months ago

I am underdog and I have news for you. It takes more than one person (or dog) to save the day.You blew it. You had me and you blew it.I will tell you what. I was Dukakis in '88 and wondered about Jackson. I hate Jackson now. Is America ready for a black or woman President? I think America and the constitution is in need of a good overhauling. First of all there are three things that are destroying the American Public. 1)Mass media saturation-- We have a million channels and the internet and nobody really knows what is going on due to the coverage, everybody has their say, and the fact that they say it in botched language which is the fetish of culture today (using cute coin phrases and Yo mama culture as I put it, where you all try to insult the next person as much as possible and no matter what you are always right).2) Apathy towards doing anything about anything yourselves or even thinking about it. (and this is so long standing especially in this "tell me what to think and be politically appropriate town and then party my brains out on the weekend") You think the environment has a problem with pollution and gas usage then do something about it instead of feed you precious face over priced designer teas at the tea house and then haul your gas fed pompous ass to the job and then to McDonalds for lunch and do it all again the next day.3)Everybody is a fast action heroes superman and vindictive femibitch woman ready to destroy the enemy instead of something real focusing on the business of your next door neighbor and his faults defined by you instead of something real."You say you want a revolution... well you know. You gotta free your mind instead." John LennonIt's your own fault for being so arrogant and focusing on people and their "defined" being in the first place and only focusing on that. I tried to tell you so. Now you are victims of the backlash of "we have to have one of every around us". Your fault. You should not have only focused on the appearances of people in the first place. And who wants to be president anymore anyway?

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Godot 5 years, 11 months ago

Looks like the Dems are eathing their own. Just desserts.

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Flap Doodle 5 years, 11 months ago

BTW, Randi Rhodes used to be one of the stars on Air America.

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Speakout 5 years, 11 months ago

Who do you suggest Andy? I agree that the best candidates are not running. But our system of tearing people apart and misunderstanding everything and taking everyone to task for little things is pushing people away. I wouldn't want to be so torn apart. The media has chosen these candidates for us, AGAIN. Why do we let that happen? Because we don't have a nationally funded election. We allow the candidates to get money from special interest groups. Can't happen very fairly this way.

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Andrew Stahmer 5 years, 11 months ago

if you're not for....=....you arehilary = sexistobama = racistmccain = age discrimination (ageist?)let's just call them what they really are anyway....clinton/obama - socialistsmccain - democrat (in republican clothing)3 choices; and all of them stink. We're doomed..can't somone save the day? Where is Underdog!? (Write-in candidate perhaps?)

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beaumanoir 5 years, 11 months ago

I do not understand: Hillary claims to have the largest number of people ever voting for a candidate in primaries and she says she is a victim of sexism?????????What importance has a (repulsive) nutckraker story compared to an incompetent managment of a campaign and a budget?

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Speakout 5 years, 11 months ago

Well, well, well. I wondered how long it would take a pundit to come up with this article. And I am wondering how much of what was printed is really the truth of the matter.I am not for, couldn't be for, Hillary Clinton. Not because she is a woman. Not because she wears pants suits or has a voice unlike any of other candidates'. I am not for her because I don't agree with her. PERIOD. I don't like the way she campaigns or the way she presents herself. I don't want Bill hanging around either. I think she thinks she is 'entitled' to the nomination and she isn't. No one is entitled except the one chosen by their party.I am not for Barak Obama because he is Black. I like what he says and the way he presents it. I think he has great leadship skills, a good way of presenting himself that is thoughtful and mature, perhaps responsible. He isn't full of gimmicks or tricks.In a larger sense we should always vote for the person not for his race, gender or religion. The gender and race of a person is an act of nature, the rest is where the differences lie.

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