Friday, May 16, 2008

Misogyny... Or Something else?

Why Did Clinton Lose?

The primary fight is over. Hillary Clinton has lost.

Everything you're seeing now is theater, designed to let her gracefully ease her supporters from backing her for President, into backing the nominee of the Democratic Party, Barack Obama. Clinton will concede officially by June 15.

What she is doing now -- from the joint fund at the DNC with Obama, Clinton and the DNC -- lets her start to retire her campaign debt, campaign in a larger sense for party unity, and make clear to her supporters it is indeed over. The General Election has began -- which is why President Bush is attacking Senator Obama.


That means it is time for "looking back" articles on Clinton's loss.

Let's start with the Washington Post.

Washington Post

Misogyny I Won't Miss

By Marie Cocco
Thursday, May 15, 2008; Page A15

As the Democratic nomination contest slouches toward a close, it's time to take stock of what I will not miss.

I will not miss seeing advertisements for T-shirts that bear the slogan "Bros before Hos." The shirts depict Barack Obama (the Bro) and Hillary Clinton (the Ho) and are widely sold on the Internet.

I will not miss walking past airport concessions selling the Hillary Nutcracker, a device in which a pantsuit-clad Clinton doll opens her legs to reveal stainless-steel thighs that, well, bust nuts. I won't miss television and newspaper stories that make light of the novelty item.

I won't miss episodes like the one in which liberal radio personality Randi Rhodes called Clinton a "big [expletive] whore" and said the same about former vice presidential nominee Geraldine Ferraro. Rhodes was appearing at an event sponsored by a San Francisco radio station, before an audience of appreciative Obama supporters -- one of whom had promoted the evening on the presumptive Democratic nominee's official campaign Web site.

I won't miss Citizens United Not Timid (no acronym, please), an anti-Clinton group founded by Republican guru Roger Stone.

Political discourse will at last be free of jokes like this one, told last week by magician Penn Jillette on MSNBC: "Obama did great in February, and that's because that was Black History Month. And now Hillary's doing much better 'cause it's White Bitch Month, right?" Co-hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski rebuked Jillette.

I won't miss political commentators (including National Public Radio political editor Ken Rudin and Andrew Sullivan, the columnist and blogger) who compare Clinton to the Glenn Close character in the movie "Fatal Attraction." In the iconic 1987 film, Close played an independent New York woman who has an affair with a married man played by Michael Douglas. When the liaison ends, the jilted woman becomes a deranged, knife-wielding stalker who terrorizes the man's blissful suburban family. Message: Psychopathic home-wrecker, begone.

The airwaves will at last be free of comments that liken Clinton to a "she-devil" (Chris Matthews on MSNBC, who helpfully supplied an on-screen mock-up of Clinton sprouting horns). Or those who offer that she's "looking like everyone's first wife standing outside a probate court" (Mike Barnicle, also on MSNBC).

But perhaps it is not wives who are so very problematic. Maybe it's mothers. Because, after all, Clinton is more like "a scolding mother, talking down to a child" (Jack Cafferty on CNN).

When all other images fail, there is one other I will not miss. That is, the down-to-the-basics, simplest one: "White women are a problem, that's -- you know, we all live with that" (William Kristol of Fox News).

I won't miss reading another treatise by a man or woman, of the left or right, who says that sexism has had not even a teeny-weeny bit of influence on the course of the Democratic campaign. To hint that sexism might possibly have had a minimal role is to play that risible "gender card."

Most of all, I will not miss the silence.

I will not miss the deafening, depressing silence of Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean or other leading Democrats, who to my knowledge (with the exception of Sen. Barbara Mikulski of Maryland) haven't publicly uttered a word of outrage at the unrelenting, sex-based hate that has been hurled at a former first lady and two-term senator from New York. Among those holding their tongues are hundreds of Democrats for whom Clinton has campaigned and raised millions of dollars. Don Imus endured more public ire from the political class when he insulted the Rutgers University women's basketball team.

Would the silence prevail if Obama's likeness were put on a tap-dancing doll that was sold at airports? Would the media figures who dole out precious face time to these politicians be such pals if they'd compared Obama with a character in a blaxploitation film? And how would crude references to Obama's sex organs play?

There are many reasons Clinton is losing the nomination contest, some having to do with her strategic mistakes, others with the groundswell for "change." But for all Clinton's political blemishes, the darker stain that has been exposed is the hatred of women that is accepted as a part of our culture.

Was Clinton's loss due to Misogyny?


And I don't think Ms. Cocco is saying so either.

What she is saying is, in running for President, Clinton exposed how deeply the sexism, the hatred of women, the fear of women goes in the United States.

I agree.

In addition to the generalized sexism in America, let us ask...

Is there a lot of hatred of this particular woman?

Yes. The right-wing media has worked in concert since 1992 to define who the Clinton's are. A large part of that has been a deliberate intentional effort to paint Hillary Clinton as an emasculating bitch. Her negatives are enormous. She's not liberal enough for the far-left liberals, and the conservatives hate her with a fiery passion.

Then we get to the campaign. Hillary Clinton came into the 2008 campaign with the best organization in democratic politics, and a political history -- which means people owed her favors -- going back decades. This was when she (and President Clinton) were calling in their markers.

Except they screwed up. Their overconfidence and vaunted trust in their inner-circle, cost them everything. They believed they would win the nomination by Super Tuesday, and they should have. If they'd simply paid attention to how the nomination is actually won, instead of their theories about how it could be won, Hillary Clinton would have won the nomination on Super Tuesday and no one else would have come close.

Instead, Clinton -- on the advice of Mark Penn and crew, ignored the caucuses, and went with a "big state" strategy. FAIL.

There simply weren't enough delegates in the big states, given proportional representation, for Clinton to win the nomination outright. And by failing to set up a GOTV operation in the smaller caucus states, Clinton gave the younger, inexperienced Obama organization the opportunity to run the table in the small caucus states for two straight months, giving Obama an insurmountable lead in pledged delegates, and a momentum, financial, and media advantage Clinton would never again be able to match, let alone beat.

After all, in the planning of the Clinton campaign, the race was to have been over Super Tuesday. Her team had no plans for a primary campaign past February.

The primary race wasn't lost by Clinton because America hates women, although it cost her. The race was lost because Clinton picked poor advisers and trusted them to a fault about a vital strategy. Obama didn't win because a wave of change sweept across America which he rode to victory, although it helped him. He won because he was in the right position at the right time, when Clinton made an unforced error, and he had perfectly positioned his campaign when she made her error.

Obama understood the rules -- WIN.
Clinton didn't understand the rules -- FAIL.

Racism, women hating -- both are present in America in large quantities. But neither made the crucial difference in the 2008 Democratic Primary.

The crucial difference was, Obama understood the rules deeply; Clinton didn't.