Obama uses sexist language to criticize Clinton

Being a very lazy blogger (with a bunch of drawing deadlines), I’m going to just quote other bloggers (but I agree with their opinions). First, from Political Punch:

Earlier this month, speaking at Tulane University, Sen. Barack Obama, D-Illinois, said this about the attacks coming his way from Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-NY:

“You challenge the status quo and suddenly the claws come out,” Obama said.

The CLAWS come out? Really?

Then yesterday Obama told reporters who had asked about Clinton’s latest attack ad, “I understand that Senator Clinton, periodically when she’s feeling down, launches attacks as a way of trying to boost her appeal.” [...]

“Claws”…”feeling down”…I find it hard to envision Obama using the same language if he were facing, say, former Sen. John Edwards, D-NC.

From Faux Real:

…It’s about dismissing HRC with careless sexism. If you’ve never been told you are “ruled by your emotions” in a professional capacity, you probably wouldn’t get it either.

And in conclusion, from Too Sense:

…It’s hard for me not to read the subtext of this statement as “if you elect this woman, she’s going to act crazy every time she’s on the rag. You know how chicks are.” What does “feeling down” have to do with it? The two of them are competing for votes, so she’s launching attack ads. Why the fucking psychotherapy? [...]

…Neither candidate can afford to avoid appealing to white women. Obama needs their votes, and so it strikes me as completely stupid for him to deliberately piss them off, so I can’t imagine that he would do so deliberately. Because that would be, you know, really stupid.

That said, cut the shit Barack.

This entry posted in Elections and politics, Feminism, sexism, etc. Bookmark the permalink. 

58 Responses to Obama uses sexist language to criticize Clinton

  1. 1
    SocProf says:

    Thanks for this. I’m tired of this stuff being dismissed by the big bloggers!

  2. 2
    acm says:

    this feels a bit paranoid to me — I read that as “down” in the polls, not “having a bad day,” and imagine that he would have used identical language when referring to Edwards (if the latter were a desperate frontrunner)…

  3. 3
    Mandolin says:

    rawdawg, do you have an argument for how your comment is in any way relevant? If not, I’m deleting it.

  4. 4
    msfour says:

    I also read “feeling down” as being a play on words, since she’s down in delegates and down in the polls (ie, she *is* down, just just feeling down). I’m a feminist and didn’t consider these connotations til I read them here. I’ll give you “claws,” though, but I also think this is a situation where feminist women who support Barack won’t really see it, and feminist women who support Hillary will.

  5. 5
    Kevin Moore says:

    I respectfully disagree. Obama saying that Clinton is responding to a series of setbacks by launching negative attacks is no more sexist than Clinton’s claim that Obama lacks experience or offers false hope is coded racism. Both may be distortions in the heat of a campaign, but that’s to be expected. If the litmus test is would the criticism make sense were the genders of the candidates reversed, then I’d say that Obama’s criticism passes that test.

    And, yes, I can see Obama using the term “claws” against Edwards. Similarly, when President Clinton claimed (falsely) that Obama’s war opposition was a “fairy tale” it was not a racially charged choice of words, as some contended. However, President Clinton’s dismissal of Obama’s South Carolina win by invoking Jesse Jackson’s win 20 years ago was.

    Frankly, the Clinton campaign is grasping at straws. This charge of sexism originates with the campaign, as does their contention that Obama “plagiarized” words from the Governor of Massachusetts in an off-the-cuff speech (he may have repeated talking points, but it is hardly plagiarism.)

    Melinda Hennenberger argues that Clinton’s charges of sexism can backfire and do a disservice to real sexism. It’s a good read, so I recommend it.

  6. 6
    jd says:

    acm – except that the words “feeling down” describe emotion, not statistics. If he wanted to belittle the content of her attack ads by claiming that she let loose with them when she was down in the pols, he would have said so. (and it would have been a perfectly fair comment) Saying she does it when she’s “feeling” down is accusing her of being irrational and overly emotional.

  7. 7
    anon says:

    It had not occurred to me that “the claws come out” was a gender-linked phrase. I thought it could be used to refer to any increase in aggression. So I did a google search, and of the results with clear referrents, all were female. There were also a minority with ambiguous referrents; most were in cat-related contexts (a tiger breeder, a cat-litter company).

    Since I was not aware this, and I am fairly literate (I regularly hit level 50 on freerice), I think it is likely that Obama was likewise unaware. He ought to apologize anyway, of course. But it is not as bad as some are making it out to be.

  8. 8
    RonF says:

    Yeah, I’ll buy “the claws come out” as a sexist comment.

    “when she’s feeling down”? No, add context:
    periodically when she’s feeling down”. Hoohah. I guess Sen. Obama feels that subtlety is wasted on the American electorate.

  9. 9
    Ampersand says:

    Msfour:

    though, but I also think this is a situation where feminist women who support Barack won’t really see it, and feminist women who support Hillary will.

    I’m not a woman, but for what it’s worth, I’m supporting Obama and yet I wrote the post.

  10. 10
    Eliza says:

    I respectfully disagree. Obama saying that Clinton is responding to a series of setbacks by launching negative attacks is no more sexist than Clinton’s claim that Obama lacks experience or offers false hope is coded racism. Both may be distortions in the heat of a campaign, but that’s to be expected. If the litmus test is would the criticism make sense were the genders of the candidates reversed, then I’d say that Obama’s criticism passes that test.

    But he didn’t just say that she was responding to a series of setbacks — she said she was “feeling down.” That’s the sexist part of it.

  11. 11
    Myca says:

    The entire thing just couldn’t possibly have me more depressed.

    The sexist attacks from the Obama camp, the racist attacks from the Clinton camp . . . I just feel like screaming ‘fuckyoufuckyoufuckyou’ over and over until I pass out.

    Dammit, we’re supposed to be better than this.

    —Myca

  12. 12
    Silenced is Foo says:

    @RonF

    periodically when she’s feeling down”

    o_O.

    Whoa. He actually said that? Hilaristurbing.

  13. Pingback: ouch! that stings. « Grad School Mommy

  14. 13
    Kira says:

    I support Obama, and I think part of my obligation as a supporter is not to pretend shit like that ain’t sexist! “Claws come out”? Yeah, there’s no way to read that as neutral.

    Also, this is exactly right: “…It’s about dismissing HRC with careless sexism. If you’ve never been told you are “ruled by your emotions” in a professional capacity, you probably wouldn’t get it either.”

    When you use words like that, you tap into a whole cultural meme about how women react to stress, and that meme is populated with words and images and long-standing tropes that present women as irrational and ineffectual, and honestly, Obama is smart enough that I think he knows that.

    (And what’s with the ‘on the rag’ stuff that gets thrown around with Clinton? It wouldn’t be valid anyway, but come on, the woman’s 60.)

  15. 14
    Kim (basement variety!) says:

    I see the sexism, it’s kind of like the magazine Highlights though, just hard to find until you consider the words ‘gist’ – to me, I very quickly saw this as the subtext:

    “She can’t help but act a little catty, given that women tend to be more emotional but I forgive her for that.”

    Bottom line, it draws very real parallels to negative stereotypes that men use to keep women from positions of power, authority or in essence from being worthy of listening to. It’s giving people permission to dismiss her, intimating that she is flawed as a woman so can’t help herself from acting in ways that her gender demands.

  16. 15
    Kim (basement variety!) says:

    BTW, Kev, you can’t tell me that it’s hard to imagine some asshole spin doctor writing these lines and patting him/herself up and down along the back while crowing at their own cleverness.

  17. 16
    RonF says:

    msfour:

    I also think this is a situation where feminist women who support Barack won’t really see it, and feminist women who support Hillary will.

    I’m a male that doesn’t support either one. For what it’s worth, I immediately saw it as sexist. Our culture has numerous links between cats and women. Women (and homosexuals) who make certain kinds of remarks are referred to as “catty”. A “cat fight” is a fight between two women. The list goes on. This kind of language linkage is a part of our culture. I find it hard to believe that Sen. Obama (and whoever writes his speeches, if he has a writer – I don’t know if he writes his own stuff or not) didn’t take one look at that and note that usage.

  18. 17
    Eliza says:

    *blink*

    *blink*

    [thud!]

    Shit, if RonF thinks it’s sexist…

  19. 18
    Kim (basement variety!) says:

    In response to an earlier charge of sexist rhetoric, levied at Sen. Barack Obama, D-Illinois, his opponent Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-NY had this to say:

    “Political campaigns are a competitive business, known for making people go tribal on occasion.”

    When asked if she was angry about the comments he made regarding his assessment of her feeling down, she replied with equal aplomb;

    “There is no reason for Sen. Obama to feel up against the wall on this one, given the tightness of the race, and the natural tendency towards aggression in situations like this.”

    [Just to be clear, Clinton never said these things; this is a parody written by Kim, not actual quotes. Personally, I dislike the "this would be offensive if we replaced ________ with race-based words" school of criticism, but Kim, obviously, disagrees with me. --Amp]

  20. 19
    Kevin Moore says:

    Having had more time to think about it since first posting this morning (and coffee helps) I realized that, wait, yes, a-duh, “claws” is sexist.

    As for the rest, I think there is too much ambiguity. One thing a coworker of mine pointed out is that more and more of this type of thing is going to come from both candidates because at this point they have run out of things to say. It’s been a year of increasingly intense campaigning, and the difference between them is so slim on most issues, yet they have to keep talking, talking, talking long past the point where their brains have shut down. I wouldn’t be surprised if some version of Kim’s scenario arises soon.

    I should add that having “run out of things to say” should not stop them from weighing in more important matters – like, say, mmmm, torture? Neither Clinton nor Obama showed up to vote on that one.

  21. 20
    Mandolin says:

    “As for the rest, I think there is too much ambiguity. ”

    And many of those of us who live with sexism daily disagree with you.

    I have to admit, I’m not really disposed to view you as a sexism-against-Hilary spotter. Frex, has it sunk in for you yet that the cartoon you made of her was sexist?

    (Note: There’s no accusation here. I don’t think you’re a bad person. I just think you have a demonstrable blind spot on this issue.)

  22. 21
    Stentor says:

    I don’t think “he would have said that about Edwards” does much to rebut the claim of sexism. After all, one of the major anti-Edwards narratives was that he was too effeminate (“Breck girl,” etc.).

  23. 22
    Ampersand says:

    Frex, has it sunk in for you yet that the cartoon you made of her was sexist?

    Although there’s no reason you would have known this, in fact Kevin admitted that his Clinton cartoon was sexist (in that, regardless of his intentions, the cartoon drew on sexist stereotypes) a while ago; I read a post about it on his livejournal, iirc.

  24. 23
    RonF says:

    The differences among the Democratic candidates are much smaller than the ones among the Republican candidates. Additionally, the Democratic campaigns are tied a lot more to appealing to specific groups on the basis of race, gender, etc. So the candidates are trying to find a way to appeal to different groups while walking the tightrope of not using or being accused of sexism, racism, etc. Tough job. They’re not doing it perfectly.

  25. 24
    Myca says:

    Additionally, the Democratic campaigns are tied a lot more to appealing to specific groups on the basis of race, gender, etc.

    I disagree. I actually think that the Republican campaigns have been putting more energy into appealing on the basis of race and gender . . . it’s just that they’ve all been trying to appeal to the same race/gender combo.

    —Myca

  26. 25
    RonF says:

    Hm. Tell me, myca, who and what in the Republican campaign has been written to appeal to a particular race or gender?

  27. 26
    Petar says:

    Give if some time, RonF. Once the Democrats settle on their candidate, the Republicans will use race/gender to the limits of plausible eniability… Eight years ago, I would have hoped that “McCain’s better than that.” Now I have seen him trying to appeal to those Republicans I fervently dislike, I know his campaign will be no different from what anyone else’s would have been.

  28. 27
    Kevin Moore says:

    The ambiguity rests in the strong possibility that there is a plausible generous interpretation of Obama’s comment. Also, everyone has feelings. The problem is how those feelings are socially mediated – for very simple examples: “men can express anger, women can’t” and “women can cry, men can’t”, except in cases where a child dies (daddy can cry) or is threatened (the “Mama bear” exception.) I don’t think there is anything calculated or even unconscious in Obama’s comment than there is anything calculated (despite what that doofus William Kristol thinks) in the now-famous (read: media hyped) moment when Clinton got verklempft. Clinton and Obama are human; they have feelings. They are also politicians – should we not respond to how they are publicly displayed or how they influence their campaigns? Obama’s diagnosis was correct: the Clinton campaign has gone on attack mode because they are both statistically down (in delegates, polls, etc.) and down in morale. That’s not an unfair description of their situation.

    And many of those of us who live with sexism daily disagree with you.

    And there are many who live with sexism daily who would disagree with your interpretation, too, but what does that prove?

    None of which is to argue that I don’t have blind spots regarding Clinton. She is a powerful politician, a centrist Democrat, a leader in the DLC, an equal partner in “Clintonism” (read: neoliberal triangulation), and occupies a more enlightened end of the ruling class. Those impressions overpower my reading of her public actions, such as her vote to authorize war powers against Iraq, as well as her silence regarding so-called “welfare reform.” So when issues of sex and gender come into how her campaign operates or in how her opponents and the media criticize her campaign, I don’t find it easy to either recognize or, on the other hand, disentangle the influence of sexism in either case. Chris Matthews has been obviously, ridiculously, boorishly obvious; the Republican tendency in last year’s debates to use her as the scapegoat drew upon obvious levels of seething misogyny (above and beyond legitimately targeting her has the perceived front-runner.) Yet when her Democratic opponents confronted her with legitimate criticism (and within the bounds of her status as front-runner), she responded in a way that suggested that they were behaving like the Republicans, “piling on” as a function of the “old boy’s club of Presidential politics.” This has been a consistent feature of her campaign and her surrogates – to react to criticism and challenges as evidence of sexism, whether it is there or not. There have been times when it has been there, but more often I see her campaign as using it as a rhetorical dodge, a way of deflecting legitimate criticism. That said, to invoke an old parable, the “wolf” does occasionally show up.

    I don’t think it is easy for any of us to sort it out, to not under-react or overreact, to misinterpret or interpret it correctly. I don’t have to tell you that sexism is far more deeply rooted in our history and our culture, because there has been more time for human societies to create huge superstructures of gender-based roles and stereotypes out of the sexual differentiation of our species. I am deeply skeptical of biological deterministic arguments based on this sexual differentiation, because it has repeatedly been used to construct and maintain a patriarchal status quo, to deny individuals their freedom and autonomy, to scapegoat them and persecute them and oppress them. At the same time, I try to be careful, because it is very easy, to invoke another parable (or aphorism), to see every problem as a nail when I’ve got this hammer in my hand.

  29. 28
    Kevin Moore says:

    Hm. Tell me, myca, who and what in the Republican campaign has been written to appeal to a particular race or gender?

    It’s called the “Southern Strategy.” Hopefully it won’t work this time.

  30. 29
    RonF says:

    Petar, Kevin, neither of you have really answered my question. Which, BTW, was directed at myca, who made the original assertion.

  31. 30
    Ampersand says:

    Ron, are you talking about things like this? If not, what are you talking about?

    Kevin, the legitimacy of the complaint is less at issue than how it was said. Certainly, there are ways to say “as the Clinton campaign is down in the polls, they’re feeling they may lose and they’re going on the attack to try to improve their performance” that wouldn’t use language like “feeling down… periodically.”

    I also don’t see a “consistent feature of her campaign and her surrogates [being] to react to criticism and challenges as evidence of sexism, whether it is there or not.” I can think of a grand total of three references to sexism at all made by the Clinton campaign in the last year, out of what must be thousands or tens of thousands of statements. That’s not “consistent”; that’s barely mentioning it at all. And although I may have missed some, I think it’s fair to say that I pay attention more than most.

    (I guess by “surrogates,” you could mean “supporters,” but I think that’s an unfair standard to use — Clinton doesn’t control what NYC-NOW says.)

    BTW, here’s the three examples I recall of Clinton herself referring to anti-Clinton sexism, or being taken to have referred to it, anyhow:

    1) Clinton talking about fighting the old boy’s network at a speech at (iirc) an all-women’s college. Given how inoffensive this is, I’m bewildered about how she could have referred to the old boy’s network existing in any way, without you finding it objectionable, and I’m surprised that you bring it up at all.

    2) Another example, her tweaking Chris Matthews for his overwhelmingly negative coverage of her, is one that I doubt you’d consider inappropriate.

    3) And iirc, she never said the “ganging up” was an instance of sexism; any frontrunner, in her situation, would have referred to what was going on as ganging up. It’s the obvious tactic to use when debates turn into everyone criticizing the frontrunner.

  32. 31
    RonF says:

    Amp, I said that I thought that the Democratic candidates were spending more time appealing to candidates on the basis of race and gender than the Republican candidates were. Myca held that actually the Republicans were doing that more than Democrats were, and were concentrating on one particular race/gender combo to boot. I asked her to illustrate that.

  33. 32
    bean says:

    Now, Kevin, let me get this straight. You have a guy who has been constantly and consistently called one of the greatest speakers, with poetic rhetoric abilities, who makes a comment about a female contender, and not only talks about her FEELINGS, but how those FEELINGS cause her to act in aggressive and vengeful ways. And that this happens “periodically” (i.e. ON A REGULAR BASIS). And you don’t see any thing sexist in that? You don’t see the direct connection with the same old sexist reasonings on why women can’t or shouldn’t be president since time immemorial?

  34. 33
    lordmelkor says:

    i agree that it is sexist. he had no right to say it. but in some ways it is a compliment. women can be very aggressive and rather scary (in the intimidating way) when provoked. claws on a woman are very dangerous weapons and when used properly can be very affective. they’re not just for petty cat fights.

  35. 34
    Petar says:

    > > > who and what in the Republican campaign has been written to
    > > > appeal to a particular race or gender?
    > >
    > > Give if some time, RonF.
    >
    > Petar, Kevin, neither of you have really answered my question.

    I tried to say that the Republicans are waiting for a single opponent to emerge,
    so that they can focus voters attention to his or her otherness. I did not claim
    that McCain was already courting a particular race or gender, but I fear that
    once he’s got his target, he will find someone to take shots at it. In case it is not
    clear, I used to really like McCain, back when he was running against Bush.
    I could not vote then, but it looks as if I will be able to vote by November…

  36. 35
    Bev A. says:

    It appears that Barak Obama is not the only clueless man– if he insists that “claws come out” and “feeling down” are comments that aren’t necessarily in reference to Hillary, the woman. Abrams of MSBC also made similar comments in support of Obama on his TV show this AM. Unless Obama is a drag queen, I’m sure he won’t admit his claws have ever come out. Little men make such comments because they can’t fight on a level playing field. They are weak. Barak better notice that he needs lots of female votes to win this election. Last time I counted we were in the majority in this country. He and Abrams and other weak men can deny their sexist vocabulary, but we women get it and have gotten it for a thousand years. As one blogger commented on AOL. “Claws”…”feeling down”…”I find it hard to envision Obama using the same language if he were facing, say, former Sen. John Edwards, D-NC.” And each time there’s a group of men who pretend it was a little word or comment and meant nothing—like the bully who shoves you or trips you in the hall each day for a month and says I’m sorry each time. So, to me, it’s more than one little thing because it’s additive. And like the bully, if you complain, the perpetrator becomes embolden and self satisfied. So, I believe the comments speak to the character of the man. Either he is socially stupid and doesn’t realize what he is doing …..and he might just as well say such a thing to a female who is a foreign leader (or is married to one )… or he makes such statements purposefully and then lies smuggly about his intent. Either way I don’t find Obama to be presidential material. We don’t need somebody socially stupid or a liar in the White House.

  37. 36
    RonF says:

    Petar said:

    I tried to say that the Republicans are waiting for a single opponent to emerge, so that they can focus voters attention to his or her otherness.

    O.K. – so, you’re talking about what you expect to happen in the future, not what’s going on now. First, I’ll ask what evidence that you have for this (you say that they are waiting to do this, not that it’s your opinion that they’re going to do this). Second, what do you mean by “otherness”?

    Finally, I will not be surprised if we see numerous people try to twist statements in opposition to Obama’s campaign as being based on racism instead of his proposed policies and actions.

    Bev A. said:

    … or he makes such statements purposefully and then lies smugly about his intent.

    That gets my vote. It’s my guess. If Sen. Obama has any skills at all, it’s in speaking. Now, he’s a pretty busy guy these days, but I have to think that he is a pretty quick study on what impact words have – that’s what he’s using, after all, to run for the Presidency. And his actions here in Illinois show that he’s quite ready to play along with whoever or whatever will get him elected.

  38. 37
    Kim (basement variety!) says:

    Bev & Ron;

    … or he makes such statements purposefully and then lies smugly about his intent.

    This comment sums it up rather nicely for me as well. Hearing people defend this gives me that physical stress, straight down in my stomach and gives me frown lines.

    At any rate, while I know she is no angel, my support is still very much going to Hillary. For me though, it started back when the youtube debates occurred several months ago, where I first got a glimpse of the smug, patronizing behavior that it seems like Barrack and his handlers feel he is hiding from the public. I couldn’t put my finger on it then, but at this point, I’m willing to call it deliberate politics, and its of a dangerous sort where women are concerned.

    Along the lines of marketing and code that moves masses, I’d recommend the feminist book “Can’t Buy me Love” by Jean Kilbourne. Double-speak takes a whole new meaning after that read.

  39. 38
    Charles S says:

    The thing I find puzzling about this is that I really don’t think that Obama making subliminal sexist attacks on Clinton is a significant part of why he is winning. I do think that the larger sexist media/culture is part of why Clinton is losing, but Obama doesn’t have any need to make these attacks in order to win.

    Are either of these phrases something that he has been using regularly in his stump speech, or are they single instances? If they are things he is using regularly then it is clear that he has decided that he does need to engage in subliminal misogyny to win. If they are one off attacks, then I just find them puzzling (offensive, but mostly puzzling).

  40. 39
    Petar says:

    > > I tried to say that the Republicans are waiting for a single opponent to
    > > emerge, so that they can focus voters attention to his or her otherness.
    >
    > O.K. – so, you’re talking about what you expect to happen in the future,
    > not what’s going on now. First, I’ll ask what evidence that you have for this
    > (you say that they are waiting to do this, not that it’s your opinion that
    > they’re going to do this).

    Of course it is an opinion. I do not claim to be clairvoyant. I would also bet every single cent I have on it. Why?

    Because it is a human trait to beware of those who are different. Not everyone in this country will be able to overcome it and give the candidates a fair look. I know that I have been petty enough to give a plain, short man a break that I would refuse to a tall, good looking guy. It would be tempting for those who want the Republican candidate to win to play on similar feelings. Those who have no reputation to lose will. Those who believe that they can ‘smugly lie about their intent’ will also. Many will be above such tactics. Some won’t.

    And no, I do not think Democrats are above them, either. Every time that a valid disagreement with a candidate’s views is greeted with cries of ‘sexism’ and ‘racism’, it is not only an attempt to deflect the criticism and tarnish the critic, but also a way to appeal to those that ‘should have been offended’.

    And of course, the posters here will disagree on whether the accusation is a valid one or not.

    > Second, what do you mean by “otherness”?

    For Clinton, it would be the fact she is female. While women are a majority, they are kind of underrepresented among US presidents. For Obama it would be the fact that he is black.

  41. 40
    Petar says:

    > Little men make such comments because they can’t fight on a level
    > playing field. They are weak.

    This is a dangerous mistake to make. Just because someone uses a despicable trick does not mean that he is weak, or that he could not win in a fair fight. He may be lazy, may want to save some energy, may enjoy offending people, or may be trying to get his opponent off balance. You can tell a lot about his moral character, but not about his abilities. In reality, these are not as strongly related as in fiction.

    I wonder how much trouble my favorite example would get me into… Once upon the time, I nearly got demoted for making it to disprove the same argument.

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  44. 41
    RonF says:

    O.K., Petar, now that you’ve defined otherness, please provide some support for the statement you made

    I tried to say that the Republicans are waiting for a single opponent to emerge, so that they can focus voters attention to his or her otherness.

    I’m real curious. What leads you to believe that the Republicans are going to make race or sex an issue in the general campaign?

  45. 42
    Robert says:

    We’re not going to have to make them issues, Ron, because the Democrats are very kindly doing it for us.

    (“Suicide squad! Attack!”)

  46. 43
    RonF says:

    Given what we’ve seen of the campaigns of Sens. Clinton and Obama, the Republicans would have to consider hiring the KKK and some Mens’ Rights group to go after race and sex more than these two. Pass the frick’in popcorn. Gotta love that red-on-red fire.

    BTW, what exactly happened here? The Drudge report says that an e-mail was circulated by a Clinton staffer. Circulated to who? Internally? NBC, ABC, CBS, CNN, Fox and the New York Times? This report is a little short on details.

    Will Rogers is going to make a comeback. “I don’t belong to an organized political party. I’m a Democrat!”

  47. 44
    Jake Squid says:

    I’m real curious. What leads you to believe that the Republicans are going to make race or sex an issue in the general campaign?

    Perhaps things like the following link?

    http://tpmmuckraker.talkingpointsmemo.com/2008/01/legendary_gop_strategist_launc.php

  48. 45
    RonF says:

    Petar said:

    I tried to say that the Republicans are waiting for a single opponent to emerge, so that they can focus voters attention to his or her otherness.

    When I challenged this, you said:

    Because it is a human trait to beware of those who are different. Not everyone in this country will be able to overcome it and give the candidates a fair look. I know that I have been petty enough to give a plain, short man a break that I would refuse to a tall, good looking guy. It would be tempting for those who want the Republican candidate to win to play on similar feelings. Those who have no reputation to lose will. Those who believe that they can ’smugly lie about their intent’ will also. Many will be above such tactics. Some won’t.

    Your original statement referenced “the Republicans”. Now, I understand that to mean either the official Republican party or a majority of those people considering themselves Republicans. What you’re doing now is saying that you think some supporters of the Republican candidate who have no reputation to lose might do this. That’s not the Republican party itself and it’s likely quite a small subset of those supporting Sen. McCain (the presumptive nominee at this point). It’s a long way from saying “the Republicans are waiting for a single opponent to emerge, so that they can focus voters attention to his or her otherness.” I’m not surprised you couldn’t support such a statement.

    So far it looks as though the campaigns of Sens. Clinton and Obama are doing a far more thorough job of jumping on their opponent’s “otherness” than anything the Republicans would ever even think of getting away with. But then, family fights are always the most vicious.

  49. 47
    Ampersand says:

    Ron wrote:

    Given what we’ve seen of the campaigns of Sens. Clinton and Obama, the Republicans would have to consider hiring the KKK and some Mens’ Rights group to go after race and sex more than these two.

    Although I certainly agree that both Democratic campaigns have on occasion acted egregiously, I think you’re exaggerating, to say the least.

    The main place I’ve seen that photo of Obama in African clothing posted is on right-wing blogs — if you doubt me, I’d be happy to post links. And when someone asked McCain a question referring to Clinton as “bitch,” McCain laughed at the joke — apparently that’s what your party leader finds funny.

    If they act as usual, the most important way Republican operatives and activists will politic based on race is through trying to suppress the black and latino vote in the general election. That’s 500 times worse than anything the Clinton or Obama campaigns have done — and can be much more reasonably compared to some of the goals of the KKK, historically.

    Anyone who thinks the Republicans are blameless innocents on this front is a very partisan Republican indeed.

  50. 48
    Charles says:

    There’s also the ‘secret muslim’ whispering campaign, which I don’t think anyone would try to deny originates with Republican operatives (no, I don’t know of proof of it, but you’re not going to try to deny it, are you?). Oh, and the racist church stuff, and the denounce Farrakhan stuff. Also, the Republicans are apparently currently running a massive focus group and polling test study on exactly how racist their attacks on Obama (and how sexist their attacks on Clinton, just in case) can be without drawing a backlash. And you know they will go right up that line. I suspect that they are actually interested in a few lines: how racist can the things coming out of McCain’s mouth be, how racist can the things coming from his proxies be, and how racist can the $500 million in illegal 526 smear campaigns be (yes, they are a violation of campaign finance law; yes, the ones from 2004 were fined massive amounts of money for violating the law; yes, the Republicans are going to use them anyway)?

    Okay, a fourth line, how racist can the smear campaign be, with McCain denouncing it, and still have it do more damage to Obama by activating racist tropes in white voters mind than it does to McCain by activating voters’ disgust at the racist tropes.

    The Republicans will run exactly as racist a campaign as their studies tell them they can, and not one iota less.

    Note that one of McCain’s higher ranking people intends to resign if Obama is the Democratic candidate, because he doesn’t want to be associated with doing to Obama the shit that the Republicans are going to do.

  51. 49
    RonF says:

    O.K. – I plead guilty to the charge of hyperbole. Just jerking your chain a little.

    I don’t read Drudge. On the radio this morning it was cited as the source of the public revelation of that picture. Is Drudge considered a right-wing blog? Free Republic is definitely a right-wing blog, but interestingly enough most of the respondents to the story said “So what?” – which was my reaction.

    McCain’s the party’s candidate, but Presidential candidate != party leader. And so he laughed at a joke that referred to Sen. Clinton as a bitch? Not his finest moment, but that’s only one instance. I’d have to see more to call it a pattern, and it’s not like he was going around telling the joke, he just laughed when he heard it.

    If they act as usual, the most important way Republican operatives and activists will politic based on race is through trying to suppress the black and latino vote in the general election.

    Well, we’ll see about that, won’t we? And should anything happen, I’d have to evaluate whether the basis of any action is race, or that the people in question are voting Democratic. It seems to me some people are quick to cry “racism” despite the actual motive or basis of an action.

    Blameless innocents? I don’t recall making that assertion. But the assertion that both the Democratic candidates are acting on the basis of sexism and racism is being made repeatedly here, so it’s pretty clear what people here think the Democrats are doing. What the Republicans are going to do is the subject of speculation, but speculation doesn’t balance out facts.

  52. 50
    RonF says:

    There’s also the ’secret muslim’ whispering campaign, which I don’t think anyone would try to deny originates with Republican operatives (no, I don’t know of proof of it, but you’re not going to try to deny it, are you?).

    Actually, yes – I’ll be quite ready to deny it. Are there a few people out there who keep harping on the Moslem elements in Sen. Obama’s upbringing as a child? Sure. Is there any reason to suspect that they are involved in the Republican party organization or are acting at it’s behest? Not in the slightest. The Internet is a wonderful thing, but one thing it can do is enable a few disaffected individuals to drum up something like this.

    And this is the kind of presumption that calls into question the charges and assertions people are making about Republicans being a souce of racism and sexism and everything else in the campaign. Someone’s trying to get the public to think that Obama is a closet Moslem. “OOOOO, it must be those devil Republicans!” Bogus, just as it would be bogus to say that Democratic operatives planted that rumor about McCain being involved with a lobbyist 8 years ago with the New York Times.

    Is it possible that people who are actually involved in the Republican party are responsible for “the whispering campaign” or “denouncing Farrahkhan” (like that’s a bad thing) or any of the other stuff you’re talking about? Sure. When you have some actual evidence, I’ll be glad to listen. Otherwise, it’s a baseless presumption.

    Also, the Republicans are apparently currently running a massive focus group and polling test study on exactly how racist their attacks on Obama (and how sexist their attacks on Clinton, just in case) can be without drawing a backlash.

    You really believe this, don’t you? Amazing.

  53. 51
    Ampersand says:

    Ron –

    1) Drudge is not only right wing, it’s arguably the single most important, influential right wing site.

    2)

    (#2, about racism and suppressing votes, moved to a thread of its own.)

    3) Regarding “denouncing Farrahkhan,” there’s nothing wrong with denouncing Farrahkhan. There is something wrong with the way that only black leaders are pressured to denounce Farrahkhan, no matter how trivial the connection (such as “the minister at your church once praised Farrahkhan”).

  54. 52
    Ampersand says:

    Wow, has this thread wandered from the topic of sexism.

    Okay, putting on my moderator hat: Ron can reply once to my most recent post addressed to him. Charles can reply once to Ron’s post addressed to Charles.

    After that, please go back on topic or take it to an open thread.

  55. 53
    Sailorman says:

    [Moved to different threads by Amp.]

  56. 54
    Sailorman says:

    damn–sorry, i wrote my reply while your other stuff got posted. Move the above post wherever you want, of course.

    [Thanks. Done! --Amp]

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