Let the Presidential Election Be About Being President...

I often always have many unpublished posts in my cue, so I was going to let my response to Katha Pollitt's Nation column about the sexism behind a lot of the Senator Clinton bashing slide by, but then I read Amanda's post about Pollitt's column. Onto what Pollitt wrote (italics mine):

The more people insist that sexism plays no part in the primary campaign or its media coverage, the more likely I am to vote for Hillary Clinton and I'll bet I'm not the only one. Her poll numbers with women are rising, after all. I think a lot of women are just fed up to here with the sexism they see around them every day at their own workplaces and that their male colleagues just don't notice as they ride the testosterone escalator upwards. Six male politicians salivating to score points, two super-self-satisfied male journalists asking the questions (and what questions!), one woman who has got to know the world is just waiting for her to set a foot wrong--it makes a picture. If you've ever been the only woman at the meeting, on the panel, with your job, at your level, you see that picture all the time, and it's a self-portrait.

You only have to watch TV pundits--overwhelmingly male, although there are some desperate female women who join in--discuss Senator Clinton* in nauseatingly sexist terms to understand precisely what Pollitt means ('Vaginal-Americans' is only the most egregious example). Clearly, part of Chris Matthews' brain is sending signals that if Clinton were elected president, his penis would fall off. Obviously, what Pollitt describes cuts in a visceral way much more for women than men, but, in a moment of uncharacteristic optimism about the human condition, I think anyone with a modicum of decency would be disgusted by the sexist subcurrents surrounding the 'discussion' of Clinton.

Which brings me to Amanda (italics mine):

I'm probably still going to vote for Edwards in the primary, since Clinton's unwillingness to stand up against torture alone makes her unacceptable, but if it were any other female candidate, the identity politics issue would override a great deal of policy issues with me, and that's a big admissions, since I'm usually a stalwart on opposing the voting-for-identity or voting-for-personality crap....But this base sexism in politics is so completely out of control that drastic measures need to be taken.

As is usual with identity politics, the existence of them depends pretty much entirely on the actions of the oppressors. I don't want to have to weigh a woman's sex heavily in her favor, but the sexist pigs of America are making it so that we have to for the good of the nation. Call it the plague of "girl cooties"--the nation seems stuck in the 3rd grade in so many ways. Accusing someone of having girl cooties is quite possibly the most favored political slur in the country, at least against Democrats. Al Gore had Naomi Wolf as a consultant (and she told him how to dress! or that's the rumor, probably untrue), therefore Gore has girl cooties. John Edwards (and Bill Clinton and whoever else) gets their hair done in a salon, which is something girls do, therefore girl cooties. Hillary Clinton is actually a girl, thus girl cooties out the wazoo. The fact that Republicans get their hair done and have their clothes micromanaged and even have female advisers and are occasionally women themselves doesn't matter--being a Republican is a vaccination against girl cooties. The Shrub gave everyone an injection when he non-subtly showed off the presidential package during the "Mission Accomplished" debacle.

We as a nation need to progress from the 3rd grade to at least the 6th grade or so, considering that we're a fucking superpower.

While Amanda is not supporting Clinton, and Pollitt, if she is (it's unclear), is certainly not rabid about it, I hope most women (and men) who end up supporting Clinton do so based on how she might be as a president, and not based on "identity politics." The only thing worse than having to put up with the sexism permeating this election cycle (e.g., the "bitch" statement) is letting those same sexist fuckers convince people to vote for a bad candidate (again, if you like Clinton on the issues, I really disagree, but all power to you).

I think we're already starting to see the consequences of this political self-projection, in that, among the Democrats, Clinton is viewed as the candidate most likely to lead to withdrawal from Iraq, even though she is the most hawkish (which will mean more instability in Iraq, which will lead to more atrocities against Iraqi civilians, including rapes and the consequent 'honor' killingsmurders).

Yes, Chris Matthews is a sexist asshole with severe gender hangups. But what does that have to do with Clinton's hawkish position on Iraq? For five years, the liberal-progressive coalition has opposed militarism in Iraq (and elsewhere). Are we--women and men--to jetison that** because Chris Matthews and Tucker Carlson and the rest of the GE boys have issues with successful, confident women?

The sexist assholes that dominate the traditional media discourse deserve 'blowback' from decades of sexism and discrimination. But many good people don't.

*Frankly, Clinton hasn't helped herself get taken seriously with her campaign's continuous referral to her as "Hillary" and not "Senator Clinton" or "Hillary Clinton."

**Again, it's absolutely clear Amanda isn't throwing this under the bus, but how many are? This has to be a factor in the misperception that Clinton is the most likely in withdrawal from Iraq.


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"Frankly, Clinton hasn't helped herself get taken seriously with her campaign's continuous referral to her as "Hillary" and not "Senator Clinton" or "Hillary Clinton.""

She's not the only candidate to do this either. But in her case, I think she is trying to distance herself somewhat from Bill, both for a reasonable reason--she wants us to remind us that she's the candidate, and not her husband, and for a bad reason--she doesn't want to rile up the anti-clinton crazies, as if they'd forget. Since those folks are never, never, never going to vote for her anyway, and some other folks might respect her more if she'd not back away from the Clinton legacy, she should just, as the kids say today, "own it."

You have unpublished posts in your cue? Do they help your billiards game much?

By Michael Schmidt (not verified) on 19 Nov 2007 #permalink