Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Cult of Hillary

Yowser. You probably already saw the story about the New York chapter of NOW putting out a press release denouncing Ted Kennedy for endorsing Obama instead of Hillary and referring to it as "the ultimate betrayal" and "the greatest betrayal!" (Exclamation point in the original)

But I just wanted to say how this incident really adds to the whole weird Cult of Hillary that seems to be forming in the minds of her supporters. Now before I go on, I'd like to say again that I don't think Hillary is a bad candidate and that I will support her in the general election, god forbid she wins. But it just happens that I think Obama is the better candidate, and think he'd be better in the general election and in the Whitehouse.

But it's her supporters that are really starting to worry me. Because they will not only fervently support everything she does, often with the meagerest of rationalizations, but seem to be supporting her supporters oddball actions too. Like with this NY NOW press release. To me, this is a no-brainer: That press release was a huge, huge mistake. And for as much as it could make a difference in this campaign, it would be only to hurt Hillary and help Obama. In fact, this is much better for Obama than if they had just endorsed him explicitly.

Yet, there appear to be some who support even this ridiculous press release. For example, one Hillary supporter at Carpetbagger's suggests that this is just Obama supporters being "touchy" over some criticism, as we "pillory Hillary," and even suggests that we're only now defending Kennedy as a "shiny light," though he's been attacked in the media for years.

What in god's name has this person been smoking? This wasn't criticism. This was a declaration of war. To even suggest that Kennedy endorsing Obama is a betrayal of feminists at all is nothing but an open insult to feminists; let alone the "ultimate" betrayal. And this gives the worst view of special interest groups possible. Apparently, NY NOW thinks that Ted Kennedy is a horrible politician who only deserves their support because they imagined that he'd endorse a woman for president. And now that he's "betrayed" them, they're going to take him down. I'm sure Teddy's trembling as we speak.

I honestly don't know what to think about this admission that this group supported a politician they didn't like because they thought he'd be loyal to one of their causes. On the one hand, I wonder if they hadn't thought this through all the way and didn't mean to say that. On the other hand, it really would explain why these groups seem to support incumbents so much.

Name Calling

And then there was a commenter named rockerbabe, who mimicked the NY NOW press conference, while going further in suggesting that Democrats turn a blind eye to people referring to Hillary as "a bitch, a whore, etc." What planet is this person on and how do they receive our internet so quickly?

While I'm sure there are anti-Hillary Dems who say these things about Hillary, or who don't denounce it; most of us do. Like when a McCain supporter referred to Hillary as a bitch when asking him a question, and McCain got in trouble for it (which I wrote about here). Or more recently, when an anti-Hillary conservative group came out named Citizens United, Not Timid, which not only sought to alienate social conservatives like my mom with their offensive language, but are also trying to win the coveted Worst Acronym of the Year award.

And have I been missing it when mainstream politicians refer to Hillary as a bitch? Even McCain seemed awkward about it in that one instance, and clearly wanted to avoid using it without offending his supporter. And overall, I'm just not seeing some public acceptance of any of this. Sure, it's ok with some people. But I find the whole insinuation of this to be extremely offensive. There's this implied idea that any of us who aren't actively feminists are anti-feminists who they're putting up with, despite our sexism. And the tell-tale on this would seem to be that anyone who doesn't support Hillary is sexist.

And last, but not least: Can we do away with this whole idea that there are insults against women that are acceptable because we're sexist? I'm sorry, but some women act like bitches. It's true. And there are women who I'd refer to as "whores," even though they aren't actual prostitutes. But then again, I've referred to men using these terms too. Moreover, there are specific words that generally are only used to describe men: Like bastard, asshole, schmuck, and prick. Is it sexist that these words are only used to describe men? I don't see how, yet I've never used any of those words to describe a woman. That's just how it is.

And then there was rockerbabe's suggestion that it's a "double-standard" that we can't use the "n-word" to describe Obama. Is there any suggestion here that this word would be acceptable if Obama was a black woman? Of course not. For whatever reason, right or wrong, that word is considered to be completely off-limits as an insult of black people. Some insults are more harsh than others, and that's considered one of the worst. I see no double-standard with that. I don't know what rule-making body makes these decisions, but I'll abide by them. Some words are more off-limits than others.

Backfiring Campaigns

And again, it ties into this whole idea that we're chauvinists for not supporting Hillary. And of course, that's most offensive to Hillary. Are we supposed to support her because she's a woman, or because she's the best candidate? If it's because she's a woman, she gets no support from me at all. Hell, I'd probably just pick my wife, mom, or sister if I didn't care about the woman's qualifications. At least that way I'd get to hang out in the Whitehouse sometime. But if we're supporting Hillary because of her qualifications, then I'm fine with that, but still prefer Obama.

Overall, I think this whole line of reasoning is a mistake. But it's the same kind of mistake I'm getting from the entire Hillary campaign: Anything to be attacked should be attacked, and everything that can be supported must be supported. And so we see Hillary attacking Obama for being too soft and too hard, and her supporters denouncing us for not picking the woman candidate. And we're all Hillary bashers for not supporting all this. Again, this is not what I want in a presidential candidate. You have to know when to make your attacks and when someone on your team has made a mistake. So far, I've seen few signs from the Hillary camp to suggest they understand this.

Because this kind of thing was a huge mistake; just as I think it was a mistake for them to put Bill front and center of her campaign. And it's the same mistakes that the Republicans have been making for years: While it's generally a good idea to go strong against your opponents, it's too easy to go too far and end up helping them out. And while you might get an immediate bump on your side, you can't always predict the backfire and how much worse things can be once the other side gets a full grasp of what you did. But instead of going with a nuanced approach, they just find it easier to blindly swing at anything coming their way. Anyway, I've got to end this now as I need to go to bed. Sorry it's not better.

No comments: