Msnowe's Blog

got problems with the election? : thatsyourtrouble weighs in

Posted in Barack Obama, John McCain, Palin, thatsyourtrouble by m.snowe on September 12, 2008

M.Snowe would like to share some very astute summations (below in blue) from her coworker/friend, thatsyourtrouble. This was birthed from a lively email debate…


Sorry for the ramblings below, but your blog helped to crystallize some of my thinking here:

Even I was a bit surprised that some have actually been using the term “catfight” to describe Clinton/Palin disputes that are not even occurring. I tried to measure this with my sexismometer, but all of a sudden it seemed to be broken.

The gender politics angle of the Palin nomination is very interesting. It is of course the duty of those on the left to defend her from sexist attacks but to oppose her on the content of the McCain platform (or her own opinions on the issues, if we find out more about what those are).

But what are we to think about her instant popularity among many conservatives and independents? We should not assume that a male candidate could not have attracted the same enormous support, but regardless of whether her gender is an essential component, her own unusual and particular identity is the key.

Her story as a regular person who has achieved tremendous success without the elitist taint of Ivy League education is a large positive factor in the populist tradition. Furthermore, the story of her own life as a woman and mother who has lived her pro-life principles is extremely validating for “values” conservatives of both genders. Conservative and apolitical women will support her fervently because they can stand up for women by doing so. They may even identify as pro-life feminists, but Palin has none of the “negatives” that traditionally accompany feminism in the conservative mind. Her feminism consists in her ability to accomplish anything she tries to achieve (and to do so while raising a family). Thus they agree with her stand against the old-boy network and her ability to break the glass ceiling. She does not embody a challenge to any “traditional” values, and her somewhat unusual (and yet still traditional) relationship with her husband is extremely reassuring in that it shows that she has no fundamentally “anti-man” views that most conservatives associate with feminism. Furthermore, her pro-life credentials obviously cannot be doubted. I would argue that her physical attractiveness is also extremely important. The Rush Limbaugh conservatives truly believe that feminists (feminazis) turn to this ideology in part because they themselves are physically (and thus spiritually, one suspects they believe) ugly, and I suspect that Palin’s physical attractiveness (and youth) are as important to mobilizing enthusiastic support in both men and women as a child star’s cuteness is to eliciting sympathy from a movie audience. I think that even in this allegedly more enlightened age, the attractiveness/likeability connection continues to be as huge a factor in politics as in life. Kay Bailey Hutchison would not have elicited enthusiasm, partly because she is not new to the scene and a rising star, but also because her physical appearance makes her less likely to be liked. The same can apply to male politicians, I’d say, though the bar is set far lower and the effect is probably much smaller.

So in the end Palin is an instant hero(ine) to female voters because of her impressive personal accomplishments while also validating the views of conservative women and (perhaps especially) conservative men. At the same time she also claims the status of a maverick; her maverick status and McCain’s probably reinforce each other in increasingly positive ways. Furthermore, she is threatening only to “old boy network” male politicians, and men and women alike will generally cheer the success of anyone (especially someone who is as instantly charming as Ms. Palin) who has unseated the undeserving establishment (of which the old boy network is an example).

The backstory of the Democrats and the fate of Hillary Clinton helps further, because Republicans and independents can feel that they are standing up for women while the Democrats dissed them. Furthermore, Palin’s place on the ticket allows Republicans and independents to be enthusiastic about an historic candidacy of their own—ground that was formerly necessarily ceded to the Obama people. This eliminates the enthusiasm gap, and, for any Republicans or independents who think about race, it probably wipes away any race-related guilt.

Of course, there are some wonkier conservative voters out there who will worry about Palin’s lack of experience, but comparison to Obama’s lack of experience makes this easier to overlook. Some will also see the pick of Palin as a cynical ploy, but the feel-good story seems to be winning the day. It’s still possible that external events could knock Palin from her current popularity, but unless that happens, I think this gives the Republicans an advantage that the Dems will not be able to overcome.

Can’t miss this "won’t miss" list

Posted in Barack Obama, democratic primary, Hillary Clinton, misogyny by m.snowe on May 15, 2008

M.Snowe always likes to create original content, but this article is so succinct, so terse, that we decided it speaks better than could be adapted originally on this blog. While we have decided to stay out of declaring any one (democratic) candidate as our favourite, this piece tells it like it is. The only thing to add would be that unfortunately, there is another problem with this primary that won’t end with a formal candidacy, and you can read about it here. And as much as we like the almost assured democratic candidate, we don’t like this. But here’s the article, and it’s listed below. When it’s spelled out and itemized like this, it really makes a statement that no sane, reasonable person can ignore.

Misogyny I Won’t Miss

By Marie Cocco
Thursday, May 15, 2008; 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, 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.

Marie Cocco is syndicated by the Washington Post Writers Group. Her e-mail address is mariecocco@washpost.com.

Shh!!!! It’s Hushed. But in the NY Times…

Posted in assassination, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, JFK, MLK, NYTimes, RFK by m.snowe on February 25, 2008

This morning’s New York Times has a political memo written by Jeff Zeleny, opening with the following question:
“There is a hushed worry on the minds of many supporters of Senator Barack Obama, echoing in conversations from state to state, rally to rally: Will he be safe?”

The one problem with this article is thus:
The questions asked are mostly unanswerable. No actual threats are really highlighted, and none in depth. Yes, our country’s climate is not as hospitable as it should be, and Obama’s security should be a concern. But honestly, there are some problems with this article, and they run deep.

#1. Obvious Point: How many polls are out there right now, talking about Hillary Clinton’s lack of charisma, or personal appeal. Everyday, there’s a new story about likability, and Clinton’s lack-thereof. Yet it is Obama people are worried about. You would think if someone was so reportedly despised, their summit to potential presidency would make them a target. And yet the Obama worries are legitimate, to some extent. Charismatic figures have, on one hand, the ability to spur people on and get them excited about their message. Obama can do that in spades. Yet charisma runs the risk of inciting not just high praise, but high disapproval— and in the people completely opposite those that get riled up in a good way. Because people who decide to assassinate are usually angry, in a hyper-heightened way, just as the diametrically different Obama supporters can be enthusiastic. That is not to say that overly enthusiastic supporters of any campaign are unhinged, but mild obsession is a necessary quality for a staffer, no matter whose campaign it is.

#2. Not-So-Obvious Point: Zeleny ‘s angling of Obama’s likability. A quick glance at the first three or four pages of his most recently archived political stories show title after title helpful towards Obama, and harsh towards Clinton (even the pictures tell the story, with Obama looking up with hopeful eyes, whereas all the pics of Clinton seem to be authoritative ones, with finger points and mid-shout. She may do these things more, but it’s pretty clear that the photogs don’t try too hard to capture her “softer” side.) The problem with a story about “hushed” worries for Obama’s safety is that it unfairly raises an alarm that may or may not be that legitimate while simultaneously reinforcing Obama’s profile, and providing fodder for ample comparisons with past American heroes who were assassinated. In Zeleny’s article, the Kennedys and MLK jr. are mentioned almost as often as Obama is himself. There is no clever coating to this one- it’s all about comparison and similarities. And while it should be preambled that there is always a threat to any candidate, and probably a slight bit more worry attached to a black candidate, the comparison seems a bit weaker than the author would like us to believe. Dr. King was a hunted man; and similar to the eerie recent interviews with figures such as Benazir Bhutto, King knew that the threats against his life were real and dangerous. Whether he knew they would be his undoing, one can only guess; but he was under constant threat — the flight to Memphis were he gave his last speech and was later assassinated at his hotel –was delayed due to a bomb threat. Because of the work of Dr. King and his supporters and the Civil Rights Movement as a whole, the atmosphere is much better and safer for candidates of either race (though improvements still need to be made, surely).

Zeleny’s article is basically angling to help Obama survive, both physically and politically by making him into the amalgamation of RFK, JFK, and MLK… if only they had survived just a bit longer. Now this blogger is undecided in choice of which Democrat to prefer, but the problem with articles like this is they don’t merely report facts, they harken back to the past by making comparisons that only serve to muddy up the already murky waters of political choice. Talking about threats to Obama is one thing, but talking about threats in relation to other assassinations seems a bit off the point. To be fair, Clinton and the media surrounding her also harken back to past events in order to gain support or alternatively shake up support of the electorate, depending on the purpose that snipit of history is meant to serve rhetorically. And the republicans can’t seem to get the misnomer of “Reagan Era Politics” off their minds and tips of their tongues. Comparison is an important tool, but the public should go into any piece of news with the ability to understand stories, their angles, and just why they were written in certain ways. Obama isn’t polling well in the older age groups– Clinton has the majority in of older white women. Well, if you were to look through the old paper stashes of older white women, you would find a newspaper clipping or saved copy of any magazine with JFK’s picture, or perhaps a commemorative biography with embossed photos of Jackie Oanasis (before she was an Oananiss). You might might the same smart white or red suit with matching hat. The icon association is high. This blogger was forced to take multiple pictures of the Eternal Flame in Arlington for a grandmother and grandfather. Its a vital piece of history, and memory association is powerful… All that’s important to remember is that one situation can be similar, but it’s never the same, and false hope, especially in the candidate of hope, but also everyone else, only sets up for a let down. Let’s hope Obama doesn’t start building a complex in Hyannis, MA. And Clinton won’t automatically ring in the financially stable years of her husband’s jaunt either.