Monday, May 19, 2008

"Painful Lessons"

This is a very good analysis by Lynette Long of the Baltimore Sun. She really hits the nail on the head, in my opinion. Thanks to Hillary's Rapid Responders for highlighting this article:

Painful lessons
Primary reveals obstacles facing women in politics
By Lynette Long
May 18, 2008

This primary campaign has been quite a learning experience, but the lessons have mainly been bitter ones for women. Here are some things I learned on the way to the Democratic National Convention:

•People are more sensitive to racism than sexism. My twenty-something daughter returned home extremely agitated after casting her ballot in the Democratic primary. "This white guy was wearing a T-shirt that read, 'Hillary, cook my food, but don't run my country,' and no one said a thing. If I wore a T-shirt that said, 'Obama, shine my shoes but don't run my country,' I'd be called a racist." Doing or saying anything perceived as racist is not tolerated in today's America, but that's simply not true of sexist behavior.

•Most people aren't aware of the insidious sexism in this campaign. I've heard commentators say "Mrs. Clinton and Senator Obama," subtly implying she was a wife and he was a senator. I've heard Sen. Hillary Clinton called a bitch, a witch, and a she-devil on national television. I've watched group after group of predominantly male panelists on talk show after talk show discuss the election without a thought for female input.

•Women voters are not factored into the decision making of the Democratic National Committee. The DNC is concerned that black voters will protest and stay home if Senator Clinton gets the nomination, even though she is the stronger and more electable candidate. But the DNC doesn't worry that white women, three times larger than the combined black vote, will stay away from the polls if Mrs. Clinton does not get the nomination. They expect the white women of the party to fall in step and vote for Mr. Obama in the general election.

•The rules for women candidates are not the same as the rules for male candidates. Sen. Edward M. Kennedy adamantly supports Mr. Obama, even though Mrs. Clinton won his home state, Massachusetts, by 14 points. Mr. Kennedy has repeatedly called for Mrs. Clinton to pull out of the race, yet when he was running for president in 1980 he took his bid for the Democratic nomination to the convention floor, trying to change the rules to unseat Jimmy Carter, who already had enough delegates to clinch the nomination. And let's not forget that this year Mike Huckabee stayed in the contest for the Republican nomination when he had no chance of winning. He was committed to stay in the race until Sen. John McCain reached the number of delegates needed to win. At the end of the contest he had a total of 267 delegates, more than 900 behind Mr. McCain. No media barrage pushed Mr. Huckabee to withdraw. Barack Obama has not reached the needed number of delegates to win the nomination, yet Mrs. Clinton - who is fewer than 200 delegates behind Obama - is being pressured by commentators and the DNC to withdraw.

•In the world of presidential politics, race trumps gender. It appears that young, white voters are more willing to vote for a black candidate than young, black voters are willing to vote for a white candidate. My analysis of the statistics found that young white voters seemed to perceive race as less of a factor in their voting preferences, since more than half of them selected Mr. Obama. More than 90 percent of blacks have voted for Mr. Obama, creating a large racial bloc. Female black voters prefer Mr. Obama by essentially the same margin as male black voters.

•Politics is a mathematical business. Popular votes, electoral votes, delegates, superdelegates, precincts, districts and states are all numbers to be crunched. Voters are categorized by factors including age, gender, race, religion and income. Statistical tools such as trends, clusters, margin of error, polls, projections and polling preferences are all used to track candidates and predict winners. Pundits use their knowledge of statistics to select and organize data points so they can spin data to present their candidate in the most favorable light.

•Political commentary and election coverage is biased. MSNBC is called the "Obama News Network" by various blogs. CNN claims neutrality, but bias seeps through: In my view, its commentators Amy Holmes and Roland Martin are blatant Obama supporters; David Gergen and Donna Brazile are also Obama supporters; and Carl Bernstein and Campbell Brown don't like Mrs. Clinton.

What else have I learned? That most Americans vote with their hearts rather than their heads. That voters make decisions out of fear and personal interest rather than out of principle. That all politics is local politics. That when voters like a candidate they will excuse almost anything, and when they don't like a candidate they will parse every word and excuse no sins. I've also learned that the most powerful constituency is the media. And I've learned that true courage is especially hard to find - especially in a politician.

Lynette Long is a psychologist in Bethesda and the author of 20 books. Her e-mail is

Copyright © 2008, The Baltimore Sun (,0,3121832.story)


Mary Ellen said...

Hi Amy-

I could only get through the first three examples you listed before I had to stop reading because I could feel my blood pressure going up.

I was just thinking today (more time to think without a blog to run!) that it seems we've stepped back about 50 years regarding sexism since this race began. It seems now that society has decided that it's ok to be openly sexist and now women are openly targeted with sexist remarks, whereas 50 years ago, sexism existed, but it was quieter. I'm not sure which is worse.

I guess the real disappointment is to see WOMEN making sexist and hateful remarks! When Randi Rhodes did her little hate speech, calling Hillary a fucking whore and Gerry Ferraro a fucking whore AND a racist, I just shook my head. When I see Hillary referred to as a bitch by a woman at a campaign stop of McCain's and he just laughs about it...I shuddered. When the media played that tape of the woman saying it to McCain over and over and over again, only to hear or see journalist on MSNBC chuckling about made me realize that women will never be respected in this so-called democratic society. We see the way women are treated in the Middle's not looking much different here,lately. At what point will beating your wife be accepted by our society? At what point will a boss calling a woman worker a bitch be ignored?

I have three daughters, all who are working hard in their careers. There are times when I wonder if they will ever be able to crash through that glass ceiling. My biggest worry, however, is how much of their rights will be taken away as society (including other women) decide that we can never have a woman president.

Rabble Rouser Reverend Amy said...

Hey, Mary Ellen -

I was just taking to my mom abt this earlier today - how we may have made some strides, but he RAMPANT misogyny and sexism that is not just being tolerated, but GLORIFIED, is reprehensible. And it IS shocking to see, and hear, on a regular basis, as this election has highlighted. SOme of these vodeos that have come out, like the "Mad as Hell" one? I was weeping at the attacks made on Hillary, on US, on all women, for simply being women.

I have to say, the blatant sexism added with the blatant homophobia in this culture is painful - often on a daily basis. My partner and I have already decided that we will move to another country when she retires, one in which we will be treated as full citizens, as full HUMAN BEINGS, under the law. I fear that if Clinton does not get the nomination, and te White House, that LGBT rights will ALSO be set back tremendously. Obama is no friend to us, and McCain? LOL. Um, no. Only CLINTON has a proven track record, over decades, with the LGBT community. She is my hero.

Back to the seixm thing - I have long been concerned that younger women would not realize, or APPRECIATE, how hard we fought for them to have what they have today. They have NO idea what it was like for us, and the struggles in which we engaged, the marching, the sheer amount of WORK we had to do for things to change. Don't even get me started on the whole sports thing (I am a HUGE sports fan). I DETEST when I hear commentators talking abt "men" on the field of play in women's competitions, the "man on" crapola of soccer or basketball, or "man on base" in softball. Makes me NUTS! It SHAPES these women's perceptions of themselves, and all those who are listening, and it is DEMEANING. They are NOT men - they are WOMEN. They are not LESSER men!! Really disturbing because it happens all over the country, every single day.

One of the things this election has highlighted is the difficulty brilliant women face. There is NO QUESTION that Clinton is blindingly brilliant, and ALL of these men - politicians, pundits, commentators, regular voters - feel SO threatened by her. Dammit, I WANT my president to be brilliant!!!! Wasn't having the stupidest president in HISTORY for the past 7 years evidence ENOUGH of why that is a GOOD IDEA?!?! I mean, SERIOUSLY!!!! SHEESH!

And that Clinton has the "audacity" to show Obama up by being so smart, such a "policy wonk," (which I also think is a way to deman her), being so quick on her feet, being SO much more experienced, and IN CONTROL of herself, that it makes them freakin' nuts. Women just shouldn't be that uppity, ya know??

When you can, finish the article. The woman (a psychologist) makes some great points, and really sums up the frustration and anger we are feeling...

Now, I am going to go write on the DCCC request for money why I will not give them one thin DIME after the way Jesse Jackson, Jr, has threatened Clinton's supporters to "fall in line" behind Obama, or risk having a challenger for their seat, and the way people like John Lewis stabbed her in the back...

Good to hear from you!

Mary Ellen said...

Amy- I can't see how Hillary is going to get over this insurmountable battle with the media and the DNC. The DNC is refusing to tell anyone where the "open" meeting is going to be held to decide if FL and MI will have their delegates seated. They know that if they do, people in the thousands will show up to protest the decision to disenfranchise the voters.

Just today I saw an article about how Hillary is staying in the race in order to "make nice" with Obama and bring her supporters over to him. According to this article, one of Hillary's staff said that her supporters must see that the race is played out to the end in order to heal them and bring them back into the fold.

I didn't know what to think. Hillary has stopped attacking Obama and she has been saying more and more that the party must unify.

Not sure if this article was the truth...I'm not big on articles that don't name their sources. However, I did see a Hillary surrogate on Hardball last night who seemed sure that "the party will unify" behind Barack when "the time comes". My heart sank...there was no fight for Hillary, it seems to be a done deal.

I'm sick about it...and will never support the DNC again. Since my party seems to have deserted me, I'll give my votes to the Republicans. Not that I think they are any better, but what difference does it make if I support one lousy candidate over another lousy candidate?

I'm glad I shut down my blog, I don't want to be associated with the Democratic party anymore..

Rabble Rouser Reverend Amy said...

Hey, Mary Ellen -

Yeah, I saw something abt Patti Solus Doyle going over to the Obama camp to make nice. Clinton didn't get rid of her soon enough, IMHO. She was a disaster for the Clinton campaign - maybe she was working for Obama all the way?!?!

I am with you - I will not give the Dems another red cent, and I sure as HELL willnot be voting for Obama. I don't give a CRAP how nice he tries to play nice NOW. Where has he BEEN for the past 9 months while the MSM, his supporters, and HE, engaged n rampant sexism and condescension toward Hillary supporters?? The DNC and Obama think we are all a bunch or airheads who will COMPLETELY forget how they treated us like SHIT for the past 9 months, and rally behind him once he has STOLEN the nomination. HE IS JUST LIKE BUSH!!!! I will never vote for this guy - ever.

You know, I have been a DIEHARD Dem all my life, but this whole thing has really colored my perspective of politics in general. I did not want to believe that the Dems were much closer to the Reps than I wanted to think, but when Pelosi IMMEDIATELY took impeachment off the table for a war criminal, and caved into the Reps at every turn, I started to see they are very close together, indeed. As someone else pointed out in a comment recently, I haven't left the Dem. Party, they have left me. I will not cave into their pushing this horrible candidate down our throats. I held my nose voting for Kerry, I sure as hell won't do THAT again. No way.

That the DNC will not reveal its location for the FL and MI issue is just icing on the crap cake they are serving up this year. Whatever happens to them, they deserve...