Wednesday, June 04, 2008


What do you give the leader of an 18 million strong movement? A little respect.

If Obama supporters want the votes of Clinton supporters, they had better not take them for granted. A Clinton voter and an Obama voter team up to try to help Obama supporters understand Clinton supporters, why they feel so insulted, and how the Obama camp can offer them the real respect they deserve. [...]

The "I told you so-s" of Obama supporters are no more focused on winning in November than the take-my-ball-and-go-home threats of Clinton supporters. Both are symptoms of aggrieved feelings that cannot just be willed away by references to party loyalty or the challenge ahead. [...]

Obama may have won the nomination but it will mean nothing if he does not win the General Election in November, and to do that he needs the votes and even the enthusiastic support of Hillary and her supporters. Clinton's supporters cannot be insulted, bullied, or guilted into enthusiastic support in the fall. [...]

Leaving the question of Hillary's support among blue-collar workers, Hispanics, and Jews for a future discussion, we are talking about Clinton's base among mostly white, mostly college educated, mostly over-40 women, or to put it another way, the women who grew up in the women's movement, and then turned much of that energy toward electing Democrats. In a lot of communities across America, if you call a meeting of the top Democratic officials and reliable campaign workers, that's who will show up. But they will not show up to be insulted, and consciously or unconsciously, Obama supporters have been relentless in insulting this group throughout this extended campaign. [...]

If Clinton's success in battling back in the later primaries is to have any lasting meaning, it should be this - the principles of gender equality that underlie the feminism of both mothers and daughters (and fathers and brothers) must be honored. There are a lot of ways to define feminism, but the core issue is respect for women, and the Democratic Party diminishes itself if it does not stand for the principle that sexism, as much as racism and other forms of prejudice are neither politically correct nor acceptable.

The party must stand together against the current cultural backlash against feminism in a way that lays the groundwork for women (and men) to support the next woman who runs for the presidency without continuing fear of ridicule. In victory or defeat, Clinton and her supporters deserve to be heard regarding their views about the sexist climate of this campaign. The sexism that just as much as racism persists in our culture, and consciously or unconsciously in our political campaigns must be "denounced and rejected." The Chinese proverb, "women hold up half the sky" does not even fully describe the Democratic Party where numerically, women account for substantially more than half of the votes we will need to win in November and this core group of Democrats deserves real respect from the Democratic Party and its new [presumptive] presidential nominee.


FranIAm said...

I agree completely and posted something to say so as well.

Blue Gal said...

I gave her some respect last night, and then this morning her speech at AIPAC. You know I love you BAC, but as you say, Yikes!

You can't end a sixty year war by saying one side is always right and the other is a bunch of terrorists because they don't like being removed from their homes by force. I think she's speaking to her NY base, but it's a strong argument against a Clinton Vice Presidency that her foreign policy is so one sided.

I hope my readers feel that my argument with Senator Clinton has always been based on policy. I've admired the way you covered this campaign and argued on her behalf.

Love always,


Comrade Kevin said...

Compared to the frat house atmosphere over on Kos, I have been kind in my criticisms of Hillary.

Her decision not to concede until Friday (news flash) is not, in my opinion, breathing space but a desire to bigfoot her way onto the ticket.

We have exploded a few myths this cycle.

1. The mistaken notion that somehow a strong woman and a bitch are synonymous. They are not.

The strongest women feel no desire to need any crutch by which to proclaim it. They just are. Strong, that is. And for every short-sighted male who lambasts any woman as a bitch when he offends his sensibilities, there are three who respect women as they are. I'm not sure where this complex of looking to be offended comes from, with all due respect, BAC.

2. By that logic, being ill-tempered and male gets charming rogue points too and I've always thought that kind of logic was faulty. Deeply. I think John Lennon is a genius, but he was also a total bastard and he is not forgiven in my book for that behavior either.

3. Sore losers and sore winners run hand in hand. Your supporters would be gloating too if the opposite result had come to pass. And I would probably be tempted to post a similar argument to yours while I was in the process of grieving the death of my candidate's nomination.

I picked Bill Bradley in 2000 and then reluctantly backed Gore.

I was in Dean's camp in 2004, then reluctantly backed Kerry.

This is just human behavior at work, for better or for worse. Most people have given Clinton more than the respect she deserves and most will support the Democratic nominee in November.

After grumbling about it for a week or so, I'd have swallowed my pride and cast a vote for Clinton too if the roles were reversed.

BAC said...

Fran - thanks!

Blue Gal - You know I love you too. And as a Clinton supporter I think you have been most fair in your coverage. I've had a lot to do today to get ready to go out of town tomorrow, so I haven't had a chance to watch Hillary's AIPAC speech.

I've never had a problem with anyone arguing about policy, what I've been crazed by are people who talk about her pantsuits, or call her any number of names that shall not be repeated here. The sexism, while not unexpected, has still been disappointing when coming from the so-called progressive blogosphere.

Kevin - Again I would ask what do you give someone with the support of 18 million voters ... respect. As a Clinton supporter I'm not, in the words of the Dixie Chicks, "ready to make nice."

What I don't think you understand is just how long women my age have been waiting for this, and to lose by approximately 100 delegates out of what, 4000, is heartbreaking.

It's quite possible there will not be another woman come this close to winning in my lifetime. What you might want to try and understand is that for women my age this means our dream comes to an end.

I think it's completely reasonable to allow Clinton supporters time to grieve. Some of us have spent all, or most, of our adult lives working to get to this point.

Melissa, at Shakesville, has documented more than 100 instances of sexism during the campaign. I'm not sure how that could be viewed as a "complex of looking to be offended" -- the behavior IS offending, and if you are not offended too then you might not be as "feminist" as you claim.

In 2000 I backed Gore, and was upset that his team didn't ask for a total recount in FLA. I also don't understand why they let Bush get away with being the "family values - opposite of Clinton" guy, when of the two men Gore was the most opposite of Clinton.

I backed Dean in 2004 as well, and was upset when the media basically took the election away from him by endlessly playing the "scream" video. Watching that in 2004, and the media bias against Clinton in 2008 has been really tough.

I do think Obama has a lot of work ahead of him to win over the hard core Clinton supporters. And as the article points out, women are the fundamental base of the Democrat party.


Robert Rouse said...

Let's turn this around for a little. What if Hillary had been in Barack's position all this time? Would her supporters have been clamoring for him to quit? Don't think for a second that they would have handled things any differently. That said, I have said all along that my vote and support in the general election would go to the Democratic nominee. My focus has always been on defeating the Republican in November. However, there have been several times when I reached my hand across the aisle to a Hillary supporter and asked them for the same pledge and pulled my arm back to find a bloody stub in place of the hand. We are expected to be magnanimous toward Hillary supporters. That's all fine and dandy, but what about the Hillary supporters? Is it only the Obama people who have to make the first steps? Are you saying that Hillary supporters need to be wooed?

There are some who say if Hillary supporters want to vote against their own self interests, let 'em. If they are so filled with hate and vengeance that they cannot see the big picture then so be it. I, on the other hand do want to reunite the party and I am willing to meet Hillary's supporters half way. But because of the hatred that has been pointed at me for supporting Obama; Because some people have called me naive and stupid for supporting Obama; Because some people have threatened to vote for a Bush clone if Obama won the nomination, I am only asking them to meet me half way. It takes both sides to come together, one side cannot do it alone.

Sue J said...

This complex of looking to be offended

Right. As in, c'mon ladies, lighten up? Can't you take a joke?

So sorry if I don't "get" the demeaning, vulgar, and sophomoric humor of the pundits -- and too many of my fellow Democrats -- to which we've all been subjected this primary season.

Perhaps if there had been some sense of "unity" from the Democratic Party against this blatantly sexist treatment of Hillary Clinton, her supporters would be a little quicker to rush to Obama's side.

It'll come -- unless we're taken for granted as good little Democrats who'll just fall into line. And if we don't, we're accused of needing "wooing"?

I don't "hate" Obama, but I don't think he's the best or strongest Democratic candidate. So you can call it "wooing" if you want, I call it addressing my concerns. As an American voter, don't I deserve that?

John J. said...

Sue, what concerns does McCain address for you that Obama does not?

Going down the bullet list of what Clinton says she wants:
End war in Iraq - clear difference.
Turn economy around - clear difference.
Health care for every American - clear difference.
Every child live up to full potential (I assume education and similar policies) - clear difference.

There is nothing Obama could say that Clinton's supporters will listen to. Obama can't do the "wooing." Only you, Clinton's supporters, can take the next step toward unity. We want you with us. We want to work WITH you to advance OUR causes. But we can't do that if you won't join us.

Sue J said...

There is nothing Obama could say that Clinton's supporters will listen to.

We want you with us.

John, my head -- it hurts. It's like the push-pull of a dysfunctional relationship!

So do I understand that your argument for Obama is that because John McCain is abhorrent, I should run to the Obama camp and forget the offending things I and many other Clinton supporters have endured? That's a pretty weak foundation for a Democratic nominee. John, you and others here have always been respectful in your arguments for Obama. But believe me, I've been called some nasty stuff at some of the big "progressive" blogs, just for defending Hillary Clinton against disgusting remarks that had nothing to do with her as a candidate. I would guess that BAC and others have had the same experience.

I'm willing to give both Obama and Clinton credit right now that they are talking about how to move forward and actually unite this party. It's unrealistic to think that we don't need to see some real leadership right now from both of these Democrats. (I mean, if Obama wants to be POTUS, he surely should be up to job of working with members of his own party.) I have faith in them, if we can all just back off and give them 48 hours. It will be worth it if it truly unites us as a party.

This has been a historic primary in many ways. To expect Clinton's supporters to just pack up and change to a new candidate -- especially given how the week has gone with the DNC mtg on Saturday, Clinton winning big in South Dakota , and the final delegate tallies being so close -- it's just unrealistic.

Sorry for the rant.

John J. said...

Sue, I can only speak for myself in this, not for all Obama supporters. Some, shall we say, overly exuberant supporters don't always realize the effects of what they say. The same can be said for some of Sen. Clinton's supporters and that feedback loop can hit all of us.

I, for my part, have always tried to comport myself with respect and keep my arguments always to the issues. While argumentative, I have not personally attacked either Clinton or those I have argued against. I cannot say the same respect has always been afforded me.

Both sides have said things to the others that were better left unsaid. I don't expect them to be forgotten in a heartbeat, but I do hope that our common goals are strong enough to bring us together and to have us set aside these much smaller issues. The things that unite us are much stronger than the things that divide us.

BAC said...

SueJ - thank you for your rants. I've been traveling all day, and you have expressed exactly what I would say had I been here.

To John J and Robert -- Obama went to Hillary's house tonight. THAT is modeling the behavior his supporters should follow. Right now his supporters DO have to extend themselves more so than Clinton's supporters -- just as it would be the responsibility of Clinton supporters to reach out to Obama supporters had the tables been turned.

I'm anxious to hear the results of their meeting tonight.


Robert Rouse said...

BAC, I have to admit to being confused. Why should we extend ourselves more? What is wrong with meeting half-way? Are Hillary supporters better than us? Are they too good to meet half-way? As someone who ALWAYS said I would vote for Hillary if she got the nomination, why should I go farther than someone who claimed they would NEVER vote for Obama? Hasn't it always been the tradition for the loser to concede and congratulate the winner? I have endured a lot from Hillary supporters. I have had a couple of them call me "stupid" for backing Obama. Some believe all Obama supporters are naive, mindless, "kool-aid" drinking zombies. And now your telling me I have to go farther than they do. Okay, I'll be magnanimous. I will go farther than half-way. And why will I do this? Because I am willing to do whatever it takes to beat McCain.

Sue J said...

Robert, I will vote for Obama in November because he will be the best choice on the ballot. But you need to understand: many Clinton supporters need to hear more from him than "I'm not McCain."

You keep talking about meeting "halfway." But in this historic and unprecedented political climate, it will take unprecedented flexibility and open-mindedness by all of us to achieve the common goals we all have between the Clinton and Obama camps. That means no drawing a line in the sand. No posturing (he only won by 0.1 to 0.2% of the vote, after all). I'm very happy to see that Clinton and Obama understand that, and are meeting and talking to bring us all together.

It gives me a little more faith in the Democratic Party.

BAC said...

Well said again, Sue. Thanks!


mwb said...

Robert: I'm just looking at what you've posted here and just based on that I'm not surprised you fail in your "outreach."

1) "If they are so filled with hate and vengeance that they cannot see the big picture then so be it"

Yes, calling people hateful and vengeance is such a great way to win them over. Bonus points for implying they aren't rational enough to grasp context like you, thus scoring condescension points too.

2) "Because I am willing to do whatever it takes to beat McCain."

Sounds like you don't have any care or concern other than needing something from them. Always a successful tactic too in winning people over. People love being used and discarded.

3) Bonus tidbits.

a) "Okay, I'll be magnanimous."

Nothing wins supporters like implying you are being "noble" even dealing with them.

b) "...pulled my arm back to find a bloody stub in place of the hand."

Here I don't think it's necessarily intentional but you cross the line of implying those you deal with are "animals" and skirt with "castration" imagery.

So let's recap. We have insulting them, being condescending to them and only coming at folks with an agenda.

And you wonder why you get such a reaction?

Robert Rouse said...

I'm sorry about the way my words came out. Perhaps if you understood where I am coming from you might understand better. I used to have several blogger friends who I thought were my friends. Once they discovered I was supporting Obama they started treating me like dirt! They called me naive. They called me stupid. They said I was drinking "the Kool-Aid", they said I was a zombie worshiping at the feet of my new messiah. What did I do? I ignored it. I told them that if Hillary got the nomination that I would gladly support her and vote for her. When I asked they do the same in return, they said there was no way they could ever vote for Obama. So am I supposed to just let all of this roll off my back like nothing happened? From what I'm reading here, it is all Obama supporters fault that Hillary's supporters are threatening to vote for McCain. Just how is it our fault? Is it because I vowed to vote for Clinton if she won? Or is it because I asked for the same in return? Is it because they thought I was stupid, naive and drank Kool-Aid? I have yet for someone to tell me why I, as someone who tried to keep those friendships alive, should grovel at the feet of the people who tried to humiliate me? Yes, I'm a little bitter. Yes, I was being sarcastic. But do any of Hillary's supporters care about people like me who were lambasted for not supporting Hillary? Hell no! They want to insult me for supporting Obama and still want me to crawl to them and beg for forgiveness. Sorry, that's not the way it works! Now explain to me why I should go more than half way after the way I was treated? If you can give me ONE GOOD REASON, I'll gladly do it.

BAC said...

Robert - because very few people like a sore winner.


Robert Rouse said...

I'm not sore about Barack winning. I'm quite happy about it. I'm not sore about the way some of Hillary's supporters are behaving, I'm quite sad about it. I want the party to heal. I want us to come together. I'm sick of the animosity. And to be honest, I don't expect it to be easy. I am still curious about WHY - and I still haven't received an answer to this question - I should do more to start the healing than the people who insulted and ridiculed me? Like I said, however, if that's what it takes, I'm willing to do it. I jut want to know why. If that answer is too much to ask, then let me know and I'll move past it. I understand Hillary's supporters are hurting. I understand their pain. I supported Gore. I supported Dean. I know what it feels like to lose. It's like Jim Murray once said, "Show me a man who is a good loser and I'll show you a man who is playing golf with his boss."

Robert Rouse said...

Okay, the more I thought about it, the more I realized that you are partially right. My latest post goes into more detail, but I am sorry for the way I have acted.

BAC said...

Robert - I've been traveling all day, as my flight was delayed. I'm glad to see your last post here. Had it not been here I might have asked -- in response to "if that's what it takes, I'm willing to do it" ... "When?"

Your candidate of choice won. Mine didn't. It is, in my opinion, incumbent upon you to reach out to me. I didn't get what I wanted, you did.

What has happened in the past cannot be changed. How we deal with each other in the future can.

And let me give you one tip. Comments like these won't help: "I never once felt like switching sides. I have way too much common sense for that."

"If Hillary can’t be president, then neither can Obama. Most of us realize how childish and selfish this sounds..."