When I first saw this press release from NOW-NY, I was sufficiently worried that it might be a joke that I called NOW-NY to ask. It was after 4:30, though, and I haven't heard back. Ben Smith from Politico claims to have confirmed its authenticity, though. Here it is, in all its glory:
"Women have just experienced the ultimate betrayal. Senator Kennedy’s endorsement of Hillary Clinton’s opponent in the Democratic presidential primary campaign has really hit women hard. Women have forgiven Kennedy, stuck up for him, stood by him, hushed the fact that he was late in his support of Title IX, the ERA, the Family Leave and Medical Act to name a few. Women have buried their anger that his support for the compromises in No Child Left Behind and the Medicare bogus drug benefit brought us the passage of these flawed bills. We have thanked him for his ardent support of many civil rights bills, BUT women are always waiting in the wings.
And now the greatest betrayal! We are repaid with his abandonment! He’s picked the new guy over us. He’s joined the list of progressive white men who can’t or won’t handle the prospect of a woman president who is Hillary Clinton (they will of course say they support a woman president, just not “this” one). “They” are Howard Dean and Jim Dean (Yup! That’s Howard’s brother) who run DFA (that’s the group and list from the Dean campaign that we women helped start and grow). They are Alternet, Progressive Democrats of America, democrats.com, Kucinich lovers and all the other groups that take women's money, say they’ll do feminist and women’s rights issues one of these days, and conveniently forget to mention women and children when they talk about poverty or human needs or America’s future or whatever.
This latest move by Kennedy, is so telling about the status of and respect for women’s rights, women’s voices, women’s equality, women’s authority and our ability – indeed, our obligation - to promote and earn and deserve and elect, unabashedly, a President that is the first woman after centuries of men who “know what’s best for us.”"
Wow. Leave aside the part about the "greatest betrayal" -- surely someone, somewhere in the history of the fight for women's rights must have done something worse than supporting a male candidate who is fully committed to feminism. As a feminist, I find it infuriating that NOW-NY, or any other organization, would presume to say that not supporting their favored candidate is a betrayal of feminism, at least in this case.
In some situations, I could see their point. If, for instance, Ted Kennedy had come down in favor of some candidate who had sworn to appoint only right-wing judges to the Supreme Court, or to oppose any federal funding for any abortion, or something, fine. Where the issues are clear and the candidates have massive differences on feminist issues, I don't have a problem with feminist groups deciding that supporting a given candidate is not what feminists do. But that's not the situation we're in.
Clinton and Obama have gotten solid 100% ratings from NARAL and Planned Parenthood (Obama also gets 100 from the National Family Planning & Reproductive Health Association for 2005-6, while Clinton gets 93; she was 100 through 2004, however.) Both Clinton and Obama were with NOW 100% of the time in 2006; in 2005, NOW gave Obama a 91 and Clinton a 96. I was somewhat surprised to find that Obama did slightly better than Clinton on the Children's Defense Fund's ratings: Clinton has a perfect score until 2006, when she got a 90; Obama has consistent 100s.
And it's not just ratings. Consider Obama's statement on the 35th anniversary of Roe, which I noticed largely because of comments by Redstocking. After talking about the importance of Roe, and his own record on choice, Obama writes:
""When South Dakota passed a law banning all abortions in a direct effort to have Roe overruled, I was the only candidate for President to raise money to help the citizens of South Dakota repeal that law. When anti-choice protesters blocked the opening of an Illinois Planned Parenthood clinic in a community where affordable health care is in short supply, I was the only candidate for President who spoke out against it. And I will continue to defend this right by passing the Freedom of Choice Act as president.
"Moreover, I believe in and have supported common-sense solutions like increasing access to affordable birth control to help prevent unintended pregnancies. In the Illinois state Senate, when Congress failed to require insurance plans to cover FDA-approved contraceptives, I made sure those contraceptives were covered for women in Illinois. In the U.S. Senate, I've worked with Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO) on a bill that would make birth control more affordable for low-income and college women, and introduced the Senate version of Representative Hilda Solis’ bill to reduce unintended pregnancies in communities of color. As President, I will improve access to affordable health care and work to ensure that our teens are getting the information and services they need to stay safe and healthy.
"But we also know that Roe v. Wade is about more than a woman’s right to choose; it’s about equality. It’s about whether our daughters are going to have the same opportunities as our sons. And so to truly honor that decision, we need to update the social contract so that women can free themselves, and their children, from violent relationships; so that a mom can stay home with a sick child without getting a pink slip; so that she can go to work knowing that there’s affordable, quality childcare for her children; and so that the American dream is within reach for every family in this country. This anniversary reminds us that it’s not enough to protect the gains of the past – we have to build a future that’s filled with hope and possibility for all Americans.""
It's nutty to suggest that no feminist in good standing can support a candidate with that kind of record. I'm glad that national NOW has responded differently, and that feminist bloggers are reacting to NOW-NY's press release with derision. Slamming people when they support one feminist candidate over another is not what feminism is about.
Side note: Over at RedState, Erick does for the "Uglification and Derision" school of sexism what NOW-NY does for feminism:
"As the Clintons and their supporters continue their destruction of the Democratic Party, we see the latest salvo fired from the thighs of ugly nags.
From the nether regions that see no men, New York's National Association of Gals is out bashing Teddy Kennedy for endorsing Barack Obama instead of Hillary Clinton. (...)
Maybe if Janet Reno will endorse Hillary,Since Janet Reno endorsed Hillary that should negate this one man's physical battery against womankind."
It must be cool to be able to fire press releases from between one's thighs. I had heard vague reports of ping pong balls, but press releases are new to me. One reason to read Erick: how else would I find out about things like this?
UPDATE: Via Andrew Sullivan, there's more. Specifically, the last press release from NOW-NY, about one of the debates, called "Psychological Gang Bang of Hillary is Proof We Need a Woman President".
There are things I might call a psychological gang-bang. Nothing that has happened to Hillary Clinton in any debate is among them, any more than the criticism Obama has taken from other campaigns is a psychological lynching.