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February 16, 2008

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WTF?! People are getting bent out of shape because Obama used the word 'periodically'? One really has to stretch and really want the insult to be there to find it. Having a good vocabulary is sexist apparently.

I guess we've reached that stage in the process where anything and everything that can possibly be construed as an attack will be--by both sides. The gnashing of teeth and rending of hair over Clinton's "attack ad" in Wisconsin over not scheduling a debate was just as silly as this is, far as I can tell.

I readily admit that I may be in a "pox on both your houses" mood because I was an Edwards supporter and don't see a huge difference between Obama and Clinton on the issues--I'll happily vote for either in November without a second's hesitation--but it seems to me that we really have entered that hypersensitive part of the campaign that drives me nuts and makes me want to retreat to a happy place filled with Belgian beer.

Mmmmm, beer. Can I come?

"But what Obama said is not sexist"

But it is condescending and petulant... and in character.

I used to spend a fair amount of time at Marsh's site, but I just can't read it any more. It all "unfair attacks," or "sexist attacks," or "media attacks" or "unfair sexist media attacks" all the time. Not to say those things haven't happened, but crimeny, get a grip! And very few have actually come from the Obama camp (certainly no more than those aimed at Obama from Clinton's side). And the comments section? Un-bloody-readable.

To be honest, I spent a good minute trying to figure out what the supposed "sexist" part of Obama's comment was. And I didn't even figure it out until I read Vincent's comment! This is just silliness.

I second this post and I second Jay Jerome about Taylor Marsh' comment section. You find more variety of thought at a Fidel Castro Dinner hosted by Fidel.

Hillary supporters are drowning themselves in self-pity, self-righteousness, and frustration. And crazily, since she still could win the nomination.

Hillary attributed Obama's remarks after defeating him in New Hampshire to Obama's "frustration". Does that mean, that she was "petulant" and "condescending"?

Hillary and Bill were people I admired and voted for up until her absurd attempt to define Obama as a Republican and Bill's (in fact) petulant, condescending, angry attacks on Obama's "Fairy Tale" and "Jesse Jackson" like victory.

Why didn't Bill compare Senator Obama to Senator Edwards who won in 2004, rather than a man 20 and 24 years earlier who had never held office? Gee, I wonder? What do Obama and Jackson have in common? Not progressive politics, because Obama is a Republican....hmmm.

It cannot be that both men are black, could it? Their race? Do you think?

To be fair, the people in Taylor Marsh's comment section are no more representative of Clinton supporters than Freepers are representative of conservatives.

"Mmmmm, beer. Can I come?"

That's a little personal, I think.

"I second this post and I second Jay Jerome about Taylor Marsh' comment section."

Jay Jerome wrote nothing about Taylor Marsh' comment section. Perhaps you are misreading attributions, which are under comments, not on top of them, and you're trying to second Mike P.'s comment?

Went over my head too. That said, I wish Obama hadn't said it, because it's obvious that the adoring gangs on both sides are in tight rectum mode and are holding grudges. (Can you tell I voted for Edwards?).

From where I am either is as acceptable as the other. Of course I don't expect anything actually positive out of the next president (with the constraints he/she are going to experience he/she are almost certain to be a one-term failure) but neither will actively make things worse.

Not to be overly personal, but the woman is 60 years old, so it can't mean that. Period.

Jerome: It's condescending, but it is not petulant.

This is an interesting kind of generational problem with respect to feminism, the civil rights movement, and so forth.

On the one hand, it is very good to have people paying attention to language and the subtle kinds of discrimination in language. And even well-meaning people have biases that they didn't realize they had.

On the other hand, if every case of speaking of claws coming out generates outrage and accusation that the speaker is sexist, it's going to sicken people who are otherwise completely sympathetic. And, worst of all, it actually reinforces some of the silly stereotypes out there.

Hilzoy,

"... the idea that women are no good at science by slipping in a sly allusion to the Periodic Table.

Periodically, it occurs to me that it is one of the universe's rather flaccid practical jokes that the atomic number of the element thulium somehow landed on 69.

This is an issue.... not because of the unconscious sexism that has been displayed by Obama on numerous occasions, but because of the malicious campaign accusing the Clinton of exploiting race -- that was aided and abetted by Obama's own campaign.

If his campaign thinks its okay to put out memos parsing the language of every Clinton supporter for "racial" content, then Obama has to make sure that he never says anything that can be parsed into a sexist comment -- or pay the consequences.

If Obama wants to use "Clinton rules" against Hillary, then he damn well better be ready for those same rules to be applied to him.

So stop making excuses, Hilzoy, and start demanding that either Obama admit that his campaign played up the "Clinton=racist" angle to gain advantage in South Carolina, or demand that he watch every single word he says from now on....

This is an issue.... not because of the unconscious sexism that has been displayed by Obama on numerous occasions, but because of the malicious campaign accusing the Clinton of exploiting race -- that was aided and abetted by Obama's own campaign.

Given that this site is "known" as a haven for Obama supporters, perhaps some documentation would be helpful. Hopefully, MUCH stronger than the "Obama praises Reagan" non-issue. (In other words, don't insult our intelligence).

"(In other words, don't insult our intelligence)."

To be consistent, how about some documentation of the collective intelligence referred to?

p.lukasiak: If his campaign thinks its okay to put out memos parsing the language of every Clinton supporter for "racial" content, then Obama has to make sure that he never says anything that can be parsed into a sexist comment -- or pay the consequences.

From the Fallacy Files:

Tu Quoque is a very common fallacy in which one attempts to defend oneself or another from criticism by turning the critique back against the accuser. This is a classic Red Herring since whether the accuser is guilty of the same, or a similar, wrong is irrelevant to the truth of the original charge. However, as a diversionary tactic, Tu Quoque can be very effective, since the accuser is put on the defensive, and frequently feels compelled to defend against the accusation.

Jesus. Hopefully the circular firing squad will soon run out of ammunition...

To be consistent, how about some documentation of the collective intelligence referred to?

Evidence first.

(Common courtesy, neh?)

To be consistent, how about some documentation of the collective intelligence referred to?

Would ignoring your comments from now on count as proof?

I'd like to underscore a very important point you made: These baseless accusations do undermine the very real issue of sexism in general and sexism directed at Senator Clinton in particular. It trivializes the charge.

After Jay Jerome's recent warning for his comment to Gary Farber in another thread, I think his comment above may be just a bit over the line as well. It seems he's not capable of commenting civilly.

tomj: "Hillary attributed Obama's remarks after defeating him in New Hampshire to Obama's "frustration". Does that mean, that she was "petulant" and "condescending"?"

I don't know... Find a video of it, so we can judge her tone from it. In Obama's video above it's apparent he's sulkingly petulant-- poor little baby.

"So stop making excuses, Hilzoy, and start demanding that either Obama admit that his campaign played up the 'Clinton=racist' angle to gain advantage in South Carolina, or demand that he watch every single word he says from now on...."

"Played up" is so vague as to be nearly meaningless, absent a specific definition of what behavior is and isn't allowed.

Rules need to be clearly defined and understandable for them to be followed, and thus for them to be reasonable rules at all.

If you could offer a definition of what level of "playing up the 'Clinton=racist' angle" is acceptable highlighting of questionable aspects of certain statements or acts, and what is unacceptable "playing up," we could consider the question of whether Obama or high-level members of his campaign did one or the other.

But I don't know how the question could be considered without being specific. Unless it's just me who isn't clear on what behaviors do and don't fall under "playing up."

I'd also note that in my world, addressing people with imperatives, and giving them orders ("stop making excuses, Hilzoy, and start demanding [...], or demand [....]") isn't terribly polite. Would you really welcome being addressed by someone giving you orders who isn't in a position of authority over you?

Jay Jerome wrote: "I don't know... Find a video of it, so we can judge her tone from it. In Obama's video above it's apparent he's sulkingly petulant-- poor little baby."

The Clinton campaign's description of Obama as having won only unimportant states is pretty much a textbook case of being sulkingly petulant.

"poor little baby."

I'm curious, Jay Jerome: why do you consider this persuasive language?

Set aside the issue, entirely, please. If someone used this phrase -- and you like to enage in this sort of usage quite a bit -- to describe someone you admired -- perhaps Hillary Clinton, or perhaps anyone you admired -- would you read or hear it, and then think "oh, hmm, I hadn't considered that; maybe I should rethink my opinion of [X]?"

Would someone engaging in that kind of language and behavior be doing something that impresses you? Makes you think better of them? Or worse?

I'm quite curious as to why someone would choose this rhetorical strategy. Can you explain what it is you think it accomplishes?

Thanks, if so.

I'm quite curious as to why someone would choose this rhetorical strategy. Can you explain what it is you think it accomplishes?

Ironically, the very words I'd use to describe this behavior are 'petulant' and 'babyish'. 'Condescending' isn't far off, either.

I suspect that directly querying Jay will just produce more deflections; if we really want to know why he's behaving this way, we need a quick substitution:

So Jay, if Obama is behaving childishly, what's his motivation?

phil: "After Jay Jerome's recent warning for his comment to Gary Farber in another thread, I think his comment above may be just a bit over the line as well. It seems he's not capable of commenting civilly."

What's wrong with asking someone for proof of an assertion?

The 'don't insult our intelligence' refrain has been used over and over by posters here, generally when someone else who is pro-Hillary or anti-Obama makes an assertion they don't agree with but can't refute with specifics. It is in fact a condescending way to tell someone else they don't know what they're talking about: a reverse insult on their intelligence.

Civility is a two way street. And if someone uncivilly insinuates another poster has 'insulted their intelligence' they should have the civility to address specifics, and not spout condescending reverse insults themselves.

Actually Jay, I believe gwangung asked you not to insult people's intelligence because you made assertions without any explanation, evidence or links. Is it so much to ask for? It is called contributing to a discussion so we can all make the most informed decision. Blind assertions do not help. They waste our time.

It amazes me how easily we get offended these days, especially when we really want to.


Actually Jay, I believe gwangung asked you not to insult people's intelligence because you made assertions without any explanation, evidence or links.

To be precise, I didn't ask that of Jay specifically. But, generally, asking for and getting substantive material is not insulting anyone's intelligence.

What I consider insulting my intelligence is for someone to say that a candidate says "X", and when I look at the evidence, he clearly says "Y", and for that someone to continue he says "X".

Now, for someone to be given several opportunities to present supporting evidence, and that someone not taking the opportunity, I'd call that something else.

"But what Obama said is not sexist. And it demeans every serious complaint about sexism to suggest that it is."

Thank you, hilzoy. I think BTD is more than a little loopy when it comes to Hillary Clinton. It's one thing to not be totally objective. It's another to lose all your common sense.

I plan to keep my eyes on the prize: a Democrat in the White House. So all I care about is electability. This is just another Rove ploy--the faux outrage over a faux incident. I think that its show how dated the Clinton campaign's perspective is. I think that most women are past the getting shrill about everything stage of feminism.

I am, anyway.

The only thing that bothers me about it is that is shows that Obama is losing his cool a little. He is usually more diginified and less personal in his speech.

Some context I've found, although I've not yet seen any kind of full transcript: an AP story:

[...] During a news conference, he was asked about Clinton's accusation that he watered down a bill regulating the nuclear industry. He pointed out that Clinton is criticizing him for a bill she voted for and touted on her Web site.

"I understand that Senator Clinton, periodically when she's feeling down, launches attacks as a way of trying to boost her appeal," he told reporters.

This is the ad he was responding to.

Another account:

[...] Obama also responded yesterday to Clinton's new line of attack that she offers solutions, not just promises and speeches like Obama, by saying he has proved during his career that he can bring substantive change. He also hit back by turning around her argument that "speeches don't put food on the table."

"She's right," he said in Milwaukee. "Speeches alone don't do anything. But you know what, neither do negative attacks."

"Her supporting NAFTA didn't give jobs to the American people," Obama said of the North American Free Trade Agreement implemented while Bill Clinton was in the White House. "Hollering at Republicans and engaging in petty, partisan politics didn't help healthcare get done."

He also suggested Clinton's attacks were made out of desperation because his campaign is ahead. "I understand that Senator Clinton, periodically when she's feeling down, launches attacks as a way of trying to boost her appeal," he said. "But I think this kind of gamesmanship is not what the American people are looking for."

Not directly related, but a bit more general background on the back and forths.

Thanks, gary. it is obvious tome anyway that Obama meant that Clinton attacks in the time periods after a setback. Which is tru. Shhe attacked after Iowa and during Georgia, when she was, to her surprise, not getting the nomiation on a platter. After the artcks backfires she played nice for awhilr. Then Obama had his big winning streak and back she goes on the attack.

So all this stuff about sexism is just a Rove-style faux outrage binge.

I wish I was confident that Democrats wouldn't fall for it.

"periodically when she's feeling down... ."

I sthat when a magazine prints something negative?

Anyway, this reminds me of when Kerry mentioned Cheney's daughter in the debates. There was nothing incorrect about what he said, and it was even done in a positive way. Yet it became a negative issue with Kerry ending up being considered mean for bringing it up.

Actually, looking at the statement itself, ir is an accurate statement. That is exactly what Clinton does when she is put on the defensive. She did it in the 90's and she does it now. That's a statement of fact (insofar as such things can be facts) but it is not necessarily a negative comment. And it is definitely not sexist or petulant.

Listening to Obama, it is apparent to me that he is disappointed that the campaign has turned in this direction. Definitely not petulant. Whne Clinton made her comment about Obama being frustrated she had a Chesire Cat grin on her face. That is condescending.

Since just about everybody here agrees that there is little difference between the two on domestic policy (not enough to turn an election on) personality and approach to things matters.

Some people are turned off by Clinton's negative approach, some people are turned off by Obama's approach of listening and trying to work with the opposing side.

So be it. And I sincerely hope that Jay Jerome is not indicative of the average Clinton supporter and they can bring to the debate reasoned arguements instead of petulant, condescending comments.

BTW, probably to be more accurate and fair to Clinton (as people on this side are wont to do) the term "Clinton's negative approach" should be changed to "Clinton's confrontational approach."

"Anyway, this reminds me of when Kerry mentioned Cheney's daughter in the debates."

Edwards, in the Veep debate.

What I enjoy is that the folks at Talk Left thought anyone who felt that the Clinton camp was pushing the "he's black!" as a negative line into the public sphere was just being too sensitive.

Even us black folks who live with that kind of subtle attack on a daily basis were told @ TL that we were wrong and too sensitive.

But this is clearly sexism. Funny stuff.

No Kerry. Edwrads mentioned it and there was no problem. The Kerry brought it up in the same debate where Bush denied ever saying that he didn't think that much about bin Ladin. They attacked Kerry for his statement to draw attention from Bush's lie.

Poor message control. Someone at the Clinton campaign really needs to send around a polite request to BTD, Talkleft, Taylor Marsh, et al., politely asking them to think twice before posting while high. This isn't doing them any favors.

I did learn today that I am a complete sexist, and probably a misogynist, because I didn't find this comment sexist.

TalkLeft orthodoxy is very strong and intolerant of dissent.

I was UN-surprised to learn that BTD is Armando. Armando was an unreasonable, strident provocateur over the dKos; I'm just sorry to see him find a home at TalkLeft, which I remember as being one of the more reasonable progressive sites. I am surprised to see (read?) Taylor Marsh go completely off the deep end, though I'm not familiar with her enough to know if she's always been a thin-skin/thinner-ice sort.

It seems to me that Left Blogostan is going through a process similar to the one Right Blogostan went through; i.e., sites and individuals like TL/BTD, Taylor Marsh, etc., becoming concentrated meeting places for Manufactured Outrage and Deliberate Misinterpretation, thus attracting the nuttier commentators and driving away the less nutty to less shrill sites.

The timing's a little strange, because the Right waited until its ideology and leadership were discredited to precipitate out like that, while the Left is doing so on the eve (presumably) of electoral success.

I don't know if that's significant in any way. It could simply be that the process is quicker now, as processes generally are after their first run-through.

I refuse to tell Lambert this on his own site, but Lambert, WE GET IT. You are against Obama because he uses too many right-wing talking points. Taking a single word out of proportion does not bolster your argument.

I hope that after the election all the TalkLeft commenters who have nothing better to do than slam Obama will move on to other sites. Armando is far better than they are and has knocked all the candidates this season.

For example, Armando said that both Obama and Clinton were "good decent progressives", that Obama "wants to be progressive", and that Obama could be FDR if he chose to. Not every one of his commenters would subscribe to all of that.

Correction:
I don't recall Armando knocking Chris Dodd, his original candidate.

What flyerhawk said, only I am a woman! This is so ridiculous as to not bear commenting on. Let's give it a rest and leave it to the nutters to keep worrying it to death. Groan!

John Miller is right that the outrage occurred after Kerry mentioned Cheney's daughter in an answer about whether homosexuality is a choice, and it retroactively tainted Edwards's comments in the VP debate, which no one complained about at the time.

"BTD, predictably, thinks that Obama should apologize for his "sexist remarks". Taylor Marsh wonders: "

Has anyone wandered over to Larry Johnson's blog lately? He's basically accused Obama of supporting terrorists and being friends and in bed with terrorists, drops the drug innuendo ect., etc. If anyone's lobbing baseless attacks it's him.

I agree with your take completely, Hilzoy (and sorry about that incident - good lord).

Brian pretty much sums up my perspective.

I'm not a big fan of Clinton due to her policies and rhetoric, but I hate the sexist attacks on her. There are dog-whistle speeches out there, but this ain't one of them. (It sure ain't an effective one, if so many people didn't perk up to the signal!)

I also don't buy most of the charges that the Clintons have race-baited, not that some supporters haven't said ugly things. To my eyes, there have been some overblown charges flying around against both of these candidates, and I don't find it helpful, because it tends to drive out legitimate discussion.

Thank you, hilzoy. Loose and baseless accusations of sexism (or racism) have become just so much political toxins. (Like Jeff Goldstein insisting for years that those who opposed the war in Iraq don't care about "brown people." But the left can be as stoopid.) You are virtually always teeming with common sense, and this post is no exception.

Like Jeff Goldstein insisting for years that those who opposed the war in Iraq don't care about "brown people."

You can look a bit higher than Goldstein for that sort of accusation of racism:

Some of the debate really center around the fact that people don't believe Iraq can be free; that if you're Muslim, or perhaps brown-skinned, you can’t be self-governing and free. I strongly disagree with that.

Also:

There's a lot of people in the world who don’t believe that people whose skin color may not be the same as ours can be free and self-govern. I reject that. I reject that strongly. I believe that people who practice the Muslim faith can self-govern. I believe that people whose skins aren't necessarily -- are a different color than white can self-govern.

But as long as the president is bringing up racism, what's that about skin color "not the same as ours"? Does the guy think (at least subconsciously) that he's president only of white people, or only talking to them, or what?

"Does the guy think (at least subconsciously) that he's president only of white people, or only talking to them, or what?"

He was referring to the blue skins, orange skins, and purple skins.

Obviously. He's and his supporters are always talking about "will".

"Has anyone wandered over to Larry Johnson's blog lately? He's basically accused Obama of supporting terrorists and being friends and in bed with terrorists, drops the drug innuendo ect., etc."

Meanwhile, Hillary got Bill to pardon the FALN terrorists.

Yet it became a negative issue with Kerry ending up being considered mean for bringing it up.

Only by people who had zero intention of voting for him.

Jay Jerome, The 'don't insult our intelligence' refrain has been used over and over by posters here, generally when someone else who is pro-Hillary or anti-Obama makes an assertion they don't agree with but can't refute with specifics.

a. Imputing sexism to Obama's word choice based on a single sentence is no more than armchair mind-reading; since it's a prima facie non-falsifiable assertion itself, the objection that responses are non-substantive is, in fact, meaningless, and indeed even hypocritical. The applicable logical fallacy is negative proof.

b. FWIW, etymology of "period," from dictionary.com:

1413, "course or extent of time," from M.L. periodus "recurring portion, cycle," from L. periodus "a complete sentence," also "cycle of the Greek games," from Gk. periodos "rounded sentence, cycle, circuit, period of time," lit. "going around," from peri- "around" + hodos "a going, way, journey" (see cede). Sense of "repeated cycle of events" led to that of "interval of time." Meaning "dot marking end of a sentence" first recorded 1609, from similar use in M.L. Sense of "menstruation" dates from 1822. Educational sense of "portion of time set apart for a lesson" is from 1876. Sporting sense attested from 1898.
Strictly speaking, the sense of the word being attributed to Obama is significantly more attenuated, and, more to the point, entirely contrary to all actual rules of usage -- "period" in the medical sense is a noun; there is no adverb analogue; the word is derived from a strictly chronological root that's antecedent to the imputed meaning by a good four hundred years.

c. You can't make the argument that the Obama defenders are the ones making baseless assertions without first meeting even a minimal burden of persuasion in support of this amateur psychoanalysis. For example, prior instances of Obama's purported sexism -- hopefully a little bit less ridiculous than this one -- would probably qualify. Until you meet that basic precondition, please, stop insulting everyone's intelligence. This schtick is getting tired and it's reaching the point where I'm going to agree that it's trolling.

At a minimum, I think this sort of thing generally lowers the level of discourse here. Having to fight just to maintain the baseline for non-frivolous argument every time we want to discuss this topic comes at the price of more productive, less vitriolic discussions.

Adam's post reminds me of 1066 And All That, where, at the end of the book, history came to a period.

Charley, re the Kerry incident. It served its purpos dominated the news cycle for a week and totally dropped the much more serious omission, lie, whatever by Bush off the scene.

Certainly not sexist. Uncharacteristically poor word choice, however, as he appears to have meant "repeatedly," not "periodically," and "down in the polls," not "feeling down." Clearly, a person who expresses him or herself so inaccurately is disqualified from the Presidency.

:)

I think some of the wopersons alleging sexist intent should realize that sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

That, by the way, is not an allusion to Monica Lewinsky and should not be so interpreted.

I'm just trying to call a shovel a shovel.

I guess the rule now is that when someone says, " Periodically," the statement that follows is sexist....

Periodically, Clinton supporters see sexism where none is intended, just as periodically, Obama supporters see racism where none is intended.

""I'm not some rape victim who's going to sit here and take it!""

Who the hell talks like that? At this point you have to start wondering if Matthews has been a bit physically forceful with women in the past if he thinks this is ok to say, especially in a professional setting.

I love the new Clinton supporter line: accusations of racism in good faith = accusations of sexism in bad faith. I hate it when Republicans try to turn accusations of racism into acts are morally repugnant as racism itself. The fact that some Democrats are now doing it is just sad. The Clinton campaign is tearing down much of the reasons I have for being a Democrat while trying to prop itself up.

I'll grant you, "periodically" and "feeling down" aren't sexist. But then, how are "fairy tale" and "hit job" racist?

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