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January 12, 2008

Comments

One point about Obama is that in the context of his campaign I find the McClurkin stuff and the "present" votes on choice in the IL senate and "crisis" and anti-mandates and "play chicken with our troops" and Kerry-Feingold and some of the religious stuff harder to write off as expediency.

S Brennan: Read my argument. My point is that what most people consider substantive discussion (wonkishness) is an exercise at this point.

I'm an Obama guy because:

(1) I think he will win, whereas I think people will climb off their deathbeds to make it their last act on our fair planet to cast a vote against HRC (I just remember all that utterly irrational hatred and animosity against her -- it has not gone away, it is only hiding)

(2) I think he might bring a more interesting blend of people to Washington, whereas I think HRC will bring the 92-00 government-in-exile back.

(3) I know what triangulation as a political strategy is like. people seem to forget that Clinton sucked the life out of progressive politics, which was dead by '00. The party had collapsed, all the branches of government had been lost, and it was the result of a Presidential leadership that sought to position itself as a buffer against its own party. Clinton demoralized the Democrats. He was a successful president, but on his own terms, and at the expense of the organization around him. When I talk and think of the Clintons as having a very self-interested and selfish style of politics, it is this which is at the back of my mind. Really, it took George W Bush to bring any semblance of a mobilized Left back to American politics. But if it were not for eight years of Clinton leaving the party in disarray, we would not have had this idiot to contend with. We would not have had this Iraq war.

"is that Obama has an eight-year record in the Illinois State Senate: examine it"

Did the minority in that Illinois session block whatever, 50-75% of all majority legislation? Somehow electing Senators Obama & Durbin I doubt that Illinois is as ideologically divided at median as the US Senate appears to be.

The 35-0 etc is impressive, but I'm sorry, I lack faith enough to believe that Obama will get my Senator Cornyn to sign on to completely progressive legislation with his magic powers. My best guess is that such legislation would be generally progressive with some reactionary & harmful riders & elements.

We have seen that the Republican Senate just doesn't care if anything gets passed, and will be likely even more obdurate as a smaller minority under a Democratic President. So I don't see why John Cornyn wouldn't have the negotiating advantage over Obama in two ways: 1) getting something passed, 2) getting something passed that looks bipartisan. Since John Cornyn, if past predicts future in any way, doesn't care if anything gets passed, especially legislation that is generally progressive, he will demand a lot.

Finally if Obama goes past Ted Kennedy's objections to get something passed with John Cornyn, he has alienated his own party.

Bi-partisanship as the governing principle is simpy bad news.

The present votes on the IL Senate on choice were requested by Planned Parenthood & the director of IL Planned Parenthood has recorded an ad to that effect. But look, I really don't have the time for this. If you want to carefully examine attacks on Clinton for fairness & not Obama that's your business. I should be either doing work or calling Nevada.

S Brennan: complaints about the candidates are fine - I have no problem with a thread full of comments like your last one of 2:40 - but I wish you wouldn't keep throwing in the snide insults about Kool-Aid drinkers, wine and cheese, etc. every few posts. It makes you sound like you're hanging around here just to vent contempt for the other posters.

"The present votes on the IL Senate on choice were requested by Planned Parenthood"

Sure, and there were good pro-choice organizations on the other side. But, well, Obama cast that vote. See "expediency".

"But look, I really don't have the time for this."

Well, ok.

"If you want to carefully examine attacks on Clinton for fairness & not Obama that's your business."

If you can't be bothered to examine attacks on Clinton for fairness, this is hypocritical - but then it's probably just that you're too busy. However, accusing me of unfairness because we have substantive differences which you don't have time to argue - well, that's unfair.

Hob,

This web site is so transparently PRO-OBAMA all the time [see Pub's last three post] that you guys have given up even trying to APPEAR fair hence the Kool-Aid verbiage. The Wine and Cheese thing comes from the Obama demographic...I know Obama folks like to think they are above the crowd...I'm just letting you ordinary people think so too.

I been writing on Pub's post since Legal Fiction...so I know Pub's thoughts on a lot of subjects and his Obama obsession is troubling.

"I lack faith enough to believe that Obama will get my Senator Cornyn to sign on to completely progressive legislation with his magic powers."

I agree, but -- and I'm not trying to persuade you you are wrong, Bob -- since no Democratic President is going to make the crazies stop being crazy -- all that can be done is affect them on the margins, -- I don't see that as any kind of reason to vote against Obama. He also can't turn back the tide, but neither can anyone else.

"Bi-partisanship as the governing principle is simpy bad news."

I agree, but in my view Obama has plenty of other important principles, and I don't see sufficient reason to be convinced that bi-partisanship would be an over-riding principle.

That's the overt fear, clearly; I understand it; I'm not saying it comes from nowhere: Obama's rhetoric encourages lots of such worry. But my sense of his life is that such worry really isn't called for.

Admittedly, this is pretty much intuition, and not something absolutely provable, but I simply don't see, looking at his life, that it seems the most likely hypothesis that he's just going to be rolled up like a rug by the Republicans.

Neither do I think Clinton or Edwards would be, or would be ineffective; I like Edwards' confrontationalism very much, although I'd also like as much to be able to see into alternative futures to check how he'd work that as President, just as much as I'd like to know how Clinton or Obama would work out.

I'm sure not trying to discourage anyone from supporting Edwards!

But I'm moderately to mildly optimistic in all cases.

In the end, all any of can do is go with our own opinion and reasons and feelings, of course.

eermm... S Brennan... did you read this very post of Publius? I wouldn't say this site is transparently pro Obama when you have people thoroughly examining their own views about him.

I know Obama folks like to think they are above the crowd...I'm just letting you ordinary people think so too.

impressive. and what am i thinking... right now?

This web site is so transparently PRO-OBAMA all the time [see Pub's last three post] that you guys have given up even trying to APPEAR fair hence the Kool-Aid verbiage.

Um...why is this a problem?

There are individuals who run this site. They have opinions and likes. Why is it a problem for them to state this?

Let me help: "This web site is so transparently [...]" not sentient, and not even an object, that it cannot possess opinions, or engage in thought: only individual humans can do that.

And each individual's opinions here are their own. You are exactly as much part of "this web site" as anyone else.

HTH.

My endorsement may not help his cause, but I find Ara's words most wise.

I'm just letting you ordinary people think so too.

impressive. and what am i thinking... right now?

I'm afraid you're misreading, cleek. You're under the control of S Brennan's orbital mind control satellites. You ordinary people can only think what he lets you.

Fortunately, as a Vulcan, I am immune.

Gary, you're supposed to trail that off... you know... "fortunately ... I ... ammm immun....."

"eermm... S Brennan... did you read this very post of Publius? I wouldn't say this site is transparently pro Obama when you have people thoroughly examining their own views about him." Posted by: DL

Yes DL,

I did, I'd file this post under:

Pro Obama, Strawman, Argument, Publis uses.

You need to invite a feminist to be a regular contributor

I'm pretty sure Hilzoy should be at least slightly insulted by this.

Earlier today I made an argument that has not been understood or discussed on OW, blogs of the left, and the mass media.

" My feminism does not make me an inevitable supporter of Hillary, who has not committed herself to a feminist platform. If Obama campaigned as a feminist, spoke out against the sexist attacks against Clinton, and made family issues an essential part of his platform, I would be a fervent supporter. That he doesn't seem to be considering such a potentially winning strategy indicates how thoroughly feminist and family issues have fallen beneath the political radar."

My failure to evoke any comment whatsoever supports the validity of my observation. In general my feminist posts seem to fall into a black hole or be mischaracterized.

Eh, hilzoy isn't up for being insulted just now. I'm assuming that Redstocking meant something like: someone who is prepared to post on feminist issues on a regular basis, rather than being, like hizoy, a feminist who finds herself drawn to civil liberties, foreign policy, and so forth just now, when she isn't off on hiatus.

My failure to evoke any comment whatsoever supports the validity of my observation.

well, that's an interesting conclusion.

That he doesn't seem to be considering a potentially winning strategy indicates how thoroughly feminist and family issues have fallen beneath the political radar. I can't figure out why.

Looking over his site and policy proposals, I find a plank to crack down on deadbeat dads and a generally strong pro-choice ethic, both widely considered feminist positions.

As for why he's not cracking back on sexist attacks at Hillary Clinton and her campaign, I again point out that you generally don't feel inclined to defend people using coded racial language against you. So Obama's not a saint. Thank god for that.

Hilzoy, you are my hero; I always recommend you as the most brilliant, eloquent blogger ever. I have read every one of your posts. I am dreadfully sorry if I came across as insulting you.

Cleek, I am sorry I failed to make clear what observation I was referring to, which is that feminist and family issues have fallen beneath the political radar, instead of being seen as a potentially winning issue for all three candidates, almost as important as health care. Liberals and conservatives, atheists and fundamentalists, Catholics, Jews, Mormons and Muslims, Democrats and Republicans --all struggle to cope with family responsibilities and career demands and blame themselves on their shortcomings. The US has one of the worst records in the entire world on this vitally important issue. It does not seem to have occurred to most struggling families that there is any possibility of government assistance. No major presidential candidate has ever committed himself or herself to these issues.

"My failure to evoke any comment whatsoever supports the validity of my observation."

Regrettably, this is a subset of the "X did not blog about Y; therefore X does not care about Y" fallacy.

It fails to take into account that people have lives, and non-infinite time to address every topic and comment that comes up, particularly when so many people are currently here and posting, producing a number of comments far greater than anyone is going to respond to.

It fails to take into account that people are apt to be preoccupied with other matters, like, for instance, the aftermath of a friend's dying, their mental and physical state of health, their need to sleep, to lighten up, to distract themselves with other matters, or cope with continuing serious matters, and so on and so forth and so on.

And, respectfully, it's not your blog. You arrived only literally yesterday. And have, I gently point out, since repeatedly complained that you're not getting enough attention.

Respectfully, I suggest waiting until perhaps you've regularly posted for, say, three or six months, or at least six weeks, before drawing from that well again.

If it were your own blog, and everyone were commenting on your posts on all other topics than feminism, you'd have cause to draw conclusions.

As it is, those conditions not applying, I respectfully suggest that the grounds for such conclusions may not be as solid as you baldly assert.

I'm going to rant a bit about fiscal conservatism. First of all those words from the mouth of a Republican politician are a lie. The Congressional Repulicans spent years at Monday morning meetinngs with Norquist listeninng to hhis ideas about how to undo the New Deal by throwing limitless amounts of money at special innterests while cutting taxes in order to deliberately bankrupt the nation. A party that tolerates,no, more than tolerates--actively listenns to that sort of thinng--is not fiscally conservative, merely dishonest.

Agree 100%. I'm mostly critical of Democratic policy/politicians here because it's a left-leaning site, but if it were RedState I'd be ranting against Republicans. I credit Clinton with having balanced the budget (though I think being forced to compromise with an opposition Congress helped), and Bush's wanton fiscal irresponsibility has driven a generation of fiscal conservatives away from the GOP, including me.


"It is wrong that Senator Obama got to go through 15 debates trumpeting his superior judgment and how he had been against the war," Clinton said during the rally."

It's not wrong of Bill Clinton to claim he was against the Iraq War before he was for it?

Hillary is seen as the "crush Republicans" candidate, because they hate her so much. Just her election would be a poke in the eye to the Republican Media Machine and the Republicans in power now.

Nobody's going to crush the Republicans, and while that's what the Daily Kosites may want, it's not what most of the country wants. I want a moderate, pragmatic, adult approach to governing. On the Democratic side, the closest thing to that on offer is Obama.

Of course deadbeat dads (and moms) and pro choice are feminist issues. Family issues are even more important. I am incensed that conservatives and Republicans have defined "family issues" to be homophobia, denial of female sexuality, exaltation of virginity before marriage, blame for rape victims, and women's return to their homes under their husbands' rule. The viciousness of the sexist attacks on Clinton suggest that Obama's young daughters might not to see a woman president in their lifetimes. They might face the same difficulties combining ambition and family that Michelle Obama talks about so honestly and eloquently.

Redstocking: no, you didn't come across as insulting me. Not to me, at any rate.

I think that feminist issues have largely fallen off the radar, with the exception of abortion, and maybe a couple of others. But certainly everything related to childrearing, the care for parents that, last time I checked, women were more likely to provide, etc., have either dropped off the map or (care for parents) been assimilated to other issues (e.g., health insurance more generally) that are not overtly feminist.

The falling off the map part I deplore. The assimilation to other issues part I'm of two minds about: assimilating various kinds of issues that women face disproportionately to e.g. the more general economic insecurities faced by most people, when it helps get those issues dealt with, makes me think: well, I would prefer to discuss the specific impact on women, and why women often bear a disproportionate share of it; on the other hand, the practical side of me thinks: well, whatever helps to get some actual provision for health insurance passed will help actual women in actually tough situations more than anything, and if this is what it takes, then while I will go on trying to talk about those things, when I'm not off being distracted by something, I'm less upset about it than I am by distortions of public discourse that have bad effects; and I welcome the idea that men might see what happens to women as more connected to what happens to them than they might have otherwise.

Ordinary people seem to already have a rough consensus about what needs to happen, and show an strong inclination to vote for whatever Democrat gets nominated (especially if were to be Edwards). That is what bothers me about the whole 'hope' message. Hope is for supplicants. A political transformation worth having is one in which people decide that the government is supposed to work for them, that they *own* the government. We shouldn't be supplicants, but citizens, taking back what's ours. This is not only true, but also very good politics (remember 'Wrong and strong beats right and weak'?). That is Edwards' rhetoric, and he has consistently done better against every Republican than every other Democrat in poll after poll of 'ordinary people'. Since it looks like we aren't going to nominate him (for frivolous reasons, IMO), I hope the other two will continue to appropriate his rhetoric, as they have been doing for a year.

I think, jonny, that you're overstating the appeal of Edwards. Firstly, the fact that he polls better against Republicans may merely be a reflection of the fact that as the dark horse in the race he's not getting as much scrutiny as the frontrunners.

I also think that the reasons he's being talked down aren't frivolous at all - he doesn't have much money, and he doesn't have nationwide organizational strength. I think both of those are big deals.

Personally, Edwards would not get my vote, because while I'd agree with you that the economic anxieties of ordinary people are important, I think the class warfare shtick is irresponsible and divisive, and his economically isolationist policy proposals are unwise. Trade barriers would undercut purchasing power of everyone, but particularly the people who buy all those cheap imported goods from China at WalMart and Sam's Club (i.e. the economically disadvantaged). Furthermore it would further undercut our exports at a time when foreign markets are growing exponentially and we should be looking to expand our share of the international economy.

I am so proud of myself. I became the Hillary of OW in only 3 days, and I mastered being shrill with my macbook. I might accept Gary's admonishments, humbly repent my uppityness, renounce being a bitch, crone, and hag, and withdraw chastened, except that my arguments are important to the next month of the primary campaign, and few commenters seem to be making them. Publius's quoting me at length misled me. Anyone interested in continuing this discussion can find me on my own blog. At least they no longer burn at the stake intelligent, articulate, older women who will not shut up.

All of human history has tested my patience. I will continue to read OW, but will react on my own blog

You don't know how happy I am to hear people finally talking about the "substance" thing with Obama. I've been saying it forever. I don't say it lightly. I live in Illinois.

He consistently did nothing but play the good guy. The "peace keeper." He constantly voted "present" in the state legislature. Yes, there were times it was part of a "strategy" that is unique [and bizarre] to Illinois politics, but most of the time it wasn't.

For example, there was a vote on a sex crimes bill that had broad, bipartisan support that he voted "present" on. How broad? It passed 58-0! he was the only one voting present.

He wouldn't "shake up" Washington, as he and his supporters are alleging. He would merely make a new status quo with a message that compromise is the only way. Consequently, nothing would get done. It could be worse than what we have right now with the Republicans. At least, with them, we know where things stand. With Obama, you'd have to keep guessing because of his words.

The falling off the map part I deplore.

Isn't it a good thing that feminist questions have fallen off the map, if the reason is that they've been settled in the feminists' favor? Obviously, there are still some issues that feminists might have (equal pay for equal work, better provisions for female health issues, etc.) But I don't think you can argue that a lot of the battles haven't been won. A woman is a leading contender for President, which could have never happened in 1960 (and if it had, the sexist backlash would have consisted of a lot more than Chris Matthews wondering if Hillary was tough enough because she teared up during a Q&A session). More women than ever are in high positions in government, academia, and business. Laws on divorce, child support, etc. are more favorable to women than they've ever been before. I think your displaying an excess of pessimism, redstocking.

"I became the Hillary of OW in only 3 days, and I mastered being shrill with my macbook."

I hope you don't really feel that way. I, for one, am very much enjoying your comments here. Enjoying your blogs, too, in the little time I've had to look. You're talking about important things and have an important perspective.

"My failure to evoke any comment whatsoever supports the validity of my observation"

Nah. I say brilliant things all of the time that evoke no comment. I just assume that everyone is too awestruck by my incisiveness and cogency to respond ;).

Seriously though - there's little validation to be found in the blogosphere, unless you frequent echo chambers. ObWi doesn't seem to be one of those.

Xeynon -

"More favorable than ever been before" != "No longer worth making a big deal about"

Redstocking: I echo what dkilmer said. I think you add a lot, and would hate to see you go. Though, of course, it's your call.

Anybody have an opinion about: "For a lot of people, Hillary Clinton just wants this too badly"? Seems both reasonable and overly simplistic.

"Anyone interested in continuing this discussion can find me on my own blog. At least they no longer burn at the stake intelligent, articulate, older women who will not shut up."

I made the claim that HRC was best on women's issues in defending her progressive bona fides on the Ugh thread - you might have taken that up. - We've been talking to each other here for years. We know how to interpret what Gary writes as he intends it - you probably can't read him as accurately. We know that counterarguments from e.g. Katherine have to be responded to in order to claim differing opinions are viable. Sebastian Holsclaw probably responds to a few percent of my comments to him, but he leads a busy life and it's just how it is that my position in the debate phase-space isn't critical to his arguments. You'll be hard-pressed to find a better commentariat to test your opinions than here (esp. if we ever manage to get some active conservative posters, something I long ago predicted wouldn't be possible until a Democrat takes the WH in 2009), so I urge you to stick around.

DKilmer - I didn't say, nor imply, that. These things are organic changes. They take time. When the first generation of feminists kicked down the doors, it was unreasonable to expect a flood of women into these areas of American life, because girls by-and-large hadn't been brought up to aspire to them or educated to excel in them prior to the feminist movement. Once that changed, the future changed, and women did start trickling in. For me, the idea that a person's gender would be an important consideration in whether to vote for them for President is patently absurd. Given that I'm white, middle class, and fairly conservative, I think it's fair to say that my analogue in 1955 would not feel the same way. That's progress. Progress is possible, instant results, generally, are not.

"We know how to interpret what Gary writes as he intends it"

Which is to say -- beneath the occasionally prickly exterior is a big heart.

Well, I have quickly recovered from my unprecedented PMS and menopausal irritability at age 62. Thank you for the kind comments. Dkilmer, I love you for reminding me that "everyone is too awestruck by my incisiveness and cogency to respond."

What brought me back was the speculation that feminist issues have fallen off the map because they have been settled in the feminists' favor. Perhaps that is true for childless women from Ivy League colleges and law schools. I hadn't noticed the feminist triumph while caring for my 4 children, watching my parents care for my grandma, and caring for my parents who suffered from dementia in the last years of their lives.

In the early 70s I presciently critcized feminists for their overemphasis on abortion and their underemphasis on childcare and elder care. That is one major reason why many women who aren't well-educated professionals, shun the feminist label and feel that feminism has deprived them of the option of staying home with their kids. Feminists made an unholy alliance with corporate capitalism. The neglect, even devaluation of caregiving, contributed to the conservative revival.

Rhetoric aside, I came back because I had inadvertently deleted my crack about PMS and menopausal irritabilty. Elders of Hllary's and my age might be the only women to be trusted with the nuclear button:), but then the nation would have to endure our aging.

Wow. Playoff football, a thoughtful post by Publius and some incredible comments especially from Hilzoy.

Heaven.

I'll admit, I'm dreamy for Obama these days. Perhaps I'm not cynical enough, but I actually like being inspired.

OCSteve makes a good point when he says at best Obama might be able to get half of his proposals passed into law. But to my mind that's batting .500 and would be great.

For me the bottom line is our country needs someone like Obama now more than anytime in the past 50 years. I honestly believe he can change the tone of the debate if not control the debate itself.

That said, I'm not sure the next 4 years are going to be a time I'd want to lead America. We are heading for tough times economically. But perhaps Obama can provide hope when we need it most.

Red: stick around. I think you are teh coolest newbie…


feminist issues

Likely deserves a full thread. I’m open to consider anything, but I am genuinely curious as to what issues women feel they have today.

For the last couple of decades, my boss has been a woman. Half of that time, her boss was a woman. I‘ve known woman CEOs, CFOs, etc. Now I gave up big companies about 10 years ago – I like smaller companies much better. The focus is on what you can do – and women rock there. My current boss is a woman; I’ve worked for her about 10 years in two different companies. She rocks – best boss I ever had. Given the choice, I’ll report to a woman every time at this point.

I’ve been married 25 years – and my wife and I have always been equal partners. There was never any doubt of that. My mom is the strongest woman I know, OK – no, my grandma is…

Woman are much much stronger than men.

Is there still a glass ceiling? I really have not seen that in the last 20 years. I’m very grateful to work for a company where talent and effort are rewarded, regardless of sex or race.

I don’t want this to come across as disbelief – I just haven’t seen a problem in my life. I’m totally willing to admit to ignorance on this issue. But my wife and my boss (heh – redundant?) would be scratching their heads here…

In the early 70s I presciently critcized feminists for their overemphasis on abortion and their underemphasis on childcare and elder care.

I agree with you about this, redstocking. I consider myself very much in favor of gender equality, but am ambivalent about the "feminist" label because people have come to associate it with exactly what you say.

There are a lot of womens' issues aside from the abstractions which some feminists obsess about which deserve more attention, childcare among them. From a conservative viewpoint, I'd agree that absentee fatherism is a big problem. One thing I like about Obama's rhetorical tack is that he finds these points of agreement.

Redstocking,
I'd also add that the commentariat is not solely USaian, but has a small but significant leavening of people who are from outside the country. Those of us in that position want to discuss with other people about those topics of the day, but with the issues of feminism that you discuss, they don't obtain in a similar way from country to country, so it is a bit difficult to discuss them in a way that utilizes common experiences.

Back to the Obama/HRC question, I have to think that the back and forth that has been evidenced here could be one of the reasons Bloomberg has been investigating a third party run, if the reports are true.

Cleek: you and all the other people needed to ensure we don't have a president McCain in 2009

If it comes to that I will reconsider.


impressive. and what am i thinking... right now?

2 inch thick Ribeye, char grilled medium. Toppings and sides optional.

Okay, I know supporters of one candidate get really really pissy 'round this time of year. I know that you always believe that your candidate is running a cleaner race. You always give them the benefit of doubt & the other, not. Staffers get especially heated & say stupid things that don't represent the campaign. Etc. etc.

But: this is really, really, really, really, really not cool.

Marshall gets a key fact wrong (the union hasn't endorsed anyone), at first omits the stated reason for the suit, and then can't even come up with the blatantly obvious reason this makes sense for the teacher's union to do that in that context (e.g., caring about getting disenfranchised now that there's a real contest). It would probably pay to take a Slartibartfastian pause and see how this develops a little before getting too worked up.

"reason it makes sense for the teacher's union to do this in that context" is slightly better.

Josh,

Has been Obama for a while now.

It's Josh's creditability that's questionable Katherine...and please spare me the mock outrage...I already here enough from MSM

Josh,

Has been Obama for a while now.

It's Josh's creditability that's questionable Katherine...and please spare me the mock outrage...I already here enough from MSM

Well, I'll take that into consideration for your own credibility....

Really, now...we're adults here....

I'm puzzled by the marshall slam as well. He's been pretty scrupulous about trying to get things right, and has linked to Jerlyn at TalkLeft to highlight some problems with his post.

I do think that because he has pioneered/championed a new approach to blogging/websiting/netroots/whateverthetermdujour is, he is going to naturally have an affinity to Obama, but that seems to be miles away from affecting creditability. If you go down this road, you end up at what I call the faux Libertarian stance that claims is better than everyone else because it refuses to get it's hands dirty. (I try to assign the problematic aspects to the position rather than to the people)

more details here.

Not arguing this one. Res ipsa loquitor.

More women than ever are in high positions in government, academia, and business. Laws on divorce, child support, etc. are more favorable to women than they've ever been before. I think your displaying an excess of pessimism, redstocking.

More than ever does not equal no more room for improvement of course. For instance; you say government positions but higher up I linked to the international figures of female participation in politic/government and in the US only 13% is female.

Redstocking: I find your comments worthwile and read them with interest, but as Liberal Japonicus mentioned - we're not all from the US. In the Netherlands things are different. Sometimes better, sometimes worse - and though I recognize a lot of the general feminist issues (I'm one of those people who prefer to label themselves emancipated) it is hard to comment on the specific US situation.

Coming back to the question of religion...has anyone besides me noticed that Obama usually ends his speeches by saying thank you instead of the disingenuous but obligatory "God bless you." Check out his speeches after the Iowa caucus and the New Hampshire primary. No "God bless you" or "God bless America." Both Clinton and Edwards use the phrase. I was happy to see Obama do without it.

"...but the depths of hostility often betrays a lingering, if subconscious, jealousy of those who believe."

Unless "The Reaping" had a cultural impact that its box-office receipts merely hinted at, I honestly don't understand why everyone assumes this.

Actual reasons for hostility:

1. Suffocating pervasiveness of religion
2. Use of religion to further horrible agendas
3. Offense at religion's lily-gilding of way cool natural world
4. Parents were like mother in Carrie
5. The radio for two straight months after Halloween
6. Many of us are jerks independent of belief system
7. Jealousy

Jealousy's probably even lower on the list, but I'm only the designated atheist who whines about mischaracterization on comment threads devoted to unrelated subjects until 9, and I'm already into overtime.

OCSteve,

Unlike mostl feminists with my intellect and education, I decided to stay home with my four children full-time for 15 years and part-time until the youngest went to college. I involved myself in nonsexist childrearing, childbirth education, breastfeeding counseling, parent education, toddler playgroups, babysitting cooperatives, cooperative nursery schools, school libraries, a campaign to save the local public library, the nuclear freeze movement, mental illness support and advocacy, parent advocacy for playground upkeep and a preschool playroom, a high school group for interracial understanding--the list is endless. When I made the mistake of attending library school and social work school, I naively assumed my qualifications would be obvious and no one would dare to treat me like a beginner. I was given the responsibility of an experienced worker and the salary, benefits, and respect of a beginner.

I recall one infuriating incident during my first social work placement; my childless supervisor earnestly instructed me how how interview a client with her two year old present. I had frequently run La Leche Meetings with 20 moms and 30 babies and toddlers. Women social workers who had taken very short maternity leaves and worked full-time during their children's childhood too often acted like all my knowledge had been attained by cheating. I got more respect from male professors. The situation has worsened; women are terrified of taking only a few years off from work. And yet the men who fought World War II left their jobs for several years and did not suffer economic consequences. The government even paid for their college and grad school education.

When my mom went back to college in 1963 and work in 1968, after having raised 6 children, she was accorded more respect and her experience was more honored than mine was 20 years later Full-time childrearing is frequently belittled as beneath the time and attention of intelligent, well-educated parents, who presumably should have exploited immigrant women of color to love and understand their children while they pursued their more important jobs. Remember, things have not changed for the valiant, loving women of color who raise our children and care for our parents. I am often appalled how little highly successful two-career couples pay their nanny; many fail to provide the caregiver with any benefits, least of all health care.

I agree that most women with college degrees, graduate, or professional degrees have made enormous strides in mostl major professions and in the workplace generally. Even nurses and teachers have made significant progress because they unionized. Public librarians and social workers usually make less than any other professionals with graduate degrees because they are mostly women and they are not unionized.

It is only when women have children or have to care for aging parents that they fully realize that women have mostly gained the right to follow the traditional male life style, emphasizing work over relationships, caregiving, community activism.. As women chose to have children at an older and older age, the realization is late in coming. At that point their lives tend too become too frenzied and exhausting to leave any time for feminism and political reform.

In 2002 I had the chance to meet Mitt Romney for the first time. He was serving food at the Court Street Shelter for veterans in Downtown Boston. I was living there at the time and showed up to get lunch near the end of the lunch hour.

As I walked into the empty kitchen area I saw that it was Mitt Romney and I and one other person looking at each other. We had a brief discussion as to what the place was like. It lasted about 5 minutes at best, but he left a favorble impression on me.

In early 2003 on his inaguaration day as Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts he served breakfast with his wife and his Lieutenant Governor Kerry Healy and her husband. As I approached the line they ran out of food and I got stuck waiting there and had a conversation with Mitt and his wife Ann. She informed that her father had been a Marine, and that there seemed to be a lot of Marines at Court Street. I informed her there were too many.

I went to the inauguration later that day and had a great view from the atrium looking down at the initial proceedings.

Later in the year when it became obvious that there had been some bad financial management of the facility at Court Street , Governor Romney wrote a personal check to keep the utilities from being shut off.

He is the only politician I ever saw go in there. He actually would have one on one discussions, not just photo opportunities. He saw that there was a problem and attempted to fix what he could instead of lip service.

Mitt Romney is a problem solver…that I saw first hand.

Redstocking,
I'll try to comment a bit, but again, I have lived in Japan for almost 2 decades, so we may be disconnecting on any number of levels.

It is only when women have children or have to care for aging parents that they fully realize that women have mostly gained the right to follow the traditional male life style, emphasizing work over relationships, caregiving, community activism.

I think that a problem is that the direction of the movement has created some conundrums that are difficult to deal with. I've mentioned this before, but I recall an interesting piece that defined two different approaches to feminism, one being equality feminism, and the other being difference feminism (I've searched for the article a number of times, but haven't found it, so this is my own memory, and the terms may not be correct) Equality feminism (EF) aggressively demanded that women be treated exactly the same as men, and directed itself at eliminating invoking differences. Difference feminism (DF) argued that there were specific role differences and sought to carve out specific protections for women that would allow them to participate more fully. The article argued that the US had gone down the path of EF while Europe had used DF, and as a result, the situation was better in Europe than in the US.

This is a very broad stroke distinction, but I think it gets at the first conundrum faced by society in general and men who want to do right in particular. There is a pressure to not notice differences on the one hand, but be conscious of differences on the other. You then get similar sorts of argumentation that you do over affirmative action.

Part of this is the American tendency towards myopia concerning the fairness of its own society, but if one takes the distinction made above as being meaningful, that means that being a feminist means rejecting some of what feminism had to say over the past 40 years.

This situation makes it really difficult to know what to say or how to address your concerns. So, when you say

It is only when women have children or have to care for aging parents that they fully realize that women have mostly gained the right to follow the traditional male life style, emphasizing work over relationships, caregiving, community activism.

it comes across like this was a strategy to actually disempower women, whereas I would say this has a lot more to do with class distinctions (the US has never been a friendly place for lower class people, probably a hangover from the Protestant work ethic and consumerist society) and the growing class divide, which is something you note when you talk about the belittling of childraising and the utilization of nannies and such. But those things shouldn't be laid at the doorstep of progressive people being insufficiently feminist in their outlook, because that targets the people who are often most involved in fighting the problems of class divide.

Again, I may be misreading your concerns and comments completely, so please let me know if I have. I do think it is the coolest thing evah to have you here, and I wish that my mother and I could have had this kind of relationship.

"Res ipsa loquitor."

Sure. HRC is on record as saying the caucus system, with its show-up-at-time-x requirement, is unfair to many workers. In this case it happens to be people whose union hasn't endorsed a candidate (but who presumably lean to her) seeing they'll lose political influence wrt people whose union has in case that candidate wins. And HRC says she hopes things will get worked out fairly for the janitors and for the gaming workers, and that as many people as possible should vote. I'm not seeing the villainy here - rough-and-tumble politics perhaps.

Redstocking:

I'll second liberal japonicus' enthusiasm (it may be a fourthing and fifthing because some other folks made similar noises) for your continued presence here.

My habit when folks show up here who clearly possess a strong, distinct voice (which goes for all of the regulars, and yes, I mean you, DaveC.) is to hang back for awhile and see what develops before I add my peculiarities to the conversation.

So if you leave already, I'm going to be sorry I did my usual initial wallflower thing while I got three drinks in me before I developed the courage to engage.

I kid. I meant two drinks. That's not true. Don't listen to me.

I also think it's cool that you have joined Katherine in commenting here.

I wish my mother would show up, too, as long as folks could put up with her occasionally using the threads to remind me to write my thank you notes and, by the way, what ever happened to that nice sweater she gave me when I was twelve?

Then she would launch into a cogent, bullet-pointed tirade about the inadequacies of the Medicare drug plan.

Anyway, he sequed, if I can get my thoughts lined up, I have much to say someday about the subject of fathers and mothers reversing their roles as breadwinner and stay-at-home caregiver to the children ...... in my wife's and my case, one child.

We have conducted a radical reversal, and both of our views on the subject have become much more complicated over the years, especially if one considers the idea of a man reentering the workforce with what seems to be a black hole in his professional resume.

It is both the same and different than your experience. It is a double standard of sorts, which runs in both directions and then doubles back on itself.

May I say, too, Redstocking, that I detect some weird, overarching similarities between your experience going out into the world of work (odd that staying at home with the kids is NOT considered by some to be "the world" or "GNP-increasing work"), and Christopher Swift's invocation in his 9:42pm comment of "too many Marines" at the Court Street shelter.

The perspectives of the many segments of American society regarding who and what activities are productive and the resulting, judgemental penalties and rewards attached to them are oddly narrow and absurd, to my admittedly peculiar mind.

This is all within the context of progressive societal improvements over the past 50 years.


Liberal japonicus,
Thank you so much for your warm welcome and your excellent post. It will take dozens of posts on my own blog to respond adequately, I entirely agree with you "that being a feminist means rejecting some of what feminism had to say over the past 40 years." What has accompanied the success of feminism is less appreciation and support for the vitally important work of caregiving. Years of child care and elder care are not seen as the excellent job qualification they so often are. Christian fundamentalists have valid points about the neglect of children and elders in today's post-feminist society. We cannot abandon this issue to them.

Thank you for bringing up the illuminating distinction between equality feminism (women treated the same as men) and difference feminism (specific role differences require specific protection for women to allow them to participate equally).What is biology and what is learned gender role in the perceived differences between men and women? Because I have 5 very different brothers and 4 very different daughters, I question overemphasis on innate differences. The spread of differences among people of the same sex seem as great or greater as the differences between the sexes. At 8 months, my grandson clearly resembles his adventurous, world-traveling mother; he is as different from two of his aunts as his mother is. We would need several generations of both men and women equally involved in raising young children to make any significant judgment about innate sex differences.

Childbearing shifts the equation. Doctors advocate nursing for a year as the ultimate preventive health measure. So for about two years per child, women do need special accommodations. As you say, Europe in general has much better support for new mothers. They recognize that everyone benefits if new parents can afford to bond with their newborns and children receive as much parental care as possible in the early years. Fathers and mothers are equally capable of parenting young children; exclusive breastfeeding only last six months. Many heroic women now manage to work full time and give their infants only their own milk.

Day care of infants and toddlers, if done right, is usually prohibitively expensive financially. Babies usually get sick far more often in day care, and their parents have to scramble for alternatives just as their babies are needier and fussier. Premature group care is frequently emotionally expensive for infants and toddlers. My oldest brilliantly explained her daily meltdown after full-day kindergarten: "Mommy I used all my goodness up at school." Society needs to make changes so that both parents could work a part-time and/or home-based schedule in their children's earliest years without losing their benefits or harming their possibilities for career advancement. Onsite day care could be an alternative offered by all large enough companies and organizations.

Dear John,

Like japonicus, you have given me inspiration for many posts on my own blog. I would love it if your mom blogged on OW as well. Sons seem slightly more enthused about their moms’ joining them in the same political playground; I would have freaked if my mom, a fellow feminist and leftist, had crashed my party. I have been a wallflower at OW for almost its entire existence, so I seem compelled to make up for lost time. I am sorry I am monopolizing the conversation. Finally finding my own voice at age 62 is thrilling. I am not going to leave OW, but keep teetering on the diving board, so I needed the validation I just got. Thank you everyone, and I am sorry I went Hillary on you, Gary.

John, I am so looking forward to your having much to say “about the subject of fathers and mothers reversing their roles as breadwinner and stay-at-home caregiver to the children ." In a sane society world, full-time parenting experience would be seen as more important than academic degrees, not a black hole in your resume. OW would benefit from more contributions from avowed parents.

You describe your experience as “both the same and different.” I loved this eloquent description: “it is a double standard of sorts, which runs in both directions and then doubles back on itself.” I am eagerly awaiting posts elucidating your experiences. I reread Christopher Swift’s comment and see how “too many Marines” at the Court Street shelter parallel the later jobhunting experiences of parents and caregivers who have served their country by nurturing its children.

I agree that US perceptions of “real” work, worthy of being recognized and counted, are absurd,” If a woman hires another woman to care for her child and then works in a day care center, both her work and her nanny’s work is counted in the GNP. If she cares for her own children, her work vanishes into a black hole, unrecognized and uncounted. If stay-at-home parents took care of their friends’ children and their friends took care of their children, the GNP would probably grow dramatically.

Full-time childrearing is frequently belittled as beneath the time and attention of intelligent, well-educated parents

I'm a SAHM, 45 and have three boys (5, 7 and 9) and have to defend that decision in the most unlikely places. At the same time as a SAHM I fall in a group that is so often belittled - also or maybe even especially by working women with better aducation.

Thanks for pointing out the two streams of feminism LJ. It is mainly associated with EF here and I am more of a DF person which is why I tend to call myself emancipated; freed to choose my own path.

Red: I recall your earlier statement that fathers should be included too. We are champion part-timers in the Netherlands and active fatherly participation in child rearing is considered a good thing but almost all public baby-change areas are still in the ladies bathrooms.

The model for most couples these days is the 'one-and-a-half breadwinners' model: He has a full time job and she has a little job on the side. Though there is a large group that favors the model where both work 4 days. We did, my husband actively went for a job in the banking-sector where he can work 4 9hour days as a full time job. Last year someone asked our boys what they wanted to be when they grew up. All three though a bit and replied "father" - and the oldes addes that he maybe wanted a little job on the side too, for practical purposes ;)

I think that you do have to take acount of the cultural differences between Europe and the States. We work to live, not live to work - free time is more important than more money. I have childless friends who are happy to work 4 days because it gives them more time to spend on things they see as worthwile too.

All I can say, Publius, is that I do not in the least relate to what you're describing here. I'm a strong Obama supporter. I think he has the potential to win in 2008 with a real majority, the first we'll have seen in longer than a generation. Meanwhile, as a former southerner who also lived for a long time in the Midwest, I know in my bones that Hillary Clinton is an electoral death sentence for the party.
This is, to my mind, a rational basis for supporting Obama. I don't get the religious hoohah you're talking about, at all.

All I can say, Publius, is that I do not in the least relate to what you're describing here. I'm a strong Obama supporter. I think he has the potential to win in 2008 with a real majority, the first we'll have seen in longer than a generation. Meanwhile, as a former southerner who also lived for a long time in the Midwest, I know in my bones that Hillary Clinton is an electoral death sentence for the party.
This is, to my mind, a rational basis for supporting Obama. I don't get the religious hoohah you're talking about, at all.

We have seen that the Republican Senate just doesn't care if anything gets passed, and will be likely even more obdurate as a smaller minority under a Democratic President.

Lots and lots of interesting things to think about in this thread, but I'll just make a brief reply to the above.

The Republicans in Congress have, in the main, lined up squarely behind pretty much anything Bush has put on the table for the last 7 years. My sense is that many have done this with great enthusiasm, more have done this with an eye to the main chance, and some have done so with their arm firmly twisted behind their back.

With Bush out, these three groups could likely be teased apart a bit. Folks in the first group would, no doubt, continue to oppose Democratic initiatives no matter what. Folks in the second and third groups, less so, although for perhaps different motives.

So, IMO post-2008 the Republicans may not present such a united front, and may not create quite as much of an obstacle to, for lack of a better word, "progressive" policies. I put that in quotes only because "progressive" these days refers to things that in saner places and times would be called "normal".

My thoughts here are all more or less intuitions, rather than anything I can demonstrate with cites, facts, and figures. I'd be interested in others' thoughts.

Thanks -

These accusations of Obama having no substance are totally false and ridiculous. He has extensive policy proposals, as well as several detailed proposed bills, some of which have already passed. In terms of accomplished substance, I'd say his lobbying reform and grant sunshine are more substantive than anything Clinton or Edwards ever did in the Senate, and he's been in the Senate only 3 years.

Anyway, here's some of his positions on the economy alone (highlights mine): http://www.barackobama.com/issues/economy/


Tax credit of $500 per working adult, eliminating taxes for 10% of Americans

Create a mortgage tax credit or $500 so the mortgage deduction is less skewed to the rich

Increase the Earned Income tax credit to a maximum of $555

Eliminate income taxes for seniors making less than $50,000

Provide prefilled tax forms from the IRS. No tax preparation for simple returns

50% increase in the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit

10 billion per year for preschool education, including quadrupling head start.

Scholarships for teachers in underserved areas

Labor and Environmental protections on all Free Trade Plans

Enforce WTO treaty rights, including currency manipulation and copyright violation in China.

Extend government retraining to service positions

Make healthcare affordable for small business with his insurance plan

Eliminate capital gains on startups

Cosponsor of a bill to expand the Small Business Adminstration loan program

Double basic funding for science research.

Permanent tax credit for R&D

Double broadband availability

Encourage city wireless systems

Make broadband universally available, like electricity, phone, or mail

Create federal definitions of mortgage fraud and enforce them (proposed bill)

Require the GAO to report on state laws enabling mortgage fraud

Create a fund to support overextended mortgage holders

Create an FTC rating system for credit cards based on rates, fees, etc.

Credit card bill of rights, banning unilateral contract changes, retroactive rate increases, interest on fees, universal defaults, and some nasty payment tricks

Eliminate oil and gas tax loopholes

Reduce benefits for offshoring profits

Monitor tax haven countries

Simplify Sarbanes-Oxley for small business

Investigate credit ratings agencies for conflicts of interest

Improve the patent review system to reduce junk patents

Provide assorted support programs for people entering the job market

Use organized labor models to create career ladders in all industries

Index the minimum wage to inflation

Create a Green Jobs corps to train people in green technologies.

Require 25% of energy be renewable by 2025


Frankly I think if you compare Obama's issues pages to Clinton's http://www.hillaryclinton.com/issues/ that *Obama'* are more detailed and specific (although both are very good). I have to say - in this day of widespread internet access, is it too much to ask people to Google "Barack Obama Issues" before pronouncing than Obama doesn't have extensive, ambitious, and specific policy proposals?

Progressives have a strange relationship with religion. Many are (at least privately) contemptuous of it, but the depths of hostility often betrays a lingering, if subconscious, jealousy of those who believe.

Publius, have you got anything to back up this assertion, or is it just projection?

Yeah, her issues pages are vaguer than his.

As for the "religion" thing: any non-religious moral argument can be called a "secular religion." I've heard this applied to the U.S. Constitution & I've heard it applied to human rights law. It's pathetic that as soon as someone makes a moral argument to the U.S. public, & people respond to it, we worry that he's a demagogic cult leader. This should be normal.

I suggest you all go read Susan G's post over at the Daily Kos - Book Review: Bernie Horn's "Framing the Future".
Obama's message isn't meant for us politically active folks. Activists always seem to forget most people aren't like us. They don't think like we do.
Go read Susan G's Post.

I may write in Dodd even if he's off the ballot.

When you reference "the wretched movie" in the same sentence with "All the King's Men," please take care to specify "the wretched 2006 remake." The 1949 original (featuring Broderick Crawford as Willie Stark) is a gem and a classic, and was rightly recognized as such from the outset -- among other honors, it won 3 Oscars (best picture, best actor in a leading role, best supporting actress)and was nominated for 4 more, including (importantly) best screenplay. If you haven't seen it and you care about American politics, culture, or history, you owe it to yourself to check it out.

The thing about Obama is that he is the other side of the same coin
as Huckabee. That is, beyond (and as a part of) both of them talking a lot in general terms about their Christian faith and both of them doing/saying rabidly
anti-gay things (Obama more recently than Huckabee) and both being
likable on first impression--they both tap into some sort of electoral desire for, ah, spiritual leadership. Or a very strong desire on the part of US Americans nowadays to throw reason and rationality to the wind and take a flyer on a long-shot on the idea that if we only believe we can close our eyes and click our heels 3 times and everything will be alright. In terms of Aristotelian rhetoric (and is there any other kind?) they are making pathos arguments, targeting our emotions and psychology rather than our reason.

And Obama and Huckabee are arrayed against opponents who put their experience and competence first and (try to) downplay their spiritual lives. Hillary and McCain/Romney are trying to win votes on the basis of
what Alex the Great's teacher would've termed ehtos (credibility) and logos (reasoning and rationality).

I think that but for Huckabee and Obama's lack of ethos/credibility
(Rezko, Dumond, etc & et al), they could succeed--without ever explaining
to us why it makes a lick of sense for either of them to be President.

Isn't that what Aristotle said--that you needed to have ethos|credibility to win an argument on pathos but could win an argument on the basis of logos|reason without ethos? And to make an appeal on the basis of pathos alone was derided as sophistry by Socrates/Plato/Aristotle (right before Socrates was made to drink the hemlock, having lost an argument to a sophist).

Obama will end Don't Ask Don't Tell and expand hate crimes legislation. If this was what "antigay" people were like my life would be much easier.

I disagree with your assessment of the religious.
Years ago I came across a book on FDR and the era and I wished then we could have a great leader along those lines.
Many talk of what would have been if RFK had not been murdered.
Then you look at the complete absence of real leadership from presidents to our congress.
Neither Clinton nor Bush had given us much in the way of a national leadership and were far too engrossed into themselves and their wants and needs.
Our congress has been led by criminals like DeLay or spineless dolts like Reid.
Many feel when RFK had died he took the last of our real leadership with him. Our last heroic leaders like Lincoln, JFK or FDR.
Since then we have muddled around with the mediocre to the horrible.
What people see in Obama is someone who makes people listen. When he speaks people stop what they are doing and are intent.
When he is done many have tears or feel they want to do good deeds like rake the neighbor's yard.
And there is longing.
You see in Obama the hallmarks of great leadership. Selfless leadership and someone who can bring back the great leaders again.
Make our worthless ones strive for better. And he fills the need of this country for a real leader again. Someone to rally around.
There is nothing religious about him.
But, he shows us time and again the ability to fill the role that FDR or other good leaders had and to give direction to this country and close the book on the sorry era of the bad leaders we have endured.

Redstocking, I take your point about how the venom directed at Hillary is often unpleasant, and frequently gives an impression of misogyny. I certainly don't endorse attacks on Clinton as a woman, or for behaving "as one would expect from a woman" to rephrase a much more unpleasant way of speaking. That said, I would invite you to reconsider your assessment of Hillary as a feminist candidate. Does she really have an exceptional record of feminism, service to feminist ideals, or support for other women? I can't recall her writing anything of substance, or which changed the debate on these issues. I also can't remember her passing any legislation that was unusually pro-women, and I certainly don't recall her going out of her way to advocate for women who were victims of male force, lust, corruption. Did she show any compassion for e.g. Monica Lewinsky, who was the victim of Bill Clinton's abuse of power and office? What makes Hillary a genuine feminist, as opposed to a politician playing the gender card? I repeat, that I do wholeheartedly sympathize with your anger at how she has been attacked, but I wonder whether you are not defending a rather grey symbol, rather than a reality. I would genuinely like to know your opinion on why Hillary is different.

Perhaps I missed it but I really haven't seen all this alleged sexism.

She cried. Some people said it was bad. Some people said it was good. No one really knows.

If a male candidate had cried what kind of response would have occurred?

Sexism exists in this country but Hillary Clinton has no problem using it to her advantage and I don't think she is the representatives for those concerned about these issues.

EuripideanDreams: as you ought to know, Socrates was condemned by the vote of an Athenian democratic jury, on charges of introducing new gods and corrupting the youth. This is rather different from "an argument with a sophist". Secondly, Aristotle was not even born when Socrates took hemlock, while Plato was still a very young man, which makes it rather unlikely that they all denounced sophistry just before Socrates died. As for the varieties of rhetoric, I am sure you would agree that Greek rhetoric was not limited to Aristotle, great thinker though he was. You might remember Demosthenes, Hermogenes, the Stoic theory of rhetoric - and many more. Then, of course, we would have to consider Chinese rhetoric, Roman rhetoric - and so many more. Finally, please, do try not to pontificate in grandiose terms. It is bad logos, and makes your ethos and pathos look rather silly.

Perhaps I missed it but I really haven't seen all this alleged sexism.

Well, a lot of people miss what's obvious.

If a male candidate had cried what kind of response would have occurred?

A lot less in the media than what ocurred...and I speak as someone who has Clinton down at #3 in my preferences...

If a male candidate had cried what kind of response would have occurred?

A lot less in the media than what ocurred...

Ed Muskie would be gratified to hear.

I think there is tons of sexism in the media. Chris Matthews himself accounts for more of it than should exist on the entire planet.

That said, however, I'm not sure about this: "If a male candidate had cried what kind of response would have occurred?"

It has been a while, but the one time I can think of when a male candidate (Muskie) did cry, on the occasion of the Machester Union-Leader having gone after his wife, he was forced out of the race.

Personally, I think this was sexist too: men, after all, are not supposed to cry.

"the one time I can think of when a male candidate (Muskie) did cry"

You state it as a fact, but he was standing in the middle of a snowstorm; he was said to have cried. So far as I know, the truth was indeterminable, unless you know something I don't know about the famous event.

I could give cites, but check anything. Muskie went to his grave denying that he cried, so regardless of the sexism, I'm not sure it's fair to him to call him a liar, given the circumstances.

nickzi: Did she show any compassion for e.g. Monica Lewinsky, who was the victim of Bill Clinton's abuse of power and office?

Being a feminist means you have to show compassion to the woman who was fooling around with your husband? Are you for real?

nickzi, earlier: I certainly don't endorse attacks on Clinton as a woman, or for behaving "as one would expect from a woman" to rephrase a much more unpleasant way of speaking.

Just what do you think "one would expect from a woman" (or a man, for that matter) in this situation? Should she have sent Ms. Lewinski a fruit basket?

And frankly, I find the idea of Monica Lewinsky, victim, utterly ludicrous. I do think that Clinton, being allegedly a grownup, should never have done what he did. Personally, I may never forgive him for handing the Republicans a weapon. But Monica Lewinsky was also an adult. An adult who flashed her thong underwear at her boss. I find it hard to think of her as a victim either.

Sorry, I should have been more polite than "utterly ludicrous".

Gromit, I asked the question of redstocking, who made a strong pitch for why sexism disgusted her, and pushed her to vote for Hillary. There are feminist thinkers who would strongly endorse the idea that women should support other women, even in the most unlikely circumstances, precisely because they see them as fellow-victims of an unjust patriarchal system. This is close to the rationale of redstocking's comments, and it is not unreasonable to address the hypothetical question to her. As for Monica Lewinsky as victim - bear in mind that she was pilloried as fat, ugly, tasteless, vulgar, slutty - every unpleasant name under the sun - and has since retired into a relatively blighted career. If this is not victimhood, I'd like to know how you define it. In her situation, she was confronting an older, more experienced man, who had a vast amount of power. It may not have been rape - but you can hardly deny that Clinton exploited his position, and then simply discarded her, with a remarkable arrogance and dishonesty. Peddling the line that she was a seductress simply degrades her a little further. In using it, you are effectively buying into the Bill Clinton as victim line, which the old fraud has used for years. Why not simply say you believe that women are devilish tempters sent by Satan? You might as well - because that's effectively the traditional basis for your views.

This blog post is tre-appropriate for me because a week ago I organized my first local event for the Obama campaign, and now I'm addicted. I'm helping out at headquarters, starting events, and talking to other activists in the New York Obama movement. It's exhilarating. I even made a video about what I and other activists, from diverse backgrounds, are feeling:

http://youtube.com/watch?v=iO3cH8HbFbA

(I'm the guy at the end with the beard.) For many years my idea of political participation has been obsessively reading and commenting on blogs about how our country is doomed because of Bush and his cronies. I had forgotten what it feels like to use all of my energy and mind and yes, soul, to help improve the world. It feels great. It *is* spiritual. I care deeply about the United States and I want it to grow and change for the better. This election is not just an intellectual game of seeing who checks the right policy boxes. It's also about who can inspire people like me, who have been so depressed about politics for so long, to believe that there's at least a chance we can improve Washington. So I'm not going to be made to feel bad about my excitement, even if it, yes, admittedly, fills a pre-existing spiritual vacuum, and even if many charismatic politicians throughout history have been charlatans.

Now. That said. Is Obama the messiah? No. Will he heal the world the day he's elected? No. I don't like his silence on the tyranny of agribusiness. I wish his debate performances were better. If elected I'm sure his time in office will bring some major disappointments. But inspiration matters. Words matter. Hope matters. And so while I will certainly keep my eyes open to what Barack Obama actually does, I'm not going to be paralyzed by doubt, waiting for him to disappoint. I've decided that he is the best possible President for our country at this crucial historical moment. And I'm going to do everything in my power to help bring him to the White House.

Exactly who reported Monica's flashing her thong? And yes, given Clinton's sordid career of sexual misconduct, I don't think you can get very far with the "Monica forced him into it" line. Sorry, but I think Gromit and Hilzoy could use a bit of good sense about power dynamics, and what it meant to a vulnerable young woman to have the President of the USA making a play for her. She was a victim, and Bill did exploit her youth, naivety, and willingness to believe that he was more than a sexual conman. I'd like to think that Hilzoy and Gromit mean well, but they don't seem very aware of feminism and its (dis)contents.

nickzi: I have no problem at all saying that she was subjected to horrible treatment by the press afterwards, above and beyond anything she might have deserved. (I mean: one can criticize what she did, and I think this would be fine, but what people said about her went way past that.)

I said what I did partly because, as I remember it, Monica made the first move. If Clinton had, that would have been totally different, and would have brought into play the fact that he was much more powerful, etc. That fact would have made it totally reprehensible for him to make a play for her. I imagine that he probably made such plays for other women; if any of them were his subordinates, then I think they might fairly be said to be his victims. I just don't think that Monica was his victim, still less that what happened was anything remotely like rape.

I might also be affected by the fact that one fine day back in early 2000, I was scraping paint while listening to CSPAN, and got to hear over three hours of Monica Lewinsky's conversations with Linda Tripp.

I do not think that women in general are seductresses, still less that we are devilish tempters sent by Satan. I do, however, think that some women set out to seduce some men. I also think that Monica was one of them.

This in no way means that I think that Clinton was her victim. After all, he was a grown-up too. There does not have to be a victim in this story at all. And at least as far as what went on between Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky (as opposed to what happened later, e.g. at the hands of the media), I do not think there was.

Also: I am not in the least trying to say that Monica Lewinsky forced anyone into anything. I am trying to say that in my judgment, this was between two consenting adults, and that while that fact would cut no ice with me had Clinton made the first move, it does if she did.

Because the problem with his making the first move is that, given the power dynamics, it can be pretty hard to refuse. This just does not apply if she did.

The point about power dynamics is not "who made the first move" - it is about who has the position of authority, who has the influence, and who can control the situation. In that situation, it was Bill, the older, more experienced, more mature and more selfish of the two who had that power. He could have stopped it - and did not. He could have treated her with some decency - and did not. Maybe Monica was not exactly heric either - but look at the disparity in age, power, maturity. Do you think Monica made the first move - if she did - without some sort of encouragement by Clinton? Some eye-contact, some special sign of interest? Which of them had the track record of lies, adultery and generally exploiting women? How many women had Clinton lied about, exploited and generally betrayed? Sorry, but I can't imagine she "made the first move" and expected to be used the way she was. Doubtless the women who preceded her felt the same. yes, there is a victim in this story, and it is the familiar story of Bill Clinton and women. They are used, discarded, lied about, and then blamed. That's the Clinton track record, and it makes for a thoroughly repulsive sight. It also leads one to question whether Hillary really does have any feminist inclinations. How could any committed feminist stay with someone who has habitually treated women so vilely, and with such obvious sexual predatory intent? I repeat that I am not in sympathy with those who attack HRC as a woman, or for being "feminine" - but I do wonder how anyone can take her seriously as a feminist.

I think we might remember that "she made the first move" is a pretty standard defense in rape trials - and works more often than it should. No one should take it seriously as a defense in such a case, and it really doesn't help Clinton's case much at all. Look at the age gap. Look at how much power he had. You can't claim that the playingfield was remotely level. It is also crazy to say that there doesn't have to be a victim - at minimum, Hillary was a victim, so was Chelsea, and so, indirectly, were many people who had trusted Clinton and been betrayed by his atrocious lack of ethics. Yes, Monica got screwed by Bill, and in more ways than one.

nickzi: Fwiw, I have absolutely no brief for Bill Clinton, at least as far as his treatment of women is concerned. None at all. Nor am I particularly thrilled by Hillary.

That said, I have always wondered why so few people, on all sides of the political spectrum, consider the possibility that the two of them might have stayed together because they love each other, albeit, I'd imagine, in a fairly complicated way. (Think of Betty Friedan, who surely ought to count as a committed feminist.)

Lots of people who are generally great on some issues nonetheless have complicated personal lives, which are related to their principles in complicated ways. I am, for that reason, not the least inclined to think that she can't be a committed feminist if she stayed in her marriage.

I just wish someone could make the case for me that she's been a leader on feminist issues in her public life.

Hilzoy, I know we disagree about the victimhood of Monica Lewinski, and although I disagree with you profoundly on that one point, I think we find common ground in our view of Clinton qua womanizer, and Hillary as questionable feminist. I would say that it is hard for me to imagine a feminist with strongly held principles being able to go on for so long with a man who must have violated them in so many ways, so often. I can see that Hillary may well love Bill (and I suppose someone has to!), but I can't see the feminist Hillary in all of this. I find it ironic that Democrats spend so much time on Clinton (Bill), who was on the whole not a distinguished president, and did much to damage his party. I also have trouble understanding why anyone would see Hillary as a strong advocate for women. Perhaps I am somewhat naive, but I feel that there is a lack of real achievement, and a willingness to abandon positions that might not be "popular" - whatever that means in our poll-driven age. I find all this deeply regrettable, because, as a lifelong liberal, I feel that the Democratic party really could do better. Instead, we get triangulation, manipulation, promises that are unfuflfilled - and some extremely unpleasant treatment of anyone who gets in the way of the Clinton machine. God knows, I want the Republicans gone - but must we really endorse the Clintons? Anyway, I want to say that I have absolutely no personal animus towards you, even though we disagree on these issues, and that I hope we can resume the conversation in happier times than the last thrashing and screaming days of the dying Bush presidency.

nickzi: I don't do hard feelings, though I make a few exceptions for people like, oh, Dick Cheney. But unless you're him, or maybe Rumsfeld or someone, no worries.

I don't really get it either, and I truly do not want to endorse HRC, for reasons I explained elsewhere.

It's not as if the whole sordid affair wasn't typed up, bound, and published at taxpayer expense. We have a very good idea of how the power dynamic played out, and there's no evidence of coercion. The relationship was completely inappropriate on perhaps a hundred levels, and everyone involved got way more than they bargained for in the end, but the main actors BOTH made really stupid choices that ended up harming a lot of people, and they both deserve a good bit of the blame. There's no way that Hillary, as a good feminist, owes squat to the woman who transgressed against her marriage. As far as I'm concerned, compassion in that instance means nobody goes missing or loses an appendage, feminist or not.

Hilzoy, it's a little alarming that nickzi disagrees with you, is not personal about it - and then you have to say you "don't hold grudges". Frankly, that sounds more like a promise to hold them, by implying that they do exist. What exactly would your grudge be here? Was the guy just wrong to criticise your views?

"Was the guy just wrong to criticise your views?"

I may have missed nickzi identifying as male, in which case never mind (and whatever gender nickzi is is irrelevant to this point), but it's interesting that in a discussion of sexism, you seem to be suggesting that nickzi is male, absent such knowledge, unless I'm misreading.

Oh, and: "Frankly, that sounds more like a promise to hold them, by implying that they do exist."

No, of course it doesn't.

"What exactly would your grudge be here?"

It's a false premise.

To be really really really clear and simple, Hilzoy was responding to this:

[...] Anyway, I want to say that I have absolutely no personal animus towards you, even though we disagree on these issues, and that I hope we can resume the conversation in happier times than the last thrashing and screaming days of the dying Bush presidency.
Saying, no, there's no personal animus, is not actually impolite or threatening, in our culture, for most sane people.

GaryFarber - I see, so, a reasonable question produces attacks on my sanity? And no, asking what these putative hard feelings might be about is not unreasonable. In any case, perhaps you could let hilzoy answer for herself, rather than jumping in with some questionable assumptions. Meantime, please, calm down.

maximin: I was, in fact, replying to the quote Gary cited, which seemed to express concern that I might take it personally; I just wanted to say: no, I wouldn't.

"GaryFarber - I see, so, a reasonable question produces attacks on my sanity?"

I was being a bit snarky; I'd have to know you better to actually question your sanity, and I don't actually attack people's sanity, although maybe that is what people mean when they say I drive them crazy.

"And no, asking what these putative hard feelings might be about is not unreasonable."

It is, actually, since it's based on either not reading or understanding the perfectly polite and friendly exchange of two people written in clear English.

"In any case, perhaps you could let hilzoy answer for herself,"

I couldn't stop her, I assure you.

"rather than jumping in with some questionable assumptions."

They're not questionable at all, again given the above premise. In fact, they were what we call "true" assumptions. Also known as "facts."

I'm perfectly willing to believe that you missed what Hilzoy was replying to, and thus were puzzled.

"Meantime, please, calm down."

I couldn't be more calm. My words are equally calm.

Gary, is there a part of "mind your own business" that perplexes you? Or should I make it shorter, if not sweeter? As for the idea that assumptions are facts, you really ought to find a job with Michelle Malkin. Perhaps if you hurry, your niche will be waiting.

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