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June 07, 2008

Comments

yes. very good so far. i'm quite impressed - with her, at least.

the boos each time she said she was supporting Obama were a little dispiriting.

This speech has changed my perspective on why she held on for so long. I had thought that she was just going on to be spoiler and ensure her chances in 2012. Now I think she held out for so long simply to prove that a woman can run a hard race and to completely obliterate barriers to a woman being a future democratic candidate and nominee.

Now I hope her supporters actually listened to her and stop threatening revenge voting for McCain.

"I had thought that she was just going on to be spoiler and ensure her chances in 2012. Now I think she held out for so long simply to prove that a woman can run a hard race and to completely obliterate barriers to a woman being a future democratic candidate and nominee."

Oh, ye of little faith.

I've always intended to vote for Obama if Clinton didn't get the nomination. The big change is that thanks to the virulent sexism of male Obama supporters and lack of leadership on the part of the Democratic Party in putting a stop to it, I'll be pulling the lever in the Working Families Party and won't be considering rejoining the Democratic Party for probably another decade or so.

Thanks tons, guys. You're doing a *fabulous* job supporting your candidate.

The big change is that thanks to the virulent sexism of male Obama supporters

this just in: none of those people are running for president.

I always intended to vote for Hillary despite the virulent racism coming from her campaign and her supporters. I still would have, but thanks to all the classy Clinton supporters out there, I've had to come to the realization that a large portion of my party is racist.

Way to go, gals and guys. You've done a *fabulous* job supporting your candidate.

this just in: none of those people are running for president

I didn't realize that! Well, then, I guess their sexism is totally okay!!

I hope that Clinton supporters like you, Melinda, can reconcile your liberal views with four or eight years of McSame.

You may not be a fan of Obama after a knock-down-drag-out fight. But, Is he really worse than McCain who promises war with Iran, conservative Justice appointments, and four more years of almost every bad idea bush has ever had?

Begone, foul italics, and trouble us no more!

This is the Hillary I supported. I hope her supporters listen to her. I am proud of her and think all women owe her a debt of gratitude.

It's easy to say, I know, but had Hillary been nominated, I wouldn't have let Lanny Davis's dishonesty, Harold Ickes's vileness, or Geraldine Ferraro's racism stop me from voting for her.

Gerbal, I have never said I'd vote for McCain and I've never said I wouldn't vote. I live in NY, which allows candidates to appear in multiple columns (parties) on a ballot. I will vote for Obama in the Working Families Party column and I'll be proud to do it, but it will be a cold day in hell before I reaffiliate with the Democratic Party.

I've always intended to vote for Obama if Clinton didn't get the nomination. The big change is that thanks to the virulent sexism of male Obama supporters and lack of leadership on the part of the Democratic Party in putting a stop to it, I'll be pulling the lever in the Working Families Party

Are these supporters major players in the Obama campaign, or regular voters who said they were going to vote Obama and also made sexist remarks about Hillary? If the former, I might understand, though I can't think of any (or any that might have exhibited "virulent sexism"). If the latter, exactly what was the leadership of the Democratic Party going to do about it? Round them up and send them to some sort of training?

I've said this elsewhere but please don't mind if I repeat myself.

I've always liked Hillary. Back in the day I used to argue to my American friends that she could win a general election and that she'd make a fine president. But her primary campaign has felt like a Shakespearean tragedy. Back when she joined the senate she judged her greatest future liability for a presidential run to be whether voters would trust a woman to be the commander-in-chief of the U. S. military. So she joined the armed services committee and supported the war in Iraq and so on. People smarter than me predicted that the 2008 Democratic primary would come down to a contest between her and someone who had opposed the war from the start and that the other candidate would win. And so it went. She misjudged the ebb and flow of society and thus her ambition and dream ran aground. This speech by Brutus in Shakespeare's Julius Caesar sums it up perfectly:

Under your pardon. You must note beside,
That we have tried the utmost of our friends,
Our legions are brim-full, our cause is ripe:
The enemy increaseth every day;
We, at the height, are ready to decline.
There is a tide in the affairs of men,
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries.
On such a full sea are we now afloat;
And we must take the current when it serves,
Or lose our ventures.

I'll issue the standard ObWi call for specifics: what *specific* instances of virulent sexism by male Obama supporters are you referring to? Any here on ObWi? Or are you simply smearing male Obama supporters in general?

Melinda:

I understand your feelings *completely*. However, I don't think the problem is Obama or even his supporters *qua* supporters. The problem is that misogyny is so widespread and well-established that even the Democratic party, even the more liberal sections of the Democratic party, is infested with it.

This is IMHO tied into the problem of what I call the Jerkosphere -- the people (mostly but not all male, mostly but not all young) whose online experience seems to be organized around Being a Jerk on the Internet. The Jerkosphere is *incredibly* misogynistic, and it tends to have a horribly amplifying effect -- not least because cable news and talk radio are part of the Jerkosphere, along with much of Hollywood and the rest of the media.

Or are you simply smearing male Obama supporters in general?

Specifics are fine; we can own up to specifics.

Generalities are harder to defend...

I will vote for Obama in the Working Families Party column and I'll be proud to do it.

Melinda,

Thank you for your support in helping to keep the GOP out of the White House.

If you feel that the Democratic party is too imperfect a vessel for your political aspirations and that WFP offers a better path, then I wish you the best of luck (no sarcasm) and hope that you find what you seek.

I think one of the larger messages which I've been hearing from Obama's campaign is that it is time for all of us to get more involved in our democracy and if working within the framework of a third party is the most constructive way for you to do that, then bless you. That is far better than staying home and tuning it all out or withdrawing from the poltical process in bitterness and cynicism. May your chosen party and candidates do what they can to improve our nation.

Ugh:

Round them up and send them to some sort of training?

That is a strawfeminist, subspecies feminazi. Feminists are not interested in rounding anyone up. We are saying, though, that people (especially young men) need to be *taught*, especially by other men.

*Men* need to stand up and say, "No, it is not acceptable to even debate whether Hillary is a bitch. No, it is not acceptable to even think about this organization."

Those of you male-type people who are asking for *examples* of sexism and misogyny are not helping your cause, because it sounds like you wouldn't recognize sexism if we ground your noses into it while whapping you with a rolled-up newspaper. You have to change the behavior you will tolerate from other men, and the first step is *noticing* it.

It was a great speech. She was her very best self in this speech and I will trying to be my very best self in regard to her: ie forgive and forget and never mind who was right or wrong or whatever.

I'll even reconcile myself to her as Veep, if she wants it, although as LBJ said it's no better than a bucket of warm spit. She'd be in a better position to impact people's lives from the Cabinet.

I'm sorry, but for the most part I find it difficult to see much misogyny integrated into the Democratic party apparatus. The Speaker is a woman, many Obama supporters have long said they would like to have Hillary as Senate Majority Leader and half of Obama's short list VP candidates are women -- with the primary knocks against picking any of them being that they are important leaders in swing states and are key to the national success of the party.

Actually, wonkiewonkie, it was John Nance Garner, Roosevelt's VP, who said being VP wasn't worth a bucket of warm spit.

On the matter of whether or not Hillary is a bitch, what's the gender-nuetral term for that? Somehow I think of asshole as referring to men.

Quick take -- it's good. It was touching, and she said what she needed to say -- even though it was doubtless an extremely difficult thing to do. Hilzoy and others have spoken eloquently about the historic nature of Obama's victory. But it's important to remember the truly historic nature of her campaign as well.

I thought it was a good speech, really a pair of speeches (one for each group, her's and Obama's) interwoven. You could tell from subtle changes in her facial expression and voice tone which speech was more enjoyable for her to deliver, but that is entirely understandable.

the boos each time she said she was supporting Obama were a little dispiriting.

The important thing is Hillary carried all of it off in a convincing fashion with dignity and sincerity, and I thought she did a good job of carrying the crowd with her through some of the passages which were particularly hard for them, and while I heard a few boos they were for the most part drowned out by applause.

It was a very difficult speech to give and I think Hillary and her supporters should be very proud of how well she carried it off, something which I as a supporter of the nominee appreciate a great deal.

I don't think that men can be held responsible for spending their time monitoring and responsding to the behavior of all other men all the time.

If a person is being a sexist directly in the presence of or on behalf of someone else, then the other person should speak up and object.

Also there were plenty of men who did object to the two examples you gave. There were diaries and comments about both on Kos, with plenty of outrage from male Obama supporters.

It is extraordinaty to me that someone could use the word bitch on TV in reference to a female politicain and not get fired. But I don't see how Obama supporters are more responsible for emailing objections in thatn anyone else.

I am, bytheway, female.

Doctor Science, what on earth does vile behavior from the likes of Roger Stone and Alex Castellanos have to do with the Democratic Party?

Wonkie, that was John Nance Garner, not LBJ (who unfortunately was one of the VPs who discovered that the position does sometimes have more meaning).

Those of you male-type people who are asking for *examples* of sexism and misogyny are not helping your cause, because it sounds like you wouldn't recognize sexism if we ground your noses into it while whapping you with a rolled-up newspaper. You have to change the behavior you will tolerate from other men, and the first step is *noticing* it.

Maybe we noticed it, and decided that the reprehensible behavior of GOP operatives like Stone and Castellanos doesn't reflect on the Obama campaign.

mikkel:

The problem isn't the Dem Party apparatus. It's the people. We've come far enough that it's not most of the people most of the time, but it's still *too many* and *too often*.

In NJ I don't have Melinda's voting options, and I also think the Dem Party can still be pushed -- but I sure understand her attitude.

Publius, thanks for this. I found it very good, and moving, too.

I'm a Clinton supporter who has always felt the race-baiting and misogyny were both big problems in the primaries, and Clinton and Obama failed to show leadership by not condemning them. It showed me we have a long way to go. But I believe Obama will represent women's concerns well, that we need to set aside our differences and pull together to help Obama win the presidency.

For those who didn't see any sexism used against Clinton and asked for specific examples, here's a thorough general roundup from Shakespeare's Sister, Liss McEwan:

http://shakespearessister.blogspot.com/2008/05/hillary-sexism-watch-104.html

Here is a roundup of the specifically blogospheric crap:

http://www.haloscan.com/comments/amsmiles/2482244813245744997/#1022669

And finally, here's a link about privilege and how not seeing sexism doesn't mean it's not there:

http://colours.mahost.org/org/maleprivilege.html

This is based on a really good essay regarding white privilege, which is also well worth reading:

http://www.amptoons.com/blog/files/mcintosh.html

In short, the misogyny hurled at Clinton during her campaign was overwhelming and dreadful, and it doesn't matter whether or not it affected her chances of winning, or whether you disagreed with her policies, or even whether you like her. Just as it wouldn't be (and wasn't) appropriate to use racial slurs against Obama, regardless of what you thought of his policies, levle of experience, or integrity.

-l.

*Men* need to stand up and say, "No, it is not acceptable to even debate whether Hillary is a bitch. No, it is not acceptable to even think about this organization."

Doctor Science, do you really believe that any fraction of OW's male readership supports Roger Stone's organization? That any would agree in general with a crazy Republican operative on Fox News? Moreover, do you believe either Fox News or Roger Stone care what a bunch of liberal-leaning blog commenters think?

Look, if you want 50% of the population to do something, especially if you think doing that something is so obvious that they simply must do it, you should say exactly what you want them to do and why you think doing so will improve matters. So far, you haven't. So, what specific actions do you think men, young or otherwise, need to take in this case? And what makes you think those actions will improve anything?


Those of you male-type people who are asking for *examples* of sexism and misogyny are not helping your cause, because it sounds like you wouldn't recognize sexism if we ground your noses into it while whapping you with a rolled-up newspaper. You have to change the behavior you will tolerate from other men, and the first step is *noticing* it.

Doctor Science, I don't think Melinda's statements are greeted by calls for specific cites because people question the existence of sexism in general. I think those calls are made because they think most of the sexism we've seen in this campaign is coming from the media and, I hate to have to be the one to explain this to you, but Democrats do not control the media. In fact, the media is quite hostile to Democrats in general. Also, a number of sexism allegations that I've seen regarding the campaign are just garbage: they boil down to crazy fantasies where Obama gave Clinton the finger, ergo, he hates all women, even though he did no such thing. Again, I'm sure that the media has been insane with sexism, and I'm sure there have been some Obama supporters who have been jerks, but I don't think it is fair to tar millions of people as sexists without asking for substantiation.

There has been a very persistent effort to refuse specificity when accusing Obama supporters of sexism. That allows the accusers to blur media sexism, random Obama-supporting jerk sexism, Republican sexism, and completely fictitious non-sexism as one thing which is then used to tar all Obama supporters or all Democrats. After all, "everyone" just "knows" that Obama's campaign has been horribly sexist, just like everyone knows that Saddam Hussein has a nuclear arsenal. Details don't matter. Frankly, I don't think this is a productive way to address sexism.

Ok doc, i'll bite. We don't hesitate to acknowledge and denounce the sexism of the right wing hate mongers and media.

What we are wondering about are the accusations of sexism against Obama supporters or the Obama campaign. We have been hearing the accusations for months with little or no proof.

On the matter of whether or not Hillary is a bitch, what's the gender-nuetral term for that? Somehow I think of asshole as referring to men.

(1) Stop trying to think of even gender-neutral terms of abuse for Hillary. All it will do is risk costing votes for Obama from disaffected Hillary supporters.

(2) Start using a-hole, jerk, and whatever other terms sound naturally masculine to you, to refer to women if you feel the need to call them names. Pretty soon it will come naturally. This is better for everyone involved: the insulter avoids sounding sexist, and the insultee may better understand that an insult is directed at her behavior and not her gender.

That is a strawfeminist, subspecies feminazi. Feminists are not interested in rounding anyone up. We are saying, though, that people (especially young men) need to be *taught*, especially by other men.

*Men* need to stand up and say, "No, it is not acceptable to even debate whether Hillary is a bitch. No, it is not acceptable to even think about this organization."

Those of you male-type people who are asking for *examples* of sexism and misogyny are not helping your cause, because it sounds like you wouldn't recognize sexism if we ground your noses into it while whapping you with a rolled-up newspaper. You have to change the behavior you will tolerate from other men, and the first step is *noticing* it.

*blinks*

*looks around*

*blinks again*

*considers responding*

*decides to go back to writing much more interesting tax opinion instead*

Doctor Science:
That's fair, but personally I just assume the majority of the members in any group are going to be idiots in some way because the vast majority of people are idiots in some way -- it's human nature. Thus, I think that the leadership is the best reason to identify with a group or not, and fail to see why people would quit the party over this particular issue (there are a myriad of other issues I could understand them quitting but...)

It is also no small matter as a lot of social progress in this country is about getting large enough support that changes can be made at the top, and then once people realize the world hasn't ended they are more open minded (or at least their kids are). This is what I gathered from Hilzoy's recent post on her job experiences, I hope I'm not misrepresenting them.

It's also why gay acceptance has risen so drastically in such a short period of time.

Hillary is a ground breaking politician because people had to take her seriously, and since a large number of the best Democratic politicians are women, I hope that over the next decade or two a lot of the societal misogyny (at least re: politics, in general it'll be harder) goes away. I don't watch much TV and was completely aghast at what the cable news people could say and get away with. It was unconscionable.

"Actually, wonkiewonkie, it was John Nance Garner, Roosevelt's VP, who said being VP wasn't worth a bucket of warm spit."

Actually, he said it wasn't worth a bucket of warm piss, but it got cleaned up by the press.

Best. Dem. Primary. Ever.

"You have to change the behavior you will tolerate from other men, and the first step is *noticing* it."

I completely agree in general, but you're making a specific complaint, and if you want a specific complaint addressed, you need to be specific. There's nothing I can to do address a general request that I pay more attention to sexism, when there's no measure of how much attention I already pay.

Dr Science, though I'm sure you didn't mean to, you really demean women using the word misogyny to describe what actually is good old fashion sexism.

Transcript from 1:58: I don't really want to make this political, 'cause you know I'm very unpolitical [laughter], but when Hillary was crying, and people said that was put on, I really don't believe it was put on. I really believe that she just always thought: "This is mine." [applause] "I'm Bill's wife; I'm white; and this is mine! I just gotta get up and step into [sic] the plate." And then outta nowhere came: "Hey, I'm Barack Obama." And she said, "Aww, damn! Where did you come from?! I'm white! I'm entitled! There's a black man stealing my show!" [cheers and applause] Waaaaaaaah! [pretends to weep and cry; wipes face with hankie] Waaaaaaaah! She wasn't the only one crying; there was a whole lotta white people crying!"

I'm sorry, but what is it in this that makes it represent sexism? Much less constituting misogyny

The HRC campaign was a big trainwreck in many ways, both conceptually (especially conceptually) and operationally. She was always my third choice, and I will admit that I have long found both HRC and Bill to be more or less appalling public figures. But until recently, I always like HRC better than Bill. This kind of speech is why. Very well done. It was graceful. (closed circuit to those who think the use of 'graceful' here is sexist: true grace is not a gendered quality; grace is, in fact, a rare quality, and Senator Clinton showed it today.)

The big change is that thanks to the virulent sexism of male Obama supporters...

HRC rather meanly used sexism in this campaign, used it to justify her running in the first place. She ended up fanning resentment in a way worthy of Nixon. Without citing a laundry list of things, tell me what HRC's primary issue was, other than her gender? She tacked left later in the campaign, adopting some of Edwards' proposals, but tacking is tacking. We know what Obama's was: change and hope; Edwards: poverty and the middle class. Clinton? I'M A WOMAN. I think that's a betrayal of feminism in a fundamental way, particularly in an historic election like this.

And her racial appeals - not from nameless supporters, but from surrogates and from the candidate herself - were truly virulent.

The reductive, frankly, a bit reactionary, commercial, American version of Second Wave feminism is dead - and thank god for it. HRC spoke of a day somewhere in the future when boys and girls would take for granted that they could be anything they want to be, including president. What Clinton couldn't see is that the younger generations of boys and girls, young men and women, pretty much take for granted already that it's not going to be sexism which prevents them from being president, or something else lofty. Rather it's, among other things, our piece of shit government which has sold (all of) them out over the decades, and that includes triangulating, defensive politicians like the Clintons. I am aware that HRC has done serious work on real women's issues, but thematically, the feminism she and Gloria S. represent is a very middle class kind of feminism. What happens to it when the middle class itself crumbles away?

Edwards, a white, southern man, was the feminist candidate in this race; poverty is probably the biggest, and certainly the most urgent, women's issue there is in this country. Clinton picked up steam when she appropriated some of Edwards' message, but...
I would've hoped that the first woman elected (or close-to) president would've synthesized a new feminism, one which is about liberating *everyone*. Instead, her main plank was an alread-expired 'You Go Girl' feminism, which had anyway long since been coopted by the advertising and marketing industries. And I haven't even mentioned Iraq or foreign policy. She lost fair and square.

Excellent speech today, though.

Melinda: I *completely* do not understand your comments or your sentiments. I am a 47 year old Northern California woman. After reading Freud the first time, I wrote my own "penis pity theories" in response. Got the picture? I grew up on the bread of feminism (mom was a volunteer fireman)-- it's in my bones.

One of the biggest things that turned me off about Senator Clinton was the concept of inevitability. I just never bought into it. I never felt that I "owed" Clinton anything, and I feel that it's one of the classic American characteristics that if someone tells us that a leader is "inevitable," we start to cavil. I'm from the mountains in California's gold country, and we don't really take to slick politicians telling us that they are "owed."

During the campaigning, I found myself getting more and more turned off by the Clintons and the baggage. I watched Obama, seeing if the guy really *could* try to be a unifying force, and I liked what I saw. I think that many people think that it's time to step forward.

It's really *not* the last chance for a female president, you know. Rather, it's watching someone who has made herself into the embodiment of a cause get toppled from her pedestal.

As such a leader to feminists, I presume that Hillary will now work hard to bring MORE women, rather than just herself, into positions that can eventually be president. That will be refreshing.

In my world, feminism is a lot bigger than Senator Clinton.

"For those who didn't see any sexism used against Clinton"

Wait, who said that? Cite? Someone in this thread? Elsewhere in an ObWi thread? Somewhere else? Who said this here? Link?

Personally, I can't imagine how anyone could say, as a general statement, that they saw no sexism being displayed against Senator Clinton by someone, or by many people during the course of the campaign, without the speaker being completely off on some other planet, blind, deaf, and dumb, so I'd like to know just who is supposed to have said this here, and therefore who this comment is addressed to, specifically, so the rest of us can address this person or persons, please. Thanks.

It is extraordinaty to me that someone could use the word bitch on TV in reference to a female politicain and not get fired. But I don't see how Obama supporters are more responsible for emailing objections in thatn anyone else.

that's probably because you're not looking for reasons to continue not liking the guy who beat your preferred candidate.

No one is disputing that a lot of sexism was hurled at Hillary Clinton. The accusation being objected to is that sexism was hurled at Hillary Clinton by the Barak Obama campaign.

Links have been offered to support the case that sexism has been thrown at the Hillary Clinton campaign. But looking at those links, Citizens United Not Timid is a dispicably sexist organisation, but how is it anything to do with the Obama campaign? The 104 examples of Sexism in the Media has some nasty sexist stuff there - but that's talking about the media, and not the Obama campaign. Most of the linked comment thread is a roundup of blogospheric crap - but even that is low level and has Obama's own supporters arguing against it.

From what I've seen there have been five sets of people attacking Clinton using sexist approaches. In descending levels of influence of sexism:
1: The Right-wing media (Fox, Limbaugh, etc.).
2: The Mainstream Media. See Chris Matthews (and others) for details.
3: McCain supporters and other low level Republicans. Sometimes concern-trolling.
4: Obama supporters who had some serious reason to dislike the Clinton campaign (either held over from the previous Clinton presidency or from Hillary's turning negative (3am, saying McCain had more experience) or parts of her campaign turning racist, or from her trying to cheat by changing the rules in mid-race (Florida, Michigan)) and who were normally implicitely rather than explicitely sexist in how they attacked.
5: Genuine sexist Obama supporters. Yes, there are probably thousands if not tens of thousands of these (it's a big campaign), but I don't recall seeing much encouragement at all from higher levels of the Obama campaign.

Please remember that the Obama campaign was the opposition, McSame is the enemy. The Obama campaign is what you've been opposing for the past however many months, so it's only natural to feel as if most of the attacks came from that source. But the more vile the attack, the more likely it came from sources outside the Obama camp, and from sources that don't support Obama. As far as I know, there was no "shucking and jiving" equivalent (some sex-linked words, but nothing that extreme), and no one tried to make Hillary Clinton look as female as possible. So instead please focus the rage where it belongs. And help Obama win in November. Hillary Clinton was a good candidate. Barak Obama was a good candidate and proved better at the primary (despite starting with a handicap of not having the Clinton aparatus to start with). And both of them are head, shoulders, and even waist and hips above anyone that ran on the Republican side. But the Republicans play dirty. And incumbent parties have a huge advantage - George Bush overturned an 10 point deficit to beat John Kerry - and Al Gore overturned a 17 point deficit to win the popular vote, and George H W Bush himself overturned a 17 point deficit to beat Dukakis. Obama is going to need all the help he can get.

And Obama supporters please don't be surprised that this is happening. It's how divide-and-rule works after all. And that's a regrettably successful tactic that can be beaten with time and focus (just ask the Republicans. Or the British Empire).

Oh, and for the record it's probably possible to find a feminist who says anything that other feminists will say is straw feminist. I know a couple who tend to the extreme that way. And the majority of feminists I know do not. There is no movement so right that you can not find an absolute idiot supporting it. (And that's without getting into the issue of concern trolls). However, just because there are some idiot feminists is no reason to write off feminism. And if feminists always stepped up to repudiate the mad ones they'd never get anything done. And the same is true of the Obama campaign.

For the record, I am not a member of the Obama campaign or even the Democratic party. I amost certainly would be were I American. But even from abroad (or perhaps particularly from abroad) I can see how important this election is. In some ways it's nice to see a fight that is so clear cut that one side is the good one. (Or more accurately I'd consider the Democratic party civilised with all the flaws that brings, and the Republican party barbarous, having learned many of the bad bits of civilisation).

It's really *not* the last chance for a female president, you know. Rather, it's watching someone who has made herself into the embodiment of a cause get toppled from her pedestal.

This meme in particular is a complete mystery to me. How can it possibly be that this is our last chance (implied: for a significant period of time) for a women president, for the vast majority of the American population? I mean I can understand the deep disappointment of women (and men) in their last years of life, but for the rest of us it seems to me that this argument simultaneously does two contradictory things:

- It overstates the political stature of Hillary Clinton herself by implying that there are no other women who would be remotely realistic in entertaining the idea of running for President.

- It understates the amount of ground already covered in preparing the electorate pyschologically to vote a women into the office of the President, work which Hillary deserves an immense amount of credit for.

IMHO there are a great many female political figures, especially in the Democratic party, who should be thinking very seriously about their chances in the 2012 or 2016 campaigns. Close to a third of the names that I'm hearing floated as possible VP picks for Obama are women. The person who acted as a power broker to bring Obama and Hillary together for their first post-primary season meeting was a female Senator. Both of these things are a good indicator of how much political talent is out there waiting in the wings. And when one of them runs and wins the nomination, and then wins the general election, they will have Hillary to thank in no small measure for preparing the way for them.

I expect to see a female President be elected within my lifetime, and I probably could not have honestly made that statement 8 years ago.

The 104 examples of Sexism in the Media has some nasty sexist stuff there - but that's talking about the media, and not the Obama campaign.

my favorite complaint is that Obama and his campaign is complicit in the sexism of others because he didn't give a big speech on the evils of sexism - he just benefited from it. he didn't stand up for Hillary. hmm.

i guess i missed Hillary's landmark speech on the evils of racism. was it any good ? and did anyone catch her historic speech on the evils of sexism ?

bah.

but, again: people are just looking for excuses to continue not liking Obama.

Please remember that the Obama campaign was the opposition, McSame is the enemy.

Francis D,

Very good points except for the bit above which I disagree with.
My formulation would have been:

"the Obama campaign was the competition, McSame is the opposition."

There are no "enemies" in a small-d democratic polity (something we need to work to remind ourselves of from time to time), only the opposition. That is really a large part of the point to living in a liberal democracy, which is defined not just by majority rule, but by respect for the minority which loses the contest. Democracy isn't just a system for selecting our leadership, it is also (and even more importantly) a system for constructing political legitimacy. And for the majority to respect the minority after a decision has been rendered is a pre-condition for the minority consenting to abide by that decision, which is the crucial moment when legitimacy is built.

We saw this dynamic at work today with Hillary's gracious and dignified concession speech. Democracy is only as strong as the willingness of the losing side to consent to the result. For the alternative, see the 1860 election.

IMHO as always.

or to put it more concisely:

For a democratic system, the most important speech on election night is the one given by the loser, not the winner. If we can banish the word "enemies" from our political vocabulary, we will get better results on those occasions.

ThatLeftTurnInABQ:
I will accept your correction for Clinton, that she is indeed the competition rather than the opposition.

Before certain votes in recent memory under George W Bush (most notably the Habeas Corpus one) I would have agreed with the entire statement. However, I do not believe that the Republican party of Tom Delay, Karl Rove, and Dick Cheney was either a loyal opposition or even a loyal government. And I think that the present Republican party needs to spend at least a decade in the wilderness (probably with the start being 2006) before it can be restored to the state of Loyal Opposition.

I am a 47 year old woman and I certainly saw sexism in this campaign.

After an early debate where several challenged the front-runner, Bill Clinton cried that those boys had picked on her. (With full but false implication that it was due to her gender.) During another debate Obama was asked why he didn't wear a flag pin, but Clinton wasn't asked the same question. (Solely due to her gender.) But the most egregious example of sexism I saw was all those women who voted for Clinton merely because she is a woman. That's as sexist as it comes.

Dr Science: I completely concur with your observation on misogyny in the Jerkosphere -- something about which I've wondered (and against which I've fought) for years, but with minimal results -- but, like many of the others in this thread, I haven't really seen much sexism (or misogyny) coming from the Obama campaign. I think Francis D's summary is about right; certainly, the vast majority of sexist, even outright misogynistic, remarks that I saw came either from Republicans or the supposedly neutral arbiters of discourse. If you have specific examples of Obama-driven sexism, though, I'd be interested to hear them.

For what it's worth, I didn't read anyone here challenging the notion that sexism had been directed against Clinton by anyone. Early on, I thought the question was about people *here*; later, about Obama supporters.

There are undoubtedly jerks on every campaign. I'm sure there are jerks, and specifically sexist jerks, among Obama's supporters, just as I'm sure there are racist jerks among Clinton supporters. It would be very, very surprising if there weren't, given how many supporters each had.

But to me, it's odd to vote based on someone's supporters. For one thing, everyone has some horrible supporters. For another, those supporters aren't running.

In this case, the difference between McCain and Obama is much, much greater than the difference between Clinton and Obama, on more or less any issue you want. It is particularly true on women's issues. I'd make this same argument if Clinton had won: either beating McCain is more important than one beating the other.

I salute Sen. Clinton for her speech.

But the most egregious example of sexism I saw was all those women who voted for Clinton merely because she is a woman.

First, they weren't voting for her only because she was a woman, unless you believe they would have been just as glad to vote for Elizabeth Dole or Condoleezza Rice or Phyllis Schlafly or Ann Coulter. Second, when choosing between two good candidates, voting for the one who's a woman because you think it would be good for the country to finally have a woman as president is not sexism. The people voting for Hillary have voted for innumerable men in the past, and there's no reason to believe they have some prejudice against men.

You know, if Obama loses, Pelosi would still be young enough to run against McCain in 2012...

As one who has at times been harshly critical of Senator Clinton (for reasons wholly unrelated to her gender), I am most pleased to have her on board for a Democratic victory. Let's hope that Senator Obama's campaign and an Obama administration each make good use of this remarkable woman's considerable talents.

There are no "enemies" in a small-d democratic polity (something we need to work to remind ourselves of from time to time), only the opposition.

To the extent that our vote only affects people in a small-d democratic polity, I'd agree with you. But there is good reason to believe that a President McCain would bring about the deaths of many many many innocent civilians in foreign countries. The last time we gambled on an idiotic Republican President, we ended up bringing about the deaths of a million people for no apparent reason. McCain has spent a lot of time criticizing Bush for not having started enough wars, for not having been bloodthirsty enough, for not having made enough desolations and calling them peace.

It seems like someone should speak out on behalf of Bush's victims and on behalf of McCain's victims to be. Might as wellbe me. From their perspective, McCain is an enemy. He is a monster. He is a genocidal sociopath who must be kept from power. I'm sorry if such sentiments reduce the quality of our sterling political discourse, but that sort of thing stopped mattering to me after we had heaped the Iraqi corpses in stacks reaching ever skyward.

So I agree with you and disagree with you. If this was 1992 and we were talking about George H.W. Bush, I'd agree that we should not call him the enemy. But it is 2008, and McCain is the enemy of everyone who thinks that innocent Iranian civilians have the right not to be annihilated for no reason.

KCinDC, I'm not referring to the women who voted for Clinton for other reasons. I'm not even referring to women who saw two candidates as equal in all other ways, but then leaned towards the woman because she was a woman. In my statement I was specifically referring to women who solely or mainly voted for Clinton due to her gender. And yes, they do exist. (Ask my mother!)

I am more interested in your other comment. " ... when choosing between two good candidates, voting for the one who's a woman because you think it would be good for the country to finally have a woman as president is not sexism. Perhaps you are right. I would appreciate more input on this. Would someone who votes for a white person in disregard to all other issues, but solely because they think a white person would be better for the country due to their race, be acting in a racist way?

PS: I’m sorry that a couple of days ago I spelled your name wrong.

Sashi:

I think the answer to your question lies in the part of KCinDC's post that immediately follows what you quoted:

"The people voting for Hillary have voted for innumerable men in the past, and there's no reason to believe they have some prejudice against men."

Generally speaking, anyone voting for a woman or an African-American candidate because they want to break down barriers for that gender/race will have voted for a LOT of men/whites before. White men are still the overwhelming majority of politicians, far out of proportion to their numbers, and odds are overwhelming that anyone involved in politics has voted for a good number of them.

I think that makes it unlikely those people harbor a deep-seated grudge or prejudice against white men. It's more likely they want to see politicians who represent their demographics, and make the country more open in the future to choosing the best candidate - regardless of race or gender - by breaking barriers and challenging bias.

she said what she needed to say

Hi Publius,

yes, I suppose. but she did so without saying that Barack was ready to take the 3 AM phone call. crafty writing.

but let's face it: Hillary cannot move public opinion.

granted she branded her name to health care, but John Edwards gets the credit for moving her to the word 'universal,' and in fact moving the issue onto the table.

I'm glad she is gone, and not just because she denied him qualified to be commander in chief.

I say never again let the Democrats come so close to nominating a politician who can't move opinion!

Since we generally don't have the money to get things, our legislative agenda lives and dies on eloquence.

Sashi: "I am more interested in your other comment. " ... when choosing between two good candidates, voting for the one who's a woman because you think it would be good for the country to finally have a woman as president is not sexism. Perhaps you are right. I would appreciate more input on this. Would someone who votes for a white person in disregard to all other issues, but solely because they think a white person would be better for the country due to their race, be acting in a racist way?"

I think it's possible to vote for a woman candidate because she's a woman, because you think it would be good for the country to have a woman President, without being sexist at all. Most people will presumably have some limits about this: not any woman (e.g., a complete sociopath) against just any man (e.g., your completely ideal (male) candidate) -- the candidates will have to be broadly comparable, or at least differing only within some range.

But I don't see that thinking that it would be a really good thing to have a woman President, just so that all of this could just be normal, is sexist at all.

Obviously, that wouldn't apply to voting for white candidates: we don't need to break any glass ceilings for whites, or finally elect a white President, since every President so far has been white.

I think I see your point, hilzoy. it's about the stories we tell, even if no particular woman has been discriminated against because of her gender in her quest for the White House.

but there is a lot of ugly, reverse sexism out there, without which Bush's GWOT would not have survived.

And because of that reverse sexism, I'm not as ready to clap along with any judgment based on sex.

redwood: as I wrote in an earlier post, I have, on occasion, been the first woman in various places. My first job, for instance: they had never before had a woman with any real chance of tenure. (The department had only hired its first Catholic two years before.)

That meant that some -- not all -- of my colleagues were very, very nervous about what a woman colleague would be like. Would I insist on talking about feminism all the time -- not just some of the time, but constantly? Would I not want to teach any of the standard courses -- history of moral philosophy, etc., -- but only "feminist" courses? Would I get all emotional in department meetings? Snicker at them and say "you white guys are headed for the dustbin of history"? Burst into tears? Turn into their mothers? (In at least one case, I think this was the deepest fear.)

This made it a lot harder for women to be hired. It also made my life difficult when I first got there: lots of minefields to be avoided. I thought it was one of my jobs in life to make things safe for the next woman they hired -- to show them that it was really not that big a deal to have a woman colleague, in the ways they seemed to worry about. And I think it worked: some of them were very relieved, and the next time we tried to hire a woman, things were much, much easier.

It also made a big difference in other ways -- e.g., women students found it a lot easier to come and talk to me about gender issues, including sexual harassment.

Anyways: having seen the (to my mind plainly unreasonable) fears that people had about having a woman colleague, worked hard to make having a woman seem normal, and seen some of the fruits of that when we tried to hire women again, I really, really believe that this is a perfectly good reason to vote for someone.

I mean: there are bad versions of almost any good reason you could think of, but to me, you try to make sure you're acting on the good versions, rather than tossing good reasons out altogether.

Clinton's gender didn't come into play for me in this election because the choice was not close enough, but also because exactly the same reasoning makes me think: it would matter a lot to have a black President. But I absolutely think it's a legitimate reason to vote for someone, when the choice is close enough, and it's between a woman and a white man (i.e., the one group for whom no glass ceiling exists. Obviously, if we lived in a country in which white men were discriminated against, and had faced serious prejudice, and no white guys had ever been President, and people were really nervous about what would happen if we elected one, the considerations I've cited would make me favor the white guy in a close contest.)

above: "first job" should be "first academic job".

I would be a lot more concerned about women's interest in more good women in positions of influence if we could go a whole campaign with no major outbreaks of "IRON MY SHIRT", C.U.N.T., and the like. As it is, it seems to me much more important to break down as much as possible of the genuinely discriminatory network of powerful influences as promptly and effectively as possible.

Where there's obvious vile peddling of bigotry and lies based on bigotry, I think we all do well to focus on the big blunt targets and then see what to do next, just as I'd rather the EMTs stop my bleeding before offering me haircut tips.

Great speech and a class act. I am glad since it will leave a very positive legacy for her history making campaign.

Clinton did not lose because of sexism and Obama did not beat her using sexism. There is no doubt that plenty of sexist crap came out in the primaries -- the most egregious from media types and Republicans.

Why Clinton lost has been hashed to death, but I have yet to see any credible argument that sexism was a major cause. Clearly, Obama's status as black created more negatives for him than Clinton's status as a woman. And which campaign did better when it came to being sensitive about the other's unique status? Clinton unfortunately mouthed these words -- there is no similar remark from Obama touching on sexism:

Sen. Obama's support among working, hard-working Americans, white Americans, is weakening again, and how whites in both states who had not completed college were supporting me.

Clearly, the campaign was an opportunity for everyone to learn lessons about removing racism and sexism in our society. But what is also clear is the remarkable fact that race and gender ended up not being a deciding factor in the race, which is a good thing.

In addition to the lessons about the extent of sexism in our culture as shown by reaction to the Clinton campaign, there was also this - the reaction of the New York chapter of NOW to Kennedy's endorsement of Obama:

Women have just experienced the ultimate betrayal. Senator Kennedy's endorsement of Hillary Clinton's opponent in the Democratic presidential primary campaign has really hit women hard. ...

And now the greatest betrayal! We are repaid with his abandonment! He's picked the new guy over us. He's joined the list of progressive white men who can't or won't handle the prospect of a woman president who is Hillary Clinton ...

This latest move by Kennedy, is so telling about the status of and respect for women's rights, women's voices, women's equality, women's authority and our ability “ indeed, our obligation - to promote and earn and deserve and elect, unabashedly, a President that is the first woman after centuries of men who ‘know what's best for us.’

As I persist in my inability to recognize sexism despite a persistent whapping at my nose, but, contra the New York Chapter of NOW, wouldn't the "ultimate betrayal" of women come from . . . a woman? And not, say, Ted Kennedy?

To quote Robin (!) Williams: When did Ted Kennedy become Jabba the Hutt? He's huge! You're a Kennedy, not a Macy's Day float!! Bring him down, we're voting! No sir, I said "no" to the Krispy Kreme!!

Dr Science, though I'm sure you didn't mean to, you really demean women using the word misogyny to describe what actually is good old fashion sexism.

No, what upset me most was the *misogyny*, the visceral hatred for women that came swarming out of the Jerkosphere. It's not been particularly visible on this site, which is populated by adults and run by people willing to use the Banhammer of Righteousness, but seeing the comments at e.g. Shakesville or other feminist sites, much less the comments at newspaper sites (which are very poorly-moderated and attract all kinds of bad-spelling trolls).

I am in an area with no TV. It is recommended.

What I do not know is if she has surrendered her delegates. If she has surrendered her delegates, the race is over.

If she has not, people are counting chickens prematurely.

lots of minefields to be avoided. I thought it was one of my jobs in life to make things safe for the next woman they hired -- to show them that it was really not that big a deal to have a woman colleague, in the ways they seemed to worry about. And I think it worked: some of them were very relieved, and the next time we tried to hire a woman, things were much, much easier.

once again, hilzoy, I'm honored. and I see better how, were all things equal, you could vote based on gender, if only to blaze a trail.

my good friend and ex-wife blazed such a trail at a major brokerage house for 10 years. No one thought that a black woman could be trusted with their money.

by the same token, her way-too-race-conscious sisters were not going to let a white guy into the critical decision making processes of the family.

so I concede that I'm not above my ugly personal experiences.

and I'd still largely go a long way with you, at least for institutional purposes. the asymmetry is still beyond the pale.

but as you articulate above, I'm not sure that "emotional" men exhibiting those behaviors don't get discriminated against too.

so I'm not sure that your success wasn't a function of your having accommodated hetro-sexist practices, more than defied sexist ones: you played the strong silent type.

this is the problem I have with feminism as framed by multi-culturalist: they forget that a lot of us straight white guys have gotten our asses kicked for being pussies.

so for me, it's much more about the way in which we perform our roles and in turn the particular sensibilities of our audiences.

hillary is performing the role of a politician in the same old lousy way.

still glad she's gone.

Here's digby, saying what I was trying to say only better:

Clinton's campaign ripped open a hole in our culture and forced us to look inside. And what we found was a simmering cauldron of crude, sophomoric sexism and ugly misogyny that a lot of us knew existed but didn't realize was still so socially acceptable that it could be broadcast on national television and garner nary a complaint from anybody but a few internet scolds
.

redwood: yeah, I have thought for decades that there ought to have been a male version of feminism -- at least, of the parts of feminism that involved spotting and trying to undo expectations of gender behavior. I certainly think that expectations that guys will be emotionless automata are horribly damaging, and should be fought at every turn.

I thought a lot about how to play things at my first job, especially at first. I did not want to allay their fears by turning into another person, let alone some version of a guy. I really didn't want to allay their fears by basically pretending to be a male colleague. I'm basically lucky in that there are certain alarm bells I don't set off no matter what I do, though other women do, and there are some stereotypes I just don't have to worry about confirming, because whatever I do, I will not confirm them. (Apparently.)

That said, I just tried to be normal me, going out of my way to be reassuring. (Most of the time. I did go way out of my way to say, as early as possible so that it could not possibly be taken as directed against anyone, and when an occasion to do so came up in the course of normal conversation, that I had experienced sexual harassment and took it very seriously, hoping that this might make it less likely that any would occur.) I was just mindful of the issues, really.

I was also really helped by one of my colleagues, who was an absolute hero, and (for instance) took it upon himself to spot and bring up gender issues so that I wouldn't always be the one to do it. He had my back, for which I am abidingly grateful.

Hilzoy might be my aunt. That’s probably why I like her.

Patrick?

BOB -- I might? My oldest nephew is not quite ten. (I might be a year off.)

-- I just watched Clinton's speech. I thought of writing a post about it, basically saying: Brava, hats off. I eventually decided that two posts on the same speech might be a bit much. But I thought it was really, really, really good.

Probably just projection then, because I’m twelve. I enjoy your writings Hilzoy. But I don’t trust these politicians as far as I could throw them.


It seems like someone should speak out on behalf of Bush's victims and on behalf of McCain's victims to be. Might as wellbe me. From their perspective, McCain is an enemy. He is a monster. He is a genocidal sociopath who must be kept from power. I'm sorry if such sentiments reduce the quality of our sterling political discourse, but that sort of thing stopped mattering to me after we had heaped the Iraqi corpses in stacks reaching ever skyward.

Turb,

I think we are very broadly "on the same side" in terms of moral judgements (which I try to moderate by reminding myself that large numbers of people in our country have a very different take on these questions), but differ as to tactics.

I advocate for trusting our constitutional system of limited government with checks and balances to restrain the worst that any possible President may be capable of, even at the cost of risking that our system can and sometimes does fail us (e.g. 2002-2003). The President alone cannot start a war, at least not on a large scale, he/she needs help from a compliant Congress, a docile oppostion, a servile media, and a fearful and/or apathetic public.

This is yet another instance of a meta-issue on which you and I consistently disagree IMHO (always respectfully I hope), which is polarization vs moderation of discourse, and the costs, benefits, and justifications for one or the other.

My sometimes rather extreme commitment to moderation (irony alert) comes from my experience both living thru and thinking about history. It may very well be idiosyncratic.

I'm a tail-end Boomer borderline Gen-X'er. My formative political experiences spanned the years from Nixon's re-election campaign in 1972 to the Reagan years. The lessons I took away from that period are that the fraction (not the whole or the median ! ) of the anti Vietnam war protests which were more extreme and which advocated working against "the system" rather than within it were counterproductive.

I think that the backlash generated and/or justified by the most extreme of the anti-war rhetoric served to prolong the Vietnam war as much as those protests may have helped to hasten its end, with the net outcome being roughly a wash.

Unfortunately that wasn't the only cost to be paid for the politics of polarization, which the Left lost decisively in that period (and I see no reason not to expect a similar outcome if that clash is repeated).

The backlash also helped strengthen the dolchstosslegende which the Right propagated after the Vietnam war and which began to take hold as conventional wisdom with a large slice of the American electorate in the late 1970s and 1980s. This haunts us to this day, and I think that much of the cowardice of our news media and the Democratic party who failed to oppose the push for war in 2002-2003 can be traced back to the political and cultural hangover from Vietnam.

The lesson I take from this history is: (1) polarization benefits the Right more than the Left in American politics, and (2) when reckoning the tactics of opposition to the war now, we need to be very careful not to take an approach which will help to justify future wars and produce additional innocent victims.

It is not enough to delegitimize the current stupid and needless war, rather what we need to change is the mindset which makes possible any stupid and needless war including those which lie on the road ahead, if we do not choose our words with care now. I see a more moderate discourse which eschews the demonization of the opposition as a more effective way to pursue those objectives.

YMMV, IMHO, etc.

"redwood: yeah, I have thought for decades that there ought to have been a male version of feminism -- at least, of the parts of feminism that involved spotting and trying to undo expectations of gender behavior. I certainly think that expectations that guys will be emotionless automata are horribly damaging, and should be fought at every turn."

I feel a need to respond to this. I agree with you entirely in principle, that this would be a good thing and perhaps a necessary thing towards the real achievement of equality and emotional liberation for many people. As a male who identifies as bisexual and appears really butch to the eye, I obviously have a personal interest and investment in that sort of discussion, and have tried in some measure to have it with my straight male friends.

But I must tell you, when this dialog comes, it won't be a form of feminism and it probably will have little or anything to do with feminism, though it may come into being as a reaction to it. In my experience, my straight male friends are open to this kind of discussion, in their ways; none of them are particularly political, but if you talk to them from the perspective of life experience rather than capital-I Ideology, you can make a lot of progress.

In my experiences with people who identified as feminists however (and I've seen a few- child of an activist), there's a very strong resistance to this sort of dialog taking place. The most common objection I've heard is that any discussion of male gender issues is counterproductive in that it removes attention from women's issues and returns it to men- and thereby the discussion itself is a form of sexism. Other objections- well, scroll up in this thread to some of Doctor Science's early posts. The idea that men inherently discredit themselves in asking for examples of sexism in regards to a specific claim about a specific circumstance reveals part of why this male discussion can never be feminist or draw from feminism in a major way- because it may turn up ideas, perspectives, questions or answers which don't agree with feminist ideas of one stripe or another, and seem threatening thereto.

While a male discussion may aim at breaking down gender norms, it must begin from within those norms; which means it's going to be very male, especially at the beginning. The distinction is going to have to be made and respected between non-feminist and anti-feminist, because questioning (not necessarily rejecting) some claims by some feminists will be a part of this process.

As it is, men who question gender roles pay a high price, as redwood noted, both from less open minded males and from women who either disagree with the appropriateness of that male questioning or who themselves regard men who question gender roles as being pussies, sissies, queers or faggots. And not all of us can be David Bowie and skate through on our looks. Note that I am explicitly NOT saying that this price is higher than that paid in the past by feminists; whether it will be higher than that paid in the future by feminists of my generation (I'm 26) I think is open to question. But it is a price, it's not small, and it gets paid to both other men and to some women.

And no, it's not the responsibility of feminists to support this, which is another frequent objection in my experience. But I would ask this of feminists- if and when men start having this discussion, which I think will become increasingly inevitable (culturally, I'd say it's in the initial stages now), please listen to it to some degree instead of mocking it, writing it off, or regarding it as inherently sexist. There may be disagreements, but they'll probably be honest ones, not just Another Form of Misogyny.

Sorry for the rambling, but your offhand acknowledgment is the rhythm of my life.

I think that the backlash generated and/or justified by the most extreme of the anti-war rhetoric served to prolong the Vietnam war as much as those protests may have helped to hasten its end, with the net outcome being roughly a wash.

Perhaps I'm simply ignorant of this history, but why should we believe that anti-war rhetoric of any sort helped prolong the war? Is it not enough to assume that enterprises as large as modern wars adopt a self-sustaining logic of their own, as long as they can continue? Is it not enough to assume that politicians' unwillingness to be seen as responsible for losing motivates them to continue long after rational hope has gone? Is it not enough to assume that the misguided belief in the strategic benefits of signaling to both adversaries and allies justifies continued fighting?

The backlash also helped strengthen the dolchstosslegende which the Right propagated after the Vietnam war and which began to take hold as conventional wisdom with a large slice of the American electorate in the late 1970s and 1980s.

Is it possible that the protests were less effective in either bringing about the end of the war or facilitating the development of the stabbed in the back narrative than has traditionally been supposed?

After all, the original stabbed in the back meme developed in Germany in the absence of anti-war protesters, did it not? It seems that such memes might be expected to develop organically in cases where large powerful nations deploy conscript armies against vastly inferior forces and yet, somehow, despite many deaths and much bravery, lose the war. One might expect that many returning conscripts would be unable to reconcile the heroism and sacrifices of their comrades with their ultimate defeat; many ordinary citizens would have difficulty accepting that their nation, favored by God as it is, could suffer ignominious defeat at the ends of a clearly inferior nation. In both cases, the stabbed in the back meme plays a vital role in helping individuals make sense of the world. And while bad anti-war protests might readily be integrated into such narratives, those protests hardly need cause those narratives.

Your argument seems to rely on a claim of historical causation. That claim is well accepted, but it doesn't ring true to me, for the reasons I describe above. Are there any historians that you can suggest who have mustered evidence in arguing that bad protesters and polarization contributed significantly to either extending the war or to the development of the stabbed in the back narrative? Since your argument seems to hinge on these claims of historical causation, I would like to see some substantiation.

This haunts us to this day, and I think that much of the cowardice of our news media and the Democratic party who failed to oppose the push for war in 2002-2003 can be traced back to the political and cultural hangover from Vietnam.

With respect, I disagree that the problem amongst the news media and Democratic party in 02-03 was primarily one of cowardice. I have seen no reason to believe that the news media as a group is particularly concerned with unjust wars of aggression or mass civilian casualties. They do not appear dedicated to any journalistic principles; why should they care after all whether the President lies or whether a bunch of foreigners die? Most Americans don't care...

As for the Democratic party, I think it helps to remember that some Democrats who supported the war did so because they thought the war was a good idea. Note that Bill Clinton himself conducted a policy of regime change towards Iraq: under this policy, there was nothing that Iraq could do short of killing Hussein that would satisfy the US government. We enforced this policy with continuous military operations in Iraq during the 90s. There were lots of Democratic party members who took no issue with the policy of regime change or the need to impose as much suffering, misery, and death on the Iraqi people in order to coerce them into bringing about that policy. These voices were important and significant: among them, I number Al Gore and Joseph Lieberman, the nominees for the Presidency and Vice Presidency in 2000. No doubt Democratic party members might not have gone too war in Bush's stead, and if they did, their efforts would likely have been vastly more competent, but many of them continue to stand by their policy of state terrorism against the Iraqi people. There is a form of cowardice here, but perhaps not the one of which you though.

It understates the amount of ground already covered in preparing the electorate pyschologically to vote a women into the office of the President, work which Hillary deserves an immense amount of credit for.

I didn't catch the full speech, but of what I heard, the part I liked best went something like "it's now unremarkable to think of a woman as Commander-in-Chief, it's now unremarkable to think that a woman can win primaries across the country, it's now unremarkable ... And, that, my friends,is quite remarkable!"

BOB -- although it may seem quirky that Clinton has only suspended her campaign and not released her delegates, there is a legal reason for it. Clinton must continue to fund raise in order to retire her campaign debts. She cannot do so if she formally ends her campaign and releases her delegates.


but why should we believe that anti-war rhetoric of any sort helped prolong the war?

Because the backlash from "middle America" helped to elect Nixon in 1968 by a thin margin, and helped to re-elect him in 1972. I don't know if it actually prolonged the war - to make that case you would have to show that someone else might have won in one of those elections who would have wound down the war earlier (George Rommney or RFK for example) if circumstances had been different.

But in reading over that period and looking at the way that much of the establishment was turning against the war and looking for a politically feasible way to get out by roughly 1968-1970 (see the Pentagon Papers for example), I find it very hard to imagine that the war would have been continued much past 1974 under any circumstances. Also, the stagflationary decline in the US economy and the oil shock of the OPEC embargo would have forced our hand regardless (circumstances which I think we are likely to repeat with Iraq in the next year or so). The country simply couldn't afford to continue the war much longer.

So my point is, the noisest and most violent protests didn't accomplish anything in terms of ending the war earlier, while giving the Right an extremely effective propoganda weapon to use against the Left, as a result of which only 3 in 10 of the next Presidential elections were won by Democrats (Hillary reminded us of this history again today) and all 3 of those wins were on the part of conservative southern governors. This also played a large role in the long inexorable decline of the Democratic majorities in Congress over the next 3 decades.

My lived experience during that time was that the country took a very hard and noticeable turn to the right starting in the late 1970s, once the immediate shock of the Watergate scandals had faded and Jimmy Carter's presidency followed the economy downhill.

After all, the original stabbed in the back meme developed in Germany in the absence of anti-war protesters, did it not?

Not true.

There were massive industrial strikes against the war in late 1918 led by trade unionists and various left wing groups including the Social Democrats. These were symptoms rather than causes of the failure of the German war effort (most of the historians I've read blame a combination of the British blockade and Ludendorff's horrible mismanagement of the German economy under the Hidenburg plan), but their timing was highly fortuitous for the construction of the dolchstosslegende.

All this talk about the Iraq war and Viet Nam -- sure there are parallels, but there are two items that make the events leading up to the Iraq war sui generis.

The first is 9/11 which unfortunately induced an hysteria that allowed warmongers to take the stage. Yeah, Iraq has nothing to do with it, but it made it easy to lie and get people to think that attacking Iraq was necessary to preserve security.

Second is that we had just fought a war with Iraq that had been misconceived by Bush Sr. as to basic component of the strategy. We wanted Saddam gone but fought a limited war that we hoped would accidentally eliminate him -- they underestimated his staying power. So we still wanted him gone will no causus bellis for more war. A war that does not resolve the conflict has a way of resulting in another war; U.S. Revolution and War of 1812, WWI and WWII are two examples of unresolved tensions from the first war resulting in a second. Again, this created an environment that made it easier for the warmongers to get the second war.

Hopefully, the threshold for starting future wars has gone way up.

only 3 in 10 of the next Presidential elections were won by Democrats (Hillary reminded us of this history again today)

correction: 3 in 8. Hillary was referring to post-1964 elections, not post-1972 as I am.

Also I disclaim responsibility for the numerous typos in my comment above and blame them on the DFHs. If they hadn't helped to destroy our educational system, I would be abel to spel beter.

I think that makes it unlikely those people harbor a deep-seated grudge or prejudice against white men. It's more likely they want to see politicians who represent their demographics, and make the country more open in the future to choosing the best candidate - regardless of race or gender - by breaking barriers and challenging bias.

Daniel Merritt, thank you for responding. I really do wonder about this, and I appreciate your input. I hear what you're saying about KCinDC's next sentence and I had read that part. But I'm not so sure about your conclusion. To my understanding, you (and KCinDC) are saying that just because one has previously voted for a man they are therefore not prejudiced against men. While I'm not sure that that's automatically true, I'm fine with assuming that the women I referred to earlier are not prejudiced against men. However even so, I don't see how that makes voting for someone based mainly on race or gender okay. I don't have a "deep-seated grudge" towards African Americans. So therefore does that make it okay for me to choose the country's leader based mainly on my own "demographics?" Assuming I was a white man (which I'm not) how would that then "make the country more open in the future to choosing the best candidate - regardless of race or gender"?

To me, choosing the best candidate means choosing the best candidate, and I don't think gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, etc. plays an awfully large role in that.

I think this country is facing immensely serious problems -- such has not been previously seen in my lifetime. Perhaps I am wrong. I hope that I am. But given the polls most Americans do agree that this country faces serious foreign policy and economic problems. Shouldn't people choose a president based on who they think can best solve America's most pressing problems?

I say this, in part, because in the 2004 election most people polled about policy issues leaned towards Kerry's policies. But when polled about likeability (e.g. who would one most like to have a beer with) the majority leaned towards Bush, and they then voted for Bush. I am not one to think that policy issues should be all that matters in choosing a president. For example, I personally place character and skill level to be much higher than policy proclamations. (If someone repeatedly lies to you, and you know that they will lie again, what difference does it make what they SAY their policies are?) But given policy and other important issues, don't we have a responsibility to vote for the person we think is OVERALL best for the country? Not the person we identify with most demographically. Not the person who says they will give us the most, or the person who will be best for us individually. But… the person that is best for the country. Isn't that our responsibility as Americans?

Pew Research shows a poll which rating "very important" voter priorities as of May 2008. The ranking is: Economy 88, Heath care, 78, Education, 78, Jobs 78, Energy 77, Social Security 75, Iraq 72, Budget deficit 69, Taxes 68, Environment 62, Moral value 62, Terrorism 58, Immigration 54, Trade policy 51, Abortion 40, and Gay marriage 28.

What percentage of the population considers gender balance to be one of the most serious and critical issues currently facing this country? What percentage of the population considers it to be more important than such things as Iraq, health care, education, abortion rights, energy, terrorism, national security, and jobs? Very few I'd guess. I'd guess that it's not on the list because researchers found that it rated so low in voter priorities. So when people vote for gender balance even above their own beliefs about the importance of such issues as Iraq, the economy, jobs, terrorism, and abortion, I see a problem.

Once again, I use my mother as an example. She's 83 year's old, white, wealthy but uneducated. (Note: Demographics that overwhelmingly voted for Clinton.) My mother watches the news plus several hours of political analysis every day. I've also gotten her a computer and taught her to read the web -- which she does a lot of. Mom also vehemently opposes the Iraq war. In addition she is a staunch Democrat. Now, doesn't that sound like someone who should be an Obama supporter? But no. What I have heard over and over for the past two months is that once in the 1950's she went to city hall to do some zoning work for my dad who was a builder. She thought they treated her poorly because she was a woman. Fifty years later she tells me now how humiliated she felt. (Note -- this is the first time I have ever heard this story, and I have heard this story now 6 times in the past two months!) Therefore, Hillary Clinton who "stands up for women" is her hero, and she supports Hillary -- regardless of Hillary's support for the Iraq war or anything else. My mother is not voting according to her knowledge or her beliefs. She is voting according to her feelings -- similar to how people voted for Bush because they would like to have a beer with him. And look what we got.

Whether it's feeling like a victim due to class or gender, I think Clinton has done an excellent job of tapping into feelings of victimization that many people harbor, accentuating those, and using them to her own advantage. And I find that troubling.

While the sexism my mom faced once in the 1950's may be totally true, and I certainly empathize with her feelings regarding that event, I find it hard to believe that the same level of sexism she encountered 50 years ago is anywhere near the same level currently within American society. I also find it hard to believe that my mother believes that sexism and discrimination against women is MORE of a critical current issue facing America than such things as the war in Iraq, health care, or the economy. In fact, I know that she doesn't. Yet, even though my mother actually does consider several issues to be MUCH more critical for America than gender balance, she places these priority beliefs of hers aside, and instead focuses on her resentment and emotionality from years past in making her voting choice. Unfortunately, I don't think this is atypical.

Two thoughts here.

First, I believe in equality based on merit, regardless of race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, etc. (Note: I am a huge believer in government investment in all forms of education and technical training - such as to best equalize opportunity in this country.) I don't believe in discriminating against anyone due to their race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, etc. Just as I will not discriminate against a woman or a person of color, I will not discriminate against a man or a white person.

Second, while we do hope and expect that people will vote based on facts, knowledge, and rational thought, many voters don't. And expert, manipulative, politicians capitalize on this. To them it's not about what is right. It's not about truth or responsibility. It's a sales game. For example, the Democratic party chooses their nominee based on delegates, and the delegate rules are stated long before the contest starts. So what the heck is a losing contestant doing implying that the people's choice is based on popular vote, offering her own screwy mathematics as "proof" of her win? There is nothing true nor honorable about that. Yet, Clinton has caused many people to believe that she actually won the nomination but it was taken from her. That is not good for the party, nor the country.

Okay. The original post was about Hillary Clinton's speech. I thought it was a good speech and a good start. But Clinton has been actively and intentionally divisive --powerfully and effectively implying things that are not true. I would like to have seen Clinton say that Obama won fair and square. Her loss was not a result of sexism. She lost the nomination for different reasons. Perhaps it was due to her Iraq vote. Perhaps it was due to shoddy campaign planning and management. Perhaps it was due to lack of honesty and integrity with the American people. Perhaps it was just because Obama is better for the job than she. There are several dozen reasons that contributed to Hillary's loss of the nomination. But implying, as Hillary did, that her loss was due to sexism is false, sleazy, and damaging to the party. While some sexism certainly took place that may have worked against her, so did sexism take place that worked in her favor. While her opponent faced racism that worked against him as well as racism that may have worked in his favor he did not whine, nor did he use it to create a wedge within the party. Neither racism or sexism are the likely reasons for either candidate's win or loss. And to properly heal the division she created, Clinton should stand up and say that Obama won fair and square. But, she hasn't. And won't.

Over the decades the Clintons have gained huge mileage by being extremely effective at blaming others for their personal failings. Perhaps in the Democratic party, where people supposedly care for underdogs, this helps to give them huge mileage. Thinking back a decade ago, Hillary states that the accusations that Bill had an affair with an intern couldn't possibly be true. Regardless of his huge past of cheating and lying, this new accusation must be due to a "vast right wing conspiracy". And Hillary's loss in the current nomination race couldn't possibly be due to her disastrous Iraq war vote, her sloppy campaign planning, or her publicly perceived lack of honesty and integrity. It MUST be due to sexism!

The Clintons gained huge leverage by convincing people (women and blue collar workers) to identify with their victim/underdog status. But the Clintons were never really underdogs. That was all an extremely effective act. They started this race with a powerful brand name, the strongest democratic fundraisers available, the absolute best strategists, and backing of many powerful people. During the primaries when they kept moaning that Obama was spending twice as much as they were, it was not because they were some poor underdog. It was basically because they were less competent at fundraising than Obama and less wanted by donors than Obama. When people in caucus states voted overwhelmingly for Obama, it was not because Clinton was some poor underdog. It was because Obama was more competent in his execution, and more wanted by people with knowledge.

Clinton goes on and on about how she "won" the popular vote. While there are huge discrepancies regarding what the "popular vote" number even is, fact is that the Democratic nomination is not chosen by popular vote. Obama was astute enough to research how exactly the delegates are chosen. He researched it to the nth degree, and designed and implemented his game plan accordingly. On the other hand, while the same information was equally available to Clinton she seemed clueless about how the nominee is chosen. She made poor choices, and she got poor results. Right before the Texas primary/caucus election she exclaimed that who would have thought that they had such a screwy system. Through out all of February when Obama was racking up an increasing delegate advantage due to wins in smaller states, over and over she kept saying that these smaller states didn't count. Bottom line, these are the numbers that made Obama win. Now, what does this have to do with sexism? What does this have to do with supposedly being unfairly treated by the media.

Nothing at all. But, the Clinton campaign won't actually admit that. And that's a shame. They have said tremendous amounts to promote the idea that they lost unfairly due to media bias or sexism, and to get people who also feel like victims to identify with them. It has created huge resentments and anger within the party. It has created a huge, damaging schism within the party. None of it is based on truth. But Hillary is unwilling to state that she lost fair and square -- even though it could be very powerful in uniting the party in moving forwards towards the best interest of the country.

All said, I don't buy that one should disregard what they believe to be the most important qualifications in an American president, and instead overwhelmingly slant their vote "to see politicians who represent their demographics". I do agree with making " the country more open in the future to choosing the best candidate - regardless of race or gender." But I think that is done by having good candidates of various races and genders, and choosing the person who could best deal with the most serious problems the country is facing.

(And nope, out of all the most serious problems this country is currently facing, I don't think gender imbalance is one of them.)

Goodness that was long. Sorry 'bout that!

Quick comment (I promise!)

Hilzoy: "I absolutely think it's a legitimate reason to vote for someone, when the choice is close enough, and it's between a woman and a white man"

I guess my concern is that between Obama and Clinton, a lot of women (no idea what percentage of Clinton's female voters) didn't even bother to look to see the difference between them, and whether or not they thought it was close on really major issues. Or, they chose the woman even though to them the man was superior on critical issues.

Brendan W.

There have been groups of men from the 1970s onwards who have been trying to do something about gender stereotyping of men and attempting to help them change their behaviour, inspired by the feminist movement. You might check out the website of Achilles Heel which was one of the pioneering magazines.

I don't know to what extent such groups are still going, but there are men like Harry Brod and Victor Seidler, among many others who are still writing and talking about these issues. You may find that not all of the 1970s discussions of gender relevant to 21st century, but it might be useful to know that such ideas have been seriously discussed in the past, and that it may not be necessary to re-invent the wheel completely.

Brendan: I didn't mean to suggest that the examination of gender expectations for men that I was hoping for ought to be a part of feminism, or start within it. I agree that that would probably be a non-starter. I just think that feminism did a very good job of spotting a lot of subtle ways in which gender expectations constrained women, and that it would be wonderful if some similar examination of the expectations on men gained similar popularity.

Sasha: short answer: I'm against unthinkingly deciding who to vote for on any basis, including gender and race. As I said, I'm in favor of using both gender and race in cases where the candidates are sufficiently close together; in this case, I didn't think they were. But (it seems to me that) my reasons for saying that someone's being a woman is a reason to vote for her over a basically comparably white man are also, and obviously, reasons for thinking the same about an African-American (or any other group that has historically faced real resistance to being elected to high office.)

Which is why I could never see how this argument was supposed to cut one way but not the other in this campaign, by people who took Clinton and Obama to be similar enough that it kicked in in either case.

To me, feminism is all about helping women to get to the point at which we can do whatever we want without unreasonable fears, expectations, and biasses getting in our way. I'm a feminist because I think that this should be true for everyone. I hate that Hillary Clinton had to wade through all those cable people commenting on her shrill voice, how much she reminds them of their ex-wives, her pants suits, her cleavage, etc., etc. I also hate that Obama has to wade through stuff like being thought to be a Muslim, not really one of us, a guy who does "terrorist fist jabs" with his wife, swears oaths on the Qur'an, and all sorts of "oh he is so unfamiliar and scary" stuff. Not to mention being held responsible for every other black person in existence (Harry Belafonte, Louis Farrakhan).

Both are awful. Both are, in part, a function of this being the first time an African-American and a woman have been serious contenders for the Presidency. I hate both, and as I see it I have to oppose both.

Hmm. Even after Super Tuesday I was fully expecting Clinton to win. And while I would have admitted that her win partially depended on the racism of some voters and the tendency for the media to defend the original front runner narrative, I would also have said that it would have largely been Obama's responsibility to come up with a working narrative/image reconfiguration and a spectacular outreach plan to overcome those conditions. And I would not have begrudged her achievement in overriding the strains of sexism and anti-Clintonism of the media. I don't feel particularly "bad" for either candidate -- they're not children, they know how their identities can be manipulated. But part of what the successful "minority" candidate accomplishes is that delicate balance/damage control of the negative and positive aspects of that identity in the public eye. Obama shouldn't need me to get ired up on his behalf every time someone writes about his being a Muslim.

(For that same reason, I'm not inclined to think that anyone other than Obama, Obama's staff, and his volunteers deserve the credit for him winning. It's not that we've become suddenly a better, more inclusive society since Jesse and Al and Carol Moseley Braun, it's that the Obama Team worked damn hard to overcome various barriers. And that they're going to have to do it all over again for the next five months.)

"I just watched Clinton's speech. I thought of writing a post about it, basically saying: Brava, hats off. I eventually decided that two posts on the same speech might be a bit much. But I thought it was really, really, really good."

For what little it's worth, here are my excerpts of the speech, with links to the full transcript, and video.

It was a fine speech. Bravo, and kudos, and to all those who thought she wouldn't do it: neener, neener.

"The Speech"

It certainly was.

Sen. Clinton may not be as gifted an orator as Sen. Obama but I doubt if he could have delivered such a concession any better.

The words read off the page as nicely as she read them.

To wit:

"Eighteen million of you from all walks of life . . . women and men, young and old, African American and Caucasian . . . rich, poor, and middle-class, gay and straight, you have stood with me. And I will continue to stand strong with you every time, every place, in every way that I can. The dreams we share are worth fighting for."

And:

"I entered this race because I have an old-fashioned conviction that public service is about helping people solve their problems and live their dreams. I've had every opportunity and blessing in my own life and I want the same for all Americans.
"And until that day comes, you'll always find me on the front lines of democracy, fighting for the future.
"The way to continue our fight now, to accomplish the goals for which we stand is to take our energy, our passion, our strength, and do all we can to help elect Barack Obama, the next president of the United States."

And:

"We may have started on separate journeys, but today our paths have merged. And we're all headed toward the same destination, united and more ready than ever to win in November and to turn our country around, because so much is at stake."

And:

"Now, think how much progress we've already made. When we first started, people everywhere asked the same questions. Could a woman really serve as commander in chief? Well, I think we answered that one.
"Could an African American really be our president? And Senator Obama has answered that one."

And:

"Although we weren't able to shatter the highest, hardest glass ceiling this time, thanks to you, it's got about 18 million cracks in it . . . and the light is shining through like never before, filling us all with the hope and the sure knowledge that the path will be a little easier next time.
"So I want to say to my supporters: When you hear people saying or think to yourself, 'If only,' or, 'What if,' I say, please, don't go there.
"Every moment wasted looking back keeps us from moving forward.
"Life is too short, time is too precious, and the stakes are too high to dwell on what might have been. We have to work together for what still can be.
"And that is why I will work my heart out to make sure Senator Obama is our next president."

That was a call to arms.

That was a call to unite the Democratic Party after a hard-fought, bitter campaign, on both sides.

That was a message of hope, spirt and change.

That was as a blanket endorsement of Sen. Obama -- frankly, one much stronger than John Edwards or Bill Richardson or any of the other Jump on the Winner's Bandwagon Before It's Too Late gave.

That was a speech from -- if not a future president -- than certainly from a present- and future-day force of the Democratic Party.

That should shut up the Hillary Clinton cynics once and for all. But it won't. And that's sad -- for them.

That was a speech that didn't send a thrill up Chris Mathews' leg. Nor did it make MSNBC anchor/asshole Keith Olberman proud, the way Obama has done over and over and over again; well, f--- Olberman, he's an ass.

That was a speech that wasn't meant for the cynics. That was a speech meant for unifying the blood and guts of the Democratic Party, for so many of the cynics, like Mathews, are too anti-Clinton to do anything other than question her motives.

Read the words.

Her motive?

Hillary Clinton embraced her 18 million supporters and endorsed Barack Obama in the strongest, sweetest speech she ever gave. You go, girl.

Because the backlash from "middle America" helped to elect Nixon in 1968 by a thin margin, and helped to re-elect him in 1972. I don't know if it actually prolonged the war - to make that case you would have to show that someone else might have won in one of those elections who would have wound down the war earlier (George Rommney or RFK for example) if circumstances had been different.

My friend, I am confused. Here, you say that you don't know if those protests prolonged the war, but earlier, you said "I think that the backlash generated and/or justified by the most extreme of the anti-war rhetoric served to prolong the Vietnam war"...this seems contradictory, ne?

Moreover, to the extent that the election of 1968 was won on the thinnest of margins, surely the loss can be explained by many different factors, so why would you privilege anti-war rhetoric compared to all the others? Similarly, the middle-American backlash surely consisted of a great deal more than just responses to anti-war rhetoric. That no doubt was one component, but it was only a component.

So my point is, the noisest and most violent protests didn't accomplish anything in terms of ending the war earlier, while giving the Right an extremely effective propoganda weapon to use against the Left, as a result of which only 3 in 10 of the next Presidential elections were won by Democrats (Hillary reminded us of this history again today) and all 3 of those wins were on the part of conservative southern governors. This also played a large role in the long inexorable decline of the Democratic majorities in Congress over the next 3 decades.

I'm sorry, but I don't see a clear explanation of causality here. There are certainly relationships, but causality is a very difficult thing to prove and you've only made allusions, and vague ones at that.

3 out 8 is not bad at all. And I don't see any reason to believe that the protests were a particularly effective weapon to be used against the left. Surely, without the protests, conservatives would still tar liberals as communists, would they not? They'd still make much of the ideological relationship between American liberals and the Soviet Union, however fantastic such a relationship might be. They'd still go nuts over racial animus as they integrated the dixiecrats into the party proper. I just don't see any reason to believe that these protests played the role you assign them. Maybe they did, but maybe doesn't constitute a good historical argument.

My lived experience during that time was that the country took a very hard and noticeable turn to the right starting in the late 1970s, once the immediate shock of the Watergate scandals had faded and Jimmy Carter's presidency followed the economy downhill.

These are very large and complex multi-causal phenomena. I don't understand what evidentiary claim you're trying to make here. Yes, the country swung right during that period. So what?

There were massive industrial strikes against the war in late 1918 led by trade unionists and various left wing groups including the Social Democrats. These were symptoms rather than causes of the failure of the German war effort (most of the historians I've read blame a combination of the British blockade and Ludendorff's horrible mismanagement of the German economy under the Hidenburg plan), but their timing was highly fortuitous for the construction of the dolchstosslegende.

So, are there any scholarly writings that you can point to that provide evidence that these strikes were causally related to the development of the dolchstosslegende? Or are you arguing that because the strikes preceded the dolchstosslegende, they must have been an important causal factor? Note that I'm not asking you if germans who believed the dolchstosslegende blamed the strikers: I'm asking you if the dolchstosslegende would have developed in the absence of the strikes.

"Assuming I was a white man (which I'm not) how would that then "make the country more open in the future to choosing the best candidate - regardless of race or gender"?"

This is the classic "False Mirror" analogy. Slave and slave master are not identical mirrors of each other's positions. Ditto oppressor and oppressed. Ditto those with power versus those with less power. Etc. Thinking you can and should treat the two sides of any situation as identical, thinking that the situation of men is the same as that of women, that of African-Americans and other minorities is the same as that of WASPs, that gay people have identical privileges to those of heterosexual people, that the disabled are in the same position as the able-bodies, and so on and on on on, is, of course, completely wrong.

I'm sure you know this, but perhaps haven't considered all the ways that plays out that makes such comparisons, the idea that each group should be treated as if they're in the identical situation to their counter-parts, makes no sense at all.

"The words read off the page as nicely as she read them.

To wit:"

You didn't like my actual excerpts?

"Nor did it make MSNBC anchor/asshole Keith Olberman proud,"

Your evidence for this mindreading claim is? Cite?

In all fairness, Sashi, there actually was a vast rightwing conspiracy back then. Otherwise the investigation into a land deal would have been very unlikely to have experienced the level of feature creep that it took to morph into an investigation of what President Clinton was doing with his cigars in the Oval Office.


My friend, I am confused. Here, you say that you don't know if those protests prolonged the war, but earlier, you said "I think that the backlash generated and/or justified by the most extreme of the anti-war rhetoric served to prolong the Vietnam war"...this seems contradictory, ne?

The full text of what I wrote, which you've truncated, is below (with emphasis on what was truncated).


I think that the backlash generated and/or justified by the most extreme of the anti-war rhetoric served to prolong the Vietnam war as much as those protests may have helped to hasten its end, with the net outcome being roughly a wash.

In other words, the protests had a complex effect, both speeding up and slowing down the end of the war in different ways, with in my judgement the net effect being that the war ended at about the same time it would have in the absence of radicalized protests.

Is that clearer?

note - I'm prone to misreading or skimming long posts myself, so I take no offense at being only partially quoted. No malicous intent is assumed here.


I'm sorry, but I don't see a clear explanation of causality here. There are certainly relationships, but causality is a very difficult thing to prove and you've only made allusions, and vague ones at that.

3 out 8 is not bad at all. And I don't see any reason to believe that the protests were a particularly effective weapon to be used against the left. Surely, without the protests, conservatives would still tar liberals as communists, would they not? They'd still make much of the ideological relationship between American liberals and the Soviet Union, however fantastic such a relationship might be. They'd still go nuts over racial animus as they integrated the dixiecrats into the party proper. I just don't see any reason to believe that these protests played the role you assign them. Maybe they did, but maybe doesn't constitute a good historical argument.

Causality is very difficult to demonstrate - I see history as more narrative than determinative, so I can't give you any definitve proof here. I started out this topic as a way of explaining to you my own personal viewpoint on the question of radicalized politics and its possible negative consequences.

We each have our own perspectives and value systems which we bring to these questions, conditioned by our own personal history and our interactions with the larger history we are embedded in. I don't believe I have claimed to have a uniquely advantaged or correct interpretation here. I try to sprinkle around the occasional YMMV, IMHO, etc. as a marker of non-privileged status, without cluttering up my comments to excess. If more frequent such disclaimers are required, please advise.

To answer your factual question without a longer detour, numerous people who themselves made that "right turn" have given written or oral testimony that they were influenced in part by what they perceived to be the anarchy of the late stage anti-war demonstrations associated with the left.

I had many a conversation with such people myself, during the late 1970s and 1980s. If you don't see my own anecdotal evidence as carrying any weight, take a look at Nixonland (which we've started to discuss in the next thread) and the sources it references as an easily accessible and highly readable account of the same period and come to your own conclusions. Ditto Jim Webb's new book "A Time to Fight", which has a more intimate 1st person account of how that period affected his politics.

A much more complex issue is whether the post 1960s rightward backlash can be judged as a response to the anti-war movement or to racial issues, or some combination of both.

I personally don't think these things can be disentangled, except on an individual basis and often not even then. I don't think this invalidates my more general point, which is that a more radicalized style of politics during that period sparked a backlash which on the whole was counterproductive for the goals sought by those who were protesting and demonstrating.

YMMV, IMHO, etc.

So, are there any scholarly writings that you can point to that provide evidence that these strikes were causally related to the development of the dolchstosslegende? Or are you arguing that because the strikes preceded the dolchstosslegende, they must have been an important causal factor? Note that I'm not asking you if germans who believed the dolchstosslegende blamed the strikers: I'm asking you if the dolchstosslegende would have developed in the absence of the strikes.

It seems likely to me that the dolchstosslegende would have developed in any case. My point is, the strikes were used as an additional argument to make it more persuasive. Propaganda is cummulative - every additional bit helps.

Ian Kershaw, "Hitler 1889-1936 Hubris" (hardback edition, 1999, publ. W W Norton and Co.), pp. 267-268:


On 28 February 1925, the day after the refoundation of the NSDAP, the first Reich President of the Weimar Republic, the Social Democrat Freidrich Ebert, died at the age of fifty-four from the effects of an appendicitis operation. The Right had so persistently tried to defame him for his participation in the munitions strike of January 1918 - when the SPD leadership had become involved in the unrest (demanding democratization and peace without annexations) that spread from the Berlin armaments factories, bringing a million workers out on strike, temporarily threantening war production, and later fostering the 'stab-in-the-back' legend - that he had been forced to defend himself in 170 libel cases.

Kershaw's footnote at the end of this passages cites as his primary source: Moeller, Horst, 'Wiemar. Die unvollendete Demokratie', Munich 1985, p. 54.

Is that good enough, or do I need to go dig through my library of books re: the interwar years and the rise of the NSDAP for more quotations from scholarly sources? (You might have to make it worth my while to spend much more time on this)

LeftTurn --

As usual, The Voice of Reason here.

Reason and Moderation.

Always enjoy your posts, even the seemingly few times I disagree w/ them.

I'd take ThatLeftTurninABQ w/ you any time, and, hopefully, someday I will get the chance.

Tea on me -- TG.

In other words, the protests had a complex effect, both speeding up and slowing down the end of the war in different ways, with in my judgement the net effect being that the war ended at about the same time it would have in the absence of radicalized protests.

Is that clearer?

Much, thank you. I apologize for the truncation. Now that I understand that you're not trying to claim that the radicalized protests significantly altered the course of the war, I don't see much to argue about.

I started out this topic as a way of explaining to you my own personal viewpoint on the question of radicalized politics and its possible negative consequences.

I appreciate the effort. Really, thanks for taking the time to explain. I don't really see the clear relationship between using words like "enemy" and radicalized politics per se, but this might be an area where we hear different things in the same words. To me, radicalization implies an organization or agenda whereas enemy merely denotes moral revulsion.

Is that good enough, or do I need to go dig through my library of books re: the interwar years and the rise of the NSDAP for more quotations from scholarly sources? (You might have to make it worth my while to spend much more time on this)

Thanks for the info, but there's no need to dig further. I greatly appreciate what you wrote though.

whereas enemy merely denotes moral revulsion

For me "enemy", when applied as a term of moral judgement and condemnation, implies more than just revulsion, it implies an unbridgeable gulf separating myself from the opposition. I'm very reluctant to use a term which (for me) holds that connotation except in extreme circumstances, for reasons that would take too long to explain and which are addressed far more eloquently than I can by the author Jonathan Glover in Chapter 42 "Some People and Not Others" at the end of his book "Humanity - A Moral History of the Twentieth Century", where he wrestles with the paradox of Manichean vs Boethian evil as expressed in our recent history.

(note: Glover doesn't use those exact terms, that is my gloss of his argument).

I greatly appreciate what you wrote though.

Right back at you. I always appreciate your very thoughful and informative comments, regardless of whether we agree (which is more often than it may appear to be) or not.


btfb -- "That was a speech that didn't send a thrill up Chris Mathews' leg. Nor did it make MSNBC anchor/asshole Keith Olberman proud"

Were you actually watching the MSNBC coverage? They were really impressed by Sen. Clinton's speech.

Remind me again why impeach Bush isn't news? He's committed 35 crimes, each of which merit his prosecution and removal from office, his own party has heads-in-the-sand, and... the Democratic party isn't taking full advantage of this? How many Republicans still in Congress voted to impeach Bill Clinton over a blowjob? Never mind why the Democratic party leadership won't support Kucinich: why isn't everything about this news? (I get 53 hits on googlenews...)

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