Wednesday, August 27, 2008

What we deserve (A rant, I know.)

It's the week of the Democratic National Convention and I should be feeling all uplifted and energized. Instead, I'm feeling less than hopeful. I know it's probably because I've had an overdose of punditry and prognostication. I've heard from one too many angry PUMA's. I mistakenly caught a few minutes of "Morning Jackass" on MSNBC. And then I read the disappointing Daily Tracking Poll that showed McCain +2. (How can it be so close?) Ugh, I need a good word people.

Can you indulge a stream of consciousness rant?

The lunatic fringe lunacy. There has been much talk about Obama and the cult of personality, but the behavior of some of Hillary Clinton's alleged supporters proves that the Senator from Illinois is not the only one who attracts blind devotion. (I say alleged, because I'm not so sure that some of these people aren't Republican operatives putting on a show.) There's no talking to folks like the unholy trinity who spoke to Chris Matthews on Monday and proclaimed Obama a "registered Muslim." But this woman, I want to shake and say: Clinton and Obama have nearly identical platforms, why must the Democratic candidate perform a song and dance to convince you get off your ass and vote. YOU, especially. People gave their lives less than 50 years ago (long after "women" had the right to vote) to get the government to recognize your right to participate in the democratic process. And your stupid ass is planning to stay home unless Barack Obama does...what? What do you want?

I hate the whole subtext of the PUMA argument, which seems at once gender and race biased. As I said in a previous post:

The course of Hillary Clinton's campaign makes me uncomfortable as a woman, who was raised by both of my parents to believe that I could do anything, but never told that, when competing in a male-dominated world, I should be treated with delicacy. And it makes me uncomfortable as an African American, because what I also see hiding behind the idea of Hillary Clinton as the wronged woman is privilege and entitlement. There is this idea that Clinton is owed the presidential spot. It is her time. Obama is just a potential affirmative action hire, unqualified and slick, poised to steal what is hers. Read more...

The hubris of the Clintons

So, Hillary Clinton gave a great speech last night. She positively shone. But did she give a speech that put the chosen candidate--Barack Obama--first? Gustogirl, a commenter on Daily Kos, nailed exactly what I thought about Hillary Clinton's much-vaunted speech at the Democratic National Convention in Denver:
    1. She should have talked less about herself (and the Clintons) and more about Obama.
    2. Now was not the time to talk about her friendship with McCain.
    3. She should have taken this opportunity to refute the use of her statements against Obama in McCain ads.
    4. She should have addressed the judgment vs experience issue that she exploited and that the McCain campaign is now using her to exploit.
    5. She had the opportunity to separate herself from PUMA and didn't utilize it. At the very least, she should have addressed them directly and removed herself from their cause with a very direct statement.
    6. Her kind words toward Michelle were token. It was if she herself dismissed and denigrated the role of the First Lady because it wasn't enough for her. There was something dismissive in how she did it.
Meanwhile, Hillary's brother has been meeting with McCain. Oh, and Bill. Bill...Bill...Bill. Bill is still talking shit:

It seems that the former president's ring has not been kissed properly:

Some Democrats with high-level ties to both the Clinton and Obama camps said they were surprised that Obama has not done more to make the Clintons more enthusiastic about his candidacy.

Obama has taken the minimum public steps necessary to accommodate the Clintons, including giving them prime-time speaking spots.

But he has taken few of the extra steps that Clinton allies say would have gone miles toward fostering goodwill.

He did not work hard to help her retire her $24 million campaign debt.

He did not make a high-profile statement repudiating any suggestion that Bill Clinton played "the race card" in the nomination contest — an allegation that the former president considers grossly unfair and that continues to infuriate him.

Just as significant, Obama has maintained a certain cool diffidence toward the former president. They spoke by phone last week. But for weeks before that, associates said, Clinton had heard nothing and did not even know when he would be speaking at the convention. The Obama campaign's only communication was a form letter sent to all delegates.

Clinton loves to offer advice to fellow Democrats. But even in their conversations, Clinton friends say, Obama shows little deference or signs that he thinks Clinton, the only Democrat since Franklin D. Roosevelt to win two terms, has any special wisdom to offer.

Deference...the young, uppity Obama should be deferring to Bill and Hillary Clinton. THEY are what is important. Hillary's feelings. Bill's need to mentor young politicians. They're collective need to feel important. I have never witnessed a nation so concerned with the personal feelings of a losing primary candidate and a former president. When Al Gore obviously distanced himself from Bill Clinton in 2000--even choosing anti-Clinton conservative Dem Joe Lieberman as a running mate--did Bill lurk on the fringes of the Gore campaign making undermining statements? Was Bill Bradley owed closure in 2000? Did Bill himself defer to Jimmy Carter during his run for the White House? In 2004, Did John Kerry have to make sure that Howard Dean had appropriately recovered from his media flameout before moving forward with his campaign?

It is bizarre--this idea that the comfort of the Clintons and their supporters is more important that any positive platform, position or policy.

And then, folks "played the race card" on poor Bill. Politico reports in an article today:

Bill Clinton believes [Barack Obama], far from practicing a unifying, transformational brand of politics, has the political instincts of "a Chicago thug," one longtime associate said. Read more..., no racial imagery there.

Know what this reminds me of? An interview that I did with my dad a year ago for a writing class. He said of growing up in Mississippi:

"Jim Crow was the law of land…In order to survive you just learned what to do and how to work within the system. We were taught when we went to a white person's house, to go to the side door. We were taught when you got on a bus, to go to the back. No matter how old you were, you called white men and women "Mr." or "Miss."

And here I thought that kind of deference wasn't expected of black people anymore.

The government we deserve

I've heard pundits say that given the last eight years, "If the Democrats can't convince the American public to vote for them, then..." (smirk). I've heard PUMAs warn that Barack Obama is going to have to convince them to vote for him in 70-odd days. I've heard Independents and Republicans whine that they just don't know who Barack Obama is. But the thing is, if you have been paying attention for the last eight years, no one should have to convince you that a vote for four more years of the same is the worst kind of folly. It takes but a cursory review of candidate Web sites and voting records that can be accessed online to understand at least the fundamentals about each person running. This isn't about the failures of the Democratic Party and the Obama campaign, this is about the failure of the American electorate.

I have this nagging feeling that we're about to screw up again. That in a time when our country is embroiled in war and the Bushies are trying desperately to start another one, in a time when 47 million people do not have health insurance, at a time when just one more conservative judge on the Supreme Court could impact the country for generations, at a time when our reputation around the world is broken, at a time when the country is on the brink of giving way to anti-intellectualism, xenophobia, fear-mongering and hatefulness--voters are going to bow to ego and infighting and distractions...again.

You know how people say that citizens get the government they deserve? I'm afraid that 51 percent of Americans actually will get the government they deserve and the rest of us will suffer for it.

Okay, I'm done being bitchy. How about some hope for a chaser:


Regina said...

Awesome post!
I saw that deranged chick on TV! I wanted to spit. That was some real house negro mess!

I totally agree with Gusto girls comments, People say that Hillary delivered an awesome speech but I disagree. Her speech did not say vote for Barack because he is the best man for the job, her speech in essence said You know I'm the best one for this job but to appease the powers that be vote for Barack...and I'll see you in 2012. Very sad...

Thanks for sharing that last video, I had not seen this one! It was great!

Professor Tracey said...

"Morning Jackass" - this is why your blog is one of my favorites.

If you ever see a black woman getting dragged off that man's set and him hold his right eye, you know I realized one of 1,000 things to do before you die - I bitch-slapped Joe Scarbourgh!

I looked all night to add that video of that crazy woman crying, I just could not find it. I was not embarrassed, I was mortified!!!!

I agree with the critiques of Clinton's speech, but I differ here, I really don't think she had more in her than that. That's why people praised it so much, they were so fearful, that her adequate job is being praised as outstanding.

As Whitney Houston says, it's not right, but it's okay.....

Brother OMi said...

I can't knock that woman. i really can't. While I agree that voting for McCain is a bad idea any way you put it, the woman has the right to vote for who she wants to (or not vote). I know her reasoning is warped. Well, borderline crazy.

I have issues with this Obama and Clinton thing. it's the Clintons who should eat crow. Obama shouldn't have to pander to anyone. if anything, Bill Clinton shouldn't even speak. he is old news. let's keep it moving.

Anonymous said...

I thought Hillary's speech was just fine. And from my point of view, I hate when women have to kow tow to men, and actually celebrate losing to men. Hillary mentioned Obama's name dozens of times more than other male losing candidates did in the past, just compare the speeches. I actually believe that it was the viability of a major woman candidate that opened the door for Obama to begin with.

The woman crying over the loss of Clinton was deeply moving to me. It's women honestly wanting a world free of male supremacy, and we've wanted this world for a very very long time.

Although black people didn't get a real vote except during reconstruction, we do have to acknowledge that black men have been in congress for short periods of time in the 19th century. Women were never elected representatives in Washington until after 1920.

I am still profoundly disappointed that Hillary lost, and I am not really all that excited about Obama, never have been, but I will vote for him in solidarity with a progressive dream. We'll see how many women he puts into positions of power in the White House and how many more women will get a shot at the Supreme Court. The proof, as they say is in the....

Mahogany_Chic said...

I enjoyed your post. Slick Willy and Hillary are praying that their buddy John wins. They are probably saying to each other "who does this Negro think he is?" A year ago the Clinton's and the media already had a coronation.

Regina said...

I wonder if that crying HIllary fan is ready to jump on the McCain/Palin bandwagon, hey she's a woman (a Pro-Life and not Pro- choice woman but a woman none the less).

I think some of my issues with the Woman's suffrage movement, the PUMAs, and the Feminists is that the suffrage movement HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH BLACK WOMEN! They were NOT fighting for OUR right to vote, hell blacks were still slaves! They were tired of being the dolls on a pedestal for their white husbands and wanted to break away, they IN NO WAY were thinking about black women. So when I see these black, feminists, I just shake my head because they don't even know the history...

Anonymous said...

If I recall my high school history correctly, Susan B. Anthony was very much an abolitionist. White women risked their lives and reputations working on the Underground Railroad, and feminism and anti'slavery were very much linked. Like the 60s and the 70s, civil rights and feminism were linked. Susan B. Anthony was both good and bad. One of my all time heros is Frederick Douglas, and I sure as heck wish he were running for president now.

What was sad was the racist break between the two movements. This historical divide still rages on until we can figure out some way to overcome it.

The other day I heard another black woman say: "sometimes women really are bitches and hos" I was saying that I was sick and tired of women being dissed in rap music. Some awful woman hating song had just come on the juke box.

Black feminists and Japanese feminists were very much a part of our work internationally. Audre Lord brought it all together nicely, as did Barbara Smith. Barbara Smith, by the way, only got invited to a civil rights event in the 90s. Before that, NAACP and others were their usual lesbophobic selves. Talk to black radical lesbian feminists; we were in solidarity over sexism and homophobia, and there were no contradictions there. Is everyone here under the age of 45? Maybe you've never read the black feminists? Too much Internet and not enough real life?

Let's have some black lesbian feminists speaking up here. "Deranged chick" -- some respect for black women there. Oy vey.

Anonymous said...

P.S. I'd say the end of slavery, feminism-- both movements need each other.

MLK was no women's rights activist, yet his work helped feminists see themselves as movement worthy. There's a lot about history that doesn't appear in both the civil rights and the feminist movements.

In my case, I don't take a back seat to men ever.


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