Monday, May 19, 2008

The New York Times looks at gender issues and Hillary Clinton. The first thing that jumped out at me was the photo of a "young Clinton supporter" of about the age of five, holding a sign that read, "I plan to be the 2nd woman president." Not to pick on a little girl, but assuming a parent or guardian largely responsible for the text, I'll go ahead and say, what the hell? She's a toddler, which of course means she won't be eligigble for the presidency for fourty years or so. There is a pretty good chance I'll be dead before she is eligible for the presidency. So is this what the Clinton campaign stands for? One woman president, then we let the men get back to work for a few decades? For Clinton herself, yes, probably. She's shown no interest in the long-term best interests of her party or her country, why should she have any nobler asperations for her gender? But I would hope the country as a whole could aim higher. A Clinton supporter in the article describes Obama as patronizing, but what's more patronizing than suggesting that, once Clinton's elected, we can go back to the status quo for a few decades?

That said, I will concede the first paragraph of the Times artile is patronizing: "With each passing day, it seems a little less likely that the next president of the United States will wear a skirt — or a cheerful, no-nonsense pantsuit." You know, with the possible exception of "cheerful," I think it's an absolute certainty that's how the next President will dress, even if McCain wins. Unless McCain decides to start wearing bermuda shorts around the Oval Office, he'll probably elect to don a pantsuit, as he and virtually every male politican always had and always will. The fixation on Clinton's wardrobe is unfortunate. But I also doubt it had a bearing on her defeat.

Hateful bigot Geraldine Ferarro shot off her nasty, racist mouth, describing Obama as "terribly sexist," without explaining why. I guess because Obama supporters took umbrage to her speaking the bold truth about the advantages the black man has in our society, living the "fairy tale" life, as Bill Clinton put it. And a group called "Clinton Supporters Count, Too," is forming to campaign against Obama in November. Of course Clinton supporters count, too. They each count for one vote. And unless Obama's supporters don't count, that means Clinton's campaign is doomed. Edwards supporters count, too; does that mean we should just let Edwards be the president, as to not hurt their feelings? Let everyone be president, don't want to not count someone.

Which goes back to the charge of being patronizing. Clinton's supporters are begging to be patronized, demanding it. Suggest Clinton should drop out, considering she lost the election? How dare you! She can run for as long as she want. But if you say that she can still run, you're being patronizing. Yes, Clinton has the right to run for as long as she wants. Ron Paul is still running, and people aren't calling for him to drop out. And that's because he doesn't demand constant validation. Anyone can run for president, and no one can force you to drop out. That doesn't mean you should, or that people have to pretend that you can win. Clinton supporters seem to be buying into a Special Olympics version of politics, where we have to be nice and supportive and everyone's a winner. Which is fine, and in fact a wonderful and beautiful thing, for the Special Olympics. But it's just not how politics work.

So here's my main suggestion for those Clinton supporters who feel patronized: Stop demaning validation. Yes, she can run. Anyone can run, it goes without saying. When people call for her to drop out, there saying what they think she should do. They have every right to speak their mind, too, and that, too should go without speaking. So Clinton, run if you want, but stop fanning your supporter's outrage whenever anyone suggests you can't win or shouldn't be running. And be more sparing when you cry sexism in how the Clinton campaign was treated. Yes, there were elements of sexist to be found, and she wasn't always treated fairly, I'll concede that. But when one of sixteen female Senators is running against the only African-American Senator (only the third black senator since Reconstruction), blaming every setback to sexism while belittling Obama's achievements is both counter-productive and shameful (that's why your reputation is now in the toilet, Geraldine Ferarro).

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