Thursday, March 27, 2008

Boys Vs. Girls, or "So It's Come To THIS"

On Wednesday's Talk of the Nation, Leslie Bennetts contributed to one of the most astoundingly wrong-footed political segments I've ever heard on an NPR station, basically expanding on her recent L.A. Times op-ed piece. The theme was insultingly simplistic: Hillary is getting the runaround because she's a woman, and the punditry is dominated by men. Seriously. That was her entire argument in the Times piece and on Talk of the Nation. Apparently she bases this patriarchal conspiracy theory on a non-sequitur joke from last season's South Park, a lame novelty nutcracker, and some stupid thing Rush Limbaugh said. And really, who didn't see that last one coming? (Let's ignore for the moment that Rush actually wants Hillary to tough it out because he believes an even more prolonged and ugly Dem primary season will help McCain in the fall.)

There are many reasons I can't stand Senator Clinton and her campaign. None of them have to do with the lack of a Y chromosome. I'll choose a few at random:

  • Sen. Clinton planted herself on the wrong side of a few hot-button issues: She was for NAFTA, until it was convenient to be against it (unless she isn't really against it). There was also that speech she made in support of Bush's blank check for Iraq back in '02, which simply won't go away, especially after 4,000 dead soldiers. Yes, a lot of people didn't ask the right questions at the time. No, that doesn't give her a free pass. Especially for a candidate who's been making huge noises in recent weeks about her extensive foreign policy experience.
  • The Clinton camp has struck a consistently sour and combative tone not only against Obama but against the parts of the nomination process that didn't automatically favor Hillary (here's a hint: don't say "caucus" when she's in the room). It gives me an uneasy feeling that they're laboring mightily to game the system under the guise of "making every vote count".
  • Hillary's speaking style makes me wonder if she's sincere about anything. That probably shouldn't mean anything, but dammit, it does.
  • When the Clintonistas go negative, the results make me feel especially unclean. The Geraldine Ferraro comment is a particularly on-the-nose example of this, but I especially can't shake that campaign appearance where she seemingly mocked the concept of hope (and may have burned the bridge to the elusive youth vote, where Obama has been playing especially well).
But no, according to Bennetts, none of the above comes into play because I'm a guy, which means the real reason I can't tolerate Senator Clinton is that in my evil heart I believe Hillary needs to be in a house dress baking cookies for her man, or some bizarre nonsense. There can't be any other reason.

As for Ms. Bennetts' comment that nothing like the infamous "iron my shirt" heckle would be thrown at Obama (as if nothing bad ever happens to a black man in this country), how soon we forget that during his first Senate campaign the GOPs made the jaw-dropping decision to insert Alan Keyes as Obama's opponent, leaving me with the impression that they thought the electorate was stupid enough to be confused by two black men on the ticket. Of course, it was Alan frickin' Keyes, so the resultant campaign was good for entertainment value, even if the result was never even slightly in doubt.

It would be wonderful to have nuanced discussions about these issues in the media, rather than the shrill squabbles that pass for discussion in the commercial media. Usually NPR is about the only place where you can count on something like that in the course of a day, but sadly Wednesday wasn't the day. Thursday might not be good either, but I'll keep my fingers crossed.

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