Friday, October 30, 2015

The Benefits Of Grievance

We all should have seen it coming, though I did not.

In a debate held a few days before the New Hampshire primary in 2008, Hillary Clinton was asked

New Hampshire voters seem to believe that of those of you on the stage, you are the most experienced and the most electable. In terms of change, they see Senators Obama and Edwards as the agents of change, in New Hampshire mindset. My question to you is simply this: What can you say to the voters of New Hampshire on this stage tonight, who see a resume and like it but are hesitating on the likability issue, where they seem to like Barack Obama more.

Playing on the stereotype of the weak, yet sensitive, woman of fragile emotions, Mrs. Clinton responded "well, that hurts my feelings" After the moderator said he was "sorry," the candidate, accompanied by sympathetic laughter,  continued"but I'll try to go on. He's very likeable. I agree with that. I don't think I'm that bad."

Inclined to impart the arguable- but legitimate- message (in his classic passive-agressive manner) that Clinton was simply the inferior candidate, Senator Obama agreed with Clinton by stating "You're likable enough, Hillary."

As the summary accompanying the video below reads, "The backhanded compliment may have drawn nervous laughter in the auditorium, but it prompted a major backlash in the days to come. Clinton supporters painted Obama as cruel and insensitive, and voters handed him a stunning defeat in New Hampshire just a few days later."

I cast my primary vote months later for Mrs. Clinton over Barack Obama, whom I've always considered patronizing.  Ironically, though, that was not the case with the remark "you're likable enough, Hillary." Given the context of the remark, including the question and Clinton's initial response, Obama's remark was neither patronizing nor sexist.   But it appears portraying it as such may have been the deciding factor in the New Yorker's surprising come-from-behind victory in the Granite State.

A similar situation has now arisen.   Annie Karni of Politico reports

“I’m stunned that a man like Bernie Sanders, who has clearly committed his life to making the country a better place, would get sucked into this very dangerous rhetoric, which perpetuates sexist and misogynistic stereotypes,” fumed Christine Quinn, the former New York City Council speaker who sits on Clinton’s New York Leadership Council and fundraises for her.campaign. “The candidate is supposed to set the tone, set the agenda. If Bernie Sanders does not want to be seen as someone who uses sexist language and perpetuates a dangerous sexist stereotype of strong women, then he should tell his people to stop. And if they don’t stop, he should fire them.”

Ms. Quinn has set a very low bar for what constitutes "very dangerous" rhetoric. Karni continues

Quinn, who ran for New York City mayor in 2013, said a recent Bloomberg Politics story that quoted Sanders campaign manager Jeff Weaver joking that “we’re willing to consider her for vice president...we’ll even interview her” was beyond the pale.

“Seriously? Seriously? The absurdity of that statement almost merits no response. How arrogant and sexist can you be? It’s not OK to let people with a long progressive record get away with being sexist.”

Consider the irony of someone who claims "we're  willing to consider" candidate X "for vice president" is "very dangerous" referring to anything this side of Ben Carson as "absurd." Still,

Sanders’ predicament has its roots in the first Democratic debate earlier this month, when the Vermont senator said “all the shouting in the world” won’t fix the country’s systemic problem with gun violence -- a comment Clinton and her allies have since interpreted as an implicitly sexist filleting of the former secretary of state.

Sanders insists that wasn’t his intention. But the fight has since escalated, with his top campaign brass (notably, male) blasting Clinton for implying that Sanders’ comment was sexist, and then joking they would consider granting the frontrunner an interview for a vice presidential slot on their ticket.

It's horrid that any candidate would try to boost his own candidacy by making the suggestion that his opponent is better qualified for #2 than #1.  It must be unprecedented.... yet

Scott Walker has yet to launch his presidential campaign, but the Wisconsin governor is already talking both privately and publicly about a running mate: Marco Rubio.

This comes as news to Rubio, the freshman Florida senator who is running his own campaign to be president. The constant prodding from Walker has become an irritant between the two GOP rivals, neither of whom knows the other all that well.

The goal for Walker is clear: to calm the nerves of Republican power brokers who love his conservative message and anti-union pedigree but who worry about the appeal of a white male Midwestern governor in a fast-changing country — especially if Hillary Rodham Clinton is the Democratic nominee.

It also less-than-subtly suggests that one of his rivals is not up for the top of the ticket....

“I like Marco Rubio a lot,” Walker said in a recent Bloomberg interview. But then: “Obviously, I’m deferential to governors. I think there’s a lot we bring to the table as having proved executive experience. But I do like Marco Rubio.”

He added that “quite a few people” have suggested a Walker-Rubio ticket to him.

Rubio has suggested the opposite. “A Walker-Rubio ticket may be fine,” he said recently in New Hampshire, “but it’s got to be in alphabetical order.”

Nonetheless, Karni of Politico reveals

Some Clinton allies pointed to the top ranks of Sanders’ campaign as the root of what they see as an insensitivity problem: Sanders’ campaign manager, communications director, field director, early state organizer, Iowa campaign coordinator and top strategists are all men (an aide to the Vermont senator noted that the team’s New Hampshire state director is a woman and Sanders’ chief of staff in the Senate, Michaeleen Crowell, who helps with some campaign duties like debate prep, is also a woman).

“Having diverse perspectives in your campaign leadership results in better strategy, just like having diverse voices at decision making tables results in better policies," said a Clinton ally who declined to criticize Sanders’ team on the record.

Presumably, their candidate values having diverse perspectives. Once a supporter of the 1994 Omnibus Crime Control Act, Mrs. Clinton now condemns "mass incarceration."  Ardent advocate of free trade, she since (belatedly) has come out against the Trans-Pacific Partnership.  Having voted for the Iraq War resolution, she since has apologized for the measure which gave President Bush a greaer opportunity to invade Iraq. On each issue, Mrs. Clinton herself represents "diverse perspectives."

And abortion. As recently as the 2008 Democratic primary campaign- while vying for votes of Democrats, most of them liberal/progressive- Senator Clinton reiterated her view that abortion should be “safe, legal and rare, and by rare I mean rare” (at approximately 1:10 in video below).

That should soothe the fear of a Clinton presidency among virulently anti-choice states, which also are determined to keep aborttion rare, sharply restricting a woman's reproductive freedom. Several of these states are ones, which, according to NARAL Pro-Choice America

limit the provision of care only to physicians; force practices to convert needlessly into mini-hospitals at great expense; require abortion providers to get admitting privileges; and require facilities to have a transfer agreement with a local hospital (with nothing requiring hospitals to grant such privileges).Further, in many states abortion care is limited to hospitals or other specialized facilities, rather than physicians' offices.

“If you look at my record in the Congress,” explains Bernie Sanders, “you will find there are very few people who have a stronger pro-woman voting record, including a 100 percent record as an abortion rights advocate.”  Alas, to some of Hillary Clinton's supporters, issues and record are far less important than appearances, wherein perceived slights can be strategically elevated to spurious charges of gender insensitivity.

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