Friday, February 22, 2008

Barack Disses and Dismisses Hillary with Male Disdain

Barack Obama resorted to male dismissal last night in the debate. He would never tell John McCain or John Edwards or a male candidate that a point they raised was "just silly. It’s silly season in politics."

But it’s still all right to dismiss an accomplished woman’s legitimate concern in this way in a public forum. Not a single political pundit noticed it. In fact, Hillary is being berated for bringing up the legitimate charge of plagiarism for having made a misstep.

The double standard has been in effect throughout the campaign. Obama, the flavor of the month, was hailed for being greeted by “rock star crowds,” fixing his celebrity status as a rock star. Hillary, on the other hand, never has a moment of peace from characterizations of her as cold, divisive, and the “b” word.

John Edwards was almost completely ignored by the media. The media have made the front-runners in the Democratic primary.

I know one conspiracy-theorist who thinks the media seeded a women and an African-American as the Democratic front-runners so that a weak Republican prospect, John McCain, would steal the white, male, under-$50K-a-year vote and maintain the Republican presidency. They will not vote for a woman or a black man and will cross party lines to vote white male.

Even though I teach media and know all about interlocking directorates and the heavily conservative bias of corporate news organizations, I discounted this theory.

It’s too bad females are not able to so clearly identify their own best interests with having a female in the White House and breaking the final glass ceiling. Clinton will work hard, but Obama will be fluff. He is likely to make the same naïve mistakes as Jack Kennedy, who had Nikita Krushchev tap-dancing at our Miami doorstep with his missile sites in Cuba. Let’s not forget, either, than it was Lyndon Johnson who got important civil rights legislation passed, drawing on his decades of experience as a congressional deal-maker.

But young women are out, dancing to mindless slogans, suckered by yet another charismatic male who promises hope and change – whatever that means – while offering the same old dismissal of an accomplished woman’s argument as silly. And that’s why a woman supporting Obama is as silly as hen buying stock in Kentucky Fried Chicken.

A black male can fit through the eye of the public more easily than a woman can break the ultimate glass ceiling.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

The Obama Juggernaut

The Obama juggernaut, aided by pack journalism, moves forward, its momentum seeming unstoppable. According to the MSN Encarta Dictionary, “It used to be said, apocryphally, that worshipers of Krishna threw themselves under the wheels of the Juggernaut wagon in an access of religious ecstasy, so juggernaut came to be used metaphorically in English for an irresistible crushing force.”

Last week, I predicted that Senator Barack Obama will win the general election. Then, overwhelmed by the bandwagon effect of his campaign, I flew away from mob-think to endorse Hillary Clinton. I do not believe that she will win the nomination, but she is the thinking-woman’s candidate.

Obama is now cast by the media as the magician, the one who will bring change out of hope, or perhaps I should write: change out of hype.

According to Eclectic Tarot, the Magician of the Tarot “is someone with a magnetic personality, someone who can convince people of almost anything. For better or worse, his words are magic."

The Senator fits the image of “a regal figure, powerful, graceful, and confident - able to make things happen, and even move mountains. The Magician Tarot card meaning deals with the ability to utilize every resource we have available to us,” according to Tarot Teachings.

I see the triumph of surface over substance, one that is challenging to articulate because to express the idea immediately is transformed into a statement of racial prejudice.

Obama is charming, a word with ancient roots that means to put observers under a spell. But in the end, magic is merely an illusory feat that appears to be supernatural only to naïve observers (Princeton wordnet).

Last night, a TV pundit noted that Nikita Kruschev ran rings around Jack Kennedy’s naïve diplomacy, and our naïve – albeit charismatic – president led us to the edge of nuclear confrontation during the Cuban missile crisis as the wily Russian leader demonstrated brinksmanship.

It’s not out of the question, either, that Obama will be assassinated, like JFK. Racial hatred runs deep in some portions of the U.S. The heirs of the Ku Klux Klan, with their ignorant theory of mud people, will not shy from violence to halt what they will see as a great degradation. So all these comparisons of Obama with Kennedy may turn out more parallel than the Senator’s supporters’ desire.
As president, Obama will not achieve much, and a Republican will be back in the White House four years later.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Hillary for President: Obama Is All Surface, Little Substance

The more my fellow Americans jump on the Barack Obama bandwagon, the greater grows my respect for Hillary Clinton and my desire to see a woman in the White House.

“Hope and change, change and hope,” I hear in endless sound loops of Obama rallies. I see the slogan posters bobbing up and down, and I feel as if I’m living in an Orwellian nightmare. What kind of change, exactly?

The more Obama talks, the more he sounds like an intellectual lightweight. Hillary, as her political fortunes sag anew in the Chesapeake primaries last night, emerges as a polished leader down in Texas. She has indeed found her voice, firing up Hispanic voters, in a hoarse voice. The political pundits, white men with their overfed bellies, are pronouncing her campaign all but dead, but this 60-year-old woman is out there facing down the naysayers -- again -- with a smile on her face.Now, that's bravery.

Damozel at The Moderate Voice writes:

“Meanwhile, those of us who have supported Hillary have done so for exactly the reasons that Obama’s fan base derides her. She is tough, a bit battered by hard experience, hardened to being disliked, a little soiled by her mistakes, persistent, politically astute, intellectually flexible, wary, wiley, and all the things that her critics take for insults but which are really the constituents of the ability to make realistic judgments and politic (as opposed to popular) decisions.“

Hillary is called hard-edged because the patriarchy makes feminine success, by definition, hard-edged. It just isn’t womanly to be that doggone accomplished. It just isn't womanly to beat the boys at their own games. Of course, she is found wanting in the womanly arts department. That, my friends, is patriarchy at work.

The criticism is being raised that it isn’t good for democracy for the presidency to be passed between two dynasties – Bush and Clinton. Oddly, the danger of dynasties didn’t come up when Son-of-a-Bush was anointed by the Supreme Court. What I remember is the conservatives gloating that Jeb Bush would be next up to bat, wishing on America a 24-year reign of narrow-minded, right wing cultural restriction and unfettered business exploitation of working people. Dynasty was just fine with everyone back then.

As for Obama’s vaunted charisma, Damozel is spot-on about that, too:

“True, Hillary doesn’t have Obama’s much-touted ‘charisma.’ I don’t care. I distrust charisma. It’s an aura, a glamour, a trick of the light, too often taken for the outward and visible sign for an inner and invisible grace. Those who compare his candidacy, apparently unconscious of the irony, with JFK’s and Reagan’s have got it exactly right.”

If charisma was all it takes to be a good president, Mick Jagger should have been elected long ago.

Bruce Miroff debunks the Kennedy mythology at The History News Network . As it turns out, Kennedy wasn't much better than Obama at getting down to particulars of policy and governance. Miroff writes:

"John F. Kennedy evoked an era of public service and participation in the most famous line from his Inaugural Address, but when asked to supply specifics to go with the soaring rhetoric, apart from the Peace Corps he was reduced to suggesting such public sacrifices as a curb upon expense accounts and an acceptance of higher postal rates. The later image of "Camelot" was unwittingly apt in capturing the royalist air of the Kennedy regime."

Senator Clinton is, after all, heir to the greatest policy-wonk presidency of contemporary times. She is better prepared on every issue than Obama, because she is a woman and she has to be. She has done the research. She has been working to extend health care to all Americans since her husband’s administration. She is still fighting.

Senator Clinton, with her clear complexion and tireless campaigning, reminds me of a warrior mother, an ancient goddess from matriarchal times, who embodies both strength and protection. What is Obama, one of the newest members of the Senate with just two years under his belt, but just another pretty new face?

He needs seasoning, and what a great word that is. He needs to experience the waxing and waning of the political seasons and the seasons of life before he is prepared to lead our nation in these perilous times. The movement of the electorate toward Obama is yet another illustration of the U.S. population’s preference for surfaces over substances: pretty words, beloved, but what lies beneath?

At 46, Obama can use eight years productively to learn the arts of governance and the wisdom of the years. If elected, his will be one of least effective presidencies ever. He may delight crowds with his so-called rock-star charisma at least for a while, but it is Hillary who has proven that she has the intelligence, the political resiliency, the wit and the guts to clean up the Bush mess.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Hillary vs. The Patriarchy by Erica Jong

In my last entry, I went out on a limb and predicted that Barack Obama will win the Democratic Party presidential nomination. I also expressed my own preference for Hillary Clinton for president.

Erica Jong, writer and seer for women of my generation, has expressed my feelings so much more clearly than I have in an article for the Washington Post,Hillary vs. The Patriarchy.

So long as troglodytes such as Bill Kristol can get away with saying, “White women are a problem. We all know that,” women are still – as John Lennon said so long ago – “the niggers of the world.” Bill Kristol would be excoriated for referring to African-Americans as “a problem,” but it’s just fine to say it about white women.

Ronni Bennett, in her always informative Times Goes By blog, takes the press to task to reducing complex issue debates to race and gender. She is right, of course. I left newspaper journalism a long time ago because it had devolved into idiocy of which I wanted no further part.

As long as journalists distract Americans with simplistic views and the entertainments of blood and circuses on television, democracy will be a sham of one candidate beholden to corporations battling like a gladiator another just as beholden to corporate interests.

Obama most probably will win because it is easier for males to see another man in the White House, even if he is “half-black,” than it is to see a female running the show. If Hillary doesn’t win the nomination and the election, I do not think that another woman will have as good a shot at it during my lifetime.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Why Barack Obama Will Win the General Election in November 2008

One of the first predictions I heard about the race between Barack Obama and Hilary Clinton for the Democratic Party presidential nomination said that it would be easier for Obama to get the nod. A National Public Radio pundit said that would be easier for white men to envision another man in the office than a woman.

The glass ceiling is made of super-strength safety glass or Plexiglas.

As I watched the Lion of Judah Senator Ted Kennedy, last living brother of the dead president, anoint Obama, I felt as if I was watching a scene from the Godfather. Caroline Kennedy, the last living member of JFK’s immediate family, bestowed the mantle of her dead feather’s inspiring leadership on the youthful African-American.

Eviscerally, my gut claimed this is the Kiss of Death for Hillary.

Hillary, in turn, has trotted out the ghost of RFK in the form of his son to affirm a close friendship with iconic California farm workers’ labor leader Cesar Chavez. This courts the Hispanic vote. As in Hamlet with Banquo's spirit roaming the castle, there are ghosts upon the battlements in this race.

During the Thursday night Democratic debate in a star-studded Hollywood auditorium, Barack and Hillary made nice like a family reunion. Reduced to a contest of titans with the withdrawal of John Edwards from the race, both eulogized him as if he were dead. Politically speaking, he is for the time being. MSNBC's Chris Matthews commented that Edwards would make a terrific Secretary of Labor, the first strong man in that position for decades, and a chance to revive this country’s moribund labor movement. Matthews has that spot-on. My Weekly Reader taught us elementary school students about the Big Three in American politics – Big Business, Big Government, and Big Labor. Like the faded star in Sunset Boulevard, labor now cracks, “I’m still big. It’s politics that’s gotten small.”

Politically active star Susan Sarandan reportedly said, “America is ready for a woman president, but maybe not this woman.” There are too many liabilities to a Clinton presidency.

First, there is a yukkiness to passing the leadership of the country – a putative democracy – between two families, Bush to Clinton to Bush to Clinton, should Hillary win..

Second, there is the record of sexual peccadilloes of her husband, our former president, Bill Clinton, and other scandals that erupted during the Clinton presidency.

Third, Hillary polarizes voters. I suspect that any assertive female is always polarizing in a sexist society. Females have such limited choices – be sweet and a doormat or tough and a bitch. A man can be tough-minded and likeable.

I find it hard to believe that any Republican can win the general election at this juncture in history. Bush's mistakes have poisoned the country. But then, I sat unemployed one dank November in Baltimore listening to coverage of Regan’s election in 1980. I couldn’t believe that Americans would elect an actor to be president. I ran out to the polls just before closing, but my puny vote didn’t help.

Reagan turned out to be one of our most beloved presidents, but not by me. I was shocked anew when he fired all the air traffic controllers for going on strike in 1981. After all, Reagan had been president of the Screen Actors Guild (SAG). That action played a huge role in diminishing the power of employed people to get their fair share of the economic pie, safe work environments, and health benefits, and that action reverberates to this day.

I predict Obama’s victory cautiously. Predictions are risky in a tight contest such as this one. Even though I might like a woman to hold the office, I think the markers say Obama and that could be better for the country. So I’m all in.