Monday, May 26, 2008

Obama Supporters Attacked Hillary, but Obama Attacked Bill

In his column today Paul Krugman wrote, "many grass-roots Clinton supporters feel that she has received unfair, even grotesque treatment. And the lingering bitterness from the primary campaign could cost Mr. Obama the White House."

I am definitely in the camp that sees the treatment of Hillary as grotesque. Some of the attacks on Hillary Clinton have been nothing more than anti-woman hate crimes. Some of the anti-Clinton sentiment has been caused by fear of women gaining equality. As Robin Morgan wrote, "This is sociopathic woman-hating. If it were about Jews, we would recognize it instantly as anti-Semitic propaganda; if about race, as KKK poison. Hell, PETA would go ballistic if such vomitous spew were directed at animals. Where is our sense of outrage—as citizens, voters, Americans?"

Some of the attacks on Hillary are not rooted in sexism. Things she said have been horribly twisted and horrible claims made about her: that she is evil, racist, power-grubbing. The character attacks are so ubiquitous that some people believe them implicitly. This demonization is just inexplicable to me, but it seems to be inherent in US politics, where there seems to be a need to hate the person you don't support.

The culprits behind the misogynistic attacks and demonization are the mainstream media, new media, Obama supporters and - doubtless - Republican operatives, working in the shadows.

But my disgust at the course of this campaign goes beyond the attacks on Hillary. I am also angry with Barack Obama for his treatment of Bill Clinton. Obama has repeatedly attacked Bill Clinton's record as president, popularizing the notion that Clinton achieved nothing worthwhile and was either a right-wing lap dog or just uncaring and incompetent. I recently saw a town hall meeting in which Obama was asked a rude question about Bill Clinton. Obama laughed derisively, sharing a little sneer and letting the audience join in with a laugh at the former president's expense before answering more diplomatically. It was ugly.

It has been a central strategy of the Obama campaign to undermine the record of Bill Clinton. I can see why he did it: to tear down Hillary he felt he had to tear down the record of her husband. It was unfair, it was nasty, and it was bad for the party, but it was good politics.

Krugman concludes that "it’s up to Mr. Obama to deliver the unity he has always promised — starting with his own party." Krugman suggests this might be done by offering Hillary the vice presidential spot. But I think Obama has to go beyond that. He has to heal the bitterness felt by supporters of Bill Clinton. That is necessary to unite the Democratic party.



KC said...

My gawd you have a short and selective memory. The Clintons have thrown everything but the kitchen sink at Obama--suggested that McCain would be a better President, suggested that he was unelectable, mentioned that 'Jesse Jackson won a few states', surreptitiously released pictures to Matt Drudge of him in Kenyan garb, said "as far as I know" hes not a Muslim, appealed to the racist prejudice of the residents of Kentucky and West Virginia, taken full advantage of the Rev. Wright "scandal", argued that he has no substance, called his candidacy a "fairy tale", blatantly lied about him blocking a revote in Michigan, raised the possibility of his assasination, etc. etc. etc. The laundry list goes on and on.

Sometimes I think you are watching a different Presidential campaign than the rest of us. Even in states Clinton has won by wide margins majorities have thought she has unfairly attacked Obama. Pretty well everyone can call a spade a spade except Clintons diehard supporters.

Clinton has gotten unfair treatment because she is a woman yes; but so has Obama in equal measure because hes black. Hes had to wear the Rev. Wright way more than he would have if he were white and the comments related to some other kind of controvery. In fact the only reason shes still in this thing (to the extent that she is) is because West Virginia and Kentucky have disproportionately high numbers of openly racist folks.

Give me a break Yappa.

PS there is plenty to criticize about the Clinton presidency. Its not like they were they were THAT great.

Anonymous said...

the previous coment shows how far omama supporters are willing to go..."Clinton has gotten unfair treatment because she is a woman yes; but so has Obama in equal measure because hes black"...give me a break, one of the reason he is where he is at the moment is because he is black and the media is deadly afraid to be called racist, as the obama camp have used as much as possible, he has got so much favorable attention that it is ridiculous and the public are starting to see it, any man before a woman, byt they havent figure out yet, that it will be any man before a black man, so enough...

Unknown said...

Conservative dems aren't evil, I am sure they will have their role in the party but right now the progressive wing has risen in status from rump to central player.

The biggest problem with Bill's presidency and what would be a big problem if HRC were to get back in the W.H. either as prez or veep is that they are both polarizing figures (within their own party and the country) and that would cripple a democratic agenda, just like it did the last time.

Yappa said...

Oh kc, you wear me out, you really do. You drank the koolaid over at Huffington Post or the like. You heard the smears and didn't bother to look into the reality and then came up with your laundry list of accusations which, admittedly, have become "conventional wisdom" to many. But it doesn't mean they're true. I dealt with many of the charges one by one as they came up. What's the point of arguing the facts though - you "know" that Hillary Clinton is a racist nasty bitch and the facts won't dissuade you.

Furthermore, Obama's denigration of Bill Clinton is not a problem for me because I'm worried about Bill personally. It's an attack on the record of the Democratic party of the last 15 years that is destructive and divisive. What "conventional wisdom" calls triangulation is what I call bipartisan cooperation. The country was greatly improved over the years 1992-2000, despite the voters electing a Republican congress, and I don't want that proud legacy to be ridiculed and dismissed.

KC said...

Well shes definitely nasty (in the political sense of the word) and has appealed to racism (although I wouldnt actually call her racist).

None of the attacks have been debunked. Some may have been inadvertant slipups but all of them were done and havent been disproven--not by your or anyone else.

Im just amazed at how some people have been screamining bloody murder about sexism in this campaign yet ignore the racial dimension that has harmed the opponent. Quit pretending that sexism is the only form of discrimination and double standard at play in this campaign. I'd note that most black women in this campaign have voted for Obama.

Anon - to the extent that Obama has benefited from his race, Clinton has benefited from her gender. Just like there are lots of people who support Obama "cause hes black" there are many who support Clinton "cause shes a woman".