August
31st 2008
This is now officially a post-Rachel blog

Posted under: American history, GLBTQ, jobs, unhappy endings, women's history

I used to really like Rachel Maddow.  I would listen to her first Air America show, the morning program, although it aired at the ridiculous hours of 5-7 a.m. my time, because she offered a point of view that was utterly absent in any of the traditional big media networks.  I was encouraged when she started getting more and more guest spots at MSogynNyBC, because that network was particularly egregious in its white manitood, and I thought her snappy queer sensibility might shake things up a bit.  (Aside:  as hinted at in another post, the bratty boyz at MSogyNyBC are shaking things up enough already!  Good luck with that crowd, Rache.)

She disappointed me during the Democratic primary in cheering along with all of the femophobic bullcrap over at MSogyNyBC.  If this is what a “member of the family” is doing for us, I’ll take crazy Uncle Chris Matthews over that faux-diversity, any day.  (Apparently, I’m not the only one who can’t listen to her any more, although I think Roxie and her mothers are trying to keep an open mind.)  Now apparently she’s gone around the bend:  she is claiming that Obama represents a rejection of “Clintonism,” which is just silly (as I could have told her last spring!), and she’s now claiming that any former supporter of Hillary Clinton who doesn’t support Barack Obama for President is “post-rational.”

It makes no sense—Hillary has asked them to back Obama, and yet they are still holding out…supposedly because they back Hillary, who backs Obama. It’s just post rational. You know? It doesn’t make any sense, which is why I call it post-rational.

(H/t to Blogenspiel and commenter Nathaniel for the link.)  First of all, what the heck does “post-rational” mean?  And secondly, maybe Maddow missed this, but Clinton’s supporters are actually free to vote for whomever they prefer.  They didn’t sign any contracts pre-awarding their general election votes to anyone, not even to Clinton.  Although she has a degree in politics, Maddow must have missed class the day they covered winning elections, and how it’s the candidate’s job to win votes, rather than to suggest that anyone who doesn’t vote for him is stupid, irrational, or lacking in virtue.  And here’s something that even George W. Bush seems to know:  that goes double for your base.  One more thing:  if Rachel had been paying attention for the past twenty years or so, she might have noticed that there are a whole lot of people–perhaps even the majority of the electorate–who regularly vote against their best interests because they get sidetracked with “likeability” issues or other such trivia.  So, obviously, appealing only to people’s “rationality” is a strategy that will yield–shall we say?–minimal success.

Politics is about emotions and feelings, whether Democrats like it or not.  That’s why they keep getting their a$$es handed to them in presidential elections.  Obama and Biden are right now taking Historiann’s advice and are bus-storming Pennsylvania and Ohio right now.  They’ll be largely ignored by the media this week because of the Republican National Convention and Hurricaine Gustav–but that may not be all bad.   They can mend and forge new relationships with people whose interests they want to serve and whose votes they need, and maybe that will all go better out of the media limelight.  They’re going to show the people in these struggling, post-industrial states a little love and pay a little attention to them.  Obama and Biden seem to get it–thank goodness!–why doesn’t Rachel Maddow?

I am so over you, Rachel Maddow.

25 Comments »

25 Responses to “This is now officially a post-Rachel blog”

  1. lisa on 31 Aug 2008 at 12:49 pm #

    You have made Rachel’s point. Post-rational simply means that it’s no longer rational or has left the realm of reason. For someone to support HRC based on her policy stances and ideology to decide now to support McCain who’s policies are completely contrary to the voters previously stated values is… irrational. Makes no sense. Is based, as you say, on “emotions and feelings” and not on reason.
    I love Rachel. Thanks for, unwittingly, making her point.

  2. Historiann on 31 Aug 2008 at 1:03 pm #

    Lisa, I guess I would define “post-rational” as voting without demanding particular policy positions and concessions. I thought we all had liberty to make up our own minds, but YMMV.

  3. Roxie on 31 Aug 2008 at 1:10 pm #

    Props to you for the term “post-Rachel,” which is brilliant and probably much deserved. As you note above, the moms are keeping an open mind, being reluctant to let go of the one they giddily anointed Butch PhD in a moment of post-rational exuberance. (Watching TV will do that to a girl.) They’ve caught enough of MSNBC recently, though, to see that Rachel is kinda going with the flow of woman-hatred over there at the misogyny network, so they may be jumping ship before her new show ever gets on the air. Good thing Rache never responded to our offer to let her have the title Butch PhD for her show. We do hereby take it back and reserve it for a later, better use.

  4. Historiann on 31 Aug 2008 at 1:16 pm #

    Yeah, there are a lot of more deserving butches and Ph.D.’s out there! I’m sorry to hear that what you’ve seen recently bears out my suspicions. It seems that the corporate media are just determined to wring all of the diversity and different points of view out of our political discourse.

    It’s too bad.

  5. Tracey on 31 Aug 2008 at 1:49 pm #

    I think you right on to call Rachel Maddow on this. I to have been a long time fan of the Rachel Maddow show; however, on this one she is wrong. Rachel assumes that there is not a rational argument for a Hillary supporter to vote for McCain. However, as older woman in the demographic of Hillary supporters who are not embracing Obama, I feel that I have very rational argument for not voting for Obama. Obama was the one Democratic candidate, from the beginning, I felt I could never support. He is just to young and inexperienced. He may have good ideas, however, if takes a great deal of experience to know when to set aside your firmly held beliefs for the good of the majority. I look at Obama, and his lack of experience has not changed just because he won the nomination. If Obama were elected, with a Democratically controlled congress he would find little to check over arching ambition. If however McCain were elected, he would find the Democratically controlled congress checking most of moves, allowing him to do little damage, an unable to place anyone to radical on the court. So weighing those options I find the risk of Republican president with little power, leaving the country even more angry in four years, ready to elect a competent Democratic candidate preferable to an inexperienced, potentially incompetent Democratic president, leaving the country angry at Democrats and ready to elect a Republican president. When you take view longer than four years, there are rational arguments for voting against your policy positions in the short term to insure long term gains.

    On a side note, I find it interesting that no Obama supporters thought it irrational, or post rational for Republican Blacks to vote for Obama. There identity politics was rational; it is only irrational when a woman may choose to vote for McCain because of putting a woman on the ticket.

  6. Historiann on 31 Aug 2008 at 2:07 pm #

    Yes, the discussions of essentialism have been very strange. Somehow, it’s only bad if women “vote with their vaginas,” (as if!), but there has been little criticism on the left of African American support for Obama. I’m certainly not going to criticize it–I absolutely understand the power of symbols and the excitement that women and men of color feel at the prospect of the Obamas being the First Family. At the same time, it is curious that so many women were accused of “voting with their vaginas,” as though there were no other reasons to support Hillary Clinton. (Or for that matter, Sarah Palin. I’m amazed and disturbed by the fact that her sex alone is dominating discussions of her in the news and blogs–as though she doesn’t offer McCain lots of other biographical and policy advantages.)

    And, it’s been very discouraging to hear someone like Maddow say the same things that confirmed Neanderthals like Chris Matthews and Keith Olbermann say. (With apologies to any Neanderthals who might be offended by the comparison.)

  7. Historiann on 31 Aug 2008 at 2:45 pm #

    In re-reading the comments, I want to clarify a few points:

    1. In my original post, I should have been clearer: the larger point I wanted to make is that American voters are frequently irrational, if not typically irrational. To imply that it’s only those crazy bitches who are being “post-rational” (a stupid neologism) in their voting this year is a highly selective critique of American voting behavior, to say the least.

    2. It’s especially distasteful for me to hear a supposedly feminist women accusing other women of being irrational. Next week, will she accuse women who disagree with her politically of suffering from wandering uterus syndrome, or will she go all the way and call it “hysteria?”

  8. SF on 31 Aug 2008 at 4:06 pm #

    Wow, Historiann, I never thought I’d see the day when I was totally on the other side. I just became acquainted with Rachel Maddow through MSNBC and I find her refreshing, intelligent, and interesting. I have also come to appreciate MSNBC for Keith Olberman, whom I find quite cathartic to watch. I’ve switched over from CNN because of their disingenuous pretension to cover all sides, and because Larry King is a waste of airtime. I completely agree with Maddow on her assessment that those (and not just women) who plan and/or threaten to vote for McCain are out of their minds. I have no problem judging them as irresponsible and, yes, petty, even betrayers. To vote for another aggressive, anti-woman, indeed anti-humane ticket is downright irresponsible. Democracy is supposed to be based on rationality, and even if cultural and capitalist forces undermine that principle, all voters should nonetheless make the attempt to rise above emotion and make rational decisions regarding the future of our country. Those who do not make that attempt, in my view, are deserving of judgment, harsh judgment. Maddow was not attacking women; she was calling them on their crap. Women, too, are capable of screwing up royally.

  9. Indyanna on 31 Aug 2008 at 4:13 pm #

    It’s one thing to “release” your delegates, but the idea that a candidate can just deliver hir supporters seems pretty a-rational to me. Or at least it goes back to the era of the First Mayor Daley, which was pretty crazy.

    According to today’s prints Olbermann will now be going back to his *other* day job as a member of some team that does Sunday Night NFL broadcasts while apparently continuing to do the political “analysis” stuff too. He says he can handle this, so it may be necessary hang on for a wild two month ride. You could argue that the original Neanderthals had to do a lot of this sort of multi-tasking, I guess. Since I don’t have TV, I can avoid both this phenomenon and those six billion negative attack ads that will soon be descending.

  10. Historiann on 31 Aug 2008 at 4:19 pm #

    SF: “Women, too, are capable of screwing up royally.”

    Agreed. Witness Rachel Maddow! Trust me, she was a lot more interesting and feminist before MSNBC. (That “cultural and capitalist force” that has undermined Maddow.)

    Since MSNBC and Maddow are clearly advocates for the Obama/Biden ticket, they should re-think adopting the strategy used by Obama supporters through the primary, which is to insult and demean anyone who hasn’t hopped up on the Unity Pony. I like your utopianism, but politics in this country is in large part about how a politician or a party makes people feel. People who realize this win elections. People who refuse to believe it, and think that their superior policy positions will make the difference, are frequently disappointed.

    Obama realizes this–that’s why so much of his primary and early general campaign has been about evoking positive emotions with pleasant and vague notions of “hope” and “change.” I don’t know why some of his supporters think that calling people stupid is a great way to get more votes. (So far, anyway, Obama is winning the women’s vote nationally–it must be all of those totally irrational, hysterical white men who refuse to see the light.)

  11. SF on 31 Aug 2008 at 4:46 pm #

    I do not see how RM has screwed up. The stakes are obviously different in mainstream media and it is difficult to negotiate when coming from a left-wing outlet. I do not see how she has compromised her voice, since she is so clearly partisan. And this is not about the unity pony, it is about gaining Democratic control of the country, that’s it. As I’ve said before, Obama is no saint and no panacea (a recent article by Matt Taibbi links Obama’s vote to support surveillance to his being backed by telecommunications companies, for example). But neither was Bill Clinton, and he managed to do a decent job, so decent that after 8 years of corruption and mismanagement, that era in our history seems almost unreal. To vote for McCain, whether man or woman, because one holds a grudge is bizarre.I have no problem insulting or demeaning such people, even if I, too, am critical of Obama.

    My view of democracy is not utopian. I know many, many people who vote out of well-thought-out convictions. And yes, of course, politicians appeal to emotions. But the issue is what kind of emotions they appeal to. The Bush-Rove appeal to fear is a manipulative use of emotions. The appeal to emotion in order to prompt rational decision-making is the job of a statesperson. I’m not sure that either Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton can claim this title, but it is important to note that emotions are not generic; they operate in all sorts of different contexts, with different modes of power, and in different relations to rationality.

    To say that all politicians appeal to emotions and to use that as justification for bad decisions seems to me to be giving up on democracy. Democracy may not ever live up to its principles and potential, but the beauty of it is that implicitly carries with it the mandate to keep trying. Yes, everyone has the right to vote for whoever s/he wants and for whatever reasons. But I can also say that those who vote in self-destructive ways are not rational.

  12. Historiann on 31 Aug 2008 at 5:13 pm #

    I didn’t say that all use of emotions in politics was bad, and I’m not justifying bad decisions–I’m just analyzing how they get made (or unmade). Insulting people is a bad way to get them to see the righteousness of your point of view.

    I sometimes think that disbelief or anger about some Clinton supporters who haven’t sworn their allegiance to Obama yet is based on a fundamental misunderstanding of why people supported Clinton versus why they supported Obama. (This goes to Indyanna’s point above, which is that Clinton can’t “deliver” votes in the old-fashioned sense.) This goes back to my post earlier this week about be-politicians versus do-politicians. Clinton’s supporters voted for her because of what she would do for them. Obama supporters were more about who he is. Perhaps Obama supporters would have followed orders from their candidate if he had lost the nomination and transferred their votes automatically at his command, but Clinton supporters were not (by and large) all about the inspirational awesomeness of Hillary Clinton–whereas Obama supporters were (and many still are) about his inspirational awesomeness. So, when Clinton supporters ask, “And we get…?” in exchange for their votes, they want an answer, not “but can’t you see his inspiring awesomeness? You must be irrational!”

    Expecting attention to particular issues or policies is not irrational–in fact, I would argue that it’s utterly rational. Giving a vote to someone who has said or done nothing about the issues you care about seems irrational to me.

    But, we’re getting O/T here. I’m glad you like Rachel and appreciate her perspective. To me, she’s been a real disappointment, and an object lesson in what the corporate media does to people who want to join the team.

  13. SF on 31 Aug 2008 at 5:17 pm #

    OK, Historiann, I’m off to the park!

  14. prof bw on 01 Sep 2008 at 10:09 am #

    “Politics is about emotions and feelings, whether Democrats like it or not.”

    This is another place we differ I suppose. For me, politics (or voting) is about making sure your needs and the needs of the nation are met.

    And several black bloggers have written extensively on the essentialism of some Obama supporters as have several black radio hosts and pundits. I am one of them.

    It is not a contest between who has the most wrongheaded people in their camp, it is an election that will decide the fate of repro rights, some queer rights, some civil rights, immigrants rights, endless war, the growing prison-industrial-complex of which women are the largest growing targeted population, etc. If “feelings” are more important than those rights . . . then we have a series problem.

  15. prof bw on 01 Sep 2008 at 10:10 am #

    serious not series sorry; all tho we have a series of problems as well

  16. Historiann on 01 Sep 2008 at 10:31 am #

    Prof bw–I agree with your approach to politics and share it. My only point is that the majority of voters go with their guts and “feelings,” rather than looking hard at policy positions and thinking about what’s right for them, their families, and the nation. I *wish* there were more rationality, but that’s not how the game is won. (And, it’s not just the crazy bitches who don’t vote rationally–in fact, it’s working- and middle-class white men that put Republicans over the top, every time.)

    If McCain/Pailn wins, we’ll have a series of serious problems, indeed!

  17. prof bw on 01 Sep 2008 at 3:39 pm #

    too true

  18. Mama on 02 Sep 2008 at 7:55 am #

    I agree with Rachel.. it makes no sense for someone who is clinton supporter, as most of them have said they are not voting for her because she is a woman but rather because of her stance on policies etc to then go and vote for mccain when he has been against everything clinton has stood and fought for. That makes no sense at all! If you don’t like obama, then don’t vote for him but don’t tell me ur going to vote for mccain who has voted against women issues and not supported nationwide healthcare which hilary clinton is for, how can you be so daft? Even if to support Palin because she is a woman, she also has the same policies, even stricter ones than mccain because she is a staunch republican. Hilary supporters who don’t want obama and decide not to vote, I cant be upset at that, it’s a preference but the ones voting for mccain are just plain dumb and rachel is right, it’s nose rational. Ur running from the demon and instead is running into his coffin?

  19. Mama on 02 Sep 2008 at 7:59 am #

    AND ANY REPUBLICAN WHO WANT TO VOTE FOR OBAMA THAT MAKES NO SENSE EITHER BUT IF THEY FEEL MOVED THAT’S THEIR BUSINESS, I KNOW MODERATES, INDEPENDENTS AND DEMOCRATS CAN ALL VOTE FOR OBAMA IF THEY LIKE. MY ISSUE IS WITH FOLKS WHO SO CALLED CLAIM THEY VOTED FOR HILARY NOT BECAUSE OF HER GENDER BUT RATHER HER POINTS ON ISSUES THAT THEY APPROVE, WHY THEN WILL U GO FOR MCCAIN WHO IS CONTRARY IN EVERY MEANING OF THE WORD WITH HILARY’S IDEALS? MAKES NO SENSE AT ALL. GO CHECK MCCAIN’S VOTING RECORD ON THE CONGRESS WEBSITE AND COMPARE IT TO OBAMA AND HILARY’S OWN. I CAN ATTEST THAT OBAMA’S VOTING RECORD IS SIMILAR TO HILARY’S OWN 85% OF THE TIMES WHILST MCCAIN OWN SPELLS CONTRARY 95% OF THE TIMES. DO YOU RESEARCH PEOPLE.

  20. Tracey on 02 Sep 2008 at 9:59 am #

    Dear Mama

    As a Hillary supporter who is voting for McCain, let me explain to you how I could be so “daft.” I am a registered Democrat, and have been so my entire adult life, because I have found the Democratic Party most closely aligned with my interests. However, when I decided to vote for Hillary it was not on the bases of policy positions. The reality is there wasn’t that much difference between her policy positions and that of the other candidates. On policy, any of the front leaders in the Democratic primary race would have been acceptable. My decision to vote for Hillary was based on my belief that she would be the most capable, the best, at performing the day-to-day duties that a president faces. As a woman in my fifties, during my lifetime, I have seen both good and bad Republicans and Democrats hold office. I do believe that competence trumps policy when it comes to doing what is best for the country. A bad Democratic president can do as much damage as a bad Republican president. You may not agree with my assessment of the candidates, or with my using competence as the overriding standard, however it is hardly irrational to use competence as a standard for judging a candidate.

  21. Historiann on 02 Sep 2008 at 10:17 am #

    Mama, Tracey, and all: there is an interesting discussion going on at Corrente about voting. Three questions under discussion in this post are:

    1. Is loyalty to the D most important to you? If yes, then vote for Obama. Period.

    2. Is loyalty to democratic principles most important to you? If yes, then you are probably concerned with process violations at the RBC and in the caucuses. If yes, then you could withhold your vote for the top of the ticket, or vote for McCain.

    3. Do you believe that voting for the best candidate for President is most important, and that [McCain|Obama] is that candidate? Then vote for [McCain|Obama]**.

    There are other questions too–much to think about.

  22. Stephanie on 02 Sep 2008 at 11:55 pm #

    I recall listening to maddow on the radio talking to a woman who had been a hillary supporter, and who did not want to vote for obama. This was before the convention. Maddow asked in such gentle, kind, soft-spoken tones, well what is the problem? You are a Hillary supporter, Hillary now says she is supporting Obama, she wants you to support Obama, so why aren’t you doing what Hillary asks? You supported Hillary, now Hillary says vote for Obama, why aren’t you listening, why aren’t you following Hillary and Hillary’s advice?

    In the the softest, kindest, gentlest voice — the kind you would use with a child who was not old enough to be rational yet; i.e. patronizing.

    You liked/followed Hillary, why aren’t you obeying her now?

    Uh, cuz Hillary doesn’t tell who to vote for. duh.

  23. Historiann on 03 Sep 2008 at 7:51 am #

    Thanks for the anecdote, Stephanie. Gee, I wonder why patronizing people doesn’t work in luring them over to your side?

  24. Historiann: I’ll be darned, I’m right again! : Historiann : History and sexual politics, 1492 to the present on 12 Jul 2009 at 7:39 am #

    [...] full of promise, so smart on Air America, and such a total sellout on MSNBC–and Historiann saw it coming all along.  Say it:  you were right, [...]

  25. andrew andy anderson on 10 Aug 2010 at 10:50 pm #

    Miss Maddow : re : comment to post if you wish , I am here by releasing my permission to post with no reprocushin’s period.I beleive as an average articulated american,after 35 yr’s of const’s,lath plaster, drywall, paint,union and other wise,include’s,wall coverings and decorating experiance also, and contracting, from the Ice Capade’s, up and trough the Sigfreed & Roys’ animal habita’s,also their Home west of the Vegas Strip, no. of Vegas drv.,not to exclude the Rockettes stage and dressing,show room’s when they came to town. Well my comment after a short history. I beleive the so called rightous right do not understand American’s as working class hero’s that built this nation,I would have liked to have gone to collage,except I grew up of,a the product of the 50′s 60′s & 70′s and did not have the monatary advantige of other’s thank’s to the pollitition’s of the era,and the money grabing foundation’s,war’s,and the starting of the Corporation’s, and ultimataly enabled just what this nation is now, a corporation nation, for the lust for their money,power and greed,which may be the Nation’s down fall if the republicant’s manage to gain controll once again and keep up with the obstuctive tacktic’s they have used since the 50′s and exspecally the 60′s by taking out JFK so the eragunt SOB , LBJ from TX the lone roadapple state. I recall before K school watching the debate on B&W TV RMN & JFK and I said to myself that Jack was going to win, that is what Walter C. call him @ the time. If the Dem’s don’t fire it up , they will end up just like everyone else in this Nation, broke,unemployable and unemployeed. Thankz for the time and thought in advance, you may put in to this comment Average Articulated American Andy Anderson, 4 of a kind W/an ace kicker L. V. Nv. 89107