September
4th 2008
Tragical History Tour: Why We (Don’t) Fight.

Posted under: American history, Gender, women's history

No, not the RutlesBob Somerby!  Just go read it and see how it’s done.  Bob shows all that we can 1) go after Palin without talking about her hair, glasses, legs, uterus, or leaking amniotic fluid, and 2) offer grudging respect to the Repubican party because they take care of their own.  Democrats?  Not so much.

Let’s repeat what [Carly] Fiorina said: “The Republican Party will not stand by while Gov. Palin is subjected to sexist attacks.” Remove the limiting term there–“sexist.” Thus adjusted, Fiorina’s statement explains our electoral politics over the past twenty years.

The Republican Party will not stand by while its candidates get attacked. The Democratic Party, and its major affiliates, have done just that. For years.

.     .     .     .     .     .     . 

Yep! There was some sexism in the coverage of Palin–and the Republican Party fought back hard, exaggerating as it did. But then, during this same campaign, a major Democratic woman was gender-trashed from December 2006 on. Eighteen months later, Howard Dean explained why he didn’t speak up. I don’t watch that much cable, he said.

As recently as last evening, some of our fools continued to say that they feel “insulted” by Palin’s selection. If they had an ounce of sense, they’d instead feel insulted by Dean. 

What was it that Palin said last night?  Oh, yeah:  “There is only one man in this election who has ever really fought for you…and that man is John McCain.”

8 Comments »

8 Responses to “Tragical History Tour: Why We (Don’t) Fight.”

  1. Bing McGhandi on 04 Sep 2008 at 4:16 pm #

    There is soooo much to criticize the Republican ticket for regarding the issues. It’s staggering to think that theirs is a real ticket, but we’re stuck with it. Personally, I think that the Republicans have been really good at framing debates in their terms, so now that ideas like “popular” and “elite” now can have negative connotations.

    I am encouraging people to make a difference by targeting one person they know who is probably going to vote Republican and work on them relentlessly–you don’t get any more mobilized and grassroots than that. With endless kindness and sympathy, and with a single-minded devotion to changing their minds.

    In the last few days, I have really fretted about this election. There is so much at stake. I think that the Supreme Court could be lost for a generation if Dems fail now.

    HJ

  2. Historiann on 04 Sep 2008 at 4:30 pm #

    Yes–it does kind of look like a Hollywood stunt ticket, now that I think about it. If a scriptwriter proposed a grizzled, short-tempered POW presidential candidate who chose a pretty mother of five small-town Western governor culture warrior, ze’d be laughed out of the room for trying to cram too much into the script already.

    Kindness and sympathy are good approaches. But, Bing–remember, a lot of people will find Palin just so gosh-darn likeable. She’s not nearly as scary as Cheney, although she may represent a continuation of his rule.

  3. Geoff on 04 Sep 2008 at 7:46 pm #

    Why we don’t fight? Maybe I’ll start with why they fight so well 1) the Republicans have a well-organized message machine, a coordinated media apparatus of TV and radio talk shows, and compliant elected officials who echo the day’s talking points faxed out daily from headquarters; 2) their leadership has long understood how to communicate with high-school educated voters and 3) they have no qualms about framing a Democratic candidate in less than flattering ways, to put it mildly. So we hear that articulate, educated & intellectual candidates like Gore, Kerry and Obama are self-aggrandizing, stuffed shirts, or “uppity,” so voters with less education are more likely to see them as “other.” One could go on and on…

    How to repsond? Democrats are nowhere near having the discipline, the media machine, or the party leaders willing to stay coherent (although there has been some improvement in that department in the Reid/Pelosi era). I really don’t have a good answer to the question, but certainly we need to stick to defining the opposition and making the case for change, I don’t care how negative it gets.

    As I was reaching maturity in California there were a series of nasty campaigns for statewide office – Boxer v Herschenson for Senator, Feinstein v Huffington for Senator, Cranston v Zschau for Senator. (California in 1988 was hardly the Democratic stronghold it is today). Those Democratic campaigns got down in the muck and slung the poop with the Republicans, and it was ugly, but long and successful careers were built out of those early victories, and the Democrats all gained reputations for being tenacious competitors.

    A friend and I were talking about the closeness of this election, and how surprised (if at all) we were that the election is this narrow. Given that it appears three in ten voters take their orders from Limbaugh et al without reflection, and another one in ten will vote Republican in most circumstances, I am not that surprised. And if we do go on to lose this election, I won’t be blaming the tactical decisions of this campaign as admiring the vote-generating machine the Republicans have built.

  4. hysperia on 04 Sep 2008 at 10:37 pm #

    I’ll tell ya what pisses me off. The Dems don’t have to sling mud in the sense of substanceless (does that word exist?) gossip. They could talk about things that really matter – well, they could talk about FISA if Obama hadn’t screwed them on that; they could talk about gun control if Obama hadn’t screwed them on that; they could talk about the death penalty if Obama hadn’t screwed them on that; they could talk about Iran and Afghanistan if Obama hadn’t screwed them on that; they could talk about women’s abortion rights if Obama hadn’t screwed them on that; they could talk about the US’ stupid embago on Cuba if Obama hadn’t screwed them on that; they could talk about universal, single payer health care, if Obama hadn’t screwed them on that.

    Oh well, maybe there aren’t that many things to talk about after all.

    Or, they could talk about Guantanamo and rendition and torture and killing civilians in Afghanistan, Iraq and now Pakistan; they could talk about single mothers, children and poverty; they could talk about the fact that 65% of the prison population is male African American; for that matter, they could talk about the fact that America has more people in prison than any other Western country; and the fact that US taxpayers pay more money to build prisons than they pay to educate their children. If anyone WANTED to talk about that.

    Ugghh. Sorry. I’m now looking forward (NOT) to an election in my own country that will likely be as unenjoyable as yours and in which no one will talk about what needs to be talked about. But at least mine will last for little over a month. Poor America goes through this electoral paroxysm endlessly.

  5. Historiann on 05 Sep 2008 at 6:16 am #

    Well, whatever Obama’s positions, Dems could still press many of those points, hysperia. But, I totally agree that they should work with substance and not trivia.

    And Geoff–the Republicans have built a bigger megaphone with which to spread their message, that is true. But, they are also more disciplined. There was some squawking last winter about McCain, with people like Dobson and Limbaugh vowing that it would be the end of the Republican party if he won the nomination. But, they’re all on board now, and mostly have been since late last winter when it became clear that McCain was wrapping it up.

    The Democrats, on the other hand, assembled their typical circular firing squad, with most of the fire being the “gender trashing” (in Somerby’s words) of one of the Dems’ own candidates. So, I see it more as an issue of party discipline, as well as the deeply entrenched and unresolved misogyny on the left, which will have implications for many years to come, unless Dems deal with it head on.

    It is mysterious that the election is relatively close, although my sense is that (despite a short-lived convention bump for McCain) Obama is pulling away in the polls. But if he doesn’t, we will have to examine the strategic flaws of this campaign and within the party, and not just chalk it up to the Repubican machine and possible vote-stealing.

    Somerby asks really good questions, always, but my favorite is: why don’t Dems care enough to WIN ELECTIONS?

  6. Geoff on 05 Sep 2008 at 3:52 pm #

    Yes, Historiann, I agree that discipline is important and I alluded to the Republican’s edge in that area in my post. I too feel that the momentum is with Obama at this point and that he can afford to not worry about Michigan and Pennsylvania so much and spend more time in Ohio and Florida, or Ohio and another swing state. But I felt that Kerry was going to pull out a close one four years ago too, so I’m trying not to get to invested in it.

    The trouble with polling is that the pollsters are projecting estimates of who will actually be voting. It is not as if they can just go and ask 100 people what their feelings are and just report that as a simple percentage who are leaning one way or another. Based on past performance they are going to adjust their numbers to reflect likely voters. And the past two cycles they undercounted people voting Republican. So are these new polls corrected based on the last election cycle? Perhaps. We just don’t know who is going to show up on election day. I thought our base would be excited last time, but apparently not in the numbers necessary to win the critical states.

    Hysperia, I think Obama’s at his strongest when he is trying to talk about some of the issues that you think he has screwed us on, and the attempt to talk about them while trying to reach out to the other side is the trait that endears many of us to him and distinguished him from his competitors in the primaries. It’ll be fun to watch the debates and see how he maneuvers, what he holds firm to and tries to find common ground on.

  7. Professor Zero on 05 Sep 2008 at 7:06 pm #

    I’m with hysperia on this. It is not clear to me why the Democrats do not seem to care enough to win elections. They seem to think that they have to look more “Republican” in order to do so, and they do this by not talking about the issues hysperia raises. They could do it by *organizing* more seriously, as the Republicans have done. I’ve had trouble being an active Democrat, though, lately because I’ve learned not to trust them to come through too well. Hmmm … ? I’m not sure at this point, I sometimes think it’s as though we’ve ALLOWED things to move so far right that it will be very hard to bring them back. And I don’t trust my perspective to generalize to the rest of the non Republican world because I know full well I’m not mainstream.

  8. Indyanna on 06 Sep 2008 at 1:10 pm #

    Don’t know quite which thread to post this to, but buried deep in an article today that is itself buried deep in the _Times_, on the Troopergate inquiry in Alaska, is the news that “[Gov.] Palin took the extraordinary step Tuesday of filing an ethics complaint against herself, making the matter fall within the bailiwick of the [state] personnel board” rather than that of the state legislature (which is itself dominated by Republicans). Her attorney “then asked the Legislature to drop its inquiry.” Well within the Republican playbook of fighting every matter on every possible front, but not too encouraging on jurisdictional and due process principles in a separation of powers framework. Maybe this episode is common knowledge on some fronts, but it struck me as being worth some attention.

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