U haz editorz at The Nation? (Or, is Maureen Dowd ghosting for Katha Pollitt?)

Katha Pollitt, in an article called “Whatever Happened to Candidate Obama,” writes this (emphases mine):

I’m still glad I supported Obama over Hillary Clinton. If Hillary had won the election, every single day would be a festival of misogyny. We would hear constantly about her voice, her laugh, her wrinkles, her marriage and what a heartless, evil bitch she is for doing something–whatever!–men have done since the Stone Age. Each week would bring its quotient of pieces by fancy women writers explaining why they were right not to have liked her in the first place.Liberal pundits would blame her for discouraging the armies of hope and change, for bringing back the same-old same-old cronies and advisers, for letting healthcare reform get bogged down in inside deals, for failing to get out of Iraq and Afghanistan–which would be attributed to her being a woman and needing to show toughness–for cozying up to Wall Street, deferring to the Republicans and ignoring the cries of the people. In other words, for doing pretty much what Obama is doing. This way I get to think, Whew, at least you can’t blame this on a woman.

Now, I’m actually sympathetic to Pollitt’s viewpoint that “at least you can’t blame this on a woman.”  If we had elected Hillary Clinton President of the U.S., I’m sure she’d be getting even less credit for things that had gone well and even more blame for things that had gone poorly than President Barack Obama.  But–did Pollitt or anyone else proofread this paragraph?  As my professors used to say in cultural studies seminars in the early 1990s–there’s a lot of “slippage” here.

I’m sure everything will be so totally different when we have that perfect, unassailable, totally awesome female Presidential or Vice-Presidential candidate!  Instead of that unstable freak Victoria Woodhull, or the dangerously radical Shirley Chisholm, or that crooked, incompetent Geraldine Ferraro, or that unserious, stupid “Caribou Barbie” Sarah Palin, or that old b!tch, Clinton.  (Or, as Pollitt calls her instead, “Hillary,” in a column in which she never refers to President Obama as “Barack.”  Not once.)  We’ll never, ever have to hear about that perfect fantasy candidate’s “voice, her laugh, her wrinkles, her marriage and what a heartless, evil bitch she is for doing something–whatever!–men have done since the Stone Age.”  Because that’s exactly how history operatesancient prejudices vanish overnight when a perfect leader appears to show us the way.  Thank goodness we’re all saved from having to see, read, and hear misogyny now!  It’s such a relief.  (At least I’m enjoying the break–aren’t you, too?)

And, I’m so glad that “fancy women writers” in prominent national magazines, for example, aren’t bothering to lecture us on “why they were right not to have liked [Clinton] in the first place.”  As Pollitt writes, “Whew!”

0 thoughts on “U haz editorz at The Nation? (Or, is Maureen Dowd ghosting for Katha Pollitt?)

  1. Emma,

    I promise this is my last comment. For most of the people I associate with–and I’ll admit that in itself makes it somewhat of a skewered view–we come out of a background of community activism in areas including feminist activism, lesbian and gay activism, immigrant rights, etc.. These days many of us are professionals in areas related to our politics, though there are still some of us who do primarily grassroots organizing, either working for non-profits or as volunteers. I should be clear we were not all in support of O’bama.

    To borrow from the language of those who began the 1960’s and 70’s focus on social history, for many of us our politics were based on focusing from the bottom up. In Obama’s background as a community organizer, I think many of us saw someone whose background and rhetoric seemed more opened to listening to voices of those disempowered–including women.

    As for the sexism directed at Clinton I don’t think people ignored this, but unlike what think what you are saying, we were less sure this was coming direcetly from Obama and forces he controlled. For many of us the choice between a the first (of those who had a chance of winning) African American candidate and woman candidate this was a tough issue. I think we all struggled with this choice and most of the people I know came down on the side of Obama, but for reasons I sincerely don’t believe were for ignoring sexism.

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  2. Well, Brian, during the campaign I kept a list of sexist remarks right out of Obama’s mouth. I didn’t save links because URLs are ephemeral, but maybe you remember the time Obama dodged a Detroit reporter’s question calling her “sweetie”? What man born in 1961 uses “sweetie” to a stranger in a professional context, except to insult her? He’s nobody’s senile great-uncle. How about his saying that periodically, when Hillary’s feeling down, her claws come out? Remember the time he shredded his Chicago mentor Alice Palmer?

    I could go on, but I’d just as soon stop now. Like Emma, I remain horrified that male and female liberals condoned this blend of sexism and opportunism. It was every bit as bad as racism.

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  3. I think many of us saw someone whose background and rhetoric seemed more opened to listening to voices of those disempowered–including women.

    As opposed to the woman who was staff attorney for the CDF, worked on children’s health initiatives throughout her legal career, provided legal services to indigent persons as an attorney, helped pass SCHIP, gave a speech at the Beijing 4th World Conference on Women recognizing women’s rights as human rights, went to a women’s college, served as chair of the Legal Services Corp. (which provides free legal services to low-income folks nationwide), created, with Janet Reno, the Department of Justice’s Violence Against Women office, worked with women in Northern Ireland during the succesful peace accords, spoke out against the Taliban’s oppressin of women in Afghanistan, and created Vital Voices to increase women’s participation in politics worldwide.

    Tell me, what was it *exactly* about Obama’s “background and rhetoric” that made him “seem more open to listening to…women” than Hillary Clinton?

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  4. Pingback: Sexism at The Nation? Surely not! : Historiann : History and sexual politics, 1492 to the present

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