A call to all Democrats: no circular firing squads, please!

Via Roxie’s World, check out this video for the Dixie Chicks’ “Not Ready to Make Nice”.  Please, Senator Clinton, dump Celine Dion, for the love of all that is good and right in the world!  Roxie also points to this interview Clinton did with the Philadelphia Gay News.  The article is called “Clinton talks, Obama balks,” and PGN explains:  “PGN invited both Clinton and Obama, as well as presumptive Republican candidate John McCain, to speak with us. Only Clinton granted an interview.”  Hmmm.  Well, maybe Senator Obama read Historiann’s pioneering exploration of the queer vote in 2008?

eustace-tillarybama.JPGI caucused for Hillary Clinton because I think she’s got the better policies, especially on reforming health care.  I don’t think she’s perfect, nor do I think she’s run a perfect campaign (lamentably).  If you’re looking for perfection, then go to a house of worship–politics ain’t your game.  (Like I said when I voted to re-elect Ted Kennedy in 1994:  I’m voting for Senator, not for Pope.)  As the campaign has gone on, I’ve become more and more impressed with Clinton’s grace under pressure, and her amazing ability to transcend the ugly attacks and character assassination that she endures now not just from right-wing Republicans and the press and broadcast media, but by people in her very own party who claim to be progressives.  (Oh well–women who step out of their place and into the public square have always been called “F**king Wh*r*es,” haven’t they?  Stay classy, Randi!)  And in spite of the fact that the media are cheering for her downfall, just about half of all Democrats still prefer her.  Gee, I wonder what “the math” would be if we had anything like a fair and self-reflective press and a Democratic party that didn’t try to eat its own?

I understand and respect that millions of Democrats prefer Senator Obama.  I’ve never tried to talk my friends and acquaintances out of supporting him, although many (not all) have tried to talk me out of supporting Clinton by telling me what a corrupt and unscrupulous monster she is.  (Well, maybe they’re right–just look at how her ambition has obviously made her a terrible mother.  Look at her wretched twin daughters, the entitled snots who brim with noblesse but can’t be bothered to muster an ounce of nobligeOh–wait.  Nevermind.)  What I find striking is that my conversations with Obama supporters (on-line, by phone, and in person) often devolve quickly into demands that I answer for this or that position of Clinton’s which they cannot abide, as though I’m supporting Charles Manson for president.  The thing they mention more often than any other is the illegal war in Iraq that she started single-handedly, and that she continues to prosecute to this day against all evidence that this makes the United States safer, and against the will of the American people.  (Oh–wait.  Nevermind.)

All kidding aside, we should remember who is really to blame for the past 7 years of disasterous foreign and domestic policy, and his name isn’t Hillary Clinton.   Also, for those of you who are hung up on the AUMF vote, please remember that Clinton cast the same yes vote that every man who ran for President from the Senate in 2004 and 2008 cast, with the exception of Bob Graham, and I don’t recall Democrats getting nearly this worked up about the boys’ votes either in the primary or in the general election.  29 Democrats voted yes, and 21 voted no, and by the way, big Obama supporters Tom Daschle and Chris Dodd voted yes, too.  Also, I don’t recall Bob Graham doing terribly well in the 2003-04 primary race.  How funny, then, that Democrats loyally rallied around John Kerry in 2004 without too much nose-holding.  I guess he had one advantage that Clinton doesn’t have, and that my friends, seems to make all the difference.

0 thoughts on “A call to all Democrats: no circular firing squads, please!

  1. You already know that I am weary of the WWF tone to the Obama/Clinton match up. Neither thrills me. Nor does either particularly chill me.

    As for the “war” issue, it always struck me as an easy claim for Obama to say that he didn’t vote for the war given that he wasn’t even in the Senate at the time (though I also think it is inexcusable that Clinton has constantly given a pass to the Bush administration when she was in the Senate).

    Sigh — I wish both Obama and Clinton supporters would just relax a bit.


  2. I think it’s a phenomenon related to the old “why are academic politics so vicious? Because there’s so little at stake?” joke. Since their policy positions are very much in alignment, the few important differences come to assume gargantuan proportions in some people’s minds.


  3. I think the reason why so many Obama supporters point to the Iraq vote as key is because they can’t really provide a concrete rationale for their support. They (and I am among them) are swayed by a personality, not by policy. Its a tricky stance to defend. And a tricky thing to run against if you’re Clinton. When the polls show that people think you have more experience and better policy ideas than your opponent, and you’re still losing, what do you do?

    I do think Hillary has demonstrated remarkable grace under pressure-I’m not so sure about Bill these days, but I feel fairly confident that, if elected, she’ll keep him on a short leash. I just wish the media could follow suit and stay focused on the issues. After all, if the country is pretty evenly divided between the two candidates, it suggests that they’re not buying into all the nasty rhetoric.


  4. We’ll give you an A+ on your homework assignment, Historiann. Excellent research, lucid argumentation, and 5 bonus points for getting up extra high on your horse and not falling! And amen to dumping Celine Dion. And Mark Penn.


  5. If you’re looking for perfection, then go to a house of worship–politics ain’t your game.

    That line really made me laugh, especially in how Obama’s choice of a house of worship has hurt him in recent weeks. I won’t mention whether I think the harm is rooted in any more than in the ugliness of the sort of race baiting I was predicting last fall, nor how Jeremiah Wright’s sermons–from my brief acquaintance with them–appear to fit into a long tradition of Black theology going back to calling the Plantation lord “pharaoh,” nor even the relationship of his preaching style to American jeremiads that did not begin with Jonathan Edwards’ “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.”


  6. James–good points, but when I suggested that people seeking perfection should go to a house of worship, it wasn’t to suggest that any human beings there were perfect. According to Christian belief, there’s only been one perfect human (otherwise known as the Christ, the Lamb of God, and/or the Son of Man), and you know what happened to him…

    Yours in Christ,



  7. Amen, sister. Ahem, now that we have left the house of worship, I completely agree with you on the politics. I’m quite happy to say that I support Obama now, but if Clinton is the candidate, I’ll happily support her. I do worry that some of her moves (less this week than last) seem to be of the “if I’m not the democratic candidate we might as well have a republican” variety (i.e. continuing to go on about Rev. Wright, saying “He wouldn’t have been my pastor”; saying there were two patriotic Americans running for President). But in general, the supporters are worse than the candidates.
    What I really don’t get — given the relatively small policy differences between them — is how supporters of *either* Obama or Clinton could say they would vote for McCain in November if their candidate does not win. The only plausible explanation I’ve had was from someone whose Clinton supporting friend would vote for McCain:she said that people in the financial sector know Clinton will protect their financial interests, as will McCain. Not that I see Obama as any kind of commie pinko who will expropriate stocks or hedge funds, but he’s apparently not seen as respectful of Wall Street.


  8. My house of worship is a trout stream, and perfection is a well cast fly.

    I can say that I’ve been leaning towards Obama all along, but have softened my anti-Clinton stance a bit. Listening to Wright’s sermons makes me more comfortable in my support for Obama. I’m not even going to mention the many racist statements–explicit and implicit: often well disguised–that were common in nearly every white dominated Protestant church I ever attended. If I ever run for political office, I hope they go after me for some of these (instead of finding the real skeletons I’ve tucked away in the attic).


  9. Should she be the nominee, I’ll vote for Senator Clinton — as I’ve said many times. But I’m getting as tired of this sort of post, which demeans those who won’t vote for her (or for Obama, by the way) if she’s the nominee, as I am of the whole damned primary season. The Democratic Party is badly in need of reform. I happen to believe that it needs to move decisively to the left. Others disagree. The Clintons clearly are in the latter camp. They now and always have believed that the party needs to stay in the center or perhaps even move to the right. That I’ll vote for Senator Clinton regardless, that I’m not willing to draw a line in the sand and demand the sort of candidate who represents my views, makes me either:

    A) Shrewd, someone who understands the issues at play, including the Supreme Court, and also the extraordinary impact of having a woman in the Oval Office.


    B) Cowardly, someone who won’t vote his values, who won’t try, in the only way that he can, to push the party in the direction that he thinks is appropriate.

    It’s one or the other. Now, I’m pretty sure that I’m right, that this is not the time for absolutism in the voting booth. But I’m really not positive, at least in part because of the behavior of Senator Clinton and some of her surrogates. Which leads me to: the implication that if I choose not to vote for Senator Clinton (which, again, isn’t, I don’t think, going to happen), should she be nominated, it would be because of her gender, or, relatedly, that Senator Obama’s popularity stems in some large part from mass misogyny, *may* be true. But of course this argument conveniently glosses over the racism that underlies the Clinton campaign, racism that no longer can be disputed in any honest discussion. Had the Clintons not periodically traded in racist assumptions throughout the campaign, and were the Democratic electorate not composed, in some significant measure, of people who either don’t like or don’t trust black candidates, is there any question that she long since would have lost?

    Finally, I haven’t commented in awhile, but I always appreciate your posts (air kiss).


  10. I agree with Ari, not surprisingly. If the news reports are to be believed, Clinton has been arguing to superdelegates that they should support her because Obama “can’t win.” He “can’t win” because, according to her, he can’t command the votes of working class whites, because he’s a black candidate. Imagine if Obama had been making the same statements to superdelegates about Clinton (she “can’t win” because she’s a woman), but he hasn’t done that because I think at this point in his career he’s a more positive politician than Clinton is.

    Democrats aren’t calling for Clinton to drop out of the race because she’s a woman, they are calling for her to drop out because she has no chance of overtaking Obama in pledged delegates, and the party can’t overrule the pledged delegate leader and have any chance of winning in November. If Obama was in Clinton’s position right now, he would be facing the same pressure, except he’d be much further behind in superdelegates.

    From your posts, Historiann, I can’t figure why it is exactly that you support Clinton, other than that she is a woman. I can (somewhat) understand giving Clinton a pass on Iraq, since she was just going with the political winds, but I don’t see how doing that puts her ahead of Obama. What I hear is the “experience” argument, but I don’t know what that argument means. What experience? Do you want her to get credit for the Clinton years during the 1990s or is she running on her own? If she is running on her own, what accomplishments outside the White House do you find make her a good choice for president?

    Your call for intraparty harmony would seem more ingenuous if the Clinton campaign itself had been following your own advice throughout the campaign. Instead, the candidate herself compared Obama unfavorably to McCain on several occasions, and did not back down when given the chance. Democrats have a very good reason to be angry with her.


  11. As someone who checks in fairly regularly with Historiann, I am surprised by your post David. You suggest that the only reason she supports Clinton is because she (Clinton) is female. Not only is this precisely the type of questioning of her support that Historiann addresses in her post (that we Obama supporters aren’t ever subjected to), but its unfair. Those who have suggested that people are only supporting Obama because of his race (e.g. Ferraro and Cleaver) have been soundly condemned. Yet, we can accuse Clinton supporters of being motivated solely by gender concerns and its okay. Thats a clear double standard, and unfounded if one reads Historiann’s arguments for why she supports Clinton (see the post from 2 days ago).

    Why are we so determined to reduce these two candidates to essentials, overlooking their policies and politics? It confounds me, and I’d like to think that we are better than this quibbling.


  12. I am not at all determined to reduce Clinton to her gender. Rather, as a regular reader of Historiann’s blog, she always discusses Clinton’s candidacy in relation to her gender. She reflexively defends her at every opportunity, and indeed, has scarcely written a negative thing about her during this entire campaign, but instead gives us post after post after post about how sexist the media is, about how unfairly Hillary has been treated, etc. etc. Based on my reading of her blog, if someone had to ask me, “Why does Historiann support Clinton,” I would have to say, “Because she’s a woman who is having the nomination taken away from her by a stronger candidate.” Plus, given all the conversations I’ve had with women who have told me, straight out, that they support Hillary because she is a woman, it seems a fair question to ask. Plus again, if you look at the exit polls, Clinton destroys Obama among voters for whom gender and race are important considerations. All these factors make it a completely fair thing to discuss.

    My take on this is that Clinton has run a horribly destructive campaign that has also been inept in terms of winning her the nomination. I honestly don’t see good reasons for supporting her. I know many do, but I want to know why.


  13. EJ,

    What post from two days ago? The one about bowling? I looked through and didn’t see anything that offered a substantive reason for supporting Clinton.

    But, if you ask me why I support Obama, I would certainly say that his race is a factor. It’s hard to deny that Obama’s mixed-race heritage is part of his appeal. I also support him because he seems like a fundamentally decent person whose policies I basically support. I basically support Clinton’s policy proposals as well, but I find the Clintons so noxious for American politics that I think it imperative they be defeated. I owe no obligation to the Democratic Party and can assure you, I will not vote for Clinton in November if it comes to that. I will pick a third party or do a write-in vote. The Clintons did more to hurt the Democratic party, moving it further and further to the right, than anything Republicans have done in the last 10 years. I have no confidence whatsoever that, if returned to the White House, Hillary will not revert to the policies of her husband, and triangulate her way through two terms while hanging the progressive part of her coalition, as well as African Americans and gays, out to dry. That’s what her husband did and there’s nothing in her track record to suggest that Hillary takes a different view of politics. That’s why her Iraq vote is also so troubling. One always senses from her that calculation precedes conviction.

    Now if Clinton supporters want to call that sexist, so be it, but I’d feel the same if this was Bill Clinton seeking a third term. I’d chose Obama over him in a split second.


  14. Ari and David,

    Once again, you write more about your hatred and loathing of Clinton than your admiration for Obama. Your comments are full of indecent (and inaccurate, by the way) insinuations about Senator Clinton and her supporters. Way to bring us all together!

    By the way, David? Did you just skip over the sentence in the post where I say that “I caucused for Hillary Clinton because I think she’s got the better policies, especially on reforming health care.” Or did you simply read that as, “because I have a vagina?”

    First of all, let’s look at Clinton’s and Obama’s actual policies to figure out whether, as Ari says, “Clintons clearly are in the latter camp [of moving the Democratic Party to the center.] Given the fact that Clinton and Obama are very ideologically aligned and that there’s not much wiggle room between them, let’s look at their recent policy pronouncements:

    1. On the mortgage crisis: Paul Krugman writes: “I was pleased that Mr. Obama came out strongly for broader financial regulation, which might help avert future crises. But his proposals for aid to the victims of the current crisis, though significant, are less sweeping than Mrs. Clinton’s: he wants to nudge private lenders into restructuring mortgages rather than having the government simply step in and get the job done.

    “Mr. Obama also continues to make permanent tax cuts — middle-class tax cuts, to be sure — a centerpiece of his economic plan. It’s not clear how he would pay both for these tax cuts and for initiatives like health care reform, so his tax-cut promises raise questions about how determined he really is to pursue a strongly progressive agenda.”

    2. Elizabeth Edwards (and I think we can assume, John Edwards too) points out that Clinton’s health care reform plan is superior and will cover more people.

    3. The PGN interview and non-interviews: how can a truly progressive agenda NOT include the LGBTQ community? Is it OK with you that Obama appears to be disinterested in talking with to future constituents who are gay? Is unity and hope only for straight people? I’m not suggesting that he bears any personal animus against gay people, but rather am wondering about his political backbone if he can’t even speak to a gay publication.

    So, on balance, it looks like Clinton is advocating more progressive policies, and that she has a more inclusive vision of her constituency.

    Next, Ari, you accuse Historiann of “[C]onveniently gloss[ing] over the racism that underlies the Clinton campaign, racism that no longer can be disputed in any honest discussion.” Similarly, David, once again you accuse me of never criticizing Clinton.

    I guess you weren’t reading when I called out the nasty insinuations about Michelle Obama, and the unfair gendered judgment the mainstrem press laid on Barack Obama this week because he’s not a champion bowler. I guess you also missed my analysis of the poor record the Democratic Party has had in terms of grooming and supporting African American candidates. I guess you also missed my criticism of Gloria Steinem’s (incorrect) historical analysis in which she implied that white women have had it worse politically than African American men, and you missed my post on white women unfairly ventriloquzing African American women to mobilize support for Clinton’s candidacy. So, to suggest that Historiann has been a mindless vagaina voting for another vagina is condescending and inaccurate.

    I’d also like to say that to suggest that “Hitlery KKKlanton” and her consort are closet racists just waiting all these years to unleash their white supremacist agenda is silly and overwrought. Please. African Americans were President Clinton’s most loyal constituency, and it’s not because he was hiding a closet racist agenda nor was it because they were stupid. This charge also seems to imply that Senator Clinton’s support is only lily-white, and that any African Americans who support Clinton’s candidacy, like Stephanie Tubbs Jones, Mayor Nutter, and Sheila Jackson Lee are somehow being duped. It also ignores the fact that in the United States, there are more than just two major ethnic groups, and it ignores her strong support among Asian and Latino/a Americans.

    Next, David, you have been very skepitcal of Clinton’s claims to experience all along. That doesn’t seem to stop you from blaming Senator Clinton for everything that happened during President Clinton’s presidency! Think about it: either you’re right, she has zero experience until 2001, when she entered the senate and therefore can’t be held accountable for the Bill Clinton administration, OR she has lots of experience and can be called to answer for things that happened in the White House from 1993-2001.

    I’d just like to point out that this is a classic way that people have traditionally dismissed women’s expertise. Just because she didn’t have a paid position in Arkansas as First Lady and as First Lady of the U.S., that somehow means that she saw and learned nothing that might inform her approach as President. She could have put her feet up and done nothing, like the current First Lady, but she didn’t. Her interest in public policy, especially as it touches on the lives of women and children (you know, the MAJORITY OF THE COUNTRY) was manifestly apparent in her the work she did FOR FREE both in Arkansas and around the world as First Lady. Most women of her generation weren’t encouraged to run for Congress or Governor right out of Law School, as her husband was. So, to suggest that because hers wasn’t the name on the ballot until 2000 means that we should dismiss her lifetime of experience seems more than a little condescending.

    Finally, I will stick to my conclusion at the end of the post, which is that a male candidate with her record would never be subjected to the same ridicule, hostility, and calumny that Senator Clinton has been. I think the evidence is incontrovertable, and moreover, I’ll go out on a limb and predict that most Democrats will look back in shame and horror at the way she has been treated in the press and by many of her fellow Democrats.


  15. Historiann:

    I’m sorry you see it that way. I really am. But, just to be clear, here’s my view of the situation: you put up posts that are controversial, perhaps even link-baiting, and then you fret when people disagree with you or the candidate you support. Far ruder and odder than that, you often misread my comments (I won’t speak for others), or tendentiously miscontrue what I’ve written. You use words like “hate,” “indecent” (Are you kidding? Seriously, is this a joke? If not, shame on you. That kind of language is simply beyond the pale.), and you shout (in the style of the internet). Then you call for comity among Democrats.

    On the substance, I think Senator Clinton’s health care plan is probably better than Senator Obama’s. I always have, though I lack the expertise to know for sure. Citing Krugman does nothing to sway me one way or the other, though, as he is part of the Princeton Pundits Hating Obama club. Still, I think you’re right here. That said, neither candidate will be able to enact a health care plan without congress. In other words, what they want is much less important than what they’ll be able to wrest from the lobbyist-riddled ranks of the House and Senate. So that single issue won’t determine how I vote. And, as I’ve noted here and elsewhere, on many other issues — rule of law, foreign policy, open government — the two candidates are actually quite different. And I see Obama as the better of the two. We’ve talked about this before, you and I, and Hilzoy has blogged about it at length (the best source on the differences between the two; no similar catalog for Clinton’s merits exists, I’m afraid), so there’s not much more to say here.

    Moving on, please don’t ever again conflate me and David. Doing so is incredibly lazy argumentation, at best, and a very cheap shot at worst. (And by the way, this is no reflection on David.) Regardless, suggesting that I think that you’re “a mindless vagaina voting for another vagina” comes entirely out of left field. I ask that you retract that statement immediately. There is, by the way, no “or else” attached to that request. This is simply an instance where you’ve chosen to say something that is demonstrably false and deeply insulting to me. I’ve never once, to my knowldge, treated you in a similar fashion. Again, I ask for a retraction.

    As to the issue of racism, I no more think it’s fair for me to call you racist than it is for you to call me sexist. Which is why I haven’t done that. That you’ve chosen to support a candidate who is pandering to racists and trading in racist assumptions is, however, something that I have said. Just as you’ve said that I’m supporting a candidate who is pandering to sexists and trading in sexist assumptions. Even the latter formulation doesn’t reflect very well on either of us. I’ll accept that about myself. I don’t like it. But I do think that Senator Obama has benefitted from coverage that reeks of misogyny. And I certainly think that many of his supporters are voting for him because he’s a man facing off against a woman. Again, I’m not proud of this; I hate that it’s true. But there it is.

    Still, and this is a key point for me, I don’t believe that Senator Obama’s proxies, or the Senator himself, have used sexism or sexist assumptions either as directly or as often as the Clinton camp has used racism. If you disagree, I would submit that we’ve now arrived at the key point from my earlier post. I believe that the Clintons themselves have crossed a line in this campaign, that they have used race to further divide the Democratic Party and the nation. This is unforgiveable in my view. And this is why, along with the Clintons well-documented willingness to tack to the center in moments of crisis (as well as other times), that it seems that we’ve moved past the time when it’s reasonable to suggest that anyone who won’t vote for Senator Clinton is either petulant, sexist, or has an impure heart.



  16. Ari,

    It was David who accused me–despite all of my statements to the contrary–of voting with my vagina. You never have, and I’m sorry that my comment there conflated the two of you. However, the post was long enough as it was, so I chose to address both of your criticisms together.

    You’ve apparently ignored all of my posts on the intersectionality of race, sexuality, and gender, and the history of the modern Democratic party, in which I address (and defend Obama!) many of the issues we both care about.

    Finally, you write that I “put up posts that are controversial, perhaps even link-baiting, and then you fret when people disagree with you or the candidate you support.” I’m not fretting–I’m ARGUING WITH YOU! Am I supposed to just fold up my blog and say, “you’re right Ari and David?” Since when am I supposed to just roll over when you make assertions that are wrong? There’s an interesting parallel here where my advocacy and furnishing supporting evidence for my points of view = me being “rude.” I guess that’s like people who find it obnoxious that Hillary Clinton is actually running a campaign, instead of just saying, “you’re right, Obama! I’ll drop out quietly now!”

    Once again, I’ll reiterate:

    “I understand and respect that millions of Democrats prefer Senator Obama. I’ve never tried to talk my friends and acquaintances out of supporting him, although many (not all) have tried to talk me out of supporting Clinton by telling me what a corrupt and unscrupulous monster she is.”

    I accept that I’ll never change your mind, Ari. I respect that you’ve come to your position from an informed point of view, and I concede that there’s a lot to recommend Obama. I’ve never said anything negative about Obama–the closest I’ve come to criticizing him is in questioning his refusal of an interview with the PGN, which is based on a decision he made, not a broad attack on his character, his motives, or his personality.

    Why can you not accept that you’ll never change my mind, and that I come to my position from an informed point of view? Why do some of you Obama supporters not accept that Hillary Clinton is a legitimate candidate for the Presidency, and that our support of her is rational and reasonable?


  17. p.s. Ari, you can dismiss Krugman if you like, but I think he prefers Clinton because he prefers her policies and believes they’ll work better than Obama’s policies. I think most sane liberals know that Krugman’s been more right than wrong in his career as a NYT columnist, and that he’s a member in good standing in the “evidence-based community.” (Obama’s campaign did opposition research on Krugman, which I think is pretty hillarious! I guess it’s like the old saying, “if the facts are on your side, you pound on the facts; if the law is on your side, you pound on the law; and if neither the facts nor the law are on your side, you pound on the table.)

    (And, by the way, the link is to a post by Matthew Yglesias, who is a member in good standing of Team Obama.)


  18. I don’t want to change your mind. I haven’t for some time. Or at least I’ve realized that I’m not going to change yours or anyone else’s mind. (That wasn’t the point of my original comment, you’ll note). And, even though I’m not going to change your mind, I generally really like arguing with you. Because, as I’ve said in the past, you’ve helped me to clarify my position on a variety of issues during the campaign, including, I should note, developing a great deal of sympathy for Clinton’s decision to stay in the race.

    That said, I objected to the words “hate,” “indecent,” and the suggestion that I don’t respect why you’ve chosen to support Senator Clinton. As I said in my second comment, the implications of those words and the phrase about voting with your vagina seemed entirely unfair to me. Beyond that, though, we just disagree on issues, which is as it should be: Democrats fighting amongst themselves. Oh, there is one final point, one of process not issues, on which we don’t agree: I’ve come to believe, in the course of the campaign, that there are legitimate reasons not to vote for Senator Clinton should she be the nominee. And I think that it’s likely that Clinton partisans could point to valid reasons not to vote for Obama (though I have a much harder time seeing how this is the case). Again, this was what I was after in the first comment.


  19. Wow, y’all get into it over here, don’t you? As a dogged Clintonista, I am on Historiann’s side in this debate, though the debate depresses me, because it really does seem that the circular firing squad is taking shape and Dems everywhere are getting locked and loaded to assure that John McCain is our next president. It would be easy to say that Senator Obama and his supporters have trafficked in sexism (declaring Sen. Clinton “likable enough,” making insinuations about how she managed her marriage) in exactly the same ways that the Clintons have supposedly trafficked in racism, but that would only contribute to the deepening of an internecine squabble that we all say we want to avoid. It is also tempting to howl about the arrogance of Obama supporters who sniff about all the legitimate reasons for not voting for Clinton if she is the nominee yet find it hard to imagine that Clinton supporters “could point to valid reasons not to vote for Obama,” and I guess I can’t resist that temptation. Try these on for size, Ari:

    1. Obama’s opposition to the Iraq war from the safety of the Illinois state senate means nothing when compared to all the votes he made to continue funding the war once he was in the U.S. senate. His claim to wisdom and bravery on this point is, as Bill Clinton said, a fairy tale. I think it’s plenty legitimate to refuse to support a candidate whose central argument for himself is completely without foundation.

    2. There is also no evidence in his record in the senate to support the claim that he is uniquely qualified to bring opposing sides together and overcome the supposedly toxic levels of partisanship in the government. I’m a fan of partisanship myself, because I think it’s often tied to a little thing called principle, but Obama seems opposed to it. I just don’t see anything from his brief career in the senate to suggest he could be any more of a “uniter” than Shrub turned out to be. Clinton supporters motivated by a desire to “overcome” partisanship might well choose McCain over Obama in the general election.

    3. Unless the debacles of Michigan and Florida are settled, Obama’s claim to the nomination will be tainted. He can’t get the nom without superdelegates either, and it is still possible Clinton will surpass him in popular vote totals. Clinton supporters are well within their rights to feel that his aggressive disinterest in enfranchising the millions of Democrats who voted in FL and MI means that he places his self-interest above everything else. We are also allowed to be disgusted by state and national Democratic party apparatuses that allowed those debacles to happen and to withhold our support for a nominee chosen through such poorly managed, undemocratic processes.

    I could go on, but, as I said, the debate depresses me. I am an old dog with a leaky heart, and I am in need of an afternoon nap. As always, I wish you humans the best in all your wranglings. Thanks for letting me watch and comment on the spectacle.


  20. Historiann,

    The “voting with your vagina” line is interesting to me, considering that you constantly and repeatedly attack those who are against Clinton on grounds of gender bias. I guess that means they are thinking with their balls? And since thinking with their balls apparently, in your view, makes them more “primitive” or childish, I guess thinking with a vagina is to be preferred.

    I’m sorry, but to call HRC more progressive than Obama on gay rights issues is laughable to me. Obama has brought the issues of gay rights to the center of countless speeches, in many contexts when it was not politically expedient for him to do so; Clinton has not. We’ve argued about this before, but the Clinton record during the 1990s regarding gays is not a good one. Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell led to a rapid increase in discharges for gay service members, and then, of course, there was the Defense of Marriage Act. As for the African American community, Clinton talked a good game with them, as he did with all his constituents, but what did he deliver? Welfare “reform”? And how does the black community feel about the Clintons now, after they’ve thrown them under the bus following South Carolina? I’ve never argued that the Clintons are racist. I’ve always argued that the Clintons are going to do whatever is politically expedient. After South Carolina, they tried very hard to make Obama “the black candidate,” so that Hillary could be “the white candidate” and thus stay competitive. As strategies go, it’s worked pretty well for staying relatively close in the race, but of course it comes with a huge price tag should Clinton reach November. But then, running ads against Obama that help McCain isn’t doing wonders for Obama’s chances in November either.

    As far as Clinton’s experience goes, I’m not sure how to interpret her 35 years since she’s never clarified what exactly this means, which accomplishments of the Clinton presidency she wants to take credit for and which parts she doesn’t. I thought maybe you could give me your interpretation, so I guess the initiatives regarding health care for women and children are a start. But what was her role with regard to foreign policy decision-making, NAFTA, DOMA, and other initiatives? Did she support or oppose these? She says one thing now, but very often looking at the record indicates that she was saying something else then.

    Finally, let’s not forget that, in large part, her language has become more progressive as this campaign has continued because of Obama. Last year it looked like she was positioning herself to run as a centrist, figuring that the primaries would be easy and she could waltz into the general election. Then Obama came along and suddenly she hates NAFTA and wants a poverty czar.

    If you look at where they’ve been over the last half dozen years, Obama’s political orientation and outlook has been much more consistent than Clinton’s. Can we at least agree on this? Regardless of the positions he was holding at the time, we can at least agree that, unlike Clinton, he’s always opposed NAFTA and always opposed the Iraq war.

    The reason there is so much animus towards Clinton from Obama supporters is because she represents, for a lot of us, exactly what has gone wrong with the Democratic Party during the last 15 years, as the party has, more and more, attempted to fashion itself as a more moderate version of the GOP. If the Democratic Party somehow nominates Clinton this year, I am certainly not going to support that kind of politics, or the kind of campaigning Clinton has engaged in, with my vote.


  21. Once again (for David this time) I repeat:

    “I understand and respect that millions of Democrats prefer Senator Obama. I’ve never tried to talk my friends and acquaintances out of supporting him, although many (not all) have tried to talk me out of supporting Clinton by telling me what a corrupt and unscrupulous monster she is.”

    You’re the person who wrote this sentence: “From your posts, Historiann, I can’t figure why it is exactly that you support Clinton, other than that she is a woman,” in response to a post in which I wrote at the beginning of the second paragraph: “I caucused for Hillary Clinton because I think she’s got the better policies, especially on reforming health care.” Either your reading comprehension is problematic, or you’re refusing to believe me when I tell you what my grounds for supporting Clinton are. ej and Indyanna tried to point this out more politely than I will: you’re not making any sense.


  22. For someone depressed by the debate, Roxie, you wade right in. And honestly, what’s there to be depressed about. This is a blog. If we’re not going to hash out ideas here, in relative safety, then where would you suggest we do so.

    So here we go:

    1) You’re wrong. Taking an anti-war stand at that time was not empty. That you, or Bill Clinton (noted liar and race-baiter) see it that way is just fine, of course. But it was an act of courage. The nation was overwhelmingly pro-war when Obama came out against the Iraq folly, a position from which he has never deviated. Beyond that, to which later votes, specifically, are you referring? And coupled with that question, do you understand the procedural workings of the Senate, where senators often have to vote in ways that run counter to their stated views? I don’t like the fact that that’s the case. But it is. That’s why so few senators have become presidents in recent years. Again, though, I’m not interested in debating vague assertions on your point. Which votes and when, Roxie, are you talking about?

    2) I’m not voting for him because he’s bipartisan. I never said that. I’m voting for him because he might transform the Democratic coalition, bringing hundreds of thousands of new voters to the polls and the party. The old coalition is politically broken and morally bankrupt. We badly need a change. Senator Clinton has explicitly rejected such change, including Howard Dean’s so-called 50-State strategy. That’s one of the reasons that I reject Senator Clinton.

    3) This argument makes me crazy. So, if I’m understaning you and the Clinton camp, it’s okay to seat delegates from states that broke rules agreed upon by all the candidates? But the caucuses aren’t fair? In other words, the Clintons are for enfranchising voters in states that held primaries that every candidate still standing agreed would not count, but those voters who caucused in states where the rules were well known shouldn’t count as much. Wow, the logic here, the passion for small-d democracy, is simply dizzying.

    More important than any of that, though, try this: the delegates will be seated. I’ll bet you the bottle of wine of your choice on that. They’ll be seated when Senator Obama is nominated or when Senator Clinton is nominated. All the talk in the interim, all the shifting of goalposts, is just a way for Senator Clinton to buy time, to find a new rationale for her candidacy. Which is fine. That’s what candidates do. But please don’t expect me to accept that rationalizatioin as just or rational.


  23. All of that said, I’m not trying to change your mind. My original post, and my ongoing contention, is that it’s not illegitimate not to vote for Senator Clinton, should she be the nominee. It may be a bad decision, and it’s not one I’m going to make, but for those people who do choose not to vote for her, there are good reasons.

    Still, if you’re going to address me directly, even though I won’t try to convince you to vote for Senator Obama (because Senator Clinton is a worthy choice), I also won’t let half-truths and outright calumnies stand without challenge.


  24. Ari wrote, “I also won’t let half-truths and outright calumnies stand without challenge.”

    But he also wrote: “Bill Clinton (noted liar and race-baiter). . .” Do you really believe this? President Bill Clinton, who is the only twice elected, two-term Democratic president since World War II? Do you know how crazy this makes you sound? Moreover, that’s some thanks from a so-called Democrat for the only one on our team to have such a winning record.

    This is just ugly, Ari. Why are you throwing around insults worthy of Newt Gingrich and Ken Starr?


  25. And Roxie–I agree with you, but we have to remember who the real opposition is! Obama will be taking a real chance if he becomes the nominee without a reasonable compromise on Florida and Michigan–states which will be easy pickins for McCain. I believe (or hope?) that we’ll have some clarity with the results of the popular vote by July.

    If she is not the nominee, Hillary will rise again to confound her adversaries! And, we have to think about the Supreme Court, competence in Federal agencies, repairing the U.S. Constitution, taking action on climate change, our reputation and influence around the world, closing Guantanamo Bay, etc. in addition to the 3 really big issues: the economy, getting out of Iraq and getting it right in Afghanistan, and health care reform.


  26. Thanks for explaining to me what blogs are for, Ari. I’ve been blogging for two years, and it’s nice to finally know what it’s all about. Ditto on the whole procedural workings of the senate thing. We dogs can be fairly dim about the elaborate systems you human have designed to assure that everything is completely f-ed up.

    I don’t want to engage in a tit-for-tat with you in which we both re-state deeply held positions in increasingly loud voices, because that is annoying as well as depressing. Nonetheless: I made it clear that in my previous comment that I was referring to Obama’s votes to fund the war. Also, I in no way suggested that you were supporting Obama because you were interested in bipartisanship. I was mapping out possible reasons for CLINTON supporters to withhold their support for Obama if he should win the nomination, and reason #2 was aimed at moderate Clintonistas lured by the fantasy of bipartisanship. It had nothing to do with you or any other Obamaniac. As for FL and MI, you may go as crazy as you like over my argument, but millions of Clinton voters feel that she is being screwed out of the nomination. If those feelings aren’t taken seriously and those perceptions aren’t laid to rest, all the rational arguments about rules and goalposts won’t amount to diddly, thus greatly increasing the likelihood that John McCain will be the one putting his hand on the Bible come January 09.


  27. Excuse me. Obama is quoted in today’s New York Times (Sat. April 5, p. A 13) as having told an Army mom in Lancaster, Pa., last week that “Getting rid of Saddam Hussein, that is an accomplishment…” Whether he’s ever “deviated from [his] position” against the “Iraq folly” is surely a complicated question, but it’s hard to imagine how he would have conceptualized such an outcome without resort to force. Send a team of Democratic Party elders and wise men to tell the guy to do the math and realize he can’t win, so just step down? All of the candidates while out on the ground in the country are dealing as creatively as they can with the fact that the population at large is far more ambivalent–or multivalent–about the international situation than certain portions of the Democratic Party activist community.

    Thread is running a bit hot for its own good, perhaps, but I think Historiann is getting the best of it–which is not unrelated I’m sure to the fact that I support the same candidate. As to the candidates “agree[ing] that the votes in [certain primaries] would not count,” by what authority could the candidates–individually or collectively–do that? There were lots of hot Democrats in December of 2000 who explicitly stated that it was out of Al Gore’s hands to give in on the question of the Florida recount; that the rights of the people there were paramount and autonomous from party strategics. As Historiann noted many posts back, Michigan is a more complicated case in that not all names were on the ballot. But I’d suggest that Florida’s voice was peculiarly credible. Voters made their choices in full cognizance of the positions of the candidates (which had been visibly broadcast nationally for almost the entire month of January) but well beyond the range of the close-in bombastics that can artificially push and pull tracking numbers over the short term.

    I’d also just add to the list of prominent African American public officials supporting Senator Clinton David Patterson, the new governor of New York. He conceded fairly recently that he had not even heard of Barack Obama when he began working closely with his state’s junior senator, and on the basis of that relationship decided to support her presidential ambitions. He also didn’t think fit to change his position just because the train was supposedly leaving the station. It seems doubtful that he feared being subjected to a “red-faced, finger-wagging tirade” from Bill Clinton, one of the more fascinating emerging journalistic tropes from this campaign season.


  28. Historiann, now I’m akin to Newt Gingrich? For saying that Bill Clinton is a liar and a race-baiter? Wow. But let’s make sure that we don’t engage in any circular firing squads. Because that would be icky.


  29. Also, Roxie, I wasn’t telling you how to blog or how a blog operates. I was responding to your contention that the debate depresses you. My point was that a blog is, in my view, a good place for these discussions to take place. Smart people from across the country can gather in a safe place to disagree. I don’t find that depressing; I find it exciting, intellectually enlivening, and all around peachy. That you disagree, well, I don’t know what to say about that other than, sorry.

    Anyway, I saw Historiann’s Gingrich slur this morning and then took a few hours to mull over a reply because I felt so lousy about, again, being called vile names, the sorts of names I wouldn’t hurl at an enemy in anger. I then read Roxie’s comment upon my return. Which leads me to, I won’t be commenting here anymore.

    Historiann, I’m a huge admirer of your work and your blog. I finished your book about a week ago, and it’s great. I think you’re smart, funny, and hugely talented. I admire your civic engagement and your willingness to put your ideas out there for all to see. I expect that you’re a great teacher and, I’m guessing, a better friend. But I also think your style of argumentation is deeply unfair and often nasty. Most of all, though, it’s just not my cup of tea. That said, I depart with no bad feelings — and not the slightest illusion that I’ll be missed in any way — and hope that I leave none behind me. I wish you and your commentariat all the best.


  30. Ari, when you call the last two-term Democratic president a liar and a race-baiter, I’m going to call you out on that, and I’m going to point out that you’ve adopted the tone and rhetoric of the right wing. Good lord. This is a classic right-wing strategy: beat up beat up beat up on one side, and when we point out that you’re beating us up, you cry that we’re being divisive.

    You should be ashamed of yourself.

    But, you and David have proved the point of my post quite nicely. Some Obama supporters just can’t get past your hatred and loathing of the vile Hillary Clinton. This whole comment thread has become another one where Obama supporters sling insults like “liar” and “race-baiter,” and make outrageous demands of Clinton supporters to defend this or that on Clinton’s behalf. So much for bringing the party together, boys!

    For those of you interested in reading someone who’s followed the demonization of the Clintons since the late 1990s, please go read Bob Somerby’s dailyhowler.com. It’s a rich catalogue of the smears and insults hurled at the Clintons and anyone associated with the Clintons (like Al Gore.) He’s really right, I think: there are no rules when it comes to the Clintons. Anyone can hurl any insult, or make any outrageous claim they want to, regardless of the facts, fairness, or basic human decency.


  31. Historiann,

    I understand where you are coming from, but you have to understand that, from my perspective, your one sentence on supporting Clinton because of her better policies has been countered by numerous posts defining the race, and your support of Clinton, in explicitly gendered ways. That Senator Clinton’s gender is a major bonus for you as a voter remains my impression, even as I admit that it may be wrong. At any rate, it seems clear to me that you think her gender is a major disadvantage in this race (something with which I don’t entirely agree, although I would in many races, but when a white woman is going against a man of mixed race, it’s hard to tell what becomes a disadvantage and what does not).

    I’m with Ari that hashing out these disagreements on the Internet is a basically healthy activity. Politics are supposed to be heated, and as this primary season has shown, simply because two different people support candidates from the same party does not mean that there is some obligation to come together at the end “in the interests of the party.” As I’ve said many times, I owe the Democratic Party nothing whatsoever.

    As for my support of Obama being largely anti-Clinton, I happily agree. In my posts I think I’ve laid out rational reasons for not trusting her as a political candidate, reasons that have nothing whatsoever to do with her gender, but rather with the specific positions she has taken over the years and the manner in which she has conducted her current campaign. If these reasons are not good enough for disliking her as a politician, then I guess there is no way to dislike Hillary Clinton without being labeled a misogynist.


  32. David,

    I don’t think that Historiann’s political commitment to Sen. Clinton has anything to do with gender. I think, like many women, she is very disturbed by the fact that because of Sen. Clinton’s gender, she is being attacked by both parties, by the media and by mainstream Americans. So while she speaks of gender and Sen. Clinton regularly, it doesn’t equate to her liking Clinton more because they share the same gender. If I remember correctly, Historiann was an Edwards gal before he was out of the race.
    I also speculate that if a highly conservative woman ran, Historiann wouldn’t support her politically but would speak as passionately about the gender discrimination said candidate would likely face.


  33. Historainn,

    I agree that thread is one for the for the books, illustrating the typical arguments used by some OBama internet supporters.
    I thought Ari’s 3;39 PM was mind numbing, jaw dropping stupid:

    “Historiann, now I’m akin to Newt Gingrich? For saying that Bill Clinton is a liar and a race-baiter? Wow. But let’s make sure that we don’t engage in any circular firing squads. Because that would be icky.”

    To me, it just captures the arrogance and stupidity of some Obama supporters. What universe do they inhabit? How is one suppose to respond rationally to that type of argument?

    I also thought these 2 statements from his 4:10 PM were just too rich for words.

    “But I also think your style of argumentation is deeply unfair and often nasty. Most of all, though, it’s just not my cup of tea.”

    I think his comments qualify as projection, no?

    Anyways, I thought your post and comments were outstanding but you are preaching to the choir since I am a Clintonista to the end. (I also thought Roxie’s were pretty good as well.)


  34. BEW and Nicole–thanks for commenting today. (BEW–where were you yesterday? I was looking for you and hoping you’d help me out a bit!)

    I don’t go on other people’s blogs, pick fights, and then call names when people disagree. It’s just not my style. I’m not really sure what happened here yesterday, except that once again, the fact that people support Clinton for good, progressive reasons seems to really irritate some people. None of the Obama supporters here have even addressed let alone defended their candidate’s decision to blow off the Philadelphia Gay News, but it’s somehow my personal responsibility to answer for everything Clinton says or does. I happen to think that blowing off an important constituency is just bad politics, given the loyalty gays have shown to the Democratic party. And, I think it was an encouraging sign that under a Clinton administration, the LGBTQ community might actually win some (if not all) of the legal reforms they advocate.

    I will continue to call out unfair media frames and political attacks when they’re used against both candidates, but as you know, there are just so many deployed against Clinton that I can hardly keep up! And Nicole, you’re entirely right: I don’t support women candidates whose policies I don’t support.


  35. Oh dear. I have many responses to some of the threads still dangling here, I’ll take them on a point by point basis.

    1: Clinton as “liar” and “race-baiter.” He’s clearly the former. Perhaps no worse than other politicians, perhaps not. All politicians have to lie to one degree or another. Bill Clinton was something of a master at it. (That he lied in order to hide the manner in which he sexually harassed women is one of the great ironies of feminist support for Clinton and his presidency.) As for race-baiting, I think that depends on how we interpret his comments during the South Carolina primary. I wouldn’t go so far as to call him a race-baiter for it, but I do think there’s been a pattern of trying to position Obama as the “black candidate” in order to scare white voters. Whether that’s race-baiting or not is a matter of semantics to me.

    What’s funnier to me is Historiann’s reaction. How DARE Ari attack a two-term Democratic president! As if the guy should be a saint among Democrats simply because he won votes. That’s the kind of party loyalty that has been destroying politics in this country for decades. It’s also straight out of George W. Bush’s worldview. Loyalty above all else.

    2. Obama and the PGN. I did respond to this, but apparently my response was insufficient. Obama has been much more outspoken about gay issues during this campaign than Clinton has, incorporating them into speeches for mainstream audiences. Clinton keeps the gay community on her side by submitting to questions for a paper read by a gay audience. Wake me when she defends the rights of gays, when she even uses the word, unprompted, in a speech to a mainstream audience. As for why Obama declined to be interviewed, I don’t know. It doesn’t seem terribly important to me. What would being interviewed by the PGN demonstrate? Maybe you are right: maybe it means that he’s a homophobe or someone who hates gays or doesn’t want to be associated with them. If so, he has a funny way of going about it, by bringing them up in his speeches so often. Obama also didn’t show up at the Black State of the Union last month. Maybe that means he hates black people.

    3. Blogging etiquette. It’s your blog, you allow for comments. If you don’t want people to express their opinions, then don’t allow for comments.


  36. Pingback: The Ladies of Edenton meet the next lady of Foggy Bottom : Historiann : History and sexual politics, 1492 to the present

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