Sunday, February 24, 2008

What's With Hillary?

We must learn to be still in the midst of activity and to be vibrantly alive in repose.

---Indira Gandhi

If we knew that tonight we were going to go blind, we would take a longing, LAST real look at every blade of grass, every cloud formation, every speck of dust, every rainbow, raindrop---everything.

---Pema Chodron

An adult is one who has lost the grace, the freshness, the innocence of the child, who is no longer capable of feeling pure joy, who makes everything complicated, who spreads suffering everywhere, who is afraid of being happy, and who, because it is easier to bear, has gone back to sleep. The wise man is a happy child.

---Arnaud Desjardins

The photo of presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, taken by Melanie Burford for the Dallas Morning News, held my attention this morning from the instant I saw it. I think it's a great American face there, worthy of Mt. Rushmore. I'm not kidding, and I'm not saying it's a stone cold face. I mean that's a presidential face we're looking at. There's no doubt in my mind this candidate could handle the job. Except...except...

What is wrong with that picture? This is a portrait of a person in conflict. Cover the left side of her face as you're looking at her. In the half you see there's even a flicker of a smile, an openness, a quality of friendliness that I know she has. Now cover the other half. Woe, there is a person you wouldn't want to cross. Something unforgiving there in someone who's been banged around a lot.

I attempt this crude and rather adolescent psychology on Hillary Rodham Clinton because a certain unpredictability has permeated her campaign as well. If you watched her in debate with Barack Obama Thursday night, you saw it too. I didn't know what she was going to do next. She seems genuinely to like the man when she's standing right in front of him, looking him in the face. But then she'll go back to the it-should-be-in-your-own-words thing, and draw a shudder of disappointment from Obama, and boos from the crowd. Who is this person?

Maureen Dowd goes after it this morning, and while I do some shuddering myself at the masculine/feminine behavior characteristics in the column, I think she's on to something. She thinks Clinton is calculating her different approaches to impress various voting groups. She wants to be tough and macho for some, and sensitive and understanding for others. I think I have to differ with Ms. Dowd on this, though I'm really glad she noticed the stuff and decided to write about it. I'm not sure Senator Clinton is in control of how she's coming off. I think she's reeling from blows received in the ring.

Bill Clinton will be in Athens tomorrow, and I'm afraid the announcement came too late for me to clear my calendar. I do hope to get to it before it's all over, trusting he'll be an hour late like most of these guys. Former President Clinton is the first, and I hope not the last, of the big names to get to this important corner of the state. As the rest of the Ohio continually reminds us, we're rather different here. Some people even refer to Southeast Ohio as the West Virginia part of the state. There's some truth to that, going all the way back to glacial times. But let's not get into climate change.

Or maybe we should. When ARE these candidates going to mention it? And did you see McCain's record of environment votes? Check out the fascinating final part of that blog entry to see how the new legislators, who replaced NINE of the 12 so-called "dirty dozen" in the last election, are doing.

Here's the link to Maureen Dowd's column this morning. Let me say in another criticism of it (and I'm grateful to my online acquaintance Elle for reminding me of this), while Shirley Chisholm's presidential run in 1972 may not have been taken seriously she definitely was a serious candidate. I supported her too, just as far as she could go.


Quinty said...

“Less towel-snapping and more towel color coordinating, less steroids and more sensitivity.”

How about more dignity and intelligence? Less politics as we are routinely accustomed to? Which doesn’t mean to say Obama will not finally offer his own form of politics as usual. Politics-as-usual with the Obama twist. But he has certainly opened up a hope.

Nor is Obama the first “intellectual” candidate who has come along. Adlai Stevenson was seen, in some circles, as “not one of the boys.” As too pointy headed. The same criticism was leveled at Eugene McCarthy, who was described as aloof and cold. George McGovern was seen as too idealistic, “pie in the sky.” Obama is not the first candidate to appear “feminine” to voters who prefer a GWB form of “beer guzzling 2amendment” machismo.

So this may not even be a feminine/masculine issue as Dowd discusses. Though I think Dowd can certainly be credited for seeing Hillary from a woman’s point of view. And considering how close Hillary has come to the prize Dowd's curiosity is natural.

Pundits have been speculating recently on whether Hillary will turn “tough” or not now that she has fallen behind. She certainly came out swinging yesterday comparing Obama’s approach to Karl Rove’s. Karl Rove?

True enough, she may not have backed NAFTA. And may have advised Bill against it. I haven’t seen the Obama ads but assume they don’t make a clear distinction. What is true, though, is that Hillary is a Director of the DLC. Very much a pro free trade group. Putting her right in the heart of the NAFTA.

But this “tough” come-on Hillary engaged in may actually have nothing to do with the feminine/masculine angle Dowd examines. It may only be “politics as usual.” A simple ploy to stoke up some indignation among her supporters and would be supporters who are disgusted by Obama’s campaign tactics.

But I haven’t see the ads. Nor do I believe Hillary is so elevated, above it all, that she wouldn’t stoop to distortion. She’s very much a pol - woman or not. That may be what comes first.

The tear she nearly shed in New Hampshire appeared genuine enough. No matter what its causes, exhaustion, a sense of final defeat, that “feminine” moment made her more likable among certain elderly women voters. At least that’s what the pundits tell us. Looking back on its success Hillary has added it to her arsenal, and will play it if it will help her. It has been tested and found useful: and anything that works must be tempting.

A friend sent me an interesting - though quite lengthy - article on Obama and AIPAC. Yes, he has been pandering.

ADA lists Bob Casey as one of only three senators with 100% liberal voting records. Obama and Hillary come it at around 75%. Some other group put Obama at number one. Was it a rightwing group helping out the Republicans or was it actually as representative than the ADA?

Quinty said...

Oh, I forgot to say, good article and good comments on it.

(I wish though I could go back in and correct the gaffs in my own set of comments. The other site offers that advantage but sometimes the clouds appear spray painted purple there.)

Quinty said...

Obama the terrorist.

Has everyone seen this? Hillary is desperate alright.

jazzolog said...

A Day Of Mysteries

OK, not entirely. There was no mystery surrounding Bill Clinton's blitz of Southern Ohio yesterday. His visits to Chillicothe, Portsmouth, Athens, and Lancaster clearly were aimed at young voters. Among other things these are campus towns, with Shawnee State in Portsmouth, and OU at the others. The President had on a jaunty bright red tie, and by the time he got to Athens after 3:00 he still had plenty of energy to match. Any mystery may be how he delivered 4 long major addresses and endured the lengthy car rides without tiring out. As a couple of commentators have mentioned, it's a bit disconcerting to listen to his speech because we're so used to hear him campaigning for himself. Every once in a while he puts in "Hillary says" or "this is what she'll do," but otherwise he could be advocating his own policies. He speaks with the authority of a President, but it's peculiar to see a former president out campaigning. There were no aggressive or derogatory remarks made about Mr. Obama, but perhaps Mrs. Clinton is taking care of that now.

The address probably is best represented at the Toledo Blade, but their story describes his appearance in Bowling Green (another campus town) on Sunday. Governor Strickland seems to be escorting him throughout. Here's coverage in Athens, with a video and what CBS had to say about it .

The debate in Cleveland tonight between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama on MSNBC (9:00 - 10:30) probably will include a detour into the biggest mystery of the day. As quinty's comment mentions the Drudge Report claimed early yesterday that Clinton aides had sent out a photo of Obama dressed in African garb, taken while he was visiting his father's homeland in Kenya a couple years ago. Apparently the Obama people believed Matt Drudge and went after the Clinton camp with hammer and tongs. Well yeah if it's true, why in the world would Clinton send out any picture of Obama at all, to say nothing of one showing him in a turban? But is it true or is Drudge mistaken? The Clintons denied knowing anything about it...and responded angrily too. The photo is here if you haven't seen it yet and this is more coverage . With this tone and tension rising anyway, the debate tonight seems to be must-see viewing.

Otherwise, a mystery to maybe only a few was the publication yesterday of Issue 2 of The Bulldog Underground. The bulldog is the mascot of the Athens public secondary school sports teams. Obviously no one connected with school administration or, presumably, faculty is involved with this and the masthead declares "Devoted to the Well-Being of the Students at Athens Middle School." What's that supposed to mean? The paper itself is full-color photocopied on 6 pages (both sides: good environmental conscience) with paid ads inside. The writing isn't bad, but seems to me done by someone older than middle school age. Most of the articles are about shootings in schools, but there doesn't seem to be any reference particularly to Athens Middle School. Astonishingly they announced they have a MySpace profile...and sure enough, there it is---with 55 friends so far. On the last page of the paper a message reads, "Remember, if you are aware of the creators of The Bulldog Underground, keep it to yourself!" Do you think there's a chance today will see all mysteries solved?

Quinty said...

And there may be some confusion in the Clinton camp too since at first they didn’t deny putting the photo out. For whatever it’s worth Drudge (I’m not familiar with his radio program) claimed the photo came from the Clinton camp.

And, revealing the kind of self serving flabby thinking common among those who hope to engage in general delusions, including themselves, the Clinton camp first claimed Obama should be proud of dressing up in that tribal manner rather than admit the clear aim for putting such a photo out. To tar Obama as a “Muslim” tied to terrorism and all its hostile anti-American implications.

The far right has also been after Obama for not wearing that jingoistic little flag pin and for not covering during the singing of the anthem. The hateful little photo is more characteristic of the far right (“you’re either with us or against us,” “love it or leave it”} but the Clintons are capable of just about anything. Even something as stupid as that if they hope it will help.

Who knows, perhaps some over zealous low echelon aid actually did put it out? Since the right engages in that sort of thing itself it’s hard to believe they would credit the Clinton camp for bringing it up. Since they may not even see presenting that photo as a smear against the Clintons.

Quinty said...

What's more if Obama gets the nominaton he better become accustomed to this. Since the Hussein Osama Obama twist will haunt him. It's hard to believe Obama's camp put the photo out because these photos tend to work. Are there pockets of deep ignorance, hate, and fear in Texas and Ohio where this kind of slander could work?

jazzolog said...

Here's Maureen Dowd and what she saw last night~~~

The New York Times
February 27, 2008
Op-Ed Columnist
Begrudging His Bedazzling

A huge Ellen suddenly materialized behind Hillary on a giant screen, interrupting her speech Monday night at a fund-raiser at George Washington University in Washington.

What better way for a desperate Hillary to try and stop her rival from running off with all her women supporters than to have a cozy satellite chat with a famous daytime talk-show host who isn’t supporting Obama?

“Will you put a ban on glitter?” Ellen demanded.

Diplomatically, Hillary said that schoolchildren needed it for special projects, but maybe she could ban it for anyone over 12.

Certainly, Hillary understands the perils of glitter. The coda of her campaign has been a primal scream against the golden child of Chicago, a clanging and sometimes churlish warning that “all that glitters is not gold.”

David Brody, the Christian Broadcasting Network correspondent whose interview with Hillary aired Tuesday, said the senator seemed “dumbfounded” by the Obama sensation.

She has been so discombobulated that she has ignored some truisms of politics that her husband understands well: Sunny beats gloomy. Consistency beats flipping. Bedazzling beats begrudging. Confidence beats whining.

Experience does not beat excitement, though, or Nixon would have been president the first time around, Poppy Bush would have had a second term and President Gore would have stopped the earth from melting by now.

Voters gravitate toward the presidential candidates who seem more comfortable in their skin. J.F.K. and Reagan seemed exceptionally comfortable. So did Bill Clinton and W., who both showed that comfort can be an illusion of sorts, masking deep insecurities.

The fact that Obama is exceptionally easy in his skin has made Hillary almost jump out of hers. She can’t turn on her own charm and wit because she can’t get beyond what she sees as the deep injustice of Obama not waiting his turn. Her sunshine-colored jackets on the trail hardly disguise the fact that she’s pea-green with envy.

After saying she found her “voice” in New Hampshire, she has turned into Sybil. We’ve had Experienced Hillary, Soft Hillary, Hard Hillary, Misty Hillary, Sarcastic Hillary, Joined-at-the-Hip-to-Bill Hillary, Her-Own-Person-Who-Just-Happens-to-Be-Married-to-a-Former-President Hillary, It’s-My-Turn Hillary, Cuddly Hillary, Let’s-Get-Down-in-the-Dirt-and-Fight-Like-Dogs Hillary.

Just as in the White House, when her cascading images and hairstyles became dizzying and unsettling, suggesting that the first lady woke up every day struggling to create a persona, now she seems to think there is a political solution to her problem. If she can only change this or that about her persona, or tear down this or that about Obama’s. But the whirlwind of changes and charges gets wearing.

By threatening to throw the kitchen sink at Obama, the Clinton campaign simply confirmed the fact that they might be going down the drain.

Hillary and her aides urged reporters to learn from the “Saturday Night Live” skit about journalists having crushes on Obama.

“Maybe we should ask Barack if he’s comfortable and needs another pillow,” she said tartly in the debate here Tuesday night. She peevishly and pointlessly complained about getting the first question too often, implying that the moderators of MSNBC — a channel her campaign has complained has been sexist — are giving Obama an easy ride.

Beating on the press is the lamest thing you can do. It is only because of the utter open-mindedness of the press that Hillary can lose 11 contests in a row and still be treated as a contender.

Hillary and her top aides could not say categorically that her campaign had not been the source on the Drudge Report, as Matt Drudge claimed, for a picture of Obama in African native garb that the mean-spirited hope will conjure up a Muslim Manchurian candidate vibe.

At a rally on Sunday, she tried sarcasm about Obama, talking about how “celestial choirs” singing and magic wands waving won’t get everybody together to “do the right thing.”

With David Brody, Hillary evoked the specter of a scary Kool-Aid cult. “I think that there is a certain phenomenon associated with his candidacy, and I am really struck by that because it is very much about him and his personality and his presentation,” she said, adding that “it dangerously oversimplifies the complexity of the problems we face, the challenge of navigating our country through some difficult uncharted waters. We are a nation at war. That seems to be forgotten.”

Actually it’s not forgotten. It’s a hard sell for Hillary to say that she is the only one capable of leading this country in a war when she helped in leading the country into that war. Or to paraphrase Obama from the debate here, the one who drives the bus into the ditch can’t drive it out.

Copyright 2008 The New York Times Company

Anonymous said...

Hmm...speaking of "Kool-Aid cult," is PUMA for real?

I mean, those people are rather "intense":

"We are motivated to action by our shared belief that the current leadership of the Democratic National Committee has abrogated its responsibility to represent the interests of all democrats in all 50 states. They are misleading our party and aim to mislead our country into nominating an illegitimate candidate for president in 2008."

According to PUMA, Senator Obama is "an illegitimate candidate," no less.

Pandagon, here, is skeptical. He thinks the group is just a front and argues that PUMA was not formed to support Clinton, but "to support the narrative about hysterical feminists, and to help the McCain campaign with 2 goals":

1) Creating the illusion that McCain is moderate enough to attract the votes of feminist Clinton supporters and

2) Reinforcing the narrative about how feminists are just hysterical bitches with no common sense who subsist on outrage, can’t act in their own self-interest because of their feminine-addled brains, and can safely be ignored.

Frankly, I don't know.

I think there are probably people there who are genuine. But I've checked out PUMA's blogroll and the hate and anger of most of the postings there is palpable. I mean, anything goes: Larry Sinclair is portrayed as some kind of heroic martyr; "Obama has a fake birth certificate and he's not really a citizen;" "Obama has never passed a piece of legislation;" "Obama can't speak without a teleprompter;" "I'll never forgive Obama for giving Hillary the finger;" "Hillary won the most popular votes;" "Obama is not qualified;" etc. The kind of stuff that is not only downright mean and petty, but also, ill-informed and ignorant, at best, or else bent on propagating false or misleading information.

Anyway it is a strange shifty political ground, to say the least, when Joe Lieberman plays cheerleader for John McCain; people like Lanny Davis and Howard Wolfson join FOX News; and ex-Clinton adviser Mark Penn teams up with ex-Bush aide Karen Hughes.

Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton has pledged to do everything in her power to get Barack Obama elected.

If she says so, it must be true.

Nausicaa said...

Admittedly, there can be horrible feminists (yes, even intolerable to the rest of us), and also horrible women who are NOT feminists. But this is also a highly charged political year, and there has been a lot of political posturing with all this.

Pauline Park [link] hits the nail square on the head :
"As I understand it, feminism is about supporting the best candidate, regardless of gender, not simply voting for someone because she is a woman. And even more critically, feminism is about challenging and dismantling the sex/gender binary, which would be truly transformative; merely electing a woman president would not."

And Pauline Park speaks from experience [link]:
"I lived in England for two years, when Margaret Thatcher was at the height of her power. Talk to women in the United Kingdom and ask if their lives were improved by Thatcher’s policies. I lived in France under Edith Cresson when she became the first woman to form a government as prime minister. Ask Frenchwomen if they felt that Cresson’s government transformed gender relations in France."

Nausicaa said...

All and all, a lot has been said during those primaries over both Feminism and the feminine/masculine aspect of the campaign. Possibly, Susan Douglas, with great foresight (some 14 months ago already!!!), captured it best:

"One of progressive feminism’s biggest (and so far, failed) battles has been against the Genghis Khan principle of American politics: that our leaders must be ruthless, macho empire builders fully prepared to drop the big one if they have to and invade anytime, anywhere. When Geraldine Ferraro ran for vice president in 1984, the recurring question was whether she had the cojones to push the red button, as if that is the ultimate criterion for leading the country. And while American politics has, for years, been all about the necessity of displaying masculinity, Bush, Cheney and Rove succeeded in upping the ante after 9/11 so that the sight of John Kerry windsurfing meant he wasn’t man enough to run the country. But now, with the massive failures of this callous macho posture everywhere—a disastrous war, a deeply endangered environment and more people than ever without health insurance—millions are desperate for a new vision and a new model of leadership."
"We don’t want the first female president to be Joe Lieberman in drag, pushing Bush-lite politics. We expect something better.

Clearly, Hillary and her advisors have calculated that for a woman to be elected in this country, she’s got to come across as just as tough as the guys. And maybe they’re right. But so far, Hillary is not getting men with this strategy, and women feel written off. After the dark ages of this pugnacious administration, many of us want to let the light in. We want a break with the past, optimism, and a recommitment to the government caring about and serving the needs of everyday people. We want what feminism began to fight for 40 years ago—humanizing deeply patriarchal institutions. And, ironically, we see candidates like John Edwards or Barack Obama—men—offering just that. If Hillary Clinton wants to be the first female president, then maybe, just maybe, she should actually run as a woman."

Susan J. Douglas is a professor of communications at the University of Michigan and author of "The Mommy Myth: The Idealization of Motherhood and How it Has Undermined Women."