Saturday, February 16, 2008

A Look at the Polls

Here is Pollster's "Poll of Polls" that tracks the development of the candidates since 2007.

Legislative Records for Senators Clinton and Obama

Here is a list of their accomplishments in the Senate.

The Prison House of Language

How the Clinton campaign (and some supporters) trapped themselves in their own discourse.According to John Heilemann:
And, in fact, it was worse than that. By arguing that one of Clinton’s key virtues was her ability to go toe-to-toe with the GOP attack machine, her campaign exacerbated instead of ameliorated her reputation for ruthlessness. “By bragging about how tough they were,” says John Edwards’s former chief strategist, Joe Trippi, “they reinforced the sense of the media that everything they did had a negative cast to it.” At the same time, Trippi argues, “it made it really hard for them to call Obama on his shit. How can you complain about Obama being negative when you’re bragging about your willingness to do the same thing against the Republicans?”

Obama, by contrast, was in the enviable position of being able to author his own meta-narrative. With his two autobiographies, he was able at once to accentuate his positive qualities and, in pointing out the potentially damaging aspects of his past (his teenage drug use preeminent among them), to inoculate himself against attacks. The grassrootsy, bottom-up, decentralized campaign structure that he and his team built, funded by small donors via the Internet, enhanced the impression of him as a man committed to a different kind of politics. And his strategists were wise enough to understand that when it was time to go negative, they should never do so with TV ads but stick instead to more sub-rosa media, from radio and direct mail to robo-calls. “In my experience in politics,” Trippi says, “nobody ever really gets called out on that crap.”

It is an interesting look at how Obama can get away with some his comments while Clinton gets attacked for hers. It is not necessarily the media's fault, though the media "reports" the standards. According to this article, the Clinton campaign chose its meta-narrative and now is trapped because of it-- the problem of a terministic screen.

The Emotional Breakup

with Senator Barack Obama. From Dahlia Lithwick at Slate.

Problems with Voting

I have never thought that it was a good idea to note election results on election day, mainly because in its rush to judgment, the entertainment industry er... the news industry, may not have the correct information themselves.

But this is very troubling. According to the 2q, the vote in New York City is not correct and further delegates will switch from Senator Clinton to Senator Obama. The reason:
City election officials this week said that their formal review of the results, which will not be completed for weeks, had confirmed some major discrepancies between the vote totals reported publicly — and unofficially — on primary night and the actual tally on hundreds of voting machines across the city.

In the Harlem district, for instance, where the primary night returns suggested a 141 to 0 sweep by Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, the vote now stands at 261 to 136. In an even more heavily black district in Brooklyn — where the vote on primary night was recorded as 118 to 0 for Mrs. Clinton — she now barely leads, 118 to 116.

The article stated that there were some areas where Clinton did not receive votes at first and this is not sinister. However, the campaign did not need this...

Friday, February 15, 2008

The Voice of the Party

Politico has a piece by Josephine Hearn today about the demographic makeup of the superdelegates. Of interest to those at the Situation? Check out the following:

In an ironic twist to the historic Democratic nominating contest between an African-American and a woman, the balance of power may be held by a more familiar face: the white male.

An interesting conundrum, to say the least.

Only in Nicaruagua

Will the Patriots be 19 - 0. From The New Republic:
The NFL donated 290 Patriots hats and an equal number of team jerseys trumpeting the slogans "Super Bowl Champions, 19-0" to impoverished children from two small communities in southern Nicaragua.

Thursday's gifts could not change history--the Patriots lost the Feb. 3 game to the New York Giants 17-14--but they made a lot of youngsters in the communities of San Gregorio and Buena Vista very happy, said Miriam Diaz, spokeswoman for the humanitarian organization World Vision, which arranged the donation with the NFL.

"They [Patriots] lost, but the children won," Diaz said.

Also, from The Onion, "Patriot's Season Perfect for Rest of Nation."

A moment of insincerity...

On MSNBC, President Bush connected the school shooting at Northern Illinois with the "real enemy" that is out there to support the FISA Bill so the government can protect us.

Interesting rhetorical choice, an appeal to pity. I am sure if the legislation were in place, the shooting would not happen.

For those that dislike Obama's language

Slate has the article for you: "The English Language, Obamafied..." which presents "the unabridged Encyclopedia Baracktannica."

A few examples:
Baracksploitation: A phenomenon whereby editors want to put only Barack Obama on the cover of their magazines

Baracker spaniel
: Canine Obama supporter

Barackronism: An Obama statement that is not in its correct historical or chronological time

Doing that thing Obama does

Well, it is a morning of rhetoric. Over a Slate, Jack Shafer discuses Obama's rhetorical style. He also links to a paper by David A. Frank, a professor of rhetoric at the University of Oregon. Here is a taste of the Slate article:
As the candidate who prides himself on disagreeing without being disagreeable, Obama takes on a Christlike quality for lots of people, especially white people. If a white American doesn't feel guilty about race, you can be almost certain that he feels anxious about it. Believe me, if these people had a street address where they could go and get absolution, they'd take the next taxi. Obama has a talent for extending forgiveness to the guilty and the anxious without requiring an apology from them first. Go forth and sin no more, he almost says, and never mind the reparations. No wonder they call him the brother from another planet.

He also knows how to comfort voters with a national narrative of his own invention. As Frank writes, the Song of Obama usually begins with references to Thomas Jefferson, a self-contradicting political thinker whose stock—for good reason—has not always been high in African-American circles. Next, he ropes in Abraham Lincoln, whom he describes as less than a perfect emancipator in this 2005 speech. And yet Obama, a tall, gangly, lawyer whose political career was made in Springfield, Ill., slyly compared himself to Lincoln when he declared for the presidency. Lincoln, Obama said, was "a tall, gangly, self-made Springfield lawyer" who "tells us that there is power in words" and "tells us there is power in conviction."

Obama's national narrative notes both Roosevelts before calling on Martin Luther King Jr. and, as everybody knows, Ronald Reagan. The implication, of course, is that the Obama candidacy stands as the fulfillment of the American ideal, and by casting their ballot for him, voters can participate in that transcendent moment. It's a dizzying notion. No wonder George Packer's mind went vacant after he heard Obama speak.

In his speeches, Obama pretends to be a hero out of Joseph Campbell. He talks about being on a journey that is about more than just hope and change. If you want to walk together down his American road, he wants you to be prepared for hard work. It's never going to be easy. He warns his listeners to beware of the cynics and the they-say and they-said naysayers who believe the quest is hopeless.

Hillary Clinton and the Rejection of Rhetoric

Or, fun with Clintonian Ethos...

From Michael Gerson, a former Bush speech writer, in today's Washington Post:
But Clinton's largest problem is not a lack of money or public enthusiasm. It is the lack of a compelling narrative for her campaign.

And while I know Gerson is a "republican," as a speech writer, he offers a very interesting glimpse in how a speaker attempts to establish "character."

Most successful presidential runs eventually have an overarching theory: the generational ambitions of John Kennedy's "New Frontier," the rising cultural resentments of Richard Nixon's "Silent Majority," the reviving national confidence of Ronald Reagan's "Morning in America."

Obama's appeal is straightforward: getting beyond "the ideological battles that have consumed us for the last 20 years" -- in which Clinton and her husband have been two of the main combatants.

Hillary Clinton's attempt to define a narrative of her own has been hobbled because her campaign is defined by the rejection of rhetoric. Obama's eloquence and idealism are dismissed as "abstract" and a "fairy tale" in contrast to Clinton's experience and policy substance. It is difficult for a campaign to inspire while using "inspiration" as an epithet.

It gets better as Gerson examines Clinton's narrative:
The challenge for Clinton is that her other options -- the other narratives for her campaign -- are equally flawed:

First, there is Hillary the Fighter. In recent interviews, Clinton has come out swinging with negative attacks -- what she once referred to as "the fun part" of politics. Obama has "questions to answer about his dealings with . . . a big nuclear power company" as well as with "Mr. Rezko." But it is hard to imagine American voters thinking: "If only the Clintons were a little more ruthless, I'd finally support them." It is this very trait -- after a series of racially charged attacks -- that many Americans, including many liberals, found more repulsive than "fun."

Second, there is Hillary the Comeback Kid. One campaign official commented, "We're taking a long-term approach to the campaign and look at it as a delegate game. This is not like the playoffs, where if you don't win you don't advance." No -- my mistake -- that was not a Clinton official, it was Rudy Giuliani's campaign manager speaking last year. Giuliani tried -- as Clinton is trying -- to disprove an iron rule of politics: When you lose a lot, you eventually look like a loser.

Third, there is Hillary the Tested. "I've been examined one side up and the other side down," argues Clinton, while Obama has not. Well, it is true that the Clintons have been endlessly vetted -- but mainly because their shared career has been an endless string of scandals. Stuart Taylor of the National Journal recently took a depressing stroll back through the derelict funfair of the Clinton years: the deceptions about Gennifer and Monica, the Travelgate firings, the prosperous trade in cattle futures, the questionable transactions of Castle Grande, the strange case of the misplaced billing records. In the midst of these colorful controversies, Taylor observes, Clinton has developed "a bad reputation for truthfulness and veracity."

It is not enough to be vetted. The goal is to be vetted and found clean.

Though it is increasingly unlikely, Clinton may still have a path to the nomination -- and what a path it is. She merely has to puncture the balloon of Democratic idealism; sully the character of a good man; feed racial tensions within her party; then eke out a win with the support of unelected superdelegates, thwarting the hopes of millions of new voters who would see an inspiring young man defeated by backroom arm-twisting and arcane party rules.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Fun With Obamamania Part the Second: The Battle for Imagination Land; or, "I Just Saw Strawberry Shortcake Tied Up Dead With Pee In Her Eye"

These South Park clips, with Butters brilliantly playing Barack Obama in each, dovetail nicely with recent questions that have come up on The Rhetorical Situation, involving

1)whether or not Barack Obama is trading solely in Imagination Land;

and 2)whether or not Imagination Land is Real.

The Super Delegate

defection continues. From the New York Times. There is something going on behind the scenes.

Returning to New Hampshire with a twist

In her speeches today Senator Clinton returned to January and reintroduced her talk v. action argument against Senator Obama. Here is a taste from Bloomburg:
`There's a big difference between us, speeches vs. solutions, talk vs. action,'' Clinton told workers after touring a General Motors Corp. assembly plant at Lordstown, Ohio.

During her speech, she stated:
"Speeches don't put food on your table. Speeches don't fill up your tank. Speeches don't fill up your prescriptions or do anything about your stack of bills that keeps you up at night. That's the difference between me and my democratic opponent. My opponent makes speeches, I offer solutions."

So, we are back to pre-New Hampshire days. It seems this argument didn't work so well the first time but she offers it again, with a new twist: "solutions" replaces "action."

Now, here we have this speech/ action divide, again, which is terribly problematic. But, if I were a reporter on the campaign, I would ask her two questions:

1) How do you reach a decision on a topic or is that not important? Should we just do something?
2) Why are you making speeches? Shouldn't you just attempt to take the presidency?

Eve Ensler, Jane Fonda V-Day Clip

Harrogate's third hat-tip of the week to Shakespeare's Sister, who is
delighted with Jane Fonda's utterance of the word "cunt" on the Today Show.

Lots of social conservatives of the Brent Bozelle "titillate-while-decrying" school will be affecting outrage over this. We'll keep an eye out for 'em.

UPDATE: Harrogate initially missed the part of McEwan's post involving Meredith Viera's subsequent, on-air apology for Fonda's diction. Are we on the verge of another "Wardrobe Malfunction"-esque, Rhetorical Typhoon that sucks all other cultural discourses into its greedy vortext? Time shall tell.

Chafee: A Vindicating Endorsement for Obama?

Former Senator Lincoln Chafee, a Rhode Island Republican, provides the latest high-profile endorsement of Barack Obama. Throughout, Obama has spoken of reaching out to what he sometimes calls "disaffected Republicans." Certainly Chafee would fit this descriptor, as Readers will remember the ignobility with which the GOP jeered him on his way out the Senate door in 2006.

Obama's central reliance on Independents and potential crossover Republicans has been the subject of much contemplation on this blog, as everywhere else. Of course, this is also a much-trumpeted strength of McCain's. If Obama versus McCain is the Showdown, we will in all likelihood see the two candidates slugging it out for the Lieberman/Chafee Block while relying (in Obama's case, exclusively) on the Veep nominee and mutliple surrogates to allay substantial elements of partisan distrust.

Happily for him "My Friends" McCain will blessedly be spared the discomfort of having to deal with a General Election operating as any kind of specific referendum on the last eight years of Republican rule.

Why Catholics may vote for Obama

Over at Slate, Douglas W. Kmiec-- someone who worked on the Romney campaign-- on why Catholics may break for Obama. And this includes even "Republican" Catholics.

A funny joke...

We take ourselves much too seriously around here.

So, here is a joke from They Might Be Giants:

What is Tuba plus Tuba?

An interesting look

inside the Hillary campaign, especially the shake-up. It's by Joshua Green from The Atlantic Monthly.

Correction: To Honor the Holiday, Matt Damon and Tom Waits

"Well, he gave her a dimestore watch
And a ring made from a spoon
Everyone is looking for someone to blame
But you share my bed, you share my name
Well, go ahead and call the cops
You dont meet nice girls in coffee shops"

Reason #6,666,666 that Tom Waits rules.

I think this about covers it...

The actors here hit upon every key remark of the campaign so far...

Anything missing?

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The reason for my views on free speech

According to Inside Higher Education, the president of William and Mary stepped down after the school's Board refused to extend his contract. The reason: it turns out conservatives pressured the state legislators to fire Gene R. Nichol because, as president, Gene R. Nichol supported the removal of a cross from a campus building (it was later put in a chapel) and he supported the students when they hosted a controversial art exhibit by sex industry workers. The Board stated ideological differences were not the cause...

The Board also asked Nichol to accept a buyout on the condition he stated the firing had nothing to do with ideological grounds. Nichol refused.

I have found speech that offends me.

This is not satire; this is a real ad. I repeat, this is not satire.

Who is the audience for this video, or, which voters is she trying to reach?

Who DOESN'T Read the Situation?

Well, it seems as if people are paying attention to the Rhetorical Situation. Read this BBC article about the many pop culture geniuses who are backing off of Britney Spears:

Spamalot creator Eric Idle [for example] has removed a song lyric making reference to pop star Britney Spears from the musical. Explaining the change, Idle said: "We don't laugh at sad people. Britney is being tortured to death and we don't want to be on that side.

Post Request

I posted the following as a comment, but just to make it front and center and all official-like:

I don't know where I stand on the issue of party before all else. Honestly, I haven't given it much thought before, as the Democratic party hasn't been in a divisive situation like this since I became a voter. Might I request a post and discussion on this issue? I'm curious to hear the thoughts of the bloggers.
Ooooo... and I just quoted myself!

A New Endoresement...

for Hillary Clinton. Joseph Wilson, former diplomat and the husband of exposed CIA agent Valeria Plame, endorses Hillary Clinton on the grounds that Hillary is a fighter and Barack is not "manly," er...I mean, "tough" enough to stand up to Republicans.

Wilson's case rehashes foreign policy and attempts to save Senator Clinton on Iraq by absolving her, and Democrats, because they just couldn't know (and a fortiori, since they couldn't know, Obama certainly could not know there were no WMDS). Rhetorically, Wilson's cases rest on anecdotal evidence for Hillary and rhetorical questions against Obama.

Am I a hypocrite?

President Bush has finally signed a stimulus package into law. For the record, I think this is a bad idea. Our country is already facing a huge budget deficit, spurned on by the large tax cuts Bush has given the rich and the cost of the war against terror. I mean, where exactly are we getting this money from?

I freely admit that I am not an economist, but I'm don't understand how this is going to prevent a recession. Most every one I've talked to about the stimulus package is planning to use the rebate they will get to pay off bills or to add to their savings. That said, I will happily deposit the rather large rebate check that Mr. M and I are predicted to get and put it in savings, all the while standing by my belief that this form of stimulus will not help the economy that much. Does that make me a hypocrite?

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Marcel Duchamp's Nude Descending a Staircase, No. 2

Harrogate just emailed a link to this painting for the students in the class he is currently teaching, and eagerly awaits their response to it. In the Norton Anthology of American Literature, Harrogate's students will read the following:

The American public was introduced to modern art at the famous New York Armory Show of 1913, which featured cubist paintings and caused an uproar. Marcel Duchamp's Nude Descending a Staircase, which, to the untrained eye, looked like no more than a mass of crudely drawn rectangles, was especially provocative [. . .]

Thus a key formal charcteristic typical of high modernist works, whether in painting, sculpting, or musical composition, is its construction out of fragments--fragments of myth or history, fragments of experience or perception, fragments of previous artistic works. Compared with earlier writing, modernist literature is notable for what it omits: the explanations, interpretations, connections, summaries, and distancing that provide continuity, perspective, and security in traditional literature.

This is only a small portion of a very long Introduction to the Anthology our class is using. Fortunately, Harrogate has a lively group this semester, and he anticipates there will be argument over the merits of the painting, as well as this whole business of "trained" versus "untrained" eyes when it comes to art. Hopefully the painting, in tandem with the poetry by Amy Lowell and H.D. that they will be reading for Friday, will be "especially provocative" in Harrogate's class as well.

Harrogate is curious what Readers here think of any or all of the following:

1)The painting: Either in or out of context, what argument, if any, does it make?

2)The quality of Norton's undergaduate-aimed description of Modernist literature (Again, bearing in mind this is only a snippet from a very long Introduction).

3)This poem, published by Amy Lowell in the immediate aftermath of WWI, entitled "September, 1918":

This afternoon was the color of water falling through sunlight;
The trees glittered with the tumbling of leaves;
The sidewalks shone like alleys of dropped maple leaves;
And the houses ran along them laughing out of square, open windows.
Under a tree in the park,
Two little boys, lying flat on their faces,
Were carefully gathering red berries
To put in a pasteboard box.

Some day there will be no war.
Then I shall take out this afternoon
And turn it in my fingers,
And remark the sweet taste of it upon my palate,
And note the crisp variety of its flights of leaves.
To-day I can only gather it
And put it into my lunch-box,
For I have time for nothing
But the endeavor to balance myself
Upon a broken world.

What We Owe Hillary

Just read this short piece by Emily Bazelon on Slate and it really sums up where I am right now:

Since the Iowa caucuses, I've been feeling the Hillary tug. Most of the women I've talked to in the last couple of months have felt it, too: Even if they weren't sure they'd vote for Hillary, they were rooting for her on some level. They wanted her to make a strong showing. They didn't want the girl who worked hard to lose willy-nilly to the guy who waltzed in. Those feelings must have helped bring more women than men to the polls in state after state, almost always in favor of Hillary.

But you know what? The tug doesn't feel the same to me now. I wonder if that's true for other Democratic women who could have gone either way, too. If Obama's margins are wide enough to carry women in Maryland and Virginia and D.C.tonight—and so far, according to the exit polls, he has the majority of women in Virginia, by a lot—maybe this shift will help explain why. Hillary has been an excellent first for us. No one else could have done what she's done, with all her aplomb and professionalism and seriousness. But she doesn't have to be the nominee, or the president, to have come through. She hung in there past every other contender, save one. She made it to the finals, the last round, overtime—whatever sports metaphor you want to use. I don't mean to suggest that she's done. But if she loses for good in the next weeks or months, she loses with dignity and heft and heart. And she'd leave us feeling, in a way I know I've never felt before, that a woman can
be elected president. We already owe her. We'd owe her for that, too. Even if we don't owe her, or give her, our votes.

I know your anger, I know your fears...

For Harrogate...

I wish we could be on the back patio of Margarita Rocks...drinking a few beers, discussing politics...Instead, I am in an ice box and you are in Texas...

This song is for you... You will appreciate it...

The Primary/ Caucus in Texas

Here is a two part analysis of how the vote in Texas may play out. It is not like a primary or a caucus as it incorporates both types of voting, it is based on state senatorial districts and not congressional districts, and it incorporates Super Delegates and votes based on the over all vote.

With all involved, it may be close.

Part One

Part Two

Oh My God He's In a Cult!: Fun With Obamamania Part I


Could it really be true, Harrogate often finds himself excitedly wondering, that "we are who we've been waiting for"? Harrogate dares anyone to listen to what Barack Obama actually has to say, to consider the challenges he poses on the level of the moral imagination: Yea, indulge this, and then reflect for a moment about the current occupant of the White House. If an ache doesn't soon follow, then you are a bizarre soul indeed, by Harrogate's measure.

So why all this cult business?, Harrogate's critics might wonder. Harrogate was, after all, one of the first on the blogosphere to use the word.

It is partly Obama's own tendency to overstep the compelling suggestion of transforming how we imagine government, to cross over into a Twilight Zone wherein he and his have actually transcended contemporary politics altogether. Verily, Obama alone, and those drawn to/awakened by him, are indeed "above it all." Listen closely to the rising chorus and ye shall hear:

No longer does Party affiliation matter, it is in fact passe. What matters is that we get behind this particular human being at this moment in history, and follow him down the path of Truth and Light.

Should he not get the nomination, it is not worth investing in the Democratic bid for the White House. And then, when empirical things like a continuing Health Care crisis dovetailed with a robber-baron tax code; like escalation in Iraq and Bombing of Iran, these will be no matter either, it is not for us to sully our hands with such things. It will instead be for us to honor his memory then, and wait for him to come again in 2012.

Oh yeah, and also to ignore his lack of actual impact in the Senate.

Let me guess

So let me guess, we should just chalk this one up to another example of a free-market economy, capitalism, and free speech, right?

Seriously though, I don't think we live in a world (as sad as it makes me) where we can actually argue that people don't hate Hillary Clinton just because she is a woman. I'd truly love to believe that people hate Hillary Clinton for her politics, but considering that individuals are actually making and selling urinal targets with her face on them, I have to say that her gender is a large part of why she is so hated. And this is a hatred that, as Harrogate has correctly pointed out many, many times, is irrational and unexplained--but then isn't that the basis of sexism and misogyny? What irritates me the most about this is not that the urinal targets exist, but that no one (save Melissa McEwan, Harrogate, myself, and some others) are talking about it. What pisses me off is that if someone were selling an image of Barack Obama dressed up like Uncle Tom everyone in the country would be up in arms--and you can bet that the MSNBC reporter who commented how funny such an image is would get fired (and I would say, should such a thing ever happen, rightfully so). And what really pisses me off is the Clinton campaign's refusal to address such misogynist images. As Harrogate and I discussed yesterday, Hillary Clinton needs to respond to this irrational, unexplainable hatred that people fear for her if only to address the irrational, unexplainable hatred that many Americans feel for all women in positions of power.

Cha-Ching!; or, The Wondrousness of Others Doing Your Work For You: McEwan's "Hillary Sexism Watch"

Some have insisted that one cannot claim a pattern of sexism in the media's treatment of Hillary Clinton, based on what one is seeing with one's own eyes. And, those holding that position like to illustrate the tenuousness of anecdote by offering up ostensible counter-anecdotes, such as a pundit ceding that Hillary Clinton has run a smart campaign, or predicting that she is poised to win in a given state.

For the second time today, Harrogate offers up as an authority Melissa McEwan, who he has long considered one of the most entertaining and thought-provoking voices in the blogosphere. McEwan's post on the matter today constitutes both an archival spectacle and a testament to using the internet to do media scholarship.

There may be Readers out there who are growing tired of this topic. To those Harrogate makes his humble appeal, the topic is important and deserves to be taken seriously. If there is a possibility that popular culture is continuing to wink and nod at gender-charged denigration (that one's for M), then it is worth probing. And if the charge can be substantively defended, then this is something we need to address. And finally, fatigue is a poor plea to make here, arguably just as poor as "Iraq fatigue." Verily and yea and forsooth, the stakes being nothing less than the Presidency of the United States, and maybe more importantly still, who we are as a people, and what it is we value.

Mandates versus Incentives

From Politico-- the difference between Senator Clinton's and Senator Obama's Health Care Plans. One for the major differences: argumentation tactics.

"Women and Caucuses" & Still More "False" Claims of Sexism in the Media: Gosh, Why Do These Women Take Everything So Seriously, Anyway?

Melissa McEwan is the lead blogger at Shakespeare's Sister, a pretty heavily trafficked left-leaning site. At one point, Readers will perhaps remember, she was one of two ladies in charge of John Edwards's internet presidential bid.

Sunday, she made these provocative observations in a post entitled, "Women and Caucuses."

From the post:

Put this in the context of the series of posts Kate and I have written recently (e.g. Damned if You Do, Stealth Vote Salon, and I Am Not Ashamed), along with the associated comments threads and women bloggers who have linked approvingly to those posts, all of which speak to the very real, if near-totally ignored, phenomenon of women who are hesitant for various reasons to openly support Hillary, and the reality of caucuses requiring public support that the privacy of a voting booth does not—and only someone deeply engaged in willful ignorance could deny that sexism is playing some role in Obama's caucus wins.

And that doesn't even take into consideration the structural problem of caucuses requiring more time and offering less flexibility. With women still the primary caregivers (of child care and elder care) in the vast majority of American homes, caucuses favor the young, and disfavor older women with familial responsibilities, who comprise a large portion of Hillary's base of supporters.

But even more interesting, given the recent spate of denials of sexism in the media on this very blog as well as by such austere guardians of media fairness such as Hannity and Colmes, is the link she provides to a post subtitled "Hillary Sexism Watch: Part Nonillion and One in an Ongoing Series"

One example McEwan gets into is of course the Schuster comment. The second, an Upper Deck baseball card. Some nice range, there.

And then the Great Uniter, Barack Obama himself:

Someone speaking about Obama being the underdog, outsider candidate—which, by the way, once someone gets Democratic monument Ted Kennedy's and former nominee John Kerry's endorsements, is a meme that needs to die—says: "You challenge the status quo and suddenly the claws come out." Certainly this was a reference to Hillary, whom the Obama campaign has been long painting (and not without reason) as the establishment candidate. Had the non-sexist equivalent, as pointed out by Homunq here, been used—"You challenge the status quo and suddenly the gloves come off"—there would have been no problem, but "claws come out" is as sure a sexist dog whistle as is catfight.

The big problem is that the someone who said this is Barack Obama.

Ahh, Melissa McEwan. Yet another "hysterical" citizen, hallucinating sexism where there is clearly none.

Another Chelsea Clinton Post

Over at Slate, Guy Branum, who has a history with the Clintons-- including a search by the Secret Service-- over the public role of Chelsea Clinton. His take: it is not about gender, an anti-Clinton bias, or misogyny, but the attempted use of someone as a campaign spokesperson and a public figure who is removed from public critique.

Also from Slate: A History of Pimpimg, well...the word. "A Brief History of the Verb To Pimp."

Monday, February 11, 2008

A Sidebar to Big Pimpin'

I hate to even bring this up again--I think we've hashed it out more than sufficiently--but I have to critique the right-wing response to the Schuster incident. On Hannity's radio show today (yes, solon listens to this smut in the car and, yes, I have presented a very convincing argument likening it to the legal definition of porn... more on that later), Sean compared Schuster's comment about Chelsea Clinton to Keith Olbermann's previous accusation that Bush was "pimping out" General Petraeus. Olbermann faced no consequences for his statement and Schuster was suspended. Hannity claims, quite fervently, that the difference lies solely in MSNBC's partisan nature and not any issue of gender or sexism. Because men are pimped all the time, I guess. At least Republican men.

I fully realize that Hannity does not speak for the right wing in its entirety, but I've heard this floating out there and it needs to be addressed.


An online petition to make sure the next Presidential Debate focuses on "sexism and misogyny."
There have been lots of issues talked about in the Presidential debates but two items that have not gotten much coverage are women's issues and the sexism and misogyny in the media during the current election.

Race has been talked about and discussed and in fact the Congressional Black Caucus sponsored a debate.

What about women? Women issues deserve to be highlighted and the sexism and misogyny displayed in this election should be addressed. We will not heal as a country until we do.

We are asking the sponsors of the next two Democratic debates to ensure us that these issues will be addressed. As an added note a question about the "gender card" does not count unless of course you want to also ask about the "race card."

I imagine this is serious, though I am not sure how much rhetorical weight an online petition like this has. Thoughts?

You Ain't See Nothing Yet

A McCain parody...maybe.


"No, We Can't."

The Gut as an Epistomological Center

Megs, this article is for you: "When It's Head Versus Heart, the Heart Wins."
Because voters are not computers, willing and able to remember and analyze candidates' every position, they rely on what political scientist Samuel Popkin of the University of California, San Diego, calls "gut rationality,"

Looking a last-minute Valentine,

Try these from the GOP.

I think we all need one of these

I am going to order one of these coloring books for everyone who blogs at The Rhetorical Situation.

Why the Popular Vote Should Not Matter in the Primaries

There is considerable tension in the Democratic Primaries because of the virtual tie between Senator Clinton and Senator Obama. Because a winner may not triumph through the pledged delegates, the fear, and loathing, is that the Super Delegates will decide the election. But the question remains: how should the Super Delegates, especially those without constituencies, decide for whom to vote?

One suggestion is that the Super Delegates should vote for the person with the most popular votes but not necessarily the winner of the most pledged delegates. This would not work. Here is why:

Please note: I write this not to favor one candidate over another. This is simply a way to discern how we should think about the Delegates and the Super Delegates and the role of the popular vote. On Super Tuesday, both Clinton and Obama received over 1.7 million votes, making the difference almost inconsequential. Clinton did receive more votes, as she did in Nevada, but the difference could easily be made up in other states.

1) The first reason is the most obvious: the democrats designed the winner to be decided on delegates and not the popular vote. The popular vote becomes a red herring in all of this. To decide that the popular vote matters is to change the rules of the game. If the popular vote was to be the most decisive aspect and the candidates knew this going in, then it would be fair to suggest that this would be the way to discern the nominee.

2) It should not matter that the more populated states votes one way and the less populated states votes another. Unless you want to differentiate as to why one democratic voter should have more say that another democratic voter based on his/her geographical location, the difference in location should not matter. It would not be correct to say that the knowledge of voters is greater in one state or that the interests of the voters are more important in one state; instead, voters in all states need to possess the ability to influence the elections. If not, then there would just be the tyranny of the majority. Besides, even though the vote in congressional districts is proportional, the larger states have delegates that go to the winner of the state to try and help the winner of the state, which may not be fair to the people who vote but fair to the candidate.

3) The argument that the winner of Blue States should receive support because the winner of Red States is unlikely to carry the state seems very suspicious. First, there is no reason why a Democrat cannot win a red state, especially with the current state of the country. During the 1980s, Reagan carried Blue States. In the 1990s, William Clinton carried some Red States. Second, the Democratic Nominee needs to win at least one important Red State or a few Red States to win the 2008 Election: this means that Florida, Ohio, Colorado, New Mexico, Virginia, and Arizona may be very important to this election. The Democratic nominee needs to find ways to reach out to voters outside of the Democrat base to obtain these states.

4) The “popular vote” seems to be very misleading. Since the States choose the rules for their elections, there is no consistent format. Some states rely on primaries; some states rely on caucuses; some states allow for early voting; some states rely on closed primaries. Consequently, the system chosen will alter the amount of popular vote. Unlike a general election, which would be able to all voters in the same standardized form, the popular vote in the nomination process possesses to many standards to make it legitimate.

5) In some states, voters chose between six candidates; in other states voters chose between three candidates; in other states, the voters chose between two candidates. Even after Edwards left the race, he still received hundreds of thousands of votes on Super Tuesday, alter the vote totals of both Senator Clinton and Senator Obama. This questions the legitimacy of the overall popular vote.

6) Finally, the vote in Michigan and Florida is not legitimate in any form and should not contribute to the overall lead. In Michigan, most of the candidates were not on the ballot. In Florida, the candidates agreed not to campaign there. Some voters, knowing full well that the vote would not count, stayed home. The vote of these states is not reflective of anything. To add the vote to the overall popular vote and to argue that it needs to be counted would incorporate even more illegitimacy into the process. If these states followed the rules, then these states would have been even more important—imagine if the Florida primary was this week or next week. It would have a tremendous amount of influence on the election. However, since the candidates agreed to the rules, the rules must stand and this vote should not matter in any form.

Based on these reasons, the role of the popular vote should not be considered as a relevant factor in determining the Democratic nominee. Delegates and Super Delegates should examine other factors.