Sunday, February 10, 2008


I wonder how many other former Edwards supporters are now in a period of deep analysis, trying not just to decide on a second-choice candidate but to understand the "why" of that choice. So far, the differences between Barack and Hillary are not substantial enough to easily sway me. I'll be fuckin' thrilled with either one, and that's the truth.

I read a lot of blogs each day, liberal/progressive and radical feminist, mostly. Here's what I (very subjectively) seem to be noticing:

(a) A lot of women my age, white women from what I can tell, were not especially on the Hillary bandwagon to begin with but are now getting behind her just because of the appalling woman-hating being aimed her way. I don't find this public vituperation "unbelievable" because I'm a decades-long feminist who has never been "post" or in denial about how shit on women (and woman-ish folk) are in this culture. We've actually lost ground in the last 15 years in a number of key aspects, including (and often most painfully) within what used to be our "safe" communities, i.e., lesbian enclaves. Lesbian never did equal feminist, but the public room to question masculinity, woman-hating and gender essentialism has vanished from queer space; we tend to find it now only in straight feminist arenas. (For which I want to say here, thank you, sisters, for leaving the light on for us.)

(b) Once discussion is under way about Barack vs. Hillary in a blog comments section, so-called liberal white boys cannot seem to stick to issues and cannot resist oozing into anti-woman crap, even as they deny it IS anti-woman crap. Honest to god, the hateful stuff coming out of the mouths of Chris Matthews, et al in White Boy Media is really not substantially different from what's cropping up in comments at Kos, Digby, etc. So much so that responsible blog moderators are having to clamp down on misogyny in comments. Way to go, guys.

(c) Rightwing verbal rape of Hillary, as usual, finds a mirror outlet in the mainstream media, who simply laughs at hate rhetoric in a frat-boy snicker of appreciation. The origin of that laugh is, of course, Ronnie Raygun. The one consolation I keep finding in this pile-on is the audible "click" I keep hearing from progressive bloggers, a "click" my generation heard in around 1975: Yeah, it's that vicious. Yeah, it runs all discourse in this country. Yeah, how'd YOU like to try to assume leadership or a voice in the midst of that kind of onslaught?

(d) The emotionality of the men who are trying to shout down any (even imagined) Hillary support is never acknowledged as emotionality and hysteria. Because, you know, men don't get hysterical.

(e) We're not seeing how Barack would respond to this kind of furor (yet), so I don't have a good guess as to how cool he can stay. I'm duly impressed with Hillary. She's been in the crosshairs for a long time, and is doing well -- except, of course, for the slow, long-term damage that is a result of living in crosshairs. I kinda need to know if Barack is going to lose it and get pissy, unfocused, rigid or wobbly, when his turn comes, like Kerry -- not to mention McCain, Bush, etc, of course.

(f) I just listened to Prairie Home Companion, and they did a long segment where their talented crew of mimics did pretend speeches from Barack, Hillary, McCain, Reagan, and Bush. These were wildly funny, poking at folks on both sides of the divide, and I was struck with how well they did Barack and Hillary. Barack couldn't answer a question in specifics, instead always speaking about "vision" -- convincingly, it was actually persuasive, in the way that good mimicry will be. Hillary kept making it about her ego and her experience, and I laughed hard, though uncomfortably. This gave me a lot to think about, in conjunction with:

(g) More than one blogger had suggested checking out the Presidential selector quiz at Select Smart, so I finally did. The unsettling results were that my position on the issues covered by their list of questions (which would NOT be my list of questions, let me issue that caveat) was shared by
1. Theoretical Ideal Candidate (100 %)
2. Dennis Kucinich (withdrawn) (94 %)
3. Barack Obama (86 %)
4. Joseph Biden (withdrawn) (81 %)
5. John Edwards (withdrawn) (80 %)
6. Christopher Dodd (withdrawn) (79 %)
7. Hillary Clinton (79 %)
8. Alan Augustson (campaign suspended) (78 %) [who???]
9. Wesley Clark (not running, endorsed Clinton) (73 %)
10. Al Gore (not announced) (70 %)
11. Bill Richardson (withdrawn) (65 %)
12. Michael Bloomberg (says he will not run) (65 %)
13. Mike Gravel (63 %)
14. Elaine Brown (55 %)
15. Ron Paul (40 %)
16. Kent McManigal (campaign suspended) (37 %)
17. Mike Huckabee (28 %)
18. Rudolph Giuliani (withdrawn, endorsed McCain) (28 %)
19. Wayne Allyn Root (27 %)
20. John McCain (27 %)
21. Chuck Hagel (not running) (24 %)
22. Sam Brownback (withdrawn, endorsed McCain) (20 %)
23. Tommy Thompson (withdrawn, endorsed Giuliani) (20 %)
24. Mitt Romney (withdrawn) (19 %)
25. Newt Gingrich (says he will not run) (18 %)
26. Alan Keyes (13 %)
27. Fred Thompson (withdrawn) (13 %)
28. Duncan Hunter (withdrawn) (11 %)
29. Tom Tancredo (withdrawn, endorsed Romney) (11 %)
30. Jim Gilmore (withdrawn) (6 %)
31. Stephen Colbert (campaign halted) (4 %)

To respond, I'll begin by saying that Kucinich's avowed willingness to consider Ron Paul as a running mate wiped him off my radar permanently. No cozying up to Nazis, that's a deal-breaker for me. Biden, Edwards and Dodd's alignment with my own views I already knew about. But Barack was a shock. I realized, at that point, I actually don't know his hard views on issues. All I get from the mainstream press and his blogger cheerleaders alike is "the vision" thing. Which isn't enough for me -- I liked and believed in Bill Clinton, I was very swayed by his charismatic speeches, even though I suspected he was at best a moderate. It was the first time I voted for a candidate who won, that blissful year in 1992: Clinton, Ann Richards for Governor and Glen Maxey for my state representative, folks I believed in and they all won. I've been a voter since 1972, and for a long time I used my electoral capital on Socialist, Peace and Justice, or Green party causes. After Reagan came along, I began voting for sheer survival and have stuck to it. But Bill seemed to be the best of both. Well, no more voting for personality reasons. I'll go research Barack's stands, as well as his Senate career, and we'll see.

(h) The questions I want addressed by a candidate are not appearing on these lists. Will they restore habeas corpus as it was in its entirety? Will they reverse NAFTA? Will they strip away the "unitary executive" power-grab of the Bushies and restore checks and balances to our government? Will they not just get us out of Iraq, but drastically cut the military and return that funding to social services plus a foreign policy based on compassion instead of building empire? I felt like I knew how Biden and Edwards would answer these questions, and their answers were mine. I'm not so certain of either Hillary or Barack, and I'm equally unsure of both, Hillary because she's a gifted "player" and Barack because he fumbles (as he has, repeatedly, around gay issues).

(i) Doris Lessing tossed a piss-filled water balloon into the plaza today by with her statement that Barack "would certainly not last long, a black man in the position of president. They would murder him." This has been said for a few weeks now on various blogs, and I have repeated it myself. But now it's an international item. Lessing certainly has a history of speaking her mind in ways that I may or may not agree with (her pointing out that the September 11th attacks were not that big a deal -- agreed -- and her disavowal of feminism -- stupid, stupid Doris). Still, I don't seeing the notion of "Of course they'll kill him" being given a sort of legitimacy, an air of inevitability. Energetically it's bad news.

(j) This brings me back around to the beginning, how different the attacks are on Barack and Hillary, but I insist we cannot quantify which is worse, woman-hating or white supremacy. I have a distant cousin whom I know only through similar genealogy research, from South Carolina (the problem child of the South), who after 9/11 sent me anti-Muslim group e-mails on a regular basis, no matter my protests. In the last six months, however, he's switched his focus to anti-Barack garbage. It's my barometer on what's up for those who have no reluctance to proudly display their mental illness known as racism. The corporate elite who run our government and the Republican Party will stop at nothing to deny our will, and if they can find a way to bring the nigger-hating out from their 30% base to a larger view with as much public acceptance as their woman-hating receives, they'll do it.

Which, as a conscientous citizen, makes me question everything I hear, looking for the manipulation behind it. Question my own beliefs, and dig deeper. This essay is just one manifestation of my quest to overcome the conditioning which has rotted my soul and which, at least, I am not dense enough to deny exists.

(Image by little gator, now on the FRONT PAGE! at I Can Has Cheezburger

1 comment:

shadocat said...

I too, listened to "Prairie Home" the other night and was doubled over at the politicians on a road trip bit---especially Hillary, with Bill in the backseat looking for oreos---priceless.

I have my own reasons for being for Barack, one of them being that I don't like Hillary's healthcare plan. Then I have some inside info which I can't share here---nothing shocking, just stuff that helped me make my decision.