It’s hard for a man to compete against a woman. You can see it in the speech that Obama gave tonight, he went right at McCain, in a way he never could have against Hillary Clinton, even though she was incredibly tough on him during the primary campaign.
Political competition between men and women is like everything else between men and women. We defer to women, we are protective of women, and we won’t stand for a man attacking a woman, even symbolically. And like everything else in gender relations, the women have better PR, men almost never speak for their gender (I do, but it’s rare). It’s now finally become a matter for the highest level of political competition, and it’s so taboo, you’ll see that I will likely be attacked for stating an opinion. I’ve withheld it this long because I didn’t want it to be tied up in the competition between Obama and Clinton, now it’s clear that is over (one can hope) and we can see clearly the difference between it and the upcoming one between two men. The two contests will be very different, I think anyone can see that.
Oddly, the awkwardness of compeittion betw men and women disadvantages both, the woman is seen as not being serious, and the man is seen as being weak. Obviously because the man is not taking the woman seriously (by withholding serious competition) and the man is being weak.
Obama will continue to defer to Clinton, they’ll maintain the traditional gender roles, but we’ll forgive him if he doesn’t pay her much attention from this point on. He has a battle to fight, one which more and more of us will want him to win, I predict.
Obama was the perfect candidate to compete with a woman for President, for the same reasons he’s a perfect black candidate. His anger is supressed, the same way it was for Jackie Robinson. Obama is the Jackie Robinson of politics. In the same way the first black major leage player had to soak up everyone’s rage and express none of his own, no one votes for an angry black man,, at least not yet (we will eventually) and anger expressed by a man for a woman is not tolerated either.
Put a note aside until the next Presidential election where there’s a serious woman canddiate, hopefully a visionary woman who understands this issue, and can communicate about it the way Obama was able to communicate about race. Let’s create a level playing field, let’s not tolerate sexism, in either direction — and let both candidates be fully competitive. When a husband protests that his wife isn’t being well-respected, as Bill Clinton did in this election, let’s ask him to stand aside and let his wife fight her own battles. And let’s not require one candidate to send flowers to the other, competitors only have to be gracious in defeat or victory, not while the fight is ongoing.
BTW, I have MP3s of each of the three candidates’ speeches tonight. Unfortunately the McCain speech was interrupted when the polls closed in South Dakota, putting Obama over the top for the Democratic nomination. All the networks interrupted McCain.
1. McCain’s speech.
2. Clinton’s speech.
3. Obama’s speech.
Superdelegates are announcing for Obama.
Calif Senator Diane Feinstein says it’s time for Clinton to quit. (She’s a Clinton supporter.)
AP has a story saying she will do that, but it’s being denied by Clinton officials.
I know this sounds like an ad, but it’s all there on NewsJunk this morning. I’m watching it unfold as I’m improving the code.
Marc Ambinder: “One very senior Democrat who has not endorsed Obama advises the Clinton campaign to divert the campaign’s charter from New York to Minnesota today, to join Sen. Obama on stage.”
AP calls it for Obama. “The first black candidate ever to lead his party into a fall campaign for the White House.”
Yesterday during the rush of news and the initial rollout of NewsJunk.com a story flew by that Bill Clinton had said some pretty nasty things about Todd Perdum, the author of a Vanity Fair slam piece about him.
This morning, I heard for the first time that:
1. There’s audio of his remarks.
2. It was recorded on a rope line after a Bill Clinton campaign event.
3. They didn’t allow reporters on the rope lines, to avoid BC getting quoted saying the kind of thing he was quoted saying yesterday (apparently he talks candidly with people on rope lines).
4. The person who recorded his comments was the same person who recorded Barack Obama’s controversial comments about poor people in Pennsylvania, a person they identified as a “citizen journalist.”
Now, I hope to get the audio (got it, it’s part of the Huffington Post report, below), and I found the reporter’s name, Mayhill Fowler, but I had to search for it. In the report this morning on MSNBC, they didn’t identify her. I kept waiting for them to say her name, but they never did. I think it’s not only disrespectful, it’s unethical to cite a source without identifying it, unless there was a prior agreement that the source was off the record. As you can see from the report, the reporter clearly wants credit.
In the next segment Katrina vanden Heuvel, editor of The Nation, argued with passion that HRC lost, at least in part, because of sexism. I thought this was an incredible contrast. Where is the respect? Just because someone isn’t a credentialed member of the press corps, she must remain nameless? Why didn’t KVH tune into this (Fowler is a woman, in addition to being an amateur reporter).
Mayhill Fowler’s report on Huffington.
They talked earlier, on the Morning Joe show, how Bill Clinton is old school and hasn’t learned how things have changed since his last campaign in 1996. KVH asked if everyone remembered Macaca? I do, of course, it’s how Jim Webb came to be the Senator from Virginia. Did we ever hear the name of the reporter who videotaped it? I don’t recall that I ever did. He not only shot the video, but he was the focus of the story, he was the one who George Allen called Macaca.
This should be a lesson to all handlers and would-be political leaders. You’re basically always on the record, unless you’re talking with one or two people who have agreed in advance that you’re not, and even then you have to be careful. I’ve learned this in the blogosphere, it’s why industry parties are uncomfortable for me. I don’t think of myself as a public figure, but every conversation is subject to reporting. I’ve even had conversations with people who were, without disclosing it, streaming video and audio of it, live to viewers on the net. It first happened when I visited the office of a competitor in the late 90s, believe it or not.
I don’t like it, but this is the world we live in. But parts of it I do like. I think we should get behind the facade presented by the comfortable relationship betw Washington reporters and the political leaders they cover. There’s too much control of the political process by the press, and that’s too easily manipulated by the candidates. We’ll see that play out in the fall as two favorites of the press, Obama and McCain, compete.
Update: A report on the MSNBC’s website by Mark Murray begins: “The same Huffington Post reporter who broke the Obama ‘bitter’ story got a new scoop yesterday…” Mayhill Fowler’s name does not appear in the 8-paragraph report, though they take a swipe at her ethics (“she didn’t identify herself as a reporter and said she disliked the article when asking for his reaction”).
Update: Cross-posted at Huffington.