Jane Hamsher of Firedoglake
I admit I have been warming up to Jane Hamsher a bit in the past couple of weeks because of her strong fight against the abortion language in the health care bill. But apparently I got fooled again. We’ve all read and discussed Jane’s post, “Shaking Off the Hangover of the Primary Wars.” Riverdaughter did a spectacular verbal takedown of Jane’s rationalizing yesterday.
The post itself is troubling enough, but Jane’s comments about Hillary Clinton and her supporters in the thread clearly demonstrate that she (Jane) is not yet ready to take responsibility for actions she took or did not take during the divisive primary fights of 2008.
Many of us were able to see through Obama early in the primary process–after doing our own research on his character and his political experience (or lack thereof). But Jane claims that her site remained neutral throughout the primaries because there were no significant policy differences among the top three candidates, Obama, Clinton, and Edwards.
It’s true that FDL did not publicly endorse a candidate, but the posts and comment sections certainly favored Obama. It’s possible Jane couldn’t control the Axelrod astroturfers and just threw up her hands, as Digby did. But she allowed her comment sections to be infested with abusive language toward Clinton and anyone who defended her. And she banned commenters who complained about the bullying.
Sophisticated campaigns marketed the candidates as personalities and people became attached to them and felt like they knew them. Everyone who opposed them was the “enemy,” rhetoric was amped up and overheated, identity politics were exploited by both sides as strategic campaign elements and suddenly the blogosphere was a giant pie fight.
We made the decision to stay true to our charter and didn’t take sides, pledging to support the candidate that emerged with the nomination. We believed that once the election was over and we could get back to discussing issues again and evaluating politicians on both sides of the aisle with the same yardstick, we’d be back in our element.
She assumes that everyone who followed the primary battles focused on candidates as personalities rather than looking closely at their characters, policy goals, and personal accomplishments. She could not be more wrong. Most of us didn’t support Hillary Clinton for her personality. I actually began the primaries as an “anyone but Hillary” voter. But her performances in the debates convinced me she was the best candidate. It wasn’t about her personality or about her husband, and it wasn’t about her gender–although I admit I would have liked to see a woman President in my lifetime. I supported Clinton because she showed herself to be smart, knowledgeable, and most of all issue-oriented.
Obama, on the other hand, was all about Obama. He never was specific about issues, he never demonstrated any commitment to Democratic ideology. He admired Ronald Reagan, for heaven’s sake! He cozied up to fundamentalist preachers their anti-abortion, homophobic followers. Most damning of all, it became obvious from his many comments about and to Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin that Obama was a misogynist through and through.
I knew Hillary was more conservative than I am, and I knew I probably wouldn’t be happy with her Iraq and Afghanistan policies. But I was even more concerned about domestic issues. All I wanted was a Democrat in the White House who would fight for universal health care and would protect what is left of our social safety net. Instead, thanks to people like Jane and Markos, we ended up with a Republican pretending to be a Democrat–who, if anything is as bad or worse than George W. Bush.
In the discussion thread attached to her post, linked above, Jane posted this comment:
“I had a woman call up and scream at me when I was on CSPAN the other day for all the horrible things Markos and I had done to Hillary Clinton during the primaries, telling me that I had destroyed the Democratic party.
“And I’m like, seriously? I know some people you should meet, you guys would have an interesting fight.”
Many thanks to Gweema for posting the link to Jane Hamsher’s appearance on C-Span’s Washington Journal on November 26, 2009. I watched the whole thing, and right now I’m practically shaking with anger (want to call me a “screamer,” Jane?).
The women caller on C-Span did no screaming. She did not even raise her voice. Instead, she listed her credentials to confront Jane Hamsher and then did so very articulately. Jane responded with condescending lies and half-truths. I decided to transcribe that portion of the interview so we can dissect it here. The relevant section begins at about 25:50.
Elizabeth from Tennessee, calling on the Democratic line, wishes Jane and the interviewer a happy Thanksgiving and says she appreciates their working on the holiday weekend. Here is Elizabeth’s question:
To Jane Hamsher, I have been a lifelong Democrat, I was very involved in the health care battles of the 90’s. I was involved in actual implementing of town hall meetings back then in Iowa, Wisconsin, and Illinois; so I don’t take a back seat to you.
But in the area of February of 2008, I discontinued reading your blog and also the dailykos blog altogether because of your extreme hatred and villification of another Democratic candidate, and that was Senator Hillary Clinton. [Jane Hamsher rolls her eyes at this point]
I don’t know how much you are aware [of]…how much damage you did and how much damage Markos did–
Hamsher interrupts the caller: “Are you sure you’re talking about our blog? We had Hillary Clinton on [patronizing laughter] …
Elizabeth says: I’m talking about your blog, ma’m, and you should know it. If anyone wants to know they should go read…from that time. [interviewer breaks in and asks when this was, but Elizabeth goes on with her points.]
“You mentioned today that Obama was an anti-war candidate. He was no such thing. In fact, throughout the campaign, he continued to say that Afghanistan was a good war…. “
[Jane Hamsher breaks in to agree with Elizabeth on this point.]
Elizabeth says: “You really caused a lot of people to leave the Democratic party during the 2008 campaign. And I’m telling you now, I’m sorry that you’re sick, I’m sorry that you’ve had three bouts with the cancer, but I’m gonna say this. You are going to be shown exactly what damage you caused our party last primary season, and I will never forgive you for that.”
Elizabeth was a bit harsh at times, but she maintained a level tone of voice and did. not. scream. In fact I’d have to say that Jane’s characterization of Elizabeth’s presentation as “screaming” verges on sexism. Perhaps Jane has some unconscious issues in that department.
Here is Jane’s response [highlighting is mine]:
I know that there was a certain class of women who decided that they would start supporting John McCain over what they thought was bad treatment of Hillary Clinton. In fact…I took a video at the Rules Committee meeting, a woman, Harriet Christian who said that…she was not going to support a party who would have an inept black man as a candidate, and that became a…rallying point for some people.
We didn’t take a position…in the primaries. We said that we would support whoever was the winner and in fact had Senator Clinton as a guest on the blog, so I think we represented all viewpoints. I think there were people their who were Hillary Clinton partisans; I think that there were people there who were Barack Obama partisans, and I think that each side…collectively saw the other side as the issue. But I don’t think we were unfair to Senator Clinton, and I don’t believe that the people who left the party to vote for John McCain, who was very much an anti-choice candidate, a pro-war candidate, reflect the same values that I have anyway, or reflect the values of Senator Clinton.
There is so much wrong with Jane’s response that I don’t know where to begin. You do need to watch the video–her facial expressions while listening to the caller and responding to her are unbelievably patronizing and condescending. It is evident from her use of the words “class of women” that Hamsher sees herself as superior to these working class (?), pathetic women (though we’re not all women by any means) who mistakenly think that Hillary Clinton was treated unfairly. In addition she twists Harriet Christian’s words in order to imply that Harriet is a racist.
And what the f&ck is it these people don’t understand about protest votes anyway?
I honestly think that Jane’s rationalizing is an unconscious defense mechanism. Now that she has seen what Obama really is–a DINO, a conservative hack, maybe just barely qualifying as a Rockefeller-style Republican–she has to go back and try to cover up her own behavior during the primaries. But Jane has a very very long way to go before she understands the damage that she and the other A-list bloggers caused. I sincerely doubt that she will ever take responsibility for her actions–or lack of actions. For one thing, Jane was at the Rules Committee meeting and apparently she had absolutely no problem with Obama being given delegates belonging to to Clinton or with Obama getting delegates from a state he didn’t compete in!
Obviously Riverdaughter demolished Jane’s rationalizing yesterday afternoon, so I don’t have to do it. I’ll just post these three paragraphs from RD’s righteous rant here:
People like me are pretty steamed at you and your buddies. You took away our choice. We didn’t get a fair primary season. We didn’t even get a floor fight. There was no unity, Jane. It was all an illusion. Your guy was forced on many, many Democratic voters because YOU decided that Obama was best for us. And many people swallowed that because they were convinced that Republicans were worse. So they voted for a Democrat and they got a Republican anyway.
Jane, how many times do we have to tell you that it wasn’t about Hillary after May 31, 2008? It was about choice. Remember Choice, Jane? The right to self-determination? The ability to choose your own destiny? If someone else took that choice away from you, you’d be on their doorstep with a bullhorn and wouldn’t let up. But because it was YOUR guy who won, it was OK? What about the choice of the rest of us, Jane? What about CA, NJ, NY, MA, OH, PA, TX, IN, NH, WV, TN, FL, MI and so on and so on? Those big, Democratic states did not vote for Barack Obama in the primaries, Jane. They deserved to cast their votes for the candidate they *did* vote for. I was one of those voters, Jane and I am not letting the Democratic party off the hook for its outrageous behavior towards me and the others. With a primary this close and disputed, the nullification of my vote was unforgivable.
That is why the primary of 2008 isn’t going to go away and why you are going to continue to get angry callers who blame you and your friends for the state of the country under Obama. You took our choice away. Your incredibly high handed and self righteous decision to support Obama and shut down the rest of the party for the supposed good of that party has lead us to this point.
Don’t come crying to me with any more of your action e-mails, petitions, and fund-raising drives, Jane. I figured it out. You think I’m in “a certain class of women” who are beneath your contempt. You won’t get another chance from me, Jane. You’re just not seeing reality clearly yet, and I’m not sure you ever will.
Filed under: Afghanistan, Barack Obama, Blogosphere, broken promises, Clinton Derangement Syndrome, Cost of Sexism, Democratic Party, Denver Convention, DNC, DNC convention, Politics | Tagged: Barack Obama, C-Span, Dailykos, Firedoglake, Harriet Christian, Hillary Clinton, Jane Hamsher, Markos Moulitsas | 312 Comments »