I haven’t read the book but I did read a lengthy 10 page excerpt on the collapse of the Edwards’ marriage and campaign. I don’t know if Elizabeth was a saint or Edwards a monster as they were written but it became clear over the course of the past several years that Elizabeth was living her ambitions through her husband. After I saw him in Chicago at YK2, I was convinced that Edwards was a one trick pony and PT Barnum his favorite philosopher. Whether Elizabeth really ripped open her blouse in an airport parking lot or said the things she said is a bit of a mystery. People with potentially fatal illnesses and dunces for husbands are liable to do all kinds of strange things. But we weren’t there and there’s a good chance that some of this stuff was taken out of context for dramatic effect, with Halperin being the uber drama queen.
But following up on what Peter Daou said about Hillary’s campaign, this much I can confirm: her campaign never took the low road with us. We were never official bloggers for Hillary. We were a pro-Hillary blog almost exclusively after Obama made the “likeable enough” remark, Michelle Obama chastised Hillary about her tone and said she might never vote for her and the Obama campaign surrogates accused both Clintons of racism. At some point in the campaign, Peter Daou contacted us and told us that he was at our service. We could call him with questions and he invited us to the press briefing conference calls that I sat in on. By the way, if you thought Andrea Mitchell was loathsome before the campaign of 2008, try listening to her oh so bored and this is so tedious and dismissively cynical questioning during a conference call with Howard Wolfson.
Never once did Daou ask us to do anything improper. We weren’t encouraged to engage in character assassination. We weren’t part of some big plan to subvert other blogs from within. Instead, we found that posts that were upbeat and optimistic were sometimes linked to Hillary’s blog. She and Daou seemed committed to winning the war of the blogs with positivity. I didn’t feel dirty about my posts.
Daou certainly did sleep with his Blackberry under his pillow. I emailed him at about 2:30am one morning a couple of days after the RBC hearing. I was so angry and frustrated. He emailed me back almost immediately and asked if he could call me the next day. He did. At about 7:30am. You can’t get that kind of responsiveness and customer service anymore. He didn’t let Hillary down with us. I always appreciated his professionalism and access. I only wish we could have helped her more in return. I also wish we didn’t have to go our separate ways from Hillary after she suspended her campaign. But it wasn’t about Hillary anymore after the RBC hearing stripped our votes of any meaning. It was about the voters’ war with the party.
But I did notice a common theme to all of the excerpts I read of Halperin’s book. It seems that everyone was out to take Hillary down. Edwards, Schumer, Reid, Kennedy. In fact, her enemies came from within her own party. And even if what Edwards’ supposedly said about taking Hillary out wasn’t an actual quote from a reliable source, one doesn’t have to look very far to find evidence that the sentiment was true. The whole history of the primaries was of Obama and Edwards tag teaming to make Hillary look bad from that first extremely nasty debate in Philly to Edwards’ eventual endorsement of Obama. I don’t think Edwards even knew why he had to bring her down. I have often found this to be the case in the real working world as well. Men do this to women and they don’t even have a reason. Over and over again, I have seen a women achieve some managerial power through hard work and then watched as the men who worked with her or under her snipe and criticize and undermine her authority to bring her down. She only got to be where she was because of a quota or she’s sleeping with someone or she’s not really that smart. On and on it goes. I don’t think they do it consciously. It’s like some bizarre reflex.
Here’s the truth in Halperin’s book that he probably didn’t even know he was writing: men do not mentor women. There are some exceptions but that’s the cold brutal truth. When men say that a woman is polarizing or that she won’t be effective, they are really saying they won’t follow her themselves and it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. If the powers that be do not stand behind their protege and back her up, she won’t be effective. If her proposals are not treated seriously, they won’t be taken seriously. If there is no accountability for the dismissive way that others treat her, all her work will be for nothing. And that will come to haunt the powers that be because training women is expensive. You might as well not hire them in the first place if you aren’t going to take advantage of their talents. Why teach them to read?
Being a woman in the real working world is not a ceremonial position or it shouldn’t be. The Democratic party did a really stupid thing in 2008. It dumped one of its brightest stars. Yes, Hillary’s campaign staff let her down and there will always be a certain class of women who fall for the biting criticism of men and decide to join in. They deserve what they get and no amount of karma is bad enough for them. But it is the men of the Democratic party who let us down in 2008. And until they are gone, no woman should trust the Democratic party ever again.