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Sarah Palin and the Bitch-Slap Theory of Electoral Politics

PDS

Don’t hate/blame/flame me for the sexist term in the title.  Blame Josh Marshall (the real one) for coming up with it.  Back before he was kidnapped and replaced with a Kool-aid zombie he was a pretty astute blogger.  In 2004 he discussed the Swiftboat attacks being made on John Kerry by the Bush/Cheney campaign and came up with the Bitch-Slap theory of electoral politics:

It goes something like this.

On one level, of course, the aim behind these attacks is to cast suspicion upon Kerry’s military service record and label him a liar. But that’s only part of what’s going on.

Consider for a moment what the big game is here. This is a battle between two candidates to demonstrate toughness on national security. Toughness is a unitary quality, really — a personal, characterological quality rather than one rooted in policy or divisible in any real way. So both sides are trying to prove to undecided voters either that they’re tougher than the other guy or at least tough enough for the job.

[…]

One way — perhaps the best way — to demonstrate someone’s lack of toughness or strength is to attack them and show they are either unwilling or unable to defend themselves — thus the rough slang I used above. And that I think is a big part of what is happening here. Someone who can’t or won’t defend themselves certainly isn’t someone you can depend upon to defend you.

Demonstrating Kerry’s unwillingness to defend himself (if Bush can do that) is a far more tangible sign of what he’s made of than wartime experiences of thirty years ago.

Hitting someone and not having them hit back hurts the morale of that person’s supporters, buoys the confidence of your own backers (particularly if many tend toward an authoritarian mindset) and tends to make the person who’s receiving the hits into an object of contempt (even if also possibly also one of sympathy) in the eyes of the uncommitted.

[…]

So hitting back hard was critical on many levels.

Did you really think that all the unhinged attacks on  Sarah Palin were just misogyny gone wild?  Think again.

Until we manage to change it we live in a sexist, patriarchal culture.  Our culture devalues “feminine” attributes and equates “female” with “weak.”  That was the purpose behind calling John Edwards the “Breck Girl” and MoDo’s “practically lactating” comment about Al Gore – to “feminize” the candidates.

One of the problems that Hillary Clinton faced was establishing her toughness.  She had to vote with the hawks on military issues and with conservatives on “law and order” issues or run the risk of being portrayed as weak.  She built up a solid record in the Senate and more than held her own in debates yet nonetheless she was attacked for allegedly crying up in New Hampshire.

But Sarah Palin came to the table with two advantages that Hillary didn’t have.  First of all Sarah is a Republican, and GOP candidates enjoy the presumption that they are tough on crime and military issues.  But she also grew up hunting, fishing and engaging in other “manly” activities.  Sarah can easily out-macho the chickenhawks and drugstore cowboys – how many men in this country have actually killed and eaten a moose?

Continue reading

Health care reform the dollars and sense of it

[ An extended update to Health care: Bipartisanship in itself is not a goal (period) ]

Health care for a country as large as ours is going to cost a lot of money — no matter who’s paying the bills.  Right now, the burden rests almost entirely on individuals to either pay extortion high insurance premiums & all the deductibles and copays required to actually benefit from those payments.  But, many of us are hoping that with true government reform, those payments could be restructured in such a way that everyone in the country gains access to health care . . .  and none of us go broke getting it.

Ezra’s  hair is on fire but, why can’t he point out that we’ll pay much more than these estimates in ten years without reform?

Health reform is, I think it fair to say, in danger right now. The news out of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee was bad. The Congressional Budget Office had scored a partial bill and the result was a total fiasco. But the news out of the Finance Committee is much, much worse.

Put simply, the Finance Committee wanted its bill to cost $1 trillion over 10 years. The CBO returned an early estimate to the panel on Tuesday night: $1.6 trillion over 10 years. The specifics of the estimate have not been made public. But the final number changed everything. Max Baucus, the chairman of the committee, pushed markup back behind the July 4th recess. He has promised to get the bill below $1 trillion over 10 years.

That’s very dangerous.

“Very dangerous” — to say the least. Continue reading

Health care: Bipartisanship in itself is not a goal (period)

Bob Dole: The man with a plan . . .  Oh, really?

Bob Dole: The man with a plan . . . Oh, really?

I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that when most of us think of “health care reform” we assume the reforms will be helpful (at least in some minimal way) to all of us — but, should we be counting on that?

The Republicans made their proposal for sweeping reforms — making it clear that after all these months they aren’t compromising an inch:

The four-page Republican health care outline lays out a plan that would allow states, associations and small businesses to pool together to offer health insurance. It would give tax credits to low and modest income Americans to help them buy health insurance. It would also let dependents under twenty-five stay on their parent’s health insurance. (CBS News)

(blinking) That’s it.  Republican’s have been screaming, “Listen to us!!!!” for months and THAT’s what they come up with to cure our health care crisis?  You can keep your kids on your plan even if they aren’t in college.  Woop-de-f*ckin-do!

But Wait — There’s more: Continue reading

Your Breakfast Read: Tweedly-deedly-dee!

The ominous clouds still hover over New Jersey.  It’s less than a week from the summer solstice and I am still wearing flannels.  It’s a balmy 62 degrees.  Brrrrrrrr!  What I wouldn’t give to be somewhere else.  Like…

Breakfast on Santorini

Breakfast on Santorini

Grab a seat, er, a chair.

On the newsfront, Hillary says she don’t know nothin’ about Twitter (she’s being coy), but apparently it’s very important to young people.  Er, I guess that would be us, the middle aged, uneducated womenfolk and guys of The Confluence.  Ok, at the risk of sounding like a Hillary groupie, which I could very well be, I just have to point out something that she says a lot but which seems to go over the Obots’ heads: she always grounds her reasons for doing or supporting things in some principle.  In the case of twitter and the Iran election:

Clinton said she considered it important to keep “that line of communication open and enabling people to share information, particularly at a time when there [were] not many other sources of information. . . . It is a fundamental right for people to be able to communicate.”

Making a decision is so much easier when you know what you stand for.  Obama should try it sometime.

Oh and check this out.

What a lovely shade of green.  She’s also a proponent of having votes counted (you have to wait til the very end).  Who knew?

By the way, Hillary broke her elbow on her way to the WH yesterday.  She will need surgery in the upcoming week to fix it properly.  Having broken my wrist in three places a couple of years ago, I sympathize.  The pain and swelling isn’t pleasant.  We hope it’s of short duration.

E.J. Dionne asks a very good question: “Where did we get the idea that the only good health care bill is a bipartisan bill?” I was wondering when someone in Versailles would start to snap out of it.  Bipartisanship in itself is not a goal.  Affordable, universal healthcare is the goal.  And once you figure that out, you also quickly realize that Republicans don’t really want affordable, universal healthcare.  Way to go, E.J.!  He can be taught.  Give him a biscuit.

The NYTimes reports that Ayatollah Khamenei blinks again.  Iran’s Guardian Council is offering to meet with the opposition candidates to discuss their grievances.  I like the way Moussavi, Karoubi and others are handling the uprising but this meeting could be tricky.  The Guardian Council appears to be offering an olive branch with the expectation that the protestors will get sick of waiting and go back to work.   The meetings are scheduled for next week or Saturday at the earliest.  Why wait?  Why not today? Let’s get down to business. The disruption in telecommunications must be doing a number on day to day business.  It’s a showdown.  Stay tuned.

For the parents out there who think the world has gone mad trying to keep kids ultra safe, check out one of my new favorite blogs by Lenore Skenazy called Free Range Kids.  Some of the stories she has assembled make you scratch your head and say WTF???  Yes, you really can overdo the safety thing.  Let’s give back childhood to our kids and quit micromanaging their lives.  (She says as she quietly commits her daughter to 5 weeks of intense algebra)

Podcasts du Jour: Paul Krugman gave a series of lectures in London last week and he has made them available for the rest of us via podcast.  I listened to parts 1 and 2 yesterday.  Sometimes, he gets a bit geeky and I’m no economist so some of it goes over head.  But you should be able to follow along pretty well and get the gist of it.  Krugman’s style is, well, a bit geeky.  It take a little getting used to but he’s got some charming antedotes and appreciates Monty Python and finds CD players in cars newfangled innovations.  Highly recommended.


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Get well soon Hillary!

hillaryclinton

From the Associated Press:

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton fractured her right elbow during a fall Wednesday, her chief of staff said.

Clinton was on her way to the White House when she fell and injured her elbow, chief of staff Cheryl Mills said in a statement released late Wednesday.

Clinton was treated at The George Washington University Hospital, just a few blocks from State Department headquarters, before going home. She will undergo surgery to repair her elbow in the coming week, Mills said.

“Secretary Clinton appreciates the professionalism and kindness she received from the medical team who treated her this evening and looks forward to resuming her full schedule soon,” Mills said.

The Confluence extends our best wishes to Hillary and we hope she has a speedy recovery.

get_well_soon


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