OK, let me get this straight. The guy who is Majority Leader of the Senate talks in private about another Senator like this:
Reid said Obama could fare well nationally as an African-American candidate because he was “light-skinned” and didn’t speak with a “Negro dialect unless he wanted to have one.”
We know that at least this statement from the soon-to-be-released book Game Change is true, because Reid has already apologized for it.
Saturday, the majority leader said he had used “poor choice of words” and called Obama to apologize; the White House issued a statement indicating that the president had forgiven Reid.
Based on the review in The New York Times and on excerpts of the book that have been published by several news outlets, Game Change, by John Heilemann of New York Magazine and Mark Halperin of Time, apparently focuses almost exclusively on gossip and scandal about the 2008 presidential candidates and their spouses.
What I’ve mostly learned from reading excepts and quotes from the book is that many of the people who are running our country are frighteningly out of touch with modern American culture and language. No wonder they are governing as if we were living in the 19th century rather than the 21st!
Harry Reid is 70 years old–just 8 years older than I am. Yet he apparently uses the term “Negro” in private conversations. As I recall, that term began to be considered inappropriate in the late 1960s, in response to the “Black is Beautiful” movement.
Here is what Matthew Yglesias had to say about this story:
I’m slow on the uptake about this whole “negro dialect” business but it’s a reminder of how weird political apologies get to be. It’s good that Reid apologized, but at the same time you can’t really apologize for being the sort of person who’d be inclined to use the phrase “negro dialect” and it’s more the idea of Reid being that kind of person that’s creepy here than anything else. Doesn’t seem likely to help Reid’s already troubled re-election campaign.
For once I have to agree with Yglesias. Creepy is a very good word for Reid’s behavior. And I recall that this is also the guy who complained aloud about the odor of working class tourists in DC in the summer. This man is creepy as hell. So why is he in charge of the U.S. Senate?
Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY), and a group of other senators who would back Hillary Clinton’s candidacy encouraged Obama to run for the White House as early as 2006. The concern over Clinton was that she would be a weak Democratic standard-bearer while Obama could energize the party. In late summer 2007, Schumer – using an Obama ally, Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO), as a back channel – pushed the candidate to “take a two-by-four to Hillary,” as the authors put it.
The backstabbing part I can believe. That’s par for the course in politics, but “take a two-by-four to Hillary?” That’s almost worse than Keith Olberman’s advice to Democratic leaders to get Hillary Clinton out of the primary race by finding “Someone who can take her into a room and only he comes out.”
The language attributed to Schumer does seem in character with his recent behavior toward a female flight attendant who asked him to turn off his cell phone during a flight:
Schumer was sitting next to protege Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, gabbing away on his phone, when a flight attendant told him to shut it down.
Schumer turned off his phone, and then argued with the attendant that he was allowed to talk while the cabin door is open. He lost.
He then muttered his complaint about the flight attendant to Gillibrand.
A Republican aide on the plane, who overheard the powerful Democrat, tattled to Politico.com.
“The senator made an off-the-cuff comment under his breath that he shouldn’t have made, and he regrets it,” Schumer spokesman Brian Fallon told Anne Schroeder Mullins.
What is wrong with these people? Is it just because I live in a large urban area in the liberal Northeast and associate with relatively intelligent and sophisticated people that I find all this so shocking? I know we saw incredible misogyny from the news media during both the primary and general campaigns, but somehow it seems even more stunning to me coming from a supposedly liberal Democratic Senator.
Then there is the treatment of Elizabeth Edwards in the Heilemann-Halperin book. I have trouble buying the descriptions of Elizabeth because of the misogynistic nature of the language that the authors paraphrase and quote. For example,
In the wake of the first Enquirer story about Mr. Edwards’s affair, the authors write, Mrs. Edwards “was sobbing, out of control, incoherent,” and vented her fury on the “very aides who had kept the matter from mushrooming” further.
If “kept the matter from mushrooming” means concealing it from Elizabeth and talking about it behind her back, then her furious reaction seems understandable. Frankly, I think fury is understandable just in the context of learning your husband is cheating on you when you have cancer and that he has just flushed both of your futures down the toilet. Heileman and Halperin write that:
…while the aides had sympathy for Mrs. Edwards’s struggle with cancer, they regarded her as a badgering, often irrational presence on the campaign. “The nearly universal assessment among them,” Mr. Halperin and Mr. Heilemann write of the Edwards aides, “was that there was no one on the national stage for whom the disparity between public image and private reality was vaster or more disturbing. What the world saw in Elizabeth: a valiant, determined, heroic everywoman. What the Edwards insiders saw: an abusive, intrusive, paranoid, condescending crazywoman.”
Apparently there is more gossip about the Clintons in the book than about any of the other participants in the campaign. So what else is new?
Oh, and by the way, the authors of Game Change describe the Obama’s marriage as idyllic.
Filed under: Barack Obama, Clinton Derangement Syndrome, Cost of Sexism, Hillary Clinton, Politics Tagged: | Barack Obama, books, Charles Schumer, Elizabeth Edward's, Game Change, Harry Reid, Hillary Clinton, John Heilemann, Mark Halperin