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Birthday Boys on a Shero Saturday

Secretary Clinton and President Obama in Lisbon, November 19, 2010

Good morning, sleepyheads. Wonk the Vote here with my two for this Saturday, November 20th, 2010. Eighty five years ago today, Bobby Kennedy was born. On November 3rd, 1964, the voters of New York elected Bobby Kennedy to the US Senate. Thirty six years later, on November 7th, 2000, the voters of New York elected Hillary Rodham Clinton to the seat that had once belonged to Bobby. Hillary earned 55 percent of the vote, nearly the same as Bobby Kennedy’s 54 percent in 1964. Over eight years later, toward the end of the 2008 race between Clinton and Obama, much was made of Hillary’s RFK remarks — much ado about absolutely nothing. The photo to the left, from yesterday in Lisbon, is testament to just how baseless and phony the outrage over Hillary’s comments had been from the start.

Months before, back in January 2008, when the banshee choir’s chant of “Why Won’t That Stupid Bitch Quit” was still in its infancy, RFK’s children had endorsed Hillary Clinton for president. Their endorsement prompted Stephen Schlesinger to pen an op-ed for the Huffington Post called “Hillary and RFK” underscoring the thread between Bobby’s career and Hillary’s:

It is interesting to read the op-ed piece in Tuesday’s Los Angeles Times (Jan 29, 2008) written by three of Robert Kennedy’s children — Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., and Kerry Kennedy, endorsing the candidacy of Hillary Clinton. The match-up of RFK’s offspring with Hillary Clinton is, on one level, a personal and passionate embrace of a woman whom all of them greatly admire for her political prowess and broad vision. But, on another level, it is a symbolic reminder to America of how similar Hillary’s and RFK’s political experiences have been — and what lessons we can draw from them.

First, all political analogies are imperfect. Still the similarities are quite atonishing. Both individuals, we should remember, started their political careers with famous last names. Like RFK, Hillary ran for the U.S. Senate in NY State as an outsider and won. Like him, she won the adoring support of New Yorkers. But, like him, the moment she jumped into the presidential race, she was labeled ruthless and unprincipled. And like him she has faced an opponent who is considered a “breakthrough” candidate, a man of change. In the case of RFK, voters were eventually able to see through the din and dust to his true progressive beliefs. In the case of Hillary Clinton, her triumphs in New Hampshire, Nevada and Michigan suggest that as more and more people listen to her, the more they are willing to embrace her as the most reliable liberal trailblazer in the contest.

It is Hillary whose life’s work echoes and embodies the spirit of Bobby Kennedy’s words in Cape Town, South Africa, June 1966:

“Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.”

Interestingly enough, this week ended with another faux-controversy ala Hillary’s RFK remarks, this time with the White House getting its panties in a bunch over James Carville reiterating his joke from 2008:

“If Hillary gave up one of her balls and gave it to Obama, he’d have two.”

The truth is, Hillary has something that she cannot give to Obama no matter how hard she tries to help him. These are stripes earned. They cannot be transferred from her to him.

With her bid for the presidency, Hillary did exactly what Matt Taibbi doubted when he wrote the following in June of 2008:

So that was one problem with viewing Clinton’s campaign through that heroic prism, i.e., that of an inspirational female leader refusing to step aside when told by a male-dominated political hierarchy. The other was that I just don’t believe it.

Hillary Clinton, love her or hate her, is a fighter. You can disagree with her politics, indict her character, or tear down her womanhood all you want, but you will not be able to stop the fact that the world witnessed a woman who fought back and was resilient while the chattering classes declared open season on her and on her supporters, all while jumping the gun to write the political obituary of a woman who is still going strong today.

There was an actual assassination during the 2008 cycle—the one that took down Benazir Bhutto, which David Axelrod did not miss the chance to make about Hillary Clinton’s AUMF vote. That was the poor assassination comment during the 2008 primaries.

In stark contrast to Bhutto’s assassination was the imaginary assassination that the Clinton-deranged faction projected onto Hillary’s RFK remarks.

The thread between the Axlerod’s Bhutto remarks and the reaction to Hillary’s RFK remarks was the attempted character assassination against the Clintons—an attempt that failed.

This is obviously not a diary on RFK. Of the three Kennedy brothers, Bobby is the one I am drawn to, but I am sure someone who was actually alive when he was can write a much more fitting tribute of him on this November 20th, and I cannot wait to read it. I wrote this piece today because what is past is prologue and remembering Bobby on this day led me straight to Hillary and the line between their careers. Reminiscent of Bobby and the Kennedy legacy, Hillary is the Clinton who we came so close to having as our president but fell short. Unlike with Bobby, there is still a chance Hillary could run again. But, if she does not, that is our loss. Not Hillary’s.

If you see Hillary now, she is happier than ever and is living out history, doing the work she was born for, fighting not just for women and girls but for the progress of us all, which cannot happen without the rights and roles and voices of women.

And, on that note, I would like turn you to three different profiles on three very different women.

The first woman is Ela Bhatt, who Hillary presented the first ever Global Fairness Initiative award to this week at the Kennedy Center. A few excerpts of Hillary’s comments in honor of Ela:

And tonight, we are honoring a woman whose work has been at the leading edge of the fight against poverty.

A great deal has already been said and written over the years about Ela’s impact on India and the world. About the innovative programs she pioneered, making it possible for the very poor to gain access to services that were once the sole purview of the well-off—like credit, like banking, sick leave, and child care. Or about her conviction that women are the key to progress—that investing in women is one of the most powerful ways to fight poverty.

But tonight, I’d like to consider Ela’s impact from another angle. The work that she has done through the Self-Employed Women’s Association is not only about finding solutions to the problems of poverty. At its most basic level, Ela’s work is about fairness, about giving every person the chance to achieve his or her dreams, to make the most of his or her God-given potential—no matter how rich or poor, no matter whether they work in a factory or a home or on the side of a road.

Next up is Cathleen Black, who is Bloomberg’s pick to lead New York’s schools – the NY Times ran this piece called, “A Trailblazer With Her Eye on the Bottom Line”:

“She’s the closest thing to Superman that exists,” said Atoosa Rubenstein, on whom Ms. Black placed an audacious bet, letting her start a new magazine, CosmoGirl, at age 26.

Hmm, the closest thing to Superman? That’s not exactly inspiring. NY Mag has this breakdown of NYT’s profile on Black:

The Times dispatched a journalistic SWAT team of fourteen reporters to uncover information about her, and they basically discovered she’s a powerful woman in a stylish gray flannel power suit.

I’m running out of time, so click on the NYT and NY Mag links to get the dish on Cathie Black and judge for yourself. (There’s also this bit from the NYT City Room blog about Black’s appearance on The Apprentice.)

Last but not least, Melanne Verveer, in the words of Hillary who introduced Melanne this Wednesday at the National Women’s Law Center Award dinner (state.gov video and transcript at the link; Hillary also gives shout outs to Brooksley Born and Geena Davis):

Melanne has been a dear friend as well as a colleague. And she actually, along with her wonderful husband Phil, went to college with Bill. So we have had a very close, personal relationship. And then 18 years ago we started working together and it was the beginning of an epic journey that has taken us together and separately on behalf of the work we love to every corner of the world. We’ve been sitting together under sweltering tents in a village in India or at a meeting with thousands of civil society activists packed in that room in Huairou, China in 1995 or going to a housing development, literally, built from the ground up by formerly homeless women squatters in South Africa, and so many other places that flash through my mind like the movie that reminds me of everything that we have done on behalf of women and girls.

Before I end this morass of a post, a few words on another birthday boy…

With all due respect and birthday wishes to Vice President Joe Biden , why on earth does he have to keep going around even dignifying the rumor mill that Hillary Clinton will replace him on the ticket in 2012? Why will he not just laugh it off with some good humor? I cannot understand Biden’s public reactions at all.

Until Obama and Hillary ever prove otherwise, I for one do not buy the chatter of an Obama/Clinton do-over as anything other than the internet chain letter it started out as within days after Obama announced Biden as his VP pick. And, yet it strikes me as telling that Biden is not only asked about being replaced by Hillary but has yet to shrug off the talk effortlessly without getting into how wanted a Vice President he was and how his parents have reassured him he was not any kind of a mistake. Gah.

It is yet more evidence that Hillary earned something in 2008 that all the male suits running against her did not.

Well that’s it for me, this is Wonk signing off… hoping against Hope, pour la liberté, égalité et sororité… and since this is a birthday boy post on a Shero Saturday–all the way from Bobby to Hillary–I’ll go the extra mile to add back the fraternité mention for our like-minded brotherhood out there. I hope you have a great weekend, and as always, I welcome you to use the comments to share your two cents and Saturday reads:

Bernice Johnson Reagon,
“Come and Go with Me to that Land”

Come and go with me to that land
Where I’m bound
I got a brother in that land
Where I’m bound
I got a sister in that land
Where I’m bound
We’ll all be together in that land
Where I’m bound
Come and go with me to that land
Where I’m bound

26 Responses

  1. Wonderfully said!
    Today’s tabloids are out and it feels like Reagan’s days are here again

  2. Come 2012 if the electorate sobers up from their kool-ade induced stupor and demands a real leader over the Empty Suit what will Tingles and Screech do?
    They have so much invested in The Guy that they can’t back out of their anti- Hillary comments made during the primaries. Same with the rest of the media that piled on the Clintons.
    If Hillary were to run she would be battling the O-bots, the media and the GOP. If anything she is pragmatic, I doubt that she will put herself out there for the abuse again.
    That, and the fact that culture wise the United States is still in the bronze age when it comes to women.

    • Very true. Hillary would be the twenty four hour/seven day a week Media pinada.
      But, you know what, she can take it and we’d have her back.

    • And yet, as far as I can tell, she’s the best shot the Democrats have for retaining the White House.
      The media and the GOP are never going to love her. That’s a given. But the real problems have to do with the idiots within het own party. Getting rid of them would make her nomination and election a whole lot easier.
      If the rumors of campaign donors banding together is any indication, a purge may be in the works. After that, anything is possible.

    • Whoever runs in 2012 on the Dem side (i.e. if anyone were to actually primary O, which I’m still not convinced anyone is willing to even do so) would be squandering their power base imho, and Hillary’s way too savvy for that. If people were this clueless about O, the way to have stopped him was to not have elected him in the first place–primarying O just isn’t as pragmatic imho. Primarying him will do one of two things–a) O will win the primaries but the Dem party will be too fractured, and in place of his empty suit we’ll probably have a GOP carbon copy of him for president, or b) O will win both the nomination and the general, buoyed by a renewed sense of outrage that anyone dare primary his historicness.

      I think the best chance the base has left to have an impact at this point is to let Obama know if he doesn’t deliver something actually Democratic before the 2012 general election, the base will sit this out. But O and Axelrod and co. are so tonedeaf and their progressive enablers have made them think they can take the base for granted for so long, that even telling them the base will sit out is a crapshoot at this point.

  3. I was a little girl in 1968 when RFK was running. I remember less about his assassination than his tour of Appalachia. I guess MLK’s assassination was a more significant event to me. But then, I was just a little kid and it was probably the images of other poor and starving little kids that lingered in my memory banks.
    My mom was a bleeding heart liberal back then.
    Now, she’s a Fox News junky. I swear they use black arts.

  4. When RFK was assassinated, I was in SE Asia in survival mode hoping to get home. Even so, it’s still a vivid memory because some of us held out hope for him.

    In other news, are pigs flying? Matt Yglesias actually made a very good point today about the SS Trust Fund.

    If your rich uncle wanted to set up a trust fund for you and chose to stipulate that the fund should be invested 100 percent in treasuries, that would be a conservative investment choice but it would very much entail really holding savings. The Social Security trust fund is a very real fund that really contains assets—bonds—that represent lending from Social Security to the rest of the government.

  5. This could be huge. Bring it on!.

    U.S. in Vast Insider Trading Probe

    Federal authorities, capping a three-year investigation, are preparing insider-trading charges that could ensnare consultants, investment bankers, hedge-fund and mutual-fund traders and analysts across the nation, according to people familiar with the matter.

    • And sell all of their possessions, even their thousand dollar used shoes to pay back the people who have suffered.

    • Lol! The say the insiders made “tens of millions”.

    • Thanks for the link, Ralph B! Could this investigation have anything to do with Ulsterman’s reports on an upcoming “‘Serious’ White House scandal’?”


      From your WSJ link above:

      “U.S. in Vast Trading Probe”


      “The investigations have been conducted by federal prosecutors in New York, the FBI and the Securities and Exchange Commission. Representatives of the Manhattan U.S. Attorney’s office, the FBI and the SEC declined to comment.


      The action is an outgrowth of a focus on insider trading by Preet Bharara, the Manhattan U.S. Attorney. In an October speech, Mr. Bharara said the area is a “top criminal priority” for his office, adding: ‘Illegal insider trading is rampant and may even be on the rise.’ Mr. Bharara declined to comment.”

      • Earlier this year, they nabbed the Sr VP of IBM for being part of an insider trading ring and he took a plea deal. Could be part of the same investigations.

    • Don’t hold your breath, Democrats from the White House on down will work to disappear this.

  6. Atrios asks a good question about whether Joe Lieberman would have made a better choice as mccain’s running mate. Although I find it hard to believe that Lieberman wad mccain’s first choice, I’m going to guess that the right would have been ok with it. At least people my mom’s age. She loves lieberman. The problem is that Lieberman wouldn’t have peeled away any support from the left an independents and that was what McCain needed to win. In that respect, he probably got as much bang for his buck with Palin, regardless of what anyone thought of her readiness to serve. The Dems really pissed a lot of women off in 2008 and they were determined to vote for any woman. She could have been lucrezia borgia.
    (for the record, I voted for McCain as a protest vote, not because I agreed with Republicans. But oddly enough, I think McCain ran a cleaner campaign. Anyways, it was my first and last Republican vote)
    So, lieberman would have been cool with Republican women while Palin was a jackpot for picking up the women Dems pushed in front of the bus. We have to remember that Obama didn’t win in a landslide by total votes cast and that given Biden’s activities since election, Sarah would have been a perfectly acceptable VP.
    See eschaton here: http://www.eschatonblog.com/

    • Composing comments on an iPhone sucks

    • I also think Lieberman wouls have made his soft Republican base support even softer. He brought the Obama smackdown at the Convention but he’s been a reliable Obama vote ever since.

      This always had more to do with McCain than his running mate. The VP is supposed to be the pitbull (withor without lipstick) and his campaign cronies did as much as possible to shut down her attacks on Obama. The only advantage to Liberman is that McCain and his advisers would have a hard time silencing him for the good of the Republican Party.

  7. As for Biden, the VP is a stand-in-the-background position, and if he wants it, he should keep it. I just wish he had more control over his mouth.

    I watched the You-Tube video of Bernice Reagon. When I was a teenager, she attended the same Unitarian Church I did, and then she’d invite us over to Daddy King’s Ebenezer Church for some organizing events. i remember going to a concert at Spellman College in which she introduced herself as “Your Black Matriarch.” Several of us white kids with friends were sitting in the front row and enjoyed the concert immensely, but were disappointed to find the air out of our tires when we returned to the car.

    I loved her rendition of “Bird on a Wire.” Wish I had it to listen to now.

  8. The bar for being POTUS has certainly been lowered by the likes of GWB and BO. Unfortunately for women candidates, the bar gets shifted up and around so that it becomes an impossible task for them to become POTUS.

  9. I did enjoy your post from Bobby to Hillary. I keep hoping she will be our Potus one day.
    I also hope to see Obama get what he deserves over all the fraud he has committed against the will of the voters. It does appear that there are some major investigations going on.
    He has probably ruined her chances of getting in.

  10. Great post! Bobby was a big influence for me. I was just a little kid, but he got me interested in politics and I followed his campaign. And he symbolized a hope to get us out of a horrible mess, and to help bridge the gap between generations. At least for me. I knew a lot of hippie types that were for Nixon all the way simply because he was not Johnson (who they blamed for the war). RFK’s assassination was the end of that hope, and Nixon going into office after that added insult to injury. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.

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