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The gritty truth in Mark Halperin’s pulp fiction

Brook's art project, 8th grade

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.

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Who ARE these people?

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?

And then we have this:

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.

Afternoon Pick-Me-Ups

Ok, go get your espresso and take a break while you catch up:

The Exile of Elizabeth Edwards has begun. As you all may have read by now, Elizabeth Edwards has been getting in Dean and Brazile’s face today. Yup. First, she said that she thought Hillary’s universal health care proposal is preferable because it would lead to greater cost savings (this does not amount to an endorsement, of course. We respect the Edwards’ right to remain officially neutral.) Then, she had the nerve to say there was no great hurry to pick the nominee before the convention. AND she thinks that Clinton and Obama sharing a ticket would be a good thing, remarking on John’s experience with Kerry that “it was difficult for a onetime adversary to switch tacks and automatically accept another person’s positions on everything”. Woooo! Considering that she thinks Hillary’s healthcare plan is better, I am assuming she wouldn’t think it too burdensome for Obama to adopt that position. That sounds like Hillary should top a unity ticket.

Of course it didn’t take long for the Big Orange Sippy Cup to pile on. I count at least 2 recommended diaries in the Rec List Hostage Crisis:

Why Elizabeth Edwards is Wrong by Eugene

(Updated) Ms Edwards: I Mandate You Read This by epic

This one didn’t get recc’d but it is indicative of a certain bitterness:

Elizabeth Edwards Joins Think Tank and Attacks Obama by Engine 08

Hmmm, sounds like she’s out. Ohh, they’re nice and polite now because after all, she has a potentially terminal disease. In fact, some of the comments are quite favorable but then there are one’s like this:

I think this shows (0+ / 0-)

a lack of integrity on Elizabeth’s part. I really liked her very much.. But to me she could have worked with Obama. It feels and smells like that Edwards have really sold their souls to the devil in working for any part of the Clinton machine….

Perhaps John and Elizabeth really dont have any true convictions and it was all hot air out on the campaign trail…It make my stomach turn, especially when I supported them both monetarily as well as time and effort. In fact I am pissed, they can both go to hell…phonies.

by tiredofcrap on Thu Apr 10, 2008 at 10:34:53 AM PDT

Expect to see more like this if Obama starts to see a hit to his numbers. Then the knives will come out and Edwards will be toast, cut free of her lifeline to the most prestigious and influential blog on the web /snark.
Welcome to the dark side, Elizabeth. Bwahahahahaahaaaaa!

Sugar ‘n Spice lays it on the line about Obama’s lack of commitment to the African-American community in her critique of Tavis Smiley’s scolding of Obama for skipping last week’s MLK commemoration in Memphis. Here’s the money quotes:

I’ve listed a number of instances here at Sugar N Spice in which Obama, when he should have been the one, if anybody, standing up for the issues of minorities, was tucking his tail and running. Back in 2005, in a statement on his U.S. Senate webpage, he states that the “ineptitude was colorblind” in the Hurricane Katrina relief efforts. Obviously in an attempt to not seem too concerned with pointing out blatant racism–hoping to keep his white supporters happy. I’m sorry. I know that there were a lot of poor white folks left out there. Bless them, I know they were there, but the majority of the faces we saw festering in their own waste and stink were people of color, and as much as I’m glad I live in this country as opposed to someplace in the Third World, if the racial makeup of those stranded out there when the storm ended was different, they wouldn’t have been left out there for so long. That’s a tough pill to swallow for some, but it’s the reality. Hillary even offered an apology stating:

“I’ve said it publicly, and I say it privately: I apologize, and I am embarrassed that our government so mistreated our fellow citizens … It was a national disgrace,” she said.

But, Obama said the ineptitude was colorblind. He failed to show up to Tavis Smiley’s State of the Black Union event, but Hillary was there–despite the fact that so many of my people have turned their backs on her–and yet. And, yet…African-Americans keep on making excuses for him. I’m disappointed that Dr. Cornel West is supporting him, but I am glad that he was at least man enough to publicly scold him and not offer some hat in hand excuse for his failure to show up.

I’m with Sugar on this one. One of the things I like best about Hillary is that she never seems to feel the need to exclude a group of voters simply because they aren’t sexy, young, well-to-do, supereducated or members of an embarrassing underclass, like the cousins from the wrong side of the tracks. In this country, you never know who the next heros are going to be, or the good Samaritans or leaders or scientists who will cure disease or free us from foreign oil. Obama has behaved abysmally towards many groups of people: women, the working class and African-Americans. Perhaps this is because he doesn’t really feel like he’s part of the African-American community. Unfortunately, many African-Americans are so invested in electing a person of color, and who can blame them, that they are not examining carefully whether that person is actually committed to helping them in any substantive way. There are many ways in which this primary season has become a real set back for the advancement of social justice and African-Americans may find themselves similarly disenfranchised.

Wednesday- Wunnerful, Wunnerful

Morning all! I fell asleep during Nitecap and didn’t get to wish RonKSeattle a Happy Birthday. So, let me do so now. HAPPY BIRTHDAY, RONK!!! How old are you now? 20 something? (insert your favorite multiple) If you feel so inclined, you may wish to send your birthday wishes to RonK in the form of a donation to Rep. Jim McDermott’s legal fund. Our gentleman colleague from Ohio, John “weepy eyes” Boehner, took him to court many years ago over a serendipitously intercepted cell phone call involving nasty Newt Gingrich. Boehner’s been vindictively pursuing the case ever since (because it contributes so much to Congressional harmony?) Anywho, if you would like to help Rep. McDermott retire this debt to society (/snark), please visit this site and mention it was for RonK.

Here are some other things to ponder this morning:

  • Following up on Hillary’s plan to increase spending on breast cancer research by $300 Million dollars and what this exciting news portends for the research industry in general, I thought I would try to bring everyone up to date on what really goes on in biomedical research. Specifically, how do we researchers discover, design and develop treatments for various diseases? Well, the first place to start is with the Human Genome and, once again, Terry Gross has a first rate interview with Craig Venter, head of Celera, who along with government scientists cracked the DNA code for the human species. I hope you will find this interview as fascinating and informative as I did.
  • Elizabeth Edwards, who is so far not endorsing any candidate, has some positive words for Hillary’s health care plan. Elizabeth knows that in order to achieve a real cost benefit, universal coverage is the key. When everyone is covered, there will be fewer emergency room visits and lengthy hospital stays for untreated illnesses. Did you know that in the state of NJ, taxpayers fork out $700 million each year for hospital costs of the uninsured? That’s a hidden tax on all of us that could be put to better use keeping people healthy.
  • Who is Luke Ravenstahl? He’s the 28 year old mayor of Pittsburgh and he’s a Clinton supporter. Read all about him and his unlikely rise to prominence in my home town. This is a kid who understands hard work and what it will take to help Pittsburgh make the transition from industrial to high tech age. With Pittsburgh, he’s got a lot of good material to work with. I see a bright future for Ravenstahl and the city. And with Clinton as an ally, well, it’s going to be wonderful.
  • One more thing: Did you know that you can now direct where your contribution to Hillary’s campaign in PA will buy?  Yep. So far, contributors have bought $15,000 worth of door signs, $25,000 worth of van rides for seniors and the disabled to make it to the polling places and we are now closing in on $50,000 worth of yard signs.  But you can still help with radio and TV ads.  Barack Obama is spending $2.2 Million in TV ads throughout the state, more than any other candidate in PA history (not that it will help him much).  It would be great if Hillary could roll out some of her own optimistic ads and show those of us who aren’t internet junkies what a great president she’d be.  So, if you have a few bucks and want to buy 10 seconds of ad, send it her way.  Here’s the link.