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The Cheese Stands Alone

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Hillary Rodham, then, now, forever.

What’s in a name?

According to recent history, Hillary Rodham changed her name, the name she loved and was determined to keep since she was a child, in order to help her husband win re-election to be Governor of Arkansas. This article from The Atlantic explains why she did it:

When The New York Times profiled the newly-elected Governor Clinton, it noted that he “is married to an ardent feminist, Hillary Rodham, who will certainly be the first First Lady of Arkansas to keep her maiden name.” The Arkansas Democrat reported, “Despite the fact that she keeps her maiden name, the wife of Arkansas’s new governor, Bill Clinton, claims she’s really an old-fashioned girl.” (I’m indebted to Karen Blumenthal’s forthcoming biography for these anecdotes.) Clinton himself later told The New Yorker’s Connie Bruck, “Hillary told me she was nine years old when she decided she would keep her own name when she got married. It had nothing to do with the feminist movement or anything. She said, ‘I like my name. I was interested in my family. I didn’t want to give it up.’”

Bill Clinton lost reelection in 1980, but decided to run to reclaim his seat two years later. That’s when Hillary Rodham decided it was time to take on Bill’s name, to assist the effort. Here’s how Bill Clinton explained it to Bruck:

“When she came to me and said she wanted to change, I could see in her eyes that she had made the decision to do it. And I said, “I do not want you resenting me. I would a lot rather lose the election than lose you.” She said, “I’m not going anywhere.” I said, “I know, but I don’t want you to resent this for the rest of your life. You made this decision when you were a child. I like it. I approve of the decision. I don’t care about it.” And she said, “Look, Bill, we cannot—this is stupid! We shouldn’t lose the election over this issue. We shouldn’t run this risk. What if it’s one per cent of the vote? What if it’s two per cent? You might win or lose the election by two per cent.”

Two paths in a golden wood and she took the one most travelled by when it comes to names. Were it not for Bill’s re-election, we would be electing President Rodham this year. With the decision to change her name, she tied her fortunes to his.

And this points to what I think is the last barrier between women and the White House. No one who has acceded to the Oval Office has defined himself in terms of another person. Hillary has been associated with Bill Clinton as his wife as much as she has as senator, Secretary of State and presidential nominee. This is what the Republicans and Donald Trump are counting on.

It’s too late for Hillary to change her name back but it’s not too late to reclaim her identity as a person of merit, accomplishment and dignity upon whose shoulders we can rest the heavy weight of the burdens and responsibilities of the most powerful nation of the world.

When she becomes president, it will be she alone who will have the authority and power. hqdefaultTo break the last glass ceiling, she needs to define herself as her own person without reference to any man in her life.

She has the heart of a president, and a President of the United States too. This is the night to show it.

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Friday: Cocco Puffs

Marie Cocco wrote a face slapping Hai Karate piece yesterday on the status of women.  The Glass Ceiling Still Holds is not for the feint of heart:

It is time to stop kidding ourselves. This wasn’t a breakthrough year for American women in politics. It was a brutal one.

The glass ceiling remains firmly in place — not cracked, as Hillary Clinton insisted as she tried to claim rhetorical victory after her defeat in the Democratic nominating contest. It wasn’t even scratched with the candidacy of Sarah Palin as the Republican vice presidential nominee — unless you consider becoming an object of national ridicule to be a symbol of advancement. As divergent as these two women are ideologically and temperamentally, as different as are their resumes, they both banged their heads — hard — against the ceiling. Both were bruised. So was the goal of advancing women in political leadership.

But, we are invariably told, surely there are enough women moving through the “pipeline” of lower offices so that someday, some woman from somewhere will win the presidency or the vice presidency. Well, here is how things stand: Eight women will serve as governors in 2009, the same as this year. The proportion of women serving in statewide elective office actually has dropped since it reached a high of about 28 percent in 2000; it is now about 24 percent, according to the center.

Yes, ladies, we have actually *lost* ground.  There will likely never be another Hillary Clinton in our lifetime.   That’s because in order to get to Hillary’s stature, a woman will have to be in the public sphere for a long time so that the electorate can achieve a kind of comfort level with her.  There aren’t any women coming up that are going to have those opportunities.  Most Americans don’t even know who Nancy Pelosi is and those who do would like her to grow a spine.  Katherin Sebelius?  She’s as washed out and flavorless as a politician can be.  Besides, these women are not on TV everyday, doing things, whether you like those things or not.  The thing Clinton had going for her was seen as a liability by her party- her ability to polarize people.  She was a well known commodity. The public watched her grow from a first lady to a senator. You either loved her or hated her. But during the campaign season, even the people who thought they hated the Clintons came to have a grudging respect for her.

There is a section of Cocco’s piece that I take issue with:

Those who watched the media’s sexist hazing of both Clinton and Palin often rationalize this treatment as the result of these two candidates’ particular personalities and the legitimacy — or presumed illegitimacy — of their campaigns. But Barbara Lee, whose Boston-based family foundation has conducted extensive research of gubernatorial races involving women, routinely identifies the same undercurrents in state campaigns. Voters demand more experience of a woman candidate, and judge her competence separately from whether she is sufficiently “likable.” Male candidates typically must clear only the competence bar to be judged — as Obama indelicately put it during a primary debate — “likable enough.”

“We heard that over and over again — that no woman is ever right,” Lee says of her focus groups. “They like the concept of it but when it comes to a real, live, breathing candidate, they don’t.”

The problem was not voters.  The problem was that the media didn’t like her, her own party didn’t like her.  And what do these two entities consist of anyway?  From what I can tell, they are overwhelmingly white, late middle aged men.  Is it any wonder that they were not Hillary fans?  Maybe this in part explains the strange phenomenon of Hillary winning primaries after the media had pronounced her dead.  The institutions that arrayed against her were anachronisms.  Their pronouncements didn’t resonate with the millions of men and women who are in the rest of the workforce and who grew up, got educated and clawed or are clawing their way up the corporate ladder.  In the REAL world, women still have it tough but they have cracked a lot more glass ceilings than they have in the boardroom of GE or the Democratic party inner circle.

The party could have won easily with Hillary.  She inspired confidence, capability, intelligence and intestinal fortitude.  This was her year.  It was OUR year and it was brutally suppressed by a bunch of fricking neanderthals who refused to evolve.

They’ve got to go.

Fair is Fair!

If you are a feminist, womanist, or a liberal/progressive who thinks women should cast their votes based solely or primarily on “woman’s issues” then you cannot rightfully criticize any woman who casts her vote in order to help a woman break the glass ceiling and become the first female Vice President.

If you have argued or agreed with the idea that there is nothing wrong with African Americans voting for for an African American candidate over a white candidate, even if the white candidate has a longer record of working to advance the interests of African Americans and advocates policies that are more beneficial to the African American community, then you are a hypocrite if you criticize a woman who votes for another woman based on gender, even if the male candidate advocates policies that a more beneficial to women.

As a white male, I don’t have a dog in this fight.  I have never criticized the overwhelming support given to Barack Obama by the African American community.  I think it is perfectly logical and reasonable for them to support an African American candidate in the hope of seeing him become the first African American President of the United States.  I also understand why so many women supported Hillary Clinton.

My issues with Barack Obama have nothing to do with the color of his skin, and my support of Hillary Clinton has nothing to do with her gender.  But anyone who supported Barack Obama in whole or in part because of his race, cannot criticize anyone who supports Sarah Palin in whole or in part because of her gender.  Fair is fair.

The primary campaign was historic because it saw one of the two major political parties select a Presidential nominee who is African American.  It would have been just as historic if Hillary was selected as the nominee, because she would have been the first woman to reach that milestone.

This election continues to be historic because the “highest, hardest” glass ceiling that has kept women and minorities from either of the two highest offices in the country will be shattered regardless of who wins in November.  If the person who shatters that glass ceiling is Sarah Palin, I will have mixed emotions.

I will be happy and proud to see a woman reach the nation’s second highest office.  I will be sad because that woman is a Republican, and because Democrat Hillary Clinton deserves the honor of shattering that barrier.

If the Democratic leadership had not been infected with CDS, they would have given Hillary the Presidential nomination that she both deserved and rightfully earned, and had he run a clean campaign they could have selected Barack Obama as her running mate. 

Had the Democratic leadership done so, both candidates would have blasted the glass ceiling to smithereens in November, and a more experienced Barack Obama would be perfectly positioned to follow Hillary into the Presidency eight years from now.  That would be sixteen straight years that the Oval Office was not occupied by a white man.

But the Democratic leadership was too full of hatred for the Clintons, and Barack Obama too arrogant and impatient to wait or to allow a woman to go first, so John McCain and the GOP have seized the golden opportunity presented to them.  Until yesterday morning I thought John McCain would more likely than not defeat Barack Obama in November.  Barring any unseen developments, I am now certain of it.

Four years from now, the Democratic party will have a final opportunity to ensure that the first woman President of the United States is a Democrat.  They can nominate Hillary Clinton, and watch her beat either McCain (if he runs for reelection) or Palin (if she is nominated to replace him.) 

She would also beat the stuffing out of any other Republican the GOP could nominate.

So if you supported Barack Obama over Hillary Clinton for the Democratic Presidential nomination, don’t come whining to me about “McSame” or “4 more years of Bush” when McCain and Palin open a big can of “Whoop-Ass” on Obama and Biden this November. 

If you do, this will be my response:

“I TOLD YOU SO!”

That sound you heard was the glass ceiling shattering!

With her speech tonight, Hillary Clinton *is* breaking the glass ceiling. She’s not backing down because she doesn’t f%&*(ing have to. She’s got 18 million of us standing in back of her and who knows how many Republicans who couldn’t vote for her who are just dying to pull that lever for Hillary. I heard from a lot of them when I was phone banking in PA. They couldn’t vote for her in the primary but they were making plans to march into that voting booth and joyfully vote for her in November.

This is what breaking the barrier looks like. It looks like proving yourself, about taking what the season throws at you and overcoming it. It looks like 18 million people not seeing you as a woman going after a man’s job but a person pursuing her dream.

Damn! She has carried the ball further down the field than any woman on the face of the earth. She can go the distance now or she can just walk away from it. But she’s not going to settle for second and she never, never should.  

Hillary Clinton made history tonight and nothing will ever be the same again.