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Meta: Reflections on Race and Gender

If you haven’t read this post by Digby at Hullabaloo on the media gearing up to use the 2008 election campaign tactics as a way to crush women politicians in 2016, go read it now. I’ll wait.

In this one post, Digby comes so close to seeing the political landscape the way we did back in 2008. What she writes makes perfect sense but at the last moment, the thought-stopping conditioning springs into action and she calls anyone who draws the obvious conclusions racists.

I don’t have time to clear this up for her but I will say that we called the phenomenon that she is describing as “Penis Years” back in 2008. That is, no woman, no matter how much experience she has, regardless of her accomplishments, is as qualified as a man who simply wants the job. The presence of a penis adds eight to ten years of authority to his CV over any female that gets uppity enough to get in his way. This is hardly relegated to politics. It’s rampant in the private sector as well.

As for the racism aspect of all this, that’s in the mind of the beholder and that was the whole point of the 2008 campaign exercises. There are some Democrats who saw two potential interest group constituencies and through clever messaging, made sure that sexism was combined with the desire to finish the Civil Rights movement. It’s called marketing.

I think we can all agree after six long, painful years that Obama was not ready to be president, that his candidacy was rushed by some self-interested financial industry donors and that he has been the most conservative Democratic president of our lifetimes. He got the nomination using Penis Years reasoning and his campaign was ruthless in describing anyone who opposed him as a racist. The fact that some political scientists are making a bungling mess of pointing out this reality doesn’t make it less true. The legacy of the 2008 “Bros vs Hos” campaign is going to haunt the first woman nominee no matter who she is. We will be lead to wonder whether another inexperienced, less than competent in a time of economic crisis president is going to be shoved down our throats to satisfy some politically correct teachable moment.

You can pretend this is not true but when both Amanda Marcotte and Digby start writing posts about Penis Years in the lead up to 2016, they are actually acknowledging this fact.

I guess they are racists now.

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Nice guy(s)

Clinton, surrounded and forced to give up her delegates on the floor of the Democratic Convention 2008.

If you’re wondering if the reports of bitterness between the Obama and Clinton camps are real or not, consider the fundraiser that Obama held with his donors a couple of days ago to help retire Hillary Clinton’s 2008 campaign debt:

Four years ago, the Obama fund-raising machine worked to bury Hillary Rodham Clinton. Now his contributors are opening their wallets for her.

Obama campaign officials have asked the president’s elite donors and fund-raisers to donate to Mrs. Clinton’s defunct presidential campaign committee, with the goal of retiring $245,000 in debt left over from her 2008 White House bid. As secretary of state, Mrs. Clinton is barred from engaging in political activity or actively fund-raising for herself.

People familiar with the effort said the campaign’s outreach grew out of discussions with Mrs. Clinton’s husband, former President Bill Clinton, who has agreed to headline a series of major fund-raisers for Mr. Obama’s presidential campaign, including one this Sunday at the Virginia home of Terry McAuliffe, a former chairman of the Democratic National Committee. Mr. Clinton has also been approached to help raise money for Priorities USA Action, a “super PAC” founded by former Obama aides that has had difficulty attracting donors.

But wait, you say, wasn’t there a deal struck back in 2008 that Obama donors would help Hillary retire her debt?  That’s why the campaign was only suspended, not ended and that it’s a common practice and courtesy and good for unity?  And anyway, Hillary hit the campaign trail with Bill and worked her heart out to help get Obama elected.  Surely, that was worth helping her retire her debt.

Apparently not:

It is not unusual for victors to help their former opponents pay down campaign debts: Mitt Romney and his family made contributions this year to the campaign committee of Tim Pawlenty, for example, after Mr. Pawlenty dropped out and endorsed Mr. Romney.

But Mrs. Clinton’s debt has in the past been a point of contention between her supporters and those of Mr. Obama. She ended her White House bid in 2008 with $20 million in debt and loans, and while Mr. Obama asked his top donors at the time to help defray it, many of them — still fuming after the contentious primary fight between Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton — refused to do so.

Ahhhh, it’s all coming together now.  So, back in 2008 when Clinton donors had maxxed out their contributions to Hillary, they expected that Obama donors would step up and do the right thing.  But the Obama assholes from Wall Street and the “creative class” donors weren’t satisfied with the ritual humiliation of Clinton on the convention floor where they staged a phony roll call vote and forced her to fork over her delegates on live TV.  Nope, they threw all of that loyalty stuff out the window and had a little tantrum because she had the nerve to continue winning after they told her to stop running in February of 2008.  18,000,000 voters and winning all of the major primaries meant nothing to them.  They did not feel obligated to honor their promises, because that just the kind of Democrats they are.  Nice.

That $20,000,000 debt, by the way, was on top of her own money.  They were loans that she had to take out to fund her campaign because the party juggernaut wanted her out even as the voters still wanted her in.  For the last four years, she’s been dragging this giant debt around, unable to do her own fundraising to retire it while the Obama donors watched.  It has taken them four years while she’s been working her ass off to do what was expected of them.  What is wrong with these people?

So, now, the shoe is on the other foot, so to speak.  The Clinton donors hold the cards.  They don’t have to give a penny to Obama for his run in 2012, that is, not until Obama’s donors pay up.  I’d say the split is very real and could be a significant factor in this year’s election.  It goes beyond the donors.

No wonder why Hillary isn’t going to go to the Convention this year.  Besides the fact that she works round the clock as Secretary of State, why the hell would she want to return to the scene of the crime?

Obama and his donors are definitely not scoring points this year.  Loathsome isn’t descriptive enough.

Update: The AP has a new article on the detente between the Clinton and Obama camps.  As is the norm these days, it is trying to make the completely unrealistic expectation that Hillary will run in 2016 look believable.  But anyway, just ignore all that stuff about them being frenemies.  They’re all kissy-kissy now and meeting at Terry McAuliffe’s house tonight to swap checks.

I almost thought this was lifted straight from the Obama campaign spin office until I got to this nugget:

When Obama’s health care bill was in trouble, he and his staff, which included several veterans of the Clinton White House, called on the former president for help. In late 2009 and early 2010, Bill Clinton went to Capitol Hill to rally support and worked the phones with wary Democratic lawmakers.

After the Democratic party was battered in the 2010 elections, Obama called in Clinton for an Oval Office meeting. Afterward, the two made an impromptu appearance in the White House briefing room to talk to reporters. When Obama had to leave for a holiday party, Clinton stuck around, relishing in the attention and the give-and-take with the press.

That day in the briefing room underscored what some Democrats see as their one major worry in pairing Obama with Clinton too often. The ease with which Clinton connects with a range of audiences can call attention to the challenge Obama sometimes faces in doing the same thing.

But that certainly hasn’t stopped the Obama campaign from seeking Clinton’s help in winning a second term, and Clinton has made it clear he is ready and willing.

Wait! Wait!  I thought Obama’s angelic rhetoric inspired swooning in some of his audience members.  Wasn’t he supposed to be so extraordinarily politically gifted that potential enemies would melt on their first encounter?   

{{snort!}} Too funny.

I can just imagine what that fundraiser is going to be like tonight.  Kissy-kissy may very well turn into kissing asses.  Oh, to be a fly on those walls.

**************************

More details about John Edwards’ campaign life came out this past week.  He is on trial for illegally using campaign funds to pay off his girlfriend, Rielle Hunter, during the 2008 campaign season.

I was an Edwards fan until I actually saw him in action in 2007 at the YearlyKos meeting in Chicago and had a Malcolm Gladwell Blink! moment.  I had a similar reaction to George Bush Sr. when he made an appearance at Pitt a long time ago.  They both made my skin crawl.

Anyways, his one time campaign aide, Andrew Young, went above and beyond the call of duty to protect Edwards going as far as claiming paternity for Rielle and Edwards’ daughter, Quinn.  But there are other unsavory details as well.  Young’s nickname for Elizabeth Edwards was Ursula after the evil sea witch from The Little Mermaid.  I have mixed feelings about Elizabeth Edwards.  She seemed like the Lady McBeth type, extremely ambitious but projecting all of that onto her smarmy husband.  But she was also a human being with her own tragedies and triumphs and she didn’t deserve to have all the crap she went through in her last four years dumped on her while she was undergoing treatment for a terminal disease.  A little kindness and attention towards her might have gone a long way.

Anyway, John Edwards is still a louse and a narcissistic PT Barnum of a politician and all of us who thought he could have sincerely done something about The Two Americas should seriously get over it like a bad high school crush.