Friday, May 16, 2008

Red-Faced Bexley

Buzz started flying around yesterday that a Columbus-based group was planning on making a public campaign based on Pro-Clinton Dems (particularly women) actively working against Obama should he become (when he becomes) the Democratic nominee for President of the United States. Two Central Ohio women were named as organizers of the press conference, and two women were scheduled to appear on the O'Reilly Factor to discuss the effort. The woman common to both pairs was named Cynthia Ruccia. Bloggers had in their collective knowledge base that she was an unsuccessful congressional candidate in 1996 (losing to John Kasich in the 12th district), and on the Franklin County Democratic Party Executive Committee. The one detail I added to the conversation was that she was a resident of Bexley. See, she's on the FCDP executive committee due to her position as a neighborhood/ward leader.

My ward.

Oddly enough, I've either met or had multiple email exchanges with every other ward leader in Bexley, but not Ms. Ruccia. I tried to get in touch with some Bexley Dems and hoped to watch the interview before posting. I missed the 8:00 show, so I tried to watch the 11:30 presentation of "The Factor." It's the first time I've watched more than two straight minutes of FNC in years, and as grating as it was, there was no payoff. The half hour I saw didn't contain the Ruccia interview. I had some email by that time, but nobody had much to say (or at least nothing they wanted to say to a blogger looking for on the record comments). I was surprised to find that a number of bloggers in the Ohiosphere had already posted on the interview, and BI even had the video already up.

The comments on Russo's site are coming in at better than 2-1 in agreement with Ruccia's position.

My first reaction is like that of many others: If you're willing to work for McCain, then either you never really supported Clinton for her positions on issues, or you're just a lunatic. But you know me, I never really like to argue a side until I feel like I've tried to see things from the other side. In that sense, think for a second about what would happen if, beyond all reason at this point, all of the remaining superdelegates coalesced around the HRC candidacy, and Hillary won the nomination in a floor fight at the convention. The conventional wisdom is that young people and minorities would not just lose motivation, but abandon the Democratic Party. Would I be shocked to see a group of young black men make a very public campaign to defeat Hillary and the Dems who had caved in to the race-baiting cynics? Nope. So, even though I'm surprised that the movement is centered six blocks from my house, I'm not surprised that there is a small vocal movement that is willing to make common cause with conservatives (Bill O looked like a cat who had loaded up on six plates at the Old Country Canary Buffet) over what they see as the defeat of the best candidate, a defeat they believe is based on the fact that she has characteristics that they themselves share.

Has Hillary's campaign suffered because of her gender? Absolutely. One could make the argument that her gender was a net positive, or perhaps a net neutral factor, but that doesn't dismiss the fact that Hillary has endured treatment a man wouldn't have had to endure. And worse, she's been forced into self-consciousness as to how her behavior would be interpreted in relation to her gender. In part because gender stereotyping is more accepted than, say, racial stereotyping. That leads to a degree of acting that can come across as being less than genuine, which has stereotype baggage of its own attached.

So any woman who lived through Bobby Riggs and the ERA, who has grown frustrated trying to explain that they call it the "glass ceiling" because it's so hard to actually see, not because it's easy to break, who has struggled and come up short, and invested in HRC their hopes and dreams, might well invest in her their frustration and anger. I'm coming dangerously close to saying that some women bitterly cling to the HRC candidacy, but even if that's not the actual story, there's a story I can sympathize with.

To a point. Last night, Cynthia Ruccia went on Bill O'Reilly's TV show to proclaim to the world that she'll work to get John McCain elected if Hillary doesn't get the Dem nomination. Bill O'Reilly settled a lawsuit in a sexual harassment case that makes the public disclosures of our AG scandal look almost tame. He is perhaps the most patronizing patriarch among major media figures, and she helped him in his agenda to get an old white guy who dumped his wife for a younger blonder version get into the White House. The message that she's sending? If the most qualified woman can't get the job, we should just go with the white male hegemony we're familiar with.

I voted for Hillary Clinton. I thought she was more qualified than Obama, and I thought I knew what I could expect from her. I also thought that her negatives had been unduly amplified in the media. Obama had said that he would be a completely different type of political figure, and bring change. The funny thing about change is that at least half the time, change is for the worse. Progress is good, but progress is only one type of change, and Barack was being distressingly ambiguous about his view toward Progressives. I knew his upside, but not his downside. As time went on, and the candidates were given tougher political choices to make and situations to deal with... Hillary continued to make the easy choices, and Barack made tougher choices. I still think Hillary would have made a good POTUS, but I'm more than comfortable with Obama as the nominee. In fact, after the last two months of campaigning, I'm much more comfortable with supporting Obama this summer and fall than I would have been trying to make excuses for the things HRC has done in an effort to regain the upper hand in the race.

Hillary had a tougher time of it as a woman. but that's not why she lost. She lost because her campaign was run spectacularly badly by people whose current political thinking was state-of-the-art twenty years ago. She was presented as the inevitable nominee, because she had institutional support, all of the big donors, and had cultivated a base in large states. Her campaign ignored caucus states and small states as being somehow irrelevant to the nomination process. The very first contest was a small caucus state, and she lost. Obama used direct internet contact to raise funds from small donors across the country, netting millions more than HRC. So, inevitability went out the window in early January, and every one of her campaign premises (if we do a, b, and c we'll win) was wrong. She won big states, but lost the pledged delegate race. She got more big donors, and lost the fundraising race. She held her own in primaries, but got hammered in caucuses. She was eventually reduced to campaigning on the platform of 'America won't elect a liberal black man, so you'd better nominate the other candidate, even if you don't like me either.' With every other prediction turning out wrong, this one didn't gain much traction either.

My guess is that very few of the folks who are now so upset with Clinton's (impending) loss that they're now thinking of bolting were Dean supporters in '03/'04. Those who weren't probably weren't sensitive to the distortions and bias coming from cable news and the punditocracy regarding his candidacy. It happens. The media and party establishment interests aligned to produce a candidate whose campaign lost to the worst, and most unpopular, president in history. That was certainly frustrating.

But no matter how angry I may have been, when I was faced with the prospect of a second term of W, I sat my white boy butt down, shut my white boy mouth up, and got with the program. I realize that I don't have to worry about whether or not such a request of me is based on my demographics, as Cynthia Ruccia might. So if she jumps to the wrong conclusion, I guess I'll understand. But I want a country that is run by someone whose guiding philosophy is more like Hillary Clinton's, and less like George W. Bush's. I thought Ms. Ruccia did, too. If so, she might want to consider that it doesn't matter how much she has grown to dislike the people asking her, no matter how offensive the connotations, and no matter that she may have gone along in many instances she now regrets, at the end of the day, it might be in the best interest of the folks who have passionately supported HRC, regardless of age, race, or gender, to sit down, shut up, and get with the program anyway. The only reason for them not to do so is a belief that HRC can beat McCain or his Veep in '12, and won't get another chance until 2016 if Obama wins it all this year. If that's the plan, they'd better think hard about the trade-off they're making. If they need help, they can ask any Nader voter from 2000 whether they would like their vote back. As a matter of fact, she can walk over to Cassingham and ask me. I'll be happy to talk.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Well said.

I support Obama, but if Hillary won, I'd vote for her even though I have disliked her campaign's behavior toward my candidate. The truth is she would be better than McCain.

Reasons not to vote for McCain (if you're a woman (of if you are human):

With justices Roberts and Alito, all we need is one more like-minded justice appointed by McCain to replace 87-year-old Justice Stevens, and they will vote to eliminate or significantly reduce the existing rights of Roe vs. Wade.

McCain opposed a bill in April that sought equal pay for women saying it would lead to more lawsuits.

Despite research showing the ineffectiveness of abstinence programs, McCain does not support sex education programs including discussions about contraception and AIDS prevention. In fact, McCain didn’t even know that contraception can help prevent the spread of AIDS. In the past three years, he voted “no” on money for preventive health services targeted at unintended and teen pregnancies, and he voted “no” for comprehensive sex education for teens.

The Children’s Defense Fund Action Council, whose founder employed Hillary Clinton but supports Barack Obama, has listed McCain as the worst Senator for children for either missing the votes (80% of the time) or voting against issues related to children such as protecting children from unsafe medications, reducing college costs, and improving Head Start programs.

Need other reasons for women to vote against McCain? What about the mothers, sisters, grandmothers, daughters and wives losing loved ones in Iraq? What about tax cuts for the rich while working-class women try to care for their families? What about a health care plan, like McCain’s, that does not cover illnesses such as cancer and diabetes, two leading causes of death in women? What about civil rights, something John McCain voted against in 1990?

I'm a Democrat, and I'm a woman, and Cynthia Ruccia does not represent my views at all!

Ingrid

Jill said...

Thanks for this post, Bonobo.

Darrow said...

>>it might be in the best interest of folks who have supported HRC....to sit down, shut up, and get with the program anyway<<

Great way to win folks over. You should get a job on MSNBC. Olbermann would hire you to take Hillary into a room and only you would come out.

Intimidation, threats of a "third Bush presidency", or screaming about Supreme Court appointments - heard 'em all. Don't care. If my own damn party is willing to disenfranchise two states and half of their membership to foist an unvetted, inexperienced "Elvis" candidate on us then they are not my party anymore. Donna Brazile has already told us to stay home this fall. That's just what I plan on doing.

Verdad said...

Umm...you can jazz up the semantics involved any way that you please, but if you'd rather see McCain in the WH than Obama, I suggest a mental health battery at your first opportunity.

The logic that you use is skewed and sour in equal parts with a dash of illogic.

I voted for Hillary. And I'll damn well vote for Obama. Because, you know, he more strongly represents what I believe. Perhaps you dig humping big oil, hanging out in Iraq until the 2020s and using fear as a leadership tool.

Anonymous said...

Spot on! Well put!