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Wednesday, November 12, 2008


I do agree that Sebelius would probably not be on Obama's short list if Clinton hadn't run for president. Clinton got this country used to the idea of a female president, even if she herself didn't make it there. So she deserves kudos for that. But personally I think someone who would be upset at having a female vp other than Clinton is really more invested in Clinton the person than women in general. I can understand how it might strike someone as "unfair" that another woman would reap the rewards of Clinton's effort, and I can understand how someone might think that Clinton should have won but didn't because of sexism and that that's also "unfair." (Although I don't subscribe to either assertion) But those are two separate issues. The first supposed injustice concerns Clinton the individual, while the second is about women in general . Both issues seem to be getting mashed together in some people's minds, so that Clinton's plight becomes the plight of all women, even if it means arguing against another woman getting the vp nod.

But anyway, how many people are really making these kinds of arguments? There are some, to be sure, but I agree with you that the media is picking out the most extreme cases for coverage, when in reality the great majority of feminists will vote for the candidate that supports womens rights over the one that doesn't. Frank Rich made an interesting point along those lines in his column today (boldface mine):

Our new bogus narrative rose from the ashes of Mrs. Clinton's concession to Mr. Obama, amid the raucous debate over what role misogyny played in her defeat. A few female Clinton supporters — or so they identified themselves — appeared on YouTube and Fox News to say they were so infuriated by sexism that they would vote for Mr. McCain.

Now, there's no question that men played a big role in Mrs. Clinton's narrow loss, starting with Barack Obama, Bill Clinton and Mark Penn. And the evidence of misogyny in the press and elsewhere is irrefutable, even if it was not the determinative factor in the race. But the notion that all female Clinton supporters became "angry white women" once their candidate lost — to the hysterical extreme where even lifelong Democrats would desert their own party en masse — is itself a sexist stereotype. That's why some of the same talking heads and Republican operatives who gleefully insulted Mrs. Clinton are now peddling this fable on such flimsy anecdotal evidence.

The fictional scenario of mobs of crazed women defecting to Mr. McCain is just one subplot of the master narrative that has consumed our politics for months. The larger plot has it that the Democratic Party is hopelessly divided, and that only a ticket containing Mrs. Clinton in either slot could retain the loyalty of white male bowlers and other constituencies who tended to prefer her to Mr. Obama in the primaries.

This is reality turned upside down. It's the Democrats who are largely united and the Republicans who are at one another's throats.

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