Sunday, July 27, 2008

The Dirty Words and How They Feel On The Clean Skin

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By Ani

When I awoke the morning of June 4, 2008, I thought I would be bitterly disappointed. After all, the nominating contest between Senators Clinton and Obama had been decided the night before by a march of cowardly Super Delegates, bowing to pressure from the party leadership to forcibly shut down the process. Surely I would be furious or curled up in the fetal position crying my eyes out. That would be only natural since I worked harder for Hillary than I had for any presidential candidate – ever.

Did I want her to win so badly because she is a woman? No. Did I want her to win because she is an eminently qualified woman with a spine of steel, one who offers bold, progressive policies, is ever prepared, energetic, a worker bee and a visionary who is willing to roll up her sleeves to get the job done? Yes.

She’s my candidate.

The truth is I was relieved the morning of June 4th, even serene. I thought, since the race has been declared over, at least she won’t get flogged today. For the first time in six months, I wouldn’t have to watch, or avoid watching, the frat-boy media hit squad trash her mercilessly, simply because they knew they could get away with it. With very rare exception, no one, save her own husband, stood up to declare anything was wrong with that disgraceful practice.

But I was wrong in my assessment that the honor killing, the gang attacks and unforgivable disrespect to a sitting United States Senator were over. Pundits were wringing their hands, alternately furious and mystified as to why Hillary hadn’t just collapsed to the floor in a puddle the night before. Why hadn’t she gotten out of the way of the DNC power elite’s chosen messiah so he could have his historic moment on the stage to claim his crown?

Her historic moment was completely ignored.

Suddenly everyone wanted to kick Hillary off the stage. Actually, it was not sudden. The Democratic elites and misogynist male media, along with hopeless females like Andrea Mitchell and Maureen Dowd, who bond with their male offenders, either out of a need for self preservation, jealousy or self-loathing, had been trying to get rid of Hillary since before the New Hampshire primary in January. They rubbed their hands together gleefully after Iowa, waiting for her to be declared dead. Then she won – and kept winning.

Ironic that Hillary convincingly won two out of three primaries even in the last week of the contest. She did this with a false Associated Press story being released early Tuesday morning reporting she had already conceded – while voters were just going to the polls in South Dakota and Montana. Yet these media blowhards were telling us she hadn’t even earned a moment to celebrate her victories with her supporters who had been working for her faithfully for sixteen months. None of us, male or female, could contain our rage at this last stroke of disrespect. How politically idiotic, never mind thoughtless, that Senator Obama couldn’t wait one more day to have the news cycle to himself. Why ignore her? Why ignore the millions of voters whose help he would need to win the election in the fall?

The DNC, suffering from Clinton Derangement Syndrome, cannot understand why we hold her in such esteem and want her to lead us. Certainly we cannot understand why she would be tossed out like so much garbage. I have seen many women treated this way in my lifetime and been on the receiving end of some of this myself. The hurt is not lessened by time or age.

Senator Clinton’s candidacy is just as historic as his. Why is this never spoken of?

She is not only the first woman to ever win a primary, she won the votes of 18,000,000 people, more than any primary candidate in history. She won almost every large state, all the swing states and arguably had the electoral map in her pocket, yet the berating, belittling drumbeat grew ever louder for her to just sit down and shut up like a good little girl and get out of the way.

Hillary, will you for the love of God just get out of the way? Your success is but a mere inconvenience. And your 18,000,000 voters should sit down and shut up, too. Just pretend you didn’t notice that fair reflection and democracy were thrown out the window. Just pretend you didn’t notice that the far stronger candidate was kicked to the curb. Just shut up and sit down, will you, for the good of the party.

Perhaps you think I have taken this campaign too personally. Well, what is the correct response then, watching grown men, who presumably have wives, daughters, sisters and mothers, making comments about Hillary such as “it cries,” or the collection of quotations I will never be able to get out of my head:

A Super Delegate needs to take her into a room and only he comes out, that kind of scenario. (Olbermann) The only reason she was elected to the Senate is that people felt sorry for her because of her husband. (Matthews) When she is on camera, I involuntarily cross my legs. (Carlson) Doesn’t it seem like the Clinton’s are pimping their daughter Chelsea out in some weird way? (Shuster) We don’t want to have to watch a woman grow old in the White House. (Limbaugh) If she had any dignity, she’d just bow out. (Alter) Some women deserve to be called bitches. She’s Alex Forrest in “Fatal Attraction.” She sounds like your nagging mother-in-law. She’s like your ex-wife waiting for her alimony check on the courthouse steps. She-Devil. The psycho ex-girlfriend of the Democratic party. What does she want anyway? She has unpleasant ankles. That cackle!

And my all-time favorite: Someone needs to take her out behind the barn.

Even more unforgivable to the media it seems, is that she would actually stand before voters on flatbed trucks and in town halls across America and offer specific policy solutions. Why couldn’t Hillary understand this was not nearly as important as the myriad comments we had to endure about her pantsuits?

I remember waking up early in the morning of each successive primary, terrified at what negative press the day would bring, how they would spin the exit polls, what awful things they would say. The day of the Pennsylvania primary, where she was outspent 3:1 yet still won by ten points, listening to Wolf Blitzer and company, you would have thought she was getting trounced to the tune of double digits.

But Senator Clinton was not the only one done dirty in this contest. Her voters bear the scars as well. We were and are called racist, bitter, Archie Bunkers, over the hill, uneducated, clueless, shoulder-pad feminists and sweeties and much worse. Wow. We were painted with the same dirty brush they used on her.

Lou Dobbs and Greta Van Susteren stand alone as journalists who reported fairly.

I watched my own mother receive daily abuse in our home, a non-stop barrage designed to make her feel small despite the fact that without her strong work ethic and fortitude, we would have all been out in the street. Perhaps that’s why it was harder for me to witness a more qualified woman be figuratively defecated on in favor of an affable younger shape shifter with no discernable experience. Hillary Clinton actually won this contest by any reasonable metric and yet was declared the loser.

It is cold comfort at this moment, but I am heartened by the fact that millions of women and progressive men in this country are outraged that the stronger candidate was treated like the scullery maid, an inconvenience who should be brought to heel so she could drag this particular man’s inexperienced, unqualified behind across the finish line. Senator Obama was certainly limping to that line and if not for the mercy of the Super Delegates, he would not be able to claim the nomination even today. But for their weakness and lack of good judgment, this contest would, and should, be decided at the Convention. With everything in my power, I work to make sure that is still a possibility. Remote or not.

How can I reconcile what feels like an injustice on so many levels? Are we to be deprived of excellent leadership because it does not fit in with the DNC’s back room fix and the media’s cozy little narrative?

Most painful is that we were all fooled into thinking sexism was a thing of the past. We have discovered these last months just how false a notion that is.

What kind of a message are we sending to our daughters when we tell them, you can reach as high as you want – as long as you don’t reach that high. What are we teaching our sons when they watch how this woman was treated and see no punishment meted out for such behavior.

When you demean one woman, you demean us all. Surely if the racist equivalent had ever been leveled at Senator Obama, there would have been hell to pay and many of these self same pundits would now find themselves on the unemployment line.

On the night of her victory speech in Ohio, Hillary Clinton said, “For everyone who’s been counted out, but refused to be knocked out; for everyone who has stumbled and stood right back up; for everyone who works hard and never gives up — this one is for you!”

Hillary stood tall in the face of ridiculous odds and opposition, undeterred by attacks that never would have been leveled at any male candidate. She taught boys and girls everywhere to speak up for their beliefs, to fight on till the buzzer sounds. I will ignore voices that wish to take away her triumph. It was and is an amazing victory. Those who deny or diminish it, or turn a blind eye to the injustice of the outcome, do so to their eternal shame.

Hillary Clinton will always be my Joan of Arc in a pantsuit. I know she will continue to stand up and work for the ideals and causes that belong to all of us.

The men and women of this country deserve nothing less.

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