Joan Walsh is right

The most destructive, divisive refrain in the attacks on Clinton has been the demand since February for her to drop out of the race. On "Hardball" last week I was flabbergasted by Chris Matthews' denial that anyone had made such demands, especially when MSNBC had been the clubhouse for people like Keith Olbermann, Jonathan Alter and Howard Fineman, who've been sounding that drumbeat since February. I can't do a better job than Digby in explaining why that's been offensive to many Clinton supporters (and should be offensive to all fair-minded people, in my opinion). And she uses Jesse Jackson to make her point:

In 84 and 88, Jackson was seen as a potential party wrecker too and in 88 he took his historic campaign, in which he won 11 contests, all the way to the convention. He made a very famous speech that he ended with the chant "Keep Hope Alive," which could have easily been construed as wishing for Dukakis to fail so he could get another bite at the apple (something that people are accusing Clinton of already.) But it wasn't.

And that's because while Jackson went to the convention trailing by 1200 delegates, he was holding a very important card, which everyone recognized and respected. You can rest assured that people were worried that his constituency, many of them first time voters who he had registered, would stay home in the fall, and so Democrats treated him and his campaign (publicly at least) with respect and deference, and rightly so. He represented the dreams and aspirations of millions of Democratic voters, after all.

To many African Americans, a constant clamor for Jackson (or Obama if it had gone that way) to drop out of the race would have been seen as a call to go to the back of the bus. Likewise, for many of Clinton's supporters, it's been seen as a call to sit down and shut up (or "stifle" as Archie Bunker used to say to Edith.)

http://www.salon.com/opinion/feature/200 8/06/05/obama/index.html

also note, the sexism of frat boys continues:

Chris Matthews doubted she could be Obama's running mate no matter what she said Tuesday night, because for him the question is: "Can she obey? Can she accept the subservience?"

Is Matthews asking these questions about Richardson? Webb?

Tags: Election, Primary (all tags)

Comments

37 Comments

Re: Joan Walsh is right

Tweety has shown himself to be more than a bit sexist throughout this campaign, and he hasn't chosen his words wisely here.  

However, the question of whether someone of the stature of Hillary Clinton can accept a subordinate role without overshadowing Obama is a legitimate one.  The Clintons are larger than life, and they tend to overshadow all that they come into contact with, even if they're not trying to.  I think it's a huge consideration.  Not a disqualifier, but a consideration.

by SpideyDem 2008-06-05 05:18PM | 0 recs
Re: Joan Walsh is right

You know some here have questioned by vote for Obama vs. my chant for unity. I'm not going to apologize to those grunts in our party that have thrown a shadow over my zeal to see Obama be president by asking why I'm so adamant of the respect I show Hillary.

I can't tell you how much it hurts to see that there supporters of Obama still lashing out in their snide ways, cute ways at Hillary.

all I'm going to say I'm so proud of being democrat that a party like ours has 2 wonderful candidates it put forth. Respect is not a one way street... so if you want the respect/ votes of Hillary voters. You must not only show it towards her but you must be 1st at it.

What a party!

by aliveandkickin 2008-06-05 06:19PM | 0 recs
Re: Joan Walsh is right

But respect is a two way street. Clinton supporters also have to do it, not just think they are so precious they must be courted and flattered all the time, and that they can be insulting and unity prohibits response. That's not unity. That's ego and abuse.

by Christy1947 2008-06-05 06:44PM | 0 recs
Re: Joan Walsh is right

if you are asking of them to be on our side... how do u figure slaming their candidate is going to win them over?

what's worse is they they

THEY are dems...( surpise to some I'm sure)

these are not aliens to our thinking...they are one of us. THEY are in many cases one half of the couple in families....

what is the bottom line ? them coming to our camp or we still stuck in primamry attack mode?

by aliveandkickin 2008-06-05 07:44PM | 0 recs
To get one's support...

you court and flatter and speak to their interests.

You don't ask them to crawl.

by citizen53 2008-06-05 09:28PM | 0 recs
This goes

hand in hand with the following diary:
http://www.eenrblog.com/showDiary.do?dia ryId=1656

As you will see, it was originally posted at MyDD and also cross posted to Dkos.

by kevin22262 2008-06-05 05:19PM | 0 recs
Re: This goes

Thanks.  I didn't see that other diary.

by moevaughn 2008-06-05 05:24PM | 0 recs
I think there is a distinction.

There is a distinction between saying that she had lost, which the media did, and justifiably, and saying she should withdraw. Most of the media did not say that she should withdraw. They just said that mathematically she could not win.

As Tim Russert is fond of pointing out, when he said in April during one of Bill Clinton's elections that Clinton was mathematically the winner, Russert was a genius, but when he said that Hillary was mathematically out of it he was an idiot.

by Travis Stark 2008-06-05 05:25PM | 0 recs
Yep

You'll notice Obama didn't try to drive her to quit. The competition spurred his fundraising and helped him establish GOTV and ground operations in every state, assets he'll use to crush McCain. He knew what he was doing.

by 79blondini 2008-06-05 06:12PM | 0 recs
Obama would have loved her to quit,

but he knew what he wanted didn't matter. Many millions of dollars that didn't need to be spent were. The party became more divided, and the negativity added fodder for the Republicans.

by Travis Stark 2008-06-05 07:12PM | 0 recs
um no.

Most of the media did not say that she should withdraw

take a gander at this.  why do you and others continue to deny that there were continued calls for her to leave the race?

this also includes BO surrogates like dodd and biden.  IMHO - you would be better served in stopping the denial of this.

by canadian gal 2008-06-05 07:11PM | 0 recs
I don't agree.

I wrote a long explanation in this space. Took me about 10 minutes, and now I've deleted it. It doesn't matter anymore. Peace.

by Travis Stark 2008-06-05 07:30PM | 0 recs
Re: Joan Walsh is right

The thing is, nobody thought that Jackson was going to steal the nomination.  He wasn't on the radar.  Why would anyone give him a hard time?

Hillary is a different situation altogether.  She without doubt represented a real threat to the Dems' chances this Fall - if she didn't win but wouldn't admit it.  There's not enough time to run a general election in the 8 weeks between the convention and the vote.  Giving the Republicans several more months of confusion on our side was not really acceptable.  So there was a lot more hostility towards Clinton then Jackson, no doubt.

by Lawyerish 2008-06-05 05:35PM | 0 recs
Re: Joan Walsh is right

Someone is only a threat if someone is stronger or equal in strength to the other person.

Some people take a while to understand this basic facet of life.

by Sandeep 2008-06-05 08:18PM | 0 recs
Re: Joan Walsh is right

The more support and votes a candidate has, all the more reason for that candidate to stay in.  The whole point is to go into the convention with all the leverage you can.  That's the way it's always been.

As far as stealing the election, which candidate was given votes/delegates he never even got?  Uncommited means Uncommited, not Obama.  Talk about entitlement run amok; and the Enabler is the DNC.

by moevaughn 2008-06-06 01:43PM | 0 recs
Re: Joan Walsh is right

The most ugly things I have ever seen have been directed at Hillary Clinton this primary season, and to see the women in the room who witnessed sit idly by and not come to her defense is awful.

As a woman, I will not tolerate this behavior directed at any woman whether it be Nancy Pelosi, Hillary Clinton, or just the average jane. i can say this: Chris Matthews you are a shithead, and you're lucky you'll never see me in person. MSNBC, i knew you were crap before so I feel no loss in blocking your channel from my tv. and finally to Marc Rudov: [evil eye] I hope no woman ever marries you or comes near you for the sexist things you've spewed.

by alyssa chaos 2008-06-05 05:38PM | 0 recs
Re: Joan Walsh is right

I won't vote for Tweety.

by xdem 2008-06-05 05:45PM | 0 recs
It's hard to tell nowadays.

But there is a distinction between news and opinion.  Matthews and Olbermann give opinions, in contrast to Katie Couric or Brian Williams, who reports news.  Bill O'Reilly gives opinions, Peter Jennings reported news.  I don't believe any news reporters ever opined that Clinton should drop out.  That's the purview of opinion-meisters.

by edg1 2008-06-05 05:49PM | 0 recs
Re: Joan Walsh is right

Chris Matthews doubted she could be Obama's running mate no matter what she said Tuesday night, because for him the question is: "Can she obey? Can she accept the subservience?"
not only is that wrong to ask of anyone, can you imagine the reaction if he were talking about Obama?

by Lakrosse 2008-06-05 05:50PM | 0 recs
Re: Joan Walsh is right

It's always the right question to ask of anyone being considered for VP. A VP is not a separate source and center of power or a policy making position. You don't hear it about the guys because it's not a problem for them, only the way the role works. Only in this one context is it questionable, and the question is why? Do Clinton supporters expect her to be a co-President if she gets to be VEEP?

by Christy1947 2008-06-05 06:48PM | 0 recs
Re: Joan Walsh is right

You wouldn't ask that question about Webb because of his long military career, in which he had to follow the chain of command. And Richardson was a cabinet member who had to listen to the president.

by politicsmatters 2008-06-05 05:58PM | 0 recs
Re: Joan Walsh is right

Taps fingers on table...wonders when this will end...checks watch...should be soon...

by Purple with Green Stipes and Pink Polka Dots Dem 2008-06-05 05:58PM | 0 recs
Re: Joan Walsh is right

That's a bad analogy.  Jesse Jackson was not seen as a potential party wrecker, precisely because he had no chance of winning.  So, it wasn't a big deal that Jackson didn't concede until the convention.  

Moreover, I wrote about this in another diary, but, the media in 1984 and 1988 is nothing like the media that exists today.  You didn't have three different major cable news channels (MSNBC, FOX News, CNN) back then, you didn't have the proliferation of talking heads that we do now.  Back then, they had the McLaughlin Group and Crossfire.  

Additionally, there's such a thing as a freedom of the press.  If Jonathan Alter goes on Hardball and says he thinks Hillary should drop out because there's no way she can win the nomination, he's giving his opinion on the issue.  He has every right to do so.  

There's a lot of confusion over so-called media bias because of the mixed genre news shows we have on now.  Back in the 80s, you still basically had just straight reporting of the news.  Now, we have shows that are a mix of news reporting, opinion/analysis, and entertainment, and these kinds of shows don't pretend to be objective observers of politics.  

I don't remember what Matthews was saying in February, but, my guess is that he probably had guests on the show to discuss the issue of whether Clinton should drop out, because that was a live issue. Most other candidates in Clinton's situation after losing 11 straight elections would have dropped out, mainly because they'd be out of money at that point.  

Also, the author conveniently neglects to mention that in January, Hillary Clinton in January was telling everyone that the race was going to be over by February 5.  No one was up in arms saying she was trying to push Obama and Edwards out of the race.

by ProfessorReo 2008-06-05 06:23PM | 0 recs
Re: Joan Walsh is right

There are several sources for the size of the bug up Matthews' ass about the Clintons: 1) They don't go on his show and pay homage to him 2) He worked for "hammer in my hand" Jimmy Carter who was a bomb as president contrasted with Clinton's successful presidency 3) He seems to have this animus towards her simply because she's a woman and how dare she play with the big boys. He and Olbermann are really beyond hope

by handsomegent 2008-06-05 06:34PM | 0 recs
Breaking

Just in, from the Pew Research Center:

Many Say Coverage is Biased in Favor of Obama

http://people-press.org/reports/display. php3?ReportID=427

by kingsbridge77 2008-06-05 06:38PM | 0 recs
Re: Breaking

If I am not mistaken, the same survey counted favorable comments and found Obama was getting 70% favorable and Clinton was getting 72% until her side started complaining about disparity in favorables, at which time his dropped but hers didn't.  You will notice that those complaining of Media never complain about all those "Can't close the deal" weeks or the like which were said about him. I guess that's all fair.

by Christy1947 2008-06-05 06:51PM | 0 recs
Re: Breaking

Losing candidates and unpopular presidents always get more negative press coverage because a lot of the news stories are about why they are losing or have low job approval.

by politicsmatters 2008-06-05 07:08PM | 0 recs
Walsh is wrong.

It isn't that Hillary continued her campaign after it became mathematically improbable that annoyed the rest of us.  It was that she managed to be treated by the media as if she was still a credible challenge to Obama through a number of absurd and offensive theoretical strategies that were offered.

The first time she floated the idea that she could flip pledged delegates to vote for her in enough numbers to gain her the nomination (and yes, that is allowable under the convention rules, but it would be incendiary beyond belief, I hope we ALL agree), that was when alarm bells went off for a lot of us.  And yet people on some networks, especially CNN and Fox, played to these scenarios as if they were credible ways she could still win the nomination.

I use that as only one example.

The big difference between Hillary and Jesse Jackson is that nobody tried to realistically report that Jackson still had a chance to beat Clinton.  It was an embarrassment for Bill Clinton, but it was not treated as a serious threat to his nomination.

Also, the battle between Jackson and Bill Clinton was not as divisive and ugly as this one has been.  Oh, I know, it's an article of faith with some Hillary supporters here that Obama was the divisive one, or this kind of fighting was good for Obama to prep him for a Republican-style swift-boating.  But we did not want to see this kind of campaigning from ANY Democrat, EVER.  The kinds of things that were said that seemed to appeal to a sense of white-nationalism, dressed up in various different costumes to make it more palatable, were disgusting beyond belief.  We are Democrats, and we don't campaign that way.  And we especially don't like to see the Democratic Party's own Mount Rushmore campaign that way.

If Hillary was only running for symbolic purposes, as Joan seems to be alleging, then that was her right.  But we have a right to expect better reporting than we received about the real prospects of her winning.  The coverage she received may not have terminally damaged Obama, but it certainly has slowed him from proceeding with the general election.  And it may have permanently and unnecessarily damaged him with some demographic groups.  

by Dumbo 2008-06-05 06:46PM | 0 recs
Re: Walsh is wrong.

I think you mean Jerry Brown & Bill Clinton (Jerry Brown refused to shake BC's hand at the 1992 convention, btw)

Jessie Jackson was in 1984 & 1988, not 1992.

which means Mondale(1984) and Dukakis(1988)

by colebiancardi 2008-06-05 07:20PM | 0 recs
Re: Walsh is wrong.

Yeah i was confused at first too.

by kasjogren 2008-06-05 08:03PM | 0 recs
Eccchhh... I stand corrected.

1988.  Dukakis, not Clinton.  Search/replace it in your mind.

By the way, I ran an on-line political forum (text-based) during the 1988 primary and general election season.  

by Dumbo 2008-06-05 08:15PM | 0 recs
Re: Joan Walsh is right

I'm hoping the Dems abolish superdelegates, because of the acrimony of this race could have been prevented if there were a universal understanding that the pledged-delegate winner would be the nominee (which, in hindsight, was probably inevitable).

If, as Paul Begala called it, this House of Lords didn't exist, Clinton would not have had the same incentive ot make some of the comments she did (which were aimed, clearly, at SD, she was hoping to shake their confidence in him so they'd back her).

The prodding by Obama's supporters for Clinton to leave the race, also, was driven by two things: a belief that it would be manifestly unfair if SDs did flip the result (this would be like the ref changing the outcome of a close game);

once Clinton's chances to win the pledged delegate count disappeared, she'd go nuclear on him to spook the SDs, so even if he prevailed he'd go into the general a wounded candidate (and that possibility existed even a few days ago, and, some will argue, basically happened, though it could have been worse).

My suggestion, again, is that this is simply a fault in the rules.  When the SD system was created no one anticipated that it would have this effect.  The analogies to previous campaigns don't hold up, because this situation has never occurred before (and neither, btw, has this prospect of large-scale defections which started showing up in polls three months ago, and, I'm guessing, will ebb now).

The Dems have to revist the rules regarding SDs, and provide some better definition for what role they're supposed to play in this process.  If their purpose is to prevent candidates who are unelectable from being nominated, for instance, this safeguard could be retained if the Dems adopted a new rule: if SDs agree by a vote of 2/3rds they're free to back whomever they want, otherwise they're obliged to back the pledged-delegate winner.

The Dems should not have a House of Lords which can overturn the winner of pledged delegates in close races unless unless there is overwhelming sentiment that this must be done.

That's not the only change the Dems should make to the rules (they should look into caucuses, the popular vote, and, of course, fix the calander and make sure the problems which beset MI and FL don't recur).  But this fix, to me, seems necessary.

Why?  Because the party, absent circumstances which are difficult to even predict, I suspect, will simply never overturn the pledged delegate result.  A lot of this suspense and anxiety, I think, was over a scenario which would never occur.  Think about it two ways.

If you were a spokesman for the Democratic party, how would you explain it to Obama suppporters if the first candidate who won a majority of pledged delegates but failed to become the nominee was also the first black candidate to have done this?  

Or its opposite.  If Clinton had finished this process with a majority of pledged delegates, but had become the first candidate to do this without becoming the nominee, what explanation for this would have satisfied her supporters?

In both cases, the supporters of the also ran would have felt betrayed.  Understand that some of Clinton's supporters feel this way now, but think their anger in this other scenario would have been much worse (and my point, again, is that the Dems are probably never going to do something like this).

And so the Dems should junk the system.  And talk of Jesse Jackson, etc., is really beside the point (because nothing which happened in '84 and '88 was remotely like this, Jackson never came close to winning, and this scenario where victory was possible but only if SDs backed him in disproportionate numbers never came up).

by IncognitoErgoSum 2008-06-05 07:16PM | 0 recs
excellent analysis

symbolically rec'd.  

A couple of thoughts -

The superdelegate problem only is a problem when the race is so close that neither candidate can reach the majority without superdelegate votes.  In such a case, electability should not be a deciding factor, because there's really no way to make a conclusive argument that one very strong candidate is more electable than the other very strong candidate.  It's hard to imagine a similar scenario to 2008 in which two candidates are essentially tied in pledged delegates but one is clearly electable and the other clearly is not.  

A lot of the problems of a race that turned really negative and dragged on too long could have been easily solved if the supers intervened much earlier and put Obama over the top.  But, for a variety of reasons, they just sat on the sidelines and let things play out.  

In some ways, though, I'm not sure we'll ever have a problem quite like we did in this primary, because I cannot imagine any candidate in the future having the hutzpah, power, and resources to engage in the tactics that Hillary employed.  Any other reasonable candidate in her position would have dropped out after losing 11 straight in February.  

But, since we can never say never, I'd give one specific duty to supers - that they have an obligation to "police" the process to ensure that one candidate doesn't do too much harm to the other candidate and to the party.  I'm not sure how this would work, but, essentially, that's what the supers did when they came out en masse on Tuesday and then again on Wednesday in order to put an end to what they saw was Clinton going too far with her campaign.

by ProfessorReo 2008-06-05 10:07PM | 0 recs
sorry, but partial b.s.

I agree about the stupidity of the calls to drop out (even though I wanted her to because I supported the competition), but vice president is a subservient job that demands your political goals and career ambitions get subjugated to those of the president.  If the v.p. is lucky and the president really knows how to lead, they'll use the V.P intelligently, much like Clinton did.

It's wouldn't be a co-presidency.  Vice President is a part of the team, not the leader. It's the nature of the job and not sexist to ask if she could meet the requirements.

by ksh 2008-06-05 07:37PM | 0 recs
Re: Joan Walsh is right

also note, the sexism of frat boys continues

As someone who was in a fraternity, I've had just about enough of this oft-repeated comment.  Throughout this campaign, I've seen this bullshit thrown around far too often.  Some HRC support sites took college student support of Obama and turned it into a commentary on "frat boy" misogyny, going so far as to claim that Obama has the support of the date-rapist demographic.  

Yeah.  

SOOO, needless to say, I'm fairly fucking sick of this stuff.  

Not that you said all that, of course, but straw, camel, back, etc.

by freedom78 2008-06-05 08:01PM | 0 recs
Re: Joan Walsh is right

Don't forget the Iron My Shirt signs.  Not that all frat boys would do something that that -- probably not you.  (Imagine if someone showed up at an Obama rally with a Shine My Shoes sign.)

by moevaughn 2008-06-06 09:09AM | 0 recs
She's certainly right

about Chris Matthews.

As for the rest, no one controls the media. The question isn't was there media sexism, the question is how much is Obama's fault?

The same, of course, could be asked about racism. If  Obama had been behind, you can bet the media would have been asking why he doesn't quit. No doubt his supporters would have felt the same as hers, and blamed a significant amount on Clinton.

by Neef 2008-06-06 08:56AM | 0 recs

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