Wednesday, July 2, 2008

not (still) this (again)

Message to All Whining Female Democrats: Hillary's Out. Get Over It, by Barbara Goldsmith

Editor’s Note: Barbara Goldsmith is a prize-winning bestselling author and historian. She served on the Presidential Commission for the Celebration of Women in America History during President Clinton’s administration.

"Whoever is set up to be president of the United States is just set up to have his character torn off from his back in shreds and to be mauled, pummeled and covered with dirt by every filthy paper all over the country. And no woman that was not willing to be dragged through every kennel, and slopped into every dirty pail of water like an old mop, would ever consent to run as a candidate. Why, it’s an ordeal that kills a man. It killed General Harrison and it killed old Zach [Taylor]. And what sort of … a woman would it be that could stand it and come out of it without being killed?"

So commented Harriet Beecher Stowe when Victoria Woodhull announced her bid for the presidency in 1872.

The place: a distinguished publisher’s Park Avenue apartment. The date: Wednesday, June 18. The time: 8:45 AM. The occasion: a breakfast hosted by Gloria Steinem. The stated objective: to bring the Women for Barack Obama and the Hillary Clinton supporters into one cohesive group.

The little blonde stood, arms akimbo, and vented her wrath: "I am a good friend of Hillary’s," she declared. "I’ve had her at my home, and I have always been there for her. I am here to tell you how angry and hurt I am and how hurt all Hillary supporters are by the sexist, disgusting way Hillary was attacked and pilloried by the media in this campaign. Until some acknowledgment of that is made, I am full of anger. I know the Democratic Party could have stopped it. I know Obama could have stopped it. But, everyone was silent and just let it happen and …"

Next up: a professor who took a full six minutes announcing her credentials and then said, "I used up my entire pension supporting Hillary. I went to 13 states and knocked on doors. I want everyone in this room to write in the name of Hillary Clinton on the ballot when they go to vote and …"

Another woman announced that she intended to launch a boycott of MSNBC. "I want all of you to sign my petition."

The chairperson of "Women for Obama," Becky Carroll, had flown in from Chicago and said she was tired. You’d be tired too with all that invective flying around the room. But Ms. Carroll couldn’t very well intervene, if catharsis was what was needed to unite Democratic women. Ms. Carroll was in a tough position – too tough to point out that Hillary Clinton had announced that her supporters should "take our energy, our passion, our strength and do all we can to help elect Barack Obama …" These emotional outbursts — and there were several more — are just what male chauvinists say about woman’s incapacity to coolly assess a situation.

Please note that so far there’s been no "I" word in my comments. The "I did this, I did that, I am hurt, I may not vote, I may vote for McCain," and so forth that have been heard lately may be what’s holding Democratic women back from fulfilling their potential to become a powerful coalition that could help guide this country back to safer ground.

Let’s just accept the reality of the political climate. With a Democrat in the White House and a Democratic Congress, Clinton and Obama agree, women may now be granted a full array of reproductive health services and the right to choose what is right for their own bodies. Nineteen million uninsured women might obtain full medical coverage. The accelerated production of medicines that prevent the transmission of the HIV virus might be funded, and maybe the hard-working middle-class women (and men) that constitute the backbone of our country will get a break. And, just think Supreme Court, Supreme Court, Supreme Court!

Remember what Harriet Beecher Stowe said about the scurrilous 1872 presidential campaign; throwing mud, undermining character, trying to prove incompetence, personal insults are all a part of politics just as they were 136 years ago. Unfortunately, no candidate is above the fray; it’s only that technology and the length of this campaign have exacerbated the process. But, Hillary Clinton was a great adversary who broke down many barriers and helped clear a path to the future. Harriet Beecher Stowe was wrong in that Hillary Clinton was "not killed."

So as my kids say, "Get over it."

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