Saturday, August 30, 2008

PUMAs are an insult to cats

"sorry kittens, mommy is too angry to care about your future."

So the day after Obama's brilliant, historic acceptance speech at the conclusion of the most amazing Democratic Convention ever, John McCain, increasingly entrenched in quintessential Republican gamesmanship, picked a woman (whom he met once and who has but brief experience governing a sparsely-populated state), Sarah Palin, as his VP choice. If you're a cynical, self-centered partisan, you can understand McCain's move. After all, he was having trouble filling a few thousand seats at rallies, the pundits were chattering about 'the enthusiasm gap,' and the PUMAs (the disaffected--if not dysfunctional--Hillary Clinton supporters who apparently have had no interest in listening to what she has had to say during the last week, whose acronym stands for Party Unity My Ass) remained unappeased--and therefore available.

Those women won't be convinced by Palin to vote for McCain, James Carville and others who think logically have said. How could they? Palin is staunchly anti-abortion, even in cases of rape and incest. She is for teaching our children creationism. She wants to drill for oil in ANWR. She shoots, and eats, moose. She doesn't want to save polar bears! In NO WAY does she represent any liberal or even feminist values (with the possible exception of equal pay, though McCain voted against it). Women will NEVER vote for the Republican ticket.

Will they?

Uh, yes. Apparently some will.

At least that's what the PUMA representative on Chris Matthews's show last night said. Now that a woman (apparently, any woman) is on the Republican ticket, a good number of Hillary Clinton supporters will pull the lever for McCain. Remember: except for some distinctions in policy execution, a few political alliances, and of course personal vision and style, Hillary's platform and Barack's were very close. Hillary is pro-choice, pro-labor, pro-environment and in favor of quickly ending the war in Iraq. McCain's plan is the polar (no pun intended) opposite. So HOW could these Hillary supporters vote for McCain?

The PUMAs, you see, are still seething over the Democratic Party's refusal to "stand up for Hillary", by which I suppose they mean...actually, I don't know what they mean. Somehow the party is required to punish anyone who says anything sexist (or, I assume, racist? how about just plain idiotic?) and failed to rally for Hillary. She deserved the top of the ticket, they insist, yet somehow she was not equipped to handle her own detractors. And these are Hillary supporters who insult her?

Perhaps I make too light of the sexism in the system or the ways in which the party needs to change. But I do not make light of Hillary Clinton's historic candidacy, nor her competency, nor her complete support of Obama now. And now is what matters. Now, and November. Because like it or not, and I admit that I do, Barack Obama won the nomination. Like it or not, the choice is this: intelligent, compassionate, thoughtful change or FOUR MORE YEARS of Republican greed, lies and constitution-shredding.

But the PUMAs are still peeved, and for them, claws-bared petulance matters more than the future of our country, our planet, our CHILDREN.

If this is not the ultimate example of narrow, baby-out-with- the-bathwater self-interest, I don't know what is. If this cavalier willingness to toss aside the values that liberals hold dear is not consummate selfishness, I don't know what is. If this poisonously punitive approach to rectifying the flaws in the two-party system is not idiocy of the simplest degree, I just don't know what is.

Eight years ago, I, along with the apparent majority of the country, was disheartened by the outcome of the presidential election. George W. Bush was a blathering idiot who couldn't even articulate a coherent English sentence. After eight years of Bill Clinton's rhetorical brilliance, that was hard to take. Even harder to take (though an English teacher, I am not, after all, a one-issue voter ), was Bush's lackluster record, his rabid war-mongering, his apparent inability to think for himself, and his choice of Darth Vadar for VP. How could anyone imagine George W. Bush as the kind of 'regular' guy with whom they'd like to have a beer --unless if by 'regular' one meant obscenely rich, privileged and stupid? How could anyone vote for this guy?

But they did. Or anyway the Supreme Court said they did.

Four years after that, I was even more dismayed. Surely the good people of this country would not allow four more years of an insane, illegal war, of out-of-hand spending, of rampant civil-liberties violations, of refusal to acknowledge global warming, and of troop-endangering, not to say Geneva Convention-violating and plainly inhuman torture, to name just the most pressing concerns. But allow it, we did. And to say that I was dismayed, to say that like many others I talked about moving to Canada (though I didn't really mean it) is only to touch upon the kind of disillusionment I and so many of my liberal brothers and sisters experienced. I was ready to give up. Politics no longer worked. The people did not have a voice.

So I understand disillusionment, I do. For all of us who are voting for Barack Obama, I think, hope is the flip side of very deep despair. But duality is the nature of existence, is it not? (Unless one has achieved enlighenment, in which case she probably won't need to vote.) We MUST turn over the leaf, look in the mirror, turn the other cheek...We MUST put hope over despair. We MUST encourage where we would punish, build where we would destroy, unite where we would divide.

We MUST NOT let the nasty cats, the claw-sharpeners, the PUMAs, bring the rest of us clever, flexible, amazingly nine-lived cats down, to allow selfishness to take the place of dauntlessness. We must not screech and spit and yowl in the dark alleys of our disappointment but leap, leap, leap into the future, full of strength and grace.


jack said...

Don't get so wrung up about it.

I'm not totally convinced that PUMAs are going to be won over by the the Palin pick.

Read fivethirtyeight.

Debbie Ann said...

Wonderful post,Maryanne!

I originally voted for Hillary but dear Lord I am NOT going to vote for McCain because she did not win. What? Because the media made sexist comments? Hello? What good does that do women?

PUMA does not appear to be looking out for the true interests of women. They are a group of angry women who appear selfish and irrational. They are on Palin's side? Have they even googled her?

Emily's list represents women. For anyone who wants to join a feminist political activist group, register with them. They now support, passionately, Obama.

Maryanne Stahl said...


yeah, I don't think--or don't really want to believe--most PUMAs will vote McCain. but some might. and some might not vote. and to me, that's a betrayal of what they purport to be their values, the values of Hillary Clinton.

so I don't get it. but I resent the wrench they throw in to the discussion, and I am angry and ashamed on the behalf of smart, progressive women. imo, they are setting back the cause of women.

Maryanne Stahl said...

and by 'they' I mean PUMAs, obviously.

Maryanne Stahl said...


thanks, I'll check out emily's.

Dave Clapper said...

Unlike Jack, I do believe PUMAs will vote for McCain. However, I've never believed that PUMAs are or ever have been Democrats. One of the most visible leaders of the PUMAs made charitable contributions to McCain's campaign in 2000 when he ran against Dubya. She has NEVER made a contribution to Hillary. Party Unity My Ass? More like This Party Can Suck My Ass. PUMAs are, always have been, and always will be, a cheap Republican ploy.

katrina said...

Excellent post, Maryanne!

robin andrea said...

You quite deftly express what I have been thinking. McCain's VP choice is so nakedly cynical and desperate that it shocks me anyone would see value in it. I've heard of these PUMAs, but I can never believe that they were ever real Democrats. They could not share a single value or platform that I identify as Democratic. It's really rather pathetic, and I despise Chris Matthews for giving them a forum to express their inanity.