Of Swoons and Hatreds

February 5, 2008

As I watch the Presidential campaigns, I do not need to be overly prescient to recognize that the media–the grand impartial deliverers of factual news–is swooning over Obama and full of vitriolic hatred toward Clinton.

This makes it very difficult for somebody like me who wants to make judgments based on fact rather than the media person’s biases. The problem with swoons is that they make you unconscious and incapable of thinking, leave alone, clear thinking. The problem with hatreds is that they render you blind.

As the swooning-over-Obama, Clinton-hating blogs and MSM continue their disservice to the public, only one conclusion is possible–read/view/listen to as little news as possible before you make a voting decision.

First, let me point out that I am absolutely unbiased between Obama and Clinton, and strongly believe that either of them will make a fantastic POTUS. But one thing I am certain about is that I want CHANGE, and want it in the most massive dose I can get in this election.

Today’s NY Times got me thinking. It has a video on its site which shows some interviews with black women in South Carolina. It was apalling to see how this hairdresser talks about how only a man needs to be President because a “man is stronger than a woman,” and she “wants to be protected by a man.” Imagine if NY Times had a video in which a voter said, “I only want a White person as President because the Bell Curve has shown that Blacks are less intelligent.” Very correctly, NY Times would have been flooded with protest letters–Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton would have led street protests, every media outlet would have tried to outdo itself on restoring “fairness.” Don’t get me wrong. You won’t find a more vociferous critic than me about the Bell Curve theory–as an economist trained at one of the best schools in the country, I know how to take that stupid theory apart, and from my own work, I know that the Bell Curve theory is BUNK.

But that’s not the point of this post. I find it appalling that nobody expresses outrage at the sexist comments of this woman. Sexism is so ingrained in us that we whistle past such comments even when we see/hear them. Which media person will pick this up and talk about it? I can bet you NOT even one will portray this as a gender/sexism issue. Not one of those “pundits” (I hate the misuse of this revered Sanskrit word) who are absolutely at liberty to make sexist comments about Clinton. As Carl Jeffers points out in his post at the Huffington Post the media piled on Clinton, because piling on a woman is not a aberration, while the equally unfair piling on a “black person” is taboo.

Sexism has become too “normal” in our society, too “status quo” to raise concern. It’s like the N-word was in the pre-Civil Rights era. And this despite the fact that when we think of “domestic violence” or “rape” we can safely hazard a guess as to who is abusing and who is being abused.

Which is why I am beginning to feel that “Madam President” of the United States is a BIGGER change than a “Black President”. Yes, even if the “Madam President” is Hillary Clinton.

Sorry State of Women

January 17, 2008

Too often, “underprivileged” is associated with the Black community. And with good reason. What often gets missed out is the status of women. On NPR’s program called The Story which Dick Gordon runs out of North Carolina, one of the women who programmed the world’s first computer, the ENIAC, was interviewed. She described how she and another women programmer had slogged to program the ENIAC for its first demonstration. After a very successful demonstration, the men folk went off to celebrate, and the women were left behind without any explanation or remorse. That was 60 years ago.

How far have we progressed now? See this video on NY Times to understand what is happening in South Carolina–the hairdresser wants a “strong man to protect her”, and “men are stronger presidents than women.” I’d like to vote for Hillary Clinton, just for this–to give people who make such comments and indulge in women-putting-down actions (like the spittle-spewing Chris Mathews and the gotcha-hatchet man Tim Russert) a tight slap in the face. Just what the folks in NH did.

It Takes a Heckler….

January 17, 2008

It was shameful to see Tim Russert and Brian Williams at the Democratic debate in Las Vegas last night. If there was any doubt in anybody’s mind as to the low level the media occupies, how it wallows in the filth of political dirt, and how it splashes in that scum, and throws it all over the general viewing/reading public, Russert and Williams deftly dispatched it. Clinton and Obama had made it clear the previous day that they had “inadvertently” let their campaigns bring in the “race” element, and that they were going to eschew this needlessly divisive topic going forward.

But, no! Russert, the gotcha, attack-dog of journalism could not let it stay. He had to paw in the filth and Williams, like an eager puppy wasn’t far behind. The first few questions were all about “race” and it was to their credit that both Clinton and Obama refused to be drawn into that kind of conversation.

Till the bold heckler called “Emperor’s new clothes,” though, Russert and Williams would not let go. And these are supposed to be the best journalists we have? What a shame ! What a disgrace to that noble profession!

Winners in today’s debate: The Heckler

Losers: Tim Russert and Brian Williams

Very rarely do I agree with the Washington Post editorial, especially after its jingoistic support of the Iraq war and its lame defense of its support later. But today is one of those rare times when I do agree with the Post‘s editorial. It wrote that

Supporters of Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) have taken remarks of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) and former president Bill Clinton out of context and then unfairly criticized them for what they did not say.

and goes on to say:

Mr. Obama didn’t pick this fight. But he is abetting his supporters in their mischaracterizations when he says, “Senator Clinton made an unfortunate remark, an ill-advised remark . . . She is free to explain that. But the notion that somehow this is our doing is ludicrous.” This might help him secure a large majority of the black vote (just under half of registered Democrats) in the South Carolina primary on Jan. 26. But it isn’t good for his party.

But more than that it is not good for Obama’s candidacy to be in this fight. As a non-white, non-black, non-hispanic US citizen, I have no dog in this fight and can call a spade a spade without bias. Obama has allowed his campaign and surrogates to pick on a race card (given short-term views of the South Carolina primary, perhaps), and make it a major issue displays some political naivety. Despite disclaimers, the Obama campaign has sought actively to inject race into the 2008 campaign. Let’s face it, it was his campaign that picked up on Hillary Clinton’s MLK comment and misinterpreted it. Whether it was over-generalizing Bill Clinton’s remark, misattributing Hillary Clinton’s statement about MLK, calling he a “senator from Punjab”, or raising doubts about the “Bradley-Wilder effect,” Obama has not been politically savvy about race, and needs to take immediate corrective action.

Why “Race” is Politically Unsavvy for Obama

  1. It begins to falsely mark him as a “Black candidate” rather than a candidate who happens to be black. This incorrect perception will also make Obama out to be one more Jesse Jackson type of candidate who has no universal appeal
  2. Repeated mention of the “Bradley-Wilder” effect will make his electability an issue among Democratic voters who will now think that come what may, “White America” will not vote for a Black candidate, and hence view Clinton as more viable in the general election.
  3. White voters may react instinctively, and perhaps unconsciously, with a “circle the wagons” that will further nullify Obama’s universal appeal

What Obama Should Do Now

Obama should make it public that he does not endorse his campaign’s picking up on the race issue. His call yesterday for a truce will be seen as too little and as smacking of insincerity if his surrogates and campaign go on about race despite his call for a truce.

Today’s debate in Las Vegas gives him an ideal opportunity to practice the philosophy he so articulately puts forth on the stump. In today’s debate he should denounce the use of race in both campaigns, and he should publicly ask everybody who supports his campaign to refrain from race-related remarks.

To those to say. “What about Hillary?”, I say this: Obama is the one whose campaign is about change, Hillary has not promised any such thing. Why should Obama let Hillary steal the thunder of such an unprecedented move that will strengthen his universal appeal and make him rise above “Washington politics?”

John Edwards, I think, is convinced that he will not win the nomination and that Obama will. Thus, his blatant and desperate attempt for the Vice Presidency as he seeks to publicly align himself with Obama. It started with the debate in New Hampshire when he surprised Clinton. Then again over the weekend he tried to jump on Obama’s side in the unnecessary war over MLK and all that.

However, this will hurt Obama badly in at least two ways.

First, in debates, it will look like the two men are ganging up on the only woman. The perception that Edwards has fostered of himself in this campaign as an angry attack-dog will not help matters Obama. In fact, all it will do is spur a “circle the wagons” instinct in women. This obviously happened in New Hampshire when you compare the women’s votes between Iowa and NH.

Second, this weekend, Edwards, campaigning in South Carolina, commented about the MLK comment, and took sides with Obama. As I pointed out in an earlier post, the race card hurts Obama’s candidacy. By keeping the race issue alive with his comments, Edwards hurts Obama more than his comments seem to support him.

Edwards’ anger is getting kind of tiresome.

About this Blog

January 12, 2008

This is a blog that is devoted to studying the 2008 Presidential primaries, especially the Democratic primaries, with absolute impartiality. It represents, in some sense, my own struggle as a US citizen to decide between the “first woman President” and the “first Black President.” I am neither Black or white, and I am not Hispanic either. I am not a woman, but am a feminist in the true sense of that word.

With a graduate degree in mathematical economics from one of the country’s best universities, I can say that I am capable of clear analysis. With South Asian blood running in my veins, I can say that I have the ability to emote with topics.

I invite you to share this journey with me and share your comments and opinions.

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