Rent Asunder

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Melissa McEwan, aka Shakespeare’s Sister, has a post up at Comment Is Free on the acrimony in the Left Blogosphere between Obama and Clinton supporters.

Not just at Daily Kos and MyDD, but in many prominent blogs across the ‘sphere, the precise willingness to indulge or deny decidedly illiberal rhetoric, “jokes” and imagery has exposed just how much overt or thinly veiled racism or sexism is allowed to demean one or the other or both candidates. In some cases, there’s been an alarming amount of give, turning comment threads into hostile places for one candidate’s supporters, for women, for people of colour and/or all of the above. In others, safe spaces have emerged, where a premium is placed on providing room for debate free of harassment and silencing tactics.

I don’t know where those “safe spaces” were. On the blogosphere the only way you can provide room for “debate free of harassment and silencing tactics” is to use the ultimate silencing tactic and delete the harassing and abusive comments. Because there will be harassing and abusive comments.

McEwan continues,

The break reflects (broadly) two competing philosophies, the first valuing as much free speech as possible – an open market of ideas in which it’s every woman and man for themselves, where bravado will prevail – and the second valuing diversity of participation, and recognising the historical marginalisation of women, people of colour and the LGBTQ community from political discourse, thus placing a premium on the prevention of bullying. Not unexpectedly, the lefty bloggers yawning with boredom at “identity politics” tend to favour the former, while those who engage in “identity politics” (sometimes more favourably referred to as “fighting for one’s equality”) favour the latter.

Sorry, Melissa, but I don’t fit into either side of your dichotomy. I keep a lid on the comments and have, believe it or not, deleted a few genuinely abusive and sexist comments aimed at Clinton. However, I don’t yawn at “identity politics.” I intensely dislike “identity politics.”

Identity politics are not about “fighting for one’s equality.” They are ultimately about celebrating inequality and responding to divisiveness with more divisiveness. They are about attaching one’s ego and self-identity to a partisan group and favoring that group at the expense of other groups.

“Fighting for equality” is fighting for equality. Equality by definition has no preferences. If you are fighting for equality only for your particular slice of the demographic pie, then you aren’t fighting for equality but for favoritism.

Particularly given the nature of the Obama-Clinton struggle, it’s remarkable to me that so many women who are hyper-sensitive to sexism have been utterly oblivious to racism these past few months. People whose first concern is “equality” and not “me” do not pit one kind of bigotry against another. Bigotry is bigotry.

Identity politics too often devolve into indulging one’s ego and settling scores. For example, Marc Ambinder writes,

Matt Burns, the spokesman for the GOP convention in St. Paul e-mails to say that the RNC’s convention office in St. Paul has received numerous telephone calls in the last few hours from people who identify themselves as Clinton supporters asking how they can help Sen. McCain.

If true, this is insane. McCain want to criminalize abortion, for pity’s sake. If he becomes President he’ll get a chance to plug at least two more right-wing deadheads into the Supreme Court.

This tells me that, for at least some of these women, supporting Clinton wasn’t about feminism. It was about something deeper and more primordial and personal that Clinton, somehow, came to represent for them. This is what a “cult of personality” looks like, people.

McEwan continues,

Quite understandably, there are those who regard the internecine turmoil with no small amount of hopelessness, a “why can’t we all just get along?” exhaustion. But the emergence of competing philosophies can only be a good thing.

It’s possible that comment was partly aimed at me. I was more or less expelled — I left voluntarily, but the mob was coming with pitchforks and torches — from a leftie blogger listserv for trying to be conciliatory.

A group of Clinton supporters were collectively whining about how mean the Obamabots were being but at the same time were hurling absurd accusations about Obama, such as his secret plan to appease the Right by letting the Fetus People set reproductive rights policy. I’m serious.

One prominent woman blogger tried to censor another listserv member who had the nerve to promote his pro-Obama post — and the post was pro-Obama, not anti-Clinton — as if favoring Obama over Clinton was in itself a sexist act that could not be tolerated by civilized beings. And when I tried to smooth things out with a “let’s all get along” post I was attacked viciously by the Clintonistas for trying to shut down the “debate.” As if they hadn’t already tried to shut down pro-Obama opinions.

These were not “competing philosophies.” It was bullying. I was accused of being a sexist for using the word hysteria, but I can’t think of another word that better describes what was happening on that listserv.

Certainly there have been plenty of Obama supporters who have behaved very badly. But I think if you eliminate such inflammatory venues as Democratic Underground and just look at bloggers themselves, the bad behavior has been coming at least as much from pro-Clinton bloggers as from pro-Obama bloggers, if not more so.

Someday I want to write something more analytical about what’s gone on in the Left Blogosphere these past few months. I think I need to let a little more time pass, however. Whatever forces have been at work have been hideously destructive and personally painful for me. And although some wounds will heal, I do not think the Left Blogosphere will ever again be what it was.

A little more about comments:

I go farther than most bloggers to keep a lid on the comments here. It has occurred to me that this probably is what has kept me in the second tier, as far as volume of readership is concerned. People are drawn to ugly and acrimonious hate speech like flies to a carcass, and on many A-list blogs the huge volumes of comments are mostly one cheap, juvenile insult after another.

Over the past few months I have deleted a few anti-Clinton comments that were overtly sexist. In recent weeks there have been a few commenters here who have made comments about Hillary Clinton that border on sexism, although not overtly so, and after some struggle I’ve let them get by with it. I tend to be indulgent with regulars. Maybe I should have been stricter.

On the other hand, a couple of commenters who were long-time regulars are now banned for violating comment rule #2:

I respect and encourage substantive commentary, but comments that are nothing but insults of me or other commenters will be deleted. Repeated attempts to post such comments will get the commenter banned.

These commenters were Clinton supporters who could not write comments in support of Clinton. Instead, their comments consisted entirely of insults of me, other Mahablog commenters, and Obama supporters generally.

Occasionally someone would leave a comment saying “I support Hillary Clinton because …” and then provide reasons. These comments were not deleted. I might have responded to disagree with the reasons, but if the comment was written in a respectful and reasonable way I did my best to disagree in a respectful and reasonable way.

Such comments were rare, though. Mostly, Clinton supporters who commented here just left personal insults, often complaining about how nasty Obama supporters are.

Hysteria, I say.

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47 Comments

47 Comments

  1. Dustin  •  Jun 5, 2008 @9:57 am

    Such comments were rare, though. Mostly, Clinton supporters who commented here just left personal insults, often complaining about how nasty Obama supporters are.

    Hysteria, I say.

    And a fair amount of Projection too, if I can indulge in in some momentary psychoanalysis.

  2. Kevin K.  •  Jun 5, 2008 @11:02 am

    As usual, great post, maha.

    As far as I’m concerned, McEwan lost all credibility when she cross-posted (twice that I saw) at No Quarter long after it had flipped into hate site territory.

    I’ve been restraining most of my bomb throwing to the rabidly anti-Obama Hillary supporters (and now McCain supporters) who have left a crazy long trail of loathsome oppo detritus behind for wingnuts to use against Obama, but I’m fully putting the brakes on it going forward. It’s over. The right side of the blogosphere picked up a few more lunatics (and politically unsavvy ones at that). They can have them.

  3. Gordon  •  Jun 5, 2008 @11:03 am

    The acrimony on the Left was inevitable once Bush became a non-issue. Opposition to Bush united some very unlikely people, and now they all want credit. It’s realignment time (for both parties) and that tends to be very messy.

    BTW, when Clinton held her rally in that underground bunker, I found myself wondering if it would turn into a Jonestown moment. Jeez, remember when it was Obama that had the personality cult?

  4. maha  •  Jun 5, 2008 @11:12 am

    Gordon — in retrospect, you are probably right about a realignment. I didn’t see it coming, but it’s sure here now.

  5. DoubleCinco  •  Jun 5, 2008 @11:12 am

    Barbara, this (kind of) post is what makes this website exquisite for me. Complex analysis facilitated by an observing self is not found in too many places IMHO, web or otherwise.

    I live near where the FLDS hoo-hoo has been going down and this morning on the front page there was a picture of sect children playing with onlooking mothers likely feeling enormously relieved. It’s gone badly for Protective Services this time I’m afraid.

    As I absorbed the output of the picture I thought that these women don’t have a lot of choice about their lives (whether they know that or not) and that they suffer what many women suffer daily–some form of domestic constraint/ domination/violence.

    Then it occurred to me that perhaps the outraged female Clintonistas (e.g. the woman who made youtube goddamning Democrats) could be in some part women who have sustained these kinds of injuries of the psyche from men and patriarchal society, and that they are so invested in her campaign because they believe/hope that Hillary will get licks in on the system for them, that some how through her they will not be just voiceless objects.

    I shared this with my wife (who has done PhD work in Feminist Theology) and she suspects that what these women can’t see is that Hillary is/would turn out to be a patriarchal leader, fully tainted by the dynamics of dominant-subordinate relational patterns, long ago corrupted by competing and winning/losing in this violent arena.

    Most of my psychotherapy practice is with victims of violence in its various forms and (as you know) when folks who struggle with such life experiences can learn to mindfully return to the present disconnecting from fear of the future or fear from the past they can find their voice in the present which makes liberation possible.

  6. Donna  •  Jun 5, 2008 @11:45 am

    Here is what absolutely astonishes me about psyches of the Clinton die-hards who are now lauding and supporting John McCain:

    It was McCain who, at a primary event last year, just laughed when a woman stood up and said, “How do we get rid of the b**ch?”, ‘the b**ch’ referring to Hillary Clinton.

    And, it was McCain who, when Chelsea was 18 years old, joked, “Why is Chelsea so ugly? Janet Reno is her father.”

  7. Steve M.  •  Jun 5, 2008 @11:49 am

    This is what a “cult of personality” looks like, people.

    The supposed Obama “cult” of the early primary season is nothing compared to the Clinton-or-death cult that’s formed now.

    BTW, when Clinton held her rally in that underground bunker, I found myself wondering if it would turn into a Jonestown moment.

    I dunno. Saturday?

    Seriously, though, what if she’s genuinely enthusiastic in her endorsement of Obama? Will they turn on her?

  8. felicity  •  Jun 5, 2008 @11:50 am

    DOUBLECINCO – I have personally experienced some of what you talk about. A friend of 50 years has what I call an aversion to men in general – mainly the belief that they’re incompetent and irresponsible and untrustworthy.

    She likes Hillary but will probably vote for Obama – at least that’s what she says. We’ve gone around and around on Hillary; I’m coming from Hillary makes poor decisions and she would make a poor president. My friend counters with, “Oh, you just don’t like her.”

    Recently I asked my friend if I were to evaluate a male candidate as I have evaluated Clinton, would she reply with, “Oh, you just don’t like him.” She said that she probably wouldn’t.

    I think that she – outrage under wraps – may fit your description of the ‘outraged female Clintonistas.’

  9. Lynn Petersen  •  Jun 5, 2008 @11:54 am

    Maha, you’re not 2nd tier with me. This is the one single author blog I follow. You are consistently thoughtful and well-spoken, but never passionless. Thanks and keep it up!
    Lynn

  10. maha  •  Jun 5, 2008 @12:03 pm

    Seriously, though, what if she’s genuinely enthusiastic in her endorsement of Obama? Will they turn on her?

    I’ve wondered the same thing. Of course, Senator Clinton will more than likely temper her enthusiasm.

  11. Kevin K.  •  Jun 5, 2008 @12:15 pm

    Seriously, though, what if she’s genuinely enthusiastic in her endorsement of Obama? Will they turn on her?

    I don’t know if it’s an entirely accurate barometer, but they’re turning fairly harshly on Taylor Marsh, who’s trying to talk them back from the ledge she’s been personally escorting them to for months.

  12. …I watch what’s been going down between Clinton and Obama supporters over the last few months and I can’t help but think “imagine what things would have looked like if there had been intertubes and a zillion political blogs in 1968?” Computers may well have burst into flames if there had been the sort of forum we have now during that primary campaign…

  13. sfbevster  •  Jun 5, 2008 @12:34 pm

    May I say right on, sister? What you describe so articulately is the reflexive victim response that drove me out of leftist politics waaay back in the day. Altho I’ve never lost hope, I can genuinely understand how the eat-your-own mentality flipped some former leftists to the dark side.

  14. maha  •  Jun 5, 2008 @12:41 pm

    they’re turning fairly harshly on Taylor Marsh, who’s trying to talk them back from the ledge she’s been personally escorting them to for months.

    Taylor knows Hillary Clinton personally, she told me once, and I think this whole primary fight has been personal for her. And she made it personal for her readers as well. Their egos and self-identities now are wrapped up in Hillary Clinton.

  15. Lance Mannion  •  Jun 5, 2008 @12:41 pm

    Maha, do you read your own blog? Look at the title of your last post. “Pathologically Selfish?” Because she gave a speech to her supporters on the night she won the last primary of the campaign? Because the speech wasn’t all about your hero? Because she didn’t surrender at the time you wanted and in the fashion you demand?

    There has been a lot of craziness on both sides, lots of people with beams in their own eyes pointing to the motes in others’, but the craziest thing to me has been the general idea promoted among the pro-Obama types that Hillary Clinton was doing something evil, conniving, and destructive by WINNING. It has been a long, tough, but I think fun campaign that ended in what was very close to a tie, with Obama winning on points awarded by the judges in the end. If just a couple of little things had gone differently, and we’d be celebrating Hillary’s win by now…except that we wouldn’t because it’s doubtful that as many people would be expecting Obama not to take it to the convention.

    Hillary Clinton won close to 17 million votes. It’s not “pathologically selfish” of her to think that matters for something.

  16. maha  •  Jun 5, 2008 @12:51 pm

    Lance, I love you, dude, but I stand by the last post for reasons E.J. Dionne explained well in his column today.

    I have no respect for people who behave badly and then try to hide behind gender or racial identity to deflect criticism of their behavior. That’s not equality.

  17. joanr16  •  Jun 5, 2008 @1:02 pm

    Sorry, Melissa, but I don’t fit into either side of your dichotomy…. However, I don’t yawn at “identity politics.” I intensely dislike “identity politics.”

    Totally with you, maha.

    And what’s with “favourably” and “favour”? Is Melissa McEwan Canadian? I ask because there sure are a lot of strongly-opinionated outsiders weighing in on Obama/Clinton, as if things aren’t muddled enough already.

  18. maha  •  Jun 5, 2008 @1:08 pm

    joan16 — Comment Is Free is a British site, and it appears the editors change American English to British English to keep things consistent.

  19. Twilight Jack  •  Jun 5, 2008 @1:24 pm

    In fairness, the word “hysteria” comes from the Greek word for uterus, so I can understand why certain people might object to its use. The word itself has a meaning from which intent alone may not sufficiently divorce it.

    I agree with the thrust of your post, however.

  20. maha  •  Jun 5, 2008 @1:30 pm

    the word “hysteria” comes from the Greek word for uterus

    I realize that, but I haven’t been able to come up with a decent synonym, even after looking in dictionaries and thesauri. And I accuse men of being hysterical, too.

  21. DoubleCinco  •  Jun 5, 2008 @1:30 pm

    Lance, yes Hillary’s victories are on the record and significant, but damn boy, she typifies the same corruption that we have had for the last 7.5 years from “los pinches tiranos” (civilly translated to mean petty tyrants, but you all may want to be careful about using pinche in mixed company).

    Now Obama may end up corrupted, but my vigorous advocacy of him is because today, he doesn’t appear to be that way, and not because he activates in me enchantment, blind trust and a collapse of my ego boundaries.

    Before I cash it out I want to see a woman elected President of the U.S. and, all other things being equal, would vote for a qualified woman over Barack, but in addition to the above–Bush, Clinton, Bush, Clinton–No Can Do!

  22. Kevin Hayden  •  Jun 5, 2008 @1:48 pm

    Someday I want to write something more analytical about what’s gone on in the Left Blogosphere these past few months. I think I need to let a little more time pass, however. Whatever forces have been at work have been hideously destructive and personally painful for me. And although some wounds will heal, I do not think the Left Blogosphere will ever again be what it was.

    Let me know when you do.

    It’s hard to draw the line on comments. I can’t assume all commenters are at a certain age, level of maturity and education and so I confront milder line-crossers to try and direct them to understand why some things offend. Overt sexism and racism, I’ll add a ferocious response, and ban them then or grant one warning before doing so.

    Trolls who repeatedly stir up shit are quickly spotted, deleted and banned.

    Ultimately on matters of sexism and racism, a very open discussion is necessary. With every side making their points and every side listening. Ganging up on someone who disagrees and flaming them or repetitively trying to persuade is not conversation.

    For example, criticizing Clinton is not automatically sexism (nor is an Obama critique auto-racism), which you know. And while Clinton used to speak about the rights of woman globally, she’s remained pretty silent about the misogynynistic media moments, letting her supporters carry that attack. Why? Why doesn’t she challenge it head on? Some of her supporters say Obama must. Why? Because he said ‘likeable enough’ and ‘sweetie’ and therefore must redeem himself from such blatant barbarianism?

    But I can’t carry on conversations like that without being reminded how blind I can be to my own patriarchism or somesuch. I sometimes get the impression that some believed Hillary was going to slay the dragon Misogyny forevermore and Barack forced her to be Girl Wonder, Interrupted. And he’s so terribly immature. At 47.

    When I think of sexist, I think of all the Bushes. And Bill Clinton. And LBJ, a few Kennedy men and damn near the whole Republican Party, which specializes in public repression. McCain, reversing on abortion, calling Cindy a trollop and cunt in front of reporters.

    Obama has been heavily influenced by matriarchs – including the Hawaiian culture – and goes home to a house of estrogen now. Where is this hatefulness towards women that so many see?

    The worst examples, imo, have been blog commenters. And most of them we really know little about. Perhaps the worst are very young men – for all we know – and it’s not uncommon for a number of those to be pretty ignorant of gender roles and such. They don’t get a pass, but it sometimes feels all of us guys are suspect because of the flame culture of some immature rookies. Or GOP provocateurs, maybe. I mean, who knows who might be stoking fires deliberately?

    However, I don’t think the Lefty blogosphere is permanently torn. There may be a few bloggers we feel differently about, but I think the great majority have been entirely civil. It seems no different than real life: a few folks disappoint, friendships dissolve, things change. Most, however, proceeds as before. But maybe I’d feel different if I’d been 86ed.

  23. Bonnie  •  Jun 5, 2008 @2:14 pm

    Because of this internecine battle, every one seems to be forgetting what a truly remarkable thing it is that an African American man is a candidate for President. I never thought I would live to see this. I think it is quite exciting. And, on Saturday, Big Brown will be trying for the Triple Crown.

  24. joanne  •  Jun 5, 2008 @2:32 pm

    What exactly has Obama said about abortion rights? I assume he supports a woman’s right to choice, but maybe I missed his comments. Does anyone have his statements about this issue? Thanks.

  25. uncledad  •  Jun 5, 2008 @3:04 pm

    THE MAHABLOG AS SECOND TIER?

    Well you certainly do not have the overwhelming numbers of comments that some other lefty blogs do, but then again your site as a real blog, one where your readers actually read what you write and comments are almost always on topic. Many other blogs are nothing more than message boards, the authors write some short opinion (that often contradicts a previous opinion) and the “posters” just write one sentence (often hateful as you point out) replies. This is not political discourse; it is the “intertubes” (too funny) version of a cable news show where four or five pundits screech at each other, often with no resolution of the topic at hand. I don’t really see the point in having 400 comments per author post. I like to read your respondents opinions but who has time to sift through 400 comments? So if your second tier (I don’t consider that to be true) than I for one am glad.

    And if a woman considers the word “hysteria” sexist than what can you do? That is the most hysterical thing I’ve heard in a long while.

  26. shera  •  Jun 5, 2008 @3:08 pm

    Maha-

    I would love, in your reflections on this primary, an examination of the effects of sexism and gender discrimination not as something which is perpetrated, but something that we’re all victims of. I’m not trying to absolve those persons who act in a deliberately sexist way of their behavior, but rather observing that sexism (which is so deeply entrenched in human civilization) affects how all of us behave. Yes, racism and slavery is a serious legacy of the United States, but I believe it’s far more easily overcome than sexism. The natural conclusion from this is that Clinton was far, far less likely to be nominated than Obama, and that she needed to devise a campaign that would compensate for the institutional disadvantages that being a woman brings. Instead, the Clinton campaign paid no attention to the rules about delegates, lagged in organizing folks on the ground, neglected the caucus states, and didn’t capitalize on what a warm and engaging person she is.

    Instead, Clinton and many of her supporters placed the onus on the rest of us to work overtime to compensate for sexism, as if the actions of the news media and comments by Obama supporters would be enough to make up for a poor campaign strategy. Of course it didn’t work, because it’s indisputable that Obama beat Clinton by competing in caucus states and understanding that delegates were at issue. I just feel like the refusal to take responsibility (and instead cry sexism at the slightest criticism) is itself an effect of sexism and hurts Clinton more than it helps her. Take, for example, her refusal to concede on Tuesday, to allow Obama his due, and her implication that the race wasn’t over. I’m not saying that Clinton and her supporters haven’t been the victim of much sexism during this primary. A real commitment to feminism required them to recognize that sexism is extremely difficult to overcome and work all the harder rather than blaming everyone else for why she lost.

    As a black woman, I’ve had to come to terms with the fact that life will be harder for me in some ways. It sucks, and I sometimes wallow in self-pity, but I also know that my own behavior can also reflect the racism and sexism permeating our society. I’m not absolving others of responsibility for their own behavior, but I do myself harm when I refuse to acknowledge my role, because how can I change for the better?

    I also want to say, maha, that this blog has been an oasis for me during the primary season. Much thanks.

  27. joel hanes  •  Jun 5, 2008 @3:19 pm

    maha, I agree.

    But I think it’s time to empty the cup, and fill it with something else. This particular batch of tea has grown flat, stale, and unprofitable.

  28. maha  •  Jun 5, 2008 @3:30 pm

    What exactly has Obama said about abortion rights? His statements are in his voting record, which received a 100 percent approval from NARAL, as did Senator Clinton’s.

  29. maha  •  Jun 5, 2008 @3:34 pm

    I would love, in your reflections on this primary, an examination of the effects of sexism and gender discrimination not as something which is perpetrated, but something that we’re all victims of.

    I don’t like to use the word “victim,” but certainly gender discrimination limits all of us. It creates barrier within ourselves and cuts us off from ourselves and each other, and this is true for the perpetrators as well as those discriminated against.

    That’s why I don’t like to divide the world up into victims and perpetrators, btw. We all play those roles at different times and in different contexts.

  30. Donnah  •  Jun 5, 2008 @3:54 pm

    Maha, I would never call your blog “Second Tier”. You’re the top of the cake to me.

    I read Shakespeare’s Sister and usually I find myself rolling my eyes at some of the alleged sexism attributed there. Prior to the conclusion of the primaries on Tuesday, anything and everything Obama and others in the campaign said was peered at, scrutinized and parsed to infinite degrees, looking for his misogyny. I found some of the accusations to be legitimate, but most of them sailed over my head.

    I hope that in the coming weeks and months we can all find some common ground for legitimate discussions and look to the general election with purpose and drive. Let’s face it, McCain may not be the ideal candidate for the Republicans, but he might pick a running mate who tips the balance. The Democrats are going to have to be ready for a trainload not of straight talk, but of straight bullsh*t.

  31. Kevin Hayden  •  Jun 5, 2008 @4:26 pm

    but the craziest thing to me has been the general idea promoted among the pro-Obama types that Hillary Clinton was doing something evil, conniving, and destructive by WINNING.

    Lance, longtime poll watchers simply did the math and determined the improbability that she could make up the lost ground after Wisconsin. In all the time since, the only upset she pulled was at the last, in SD, after Obama decided he didn’t need to campaign there.

    I think the anger and vicious commentary began arising after she did several things, like celebrating ‘wins’ in FL and MI after the major candidates had agreed not to campaign there and their reps had agreed in DNC meetings to disqualify those contests in advance.

    After that, she began advancing new ways of defining a winner over the established way of winning delegates. As a longtime election watcher, I understood why she had to make such pitches to the supers as it really was her only shot after Wisconsin, so that didn’t cause me to recoil or attack. But for many less experienced – particularly younger voters who’d never seen any primary remotely similar (you could be Obama’s age, 46, and your first election would be 1984), her arguments on the heels of the FL/MI reversal probably seemed like a continuation of a pattern of refusing to acknowledge the rules.

    I recall suggesting she should quit, but when the claim came back that no one had ever suggested a MALE candidate drop out (even though I knew that was false), my attitude was “oh, okay, stay in then” even though I felt the math made it futile.

    I think many in the blogosphere were similarly pretty casual throughout. A few bloggers went through histrionics, along with several MSM pundits. But as I recall, reversing on FL/MI, challenging the delegate count with arguments about big states, then riffing off Reverend Wright, then challenging the delegate count with arguments about white working class people, then a popular vote count that excluded caucuses and only counted Clinton’s Michigan total all seemed to come in seamless succession.

    Okay, so there’s five things. How many other primaries have had any other candidate doing those five? Only one of those – the guilt by association one – had been played before. It wasn’t ‘staying in the race’ or ‘winning’ that was getting folks riled. It was the efforts she made that seemed underhanded (FL/MI), the CalvinBall undermining of the rules, and the embrace of the votes that were, in part, made for racist reasons. And, while her campaign spoke of disenfranchising her voters, she was making arguments that disenfranchised Obama’s voters and delegates, and some of her supporters were attacking Obama supporters and making threats.

    Yes, I know some Obama supporters called names and made threats, too, and I don’t excuse that. But the claim that Clinton was once again just a pure, innocent victim throughout is hogwash. Her improv act stirred incited some of the heckling. So did an overly long primary season featuring a six week break that had more negatives being thrown than actual campaigning.

    And most Obama supporters didn’t care if she stayed in, but her Tuesday night performance even got HER supporters riled.

    Lance, I love your writing 99% of the time, but I think you’re oversimplifying what really went down. And conversely, the support she got by being a woman added more to her vote totals by far than any votes lost due to misogyny. That point also conveniently gets regularly left out.

  32. zeppo  •  Jun 5, 2008 @4:27 pm

    My personal opinion is that this country has descended into madness for the last seven years. I cannot believe some of the things that I have been hearing and seeing from the wingnuts of this country. I suppose we should have expected to have some of that madness bleed over to our side as well. I am not seeing a lot of evidence that people in this country know how to respond to someone with different opinions, attitudes and values than they do without having a grande mal seizure. I find it very unfortunate that our side, which is supposed to be filled with the rational, non-crazy people exhibit this same manical behavior… Collectively, we don’t understand there are other ways to respond.

    Maybe, if Obama actually becomes our president and we start cleaning house in a big way, getting rid of all the filth that has built up (courtesy of George W. Bush and his enablers) over the last seven years we can collectively start pulling back and realizing that we can respond to things without acting like Dwight Frye in “Dracula”.

  33. Ed  •  Jun 5, 2008 @5:16 pm

    The mahablog is one of the finest blogs and the comment section is a great forum.

    I too was run off of a comment section at Shakespeare’s Sister for suggesting an alternative perspective involving a rant against Josh Marshall. It took a few rounds before I realized that the responses were becoming unreasonable, irrational and ironically sexist. My gender being the target of much vitriol. My stance on the issue utterly ignored. It really felt as though I had invaded a tribal echo chamber where even a friendly but slightly different perspective was treated as heresy.

    Ideas are dealt with on merit here. Lately, I have noticed that fools are suffered less gently, likely due to treatment received on the Hillary oriented blogs.

    Anyway, Hillary blew an opportunity to tone down the cult Tuesday night. The rift in the party will be much harder to heal or heel due to her lack of magnanimity.

    The Hillary dead enders vindictively planning on voting for McCain frighten me. They are not seeing the big picture.

  34. Gordon  •  Jun 5, 2008 @5:31 pm

    Kevin, you left out probably the most important one: telling the world that John McCain was in every way superior to Barack Obama.

    (BTW, there are 3 parties to this debacle: hard-core Clinton supporters, close Clinton advisors and Clinton herself. I blame her less than the others, but of course she picked / pandered to them so it really doesn’t matter.)

  35. DragonScholar  •  Jun 5, 2008 @6:21 pm

    I myself began avoiding Shakespeare’s Sister because after awhile the site became about sexism – not politics, not issues of gender, not important things – but seeing sexism everywhere. When it came to the whole Obama/Hillary thing it just drove me off.

    I don’t vote with my genitals, I expect others not to do the same – and when I happen to vote for someone who has the same kind of genitals, I prefer people NOT assume that’s my motivation.

  36. Adrian  •  Jun 5, 2008 @8:28 pm

    “I go farther than most bloggers to keep a lid on the comments here. It has occurred to me that this probably is what has kept me in the second tier, as far as volume of readership is concerned.”

    price of integrity

  37. wonkie  •  Jun 5, 2008 @11:48 pm

    I know some Hillary supporters who are indentity politics women. The weird thinga bout their attitude is that it comes down to “I’m more oppressed than black men and my identity politics matters more than any other identity politics.” This from women who are financiallycomfortable, educated, and successful in their careers. One gal told me that women were under represented in politics and had a harder time in political life than men. I asked her homw many AA men were elelcted to political office from mostly white areas (women routinely get eletected from 50% male districts). She got peeved so I dropped it. The point is that behind all that deication to Hillary is a dedication to self identiy as victim. Which seems totally wierd to me. I come from the same background as these women–middle to uppoer class, baby boomer, college degree, divorce and successful second marriage. I don’t see what there is to be all victimized about. I certainly don’t think that us white baby boomer middle class women have any basis for claiming to be more disadvantaged in the field of politcs than black men. In fact I think that there is a prety big hunk of entitlement lurking behind all that pseudo-feminist identity politics.

  38. Virginia  •  Jun 6, 2008 @9:31 am

    The “McCain is better than Obama” comment was the killer for me. Unforgivable. We’ll be hearing about that for the rest of the campaign, believe me.

    The best thing Hillary could do to redeem herself now would be to plead temporary insanity and forcefully refute her own comment.

  39. paradoctor  •  Jun 6, 2008 @9:51 am

    Look on the bright side. The reason for all the infighting is that this year the Democratic nomination is worth something. If the Republican party had high poll numbers then Hillary’s withdrawal would have been polite, and Romney’s, turbulent.

  40. Stella  •  Jun 6, 2008 @10:00 am

    Great post, Maha.

    Forget that ‘second tier’ stuff. Blogs are like movies – most of them are made for adolescents but some are really adult. I mean that in a grown-up complimentary way, not XXX.

    You are top o’ the list to me.

  41. abiodun  •  Jun 6, 2008 @10:32 am

    This kind of analysis is what keeps bringing me back to Maha…Again, thank you.
    Larry Johnson’s site used to be informative until it turned into a hate site! Recently linked to a blog (Angrytennesseewoman) via McEwen’s place, and was mortified about the bile spit out there.

    I really searched far and wide for Obama’s direct display/speech of misogyny or sexism at HRC, and could not find any!. Though I agree that the MSM was very guilty of this, and wrote many e-mails to MSNBC etc to that effect before it became popular.

    Yes, I wonder if the aversion or hatred directed at Obama really does not have another basis outside of feminism.

  42. lou  •  Jun 6, 2008 @12:17 pm

    I’ve only run across your site recently. I’m feeling very, very discouraged when I cruise some feminist sites. I thought the “I’ll vote for McCain” or “I’ll write in Hillary’s name” meme was some kind of Rush Limbaugh hoax, but I’m seeing these things posted on sites I used to respect way too frequently. Apparently there’s some feminists out there who genuinely believe Obama won’t be any better for women’s rights than McCain or that a mostly Democratic Congress will be a check on McCain but won’t stop Obama. and they’re assuming he’s anti-choice because some quotes of his about a woman and her minister were taken waaaay out of context.

    I’m on the verge of tears reading some of this stuff.

  43. maha  •  Jun 6, 2008 @12:51 pm

    Lou — I honestly do not understand it myself. When I first saw women bloggers fueling speculation that Obama would sell out reproductive rights (like anyone married to Michelle Obama would do that), I told them to please get a grip, and I was crucified for that. I’ve gotten hate mail from other women bloggers whose sites you have heard of, I’m sure. There’s nothing in Obama’s background that suggests a tenth of what he’s accused of by allegedly liberal women bloggers. This reaction against him make absolutely no sense to me.

  44. Jennyjinx  •  Jun 6, 2008 @1:25 pm

    For a while I was a little angry about Dennis Kucinich not getting into some debates and made a comment about writing in Mickey Mouse as a protest. But then I got over it. As a woman, I believe it’s my duty to vote, so I really didn’t mean that. I got through my anger and realized that I needed to vote in my own best interests.

    However, I was determined not to hold support of Clinton against some of my Liberal brethren. I knew that in the end they would come around or that I would eventually end up supporting Clinton. We’d be on one page again. We argue so hard, but eventually come together. Right?

    Then I saw how some bloggers, which I respected as strong Feminist voices, began to allow rampant racism and overt sexism in their comment areas. Obama is the “affirmative action candidate”? The worst was when I saw on one of my favorite blogs “Michelle Obama is an ape“. They then went on to call her unfit for the White House because she’s so “angry” and her fashion sense is lacking. On a Feminist blog? They can’t wait for this “Whitey” bombshell to drop? Obama will purse his “big purple lips”?

    I immediately removed that blog from my blogroll and have decided that I don’t want any of “those” people in my party. Good riddance to them. If these are the people fighting for my rights, I wish they wouldn’t. I believe in Equality wrt race, gender and sexual orientation. I can honestly say that this particular blog broke my heart.

    Seriously, though, what if she’s genuinely enthusiastic in her endorsement of Obama? Will they turn on her?

    I believe by working to get McCain elected they’ve already done that.

  45. J. Dunn  •  Jun 6, 2008 @7:24 pm

    The one thing I haven’t been able to understand is the weird transference of the (very real) misogyny in the media to Obama and his supporters. Being made aware of just how bad the media was acting was definitely a big wakeup call for me, and it made me take a second look to see if Obama’s campaign was stoking any of it, but I just couldn’t find it on any sort of consistent basis. There were a couple of isolated incidents that were debatable (“periodically” and “sweetie”) but the first one doesn’t rise to that level for me unless it was part of a longer campaign of using that sort of language to define her(which it wasn’t), and the second was an obvious gaffe that he apologized profusely and immediately for. He also went out of his way to avoid attacking a political personality who was eminently attackable, and showed her a ton of respect that she didn’t exactly earn or reciprocate. This was of course part of his strategy, but that strategy was commendable on its own merits, dammit, and he should get some credit for it. Beating the Clintons without even going negative and going after their very real personal and historical vulnerabilities is quite a feat.

    There were a lot of “OMG, the Obamabots are so terrible!” sorts of allegations, but I never could find the concrete basis. Where is the prominent Pro-Obama blog that went nearly as far off the deep end as No Quarter, TalkLeft, Taylor Marsh, or even MyDD? Were Obama supporters going into comment threads and being jerks on Clinton-supporting blogs? I honestly don’t know that, as I couldn’t bear to wade into that unreal morass after a very small dose of it. I’m sure there was some abusive stuff going on, as this is the internet and there are jerks and trolls, but I didn’t see the kind of pervasive and overwhelming pattern that was being alleged, and I was trying very hard to keep my antennae tuned for that after what happened in NH.

    There were definitely some moments on the threads of pro-Obama blogs that icked me out, especially at Balloon Juice. The difference to me seemed to be in what kind of tone the blogger set, and in whether or not the people on the threads self-policed on this stuff. At places that stayed reasonable(The Field seemed exemplary to me in this regard), other commenters were shouting down the person being a sexist jerk well before the banhammer had to come down. But that even happened much of the time at Balloon Juice. I can’t really speak to the megablogs like Kos and Atrios, because the comments are terrible all the time and I don’t even bother to read them usually. Worrying about sexism or racism on those is like worrying about it on 4Chan or Fark or something. It’s just too big to be a coherent community that self-polices or upholds a given set of values anymore, and any old crazy people could be commenting who really have nothing to do with us.

    Hopefully most of this will just melt away and seem like a bad dream by the fall. I’d like to think we could learn from us and it would make us stronger and more self-aware and tolerant as a community, but think that’s getting a bit ambitious in light of how things have been going.

  46. maha  •  Jun 6, 2008 @8:06 pm

    J. Dunn — at the time the craziness was just beginning, some pro-Clinton bloggers of my acquaintance complained in particular about being insulted on the Kos diaries and at DU. IMO getting snarked at DU is a bit like diving in a pool and getting wet — sort of a cause and effect thing — and Kos isn’t much better. I don’t doubt they were treated roughly. Hey, it’s the blogosphere. Welcome to our world.

    But these bloggers extrapolated from this experience that all Obama supporters were evil and out to get them, and they were entitled to be mean back.

    What made me crazy ca. last January was that the Clinton supporters I knew consistently spoke about and down to us Obama supporters with smug condescension. We Obama supporters were naive, brainwashed, unrealistic, not real Democrats, not real liberals, oblivious and losers.

    And I’m thinking, you’ve known me for two or three years; is that what you really think of me? And I was still trying to be conciliatory, but it was like trying to be polite to an irritated skunk. Finally they told me what a horrible person I was and was not fit to be in their company. And yes, I am still a bit upset about it. These were people I thought were friends, and we haven’t been in touch since.

    I honestly do not understand what happened.

  47. c u n d gulag  •  Jun 7, 2008 @7:42 am

    maha,
    Not to blow smoke up your… But, you’re on my “A” list!

    You have tried to be fair. The people who frequently post comment’s here have tried to be fair. I have tried to be fair.

    Hillary found her pro-middle class voice, making people realize the situation they’re in, and making them hope for change, too late. And that is what hurts her supporters. Had she run with it earlier, instead of “Ready from day one,” she could have run away with the nomination. Instead, it was Edward’s, and then Obama (picking up some of Edward’s message), who captured the public’s yearning for something new.
    “Ready from day one” appeals to logic, not imagination. “Change” and “Hope” require imagination, and thus, are emotional, not logical. She ran first on logic, and then tried to appeal to emotion.
    Here, I think, is the divide: Hope vs. Logic. Emotional vs. Rational. And all of the antipathy we’ve seen stems from this
    internal battle that the Greek’s argued a long, long time ago; more recently Freud. And, I think, all of the divisive language that has been used has been used to prop up ones side in that debate. And, when she switched messages, she made her logical followers emotional.

    Emotion vs. Logic is a literary theme, a classic one. And one of the best. Shakespeare used it; Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Faulkner, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and my recent personal fave, Cormac McCarthy, have all used it.
    We must learn, as a party, to tamp down the flames of that argument. We must, somehow, learn to temper that debate and realize that we, as humans, are walking contradictions and that despite these internal debates, we somehow or other manage to put another foot forward.
    Now, let’s get together, and make it our best one…



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