Wednesday, January 09, 2008

How far we haven't come.

(Note to readers unfamiliar with the American electoral process: We are early into our state by state "primary" elections, by which we decide who will be the candidates for the Presidential election in November. Yesterday was New Hampshire's primary.)

Because I hardly ever watch television, I don't see television news, and I don't become inured to it. When I do watch, I'm always taken aback by how crass and insulting it is.

Last night we turned on the idiot box to catch some of the results and wrap-up from New Hampshire. I was floored, just floored, by the coverage of Hillary Clinton. Holy shit: it's still all about whether or not she's "shrill," or shows enough emotion, or whether her having shown emotion a couple days ago is something "women, particularly, can identify with and respond to..." and on and on and on in that vein. What. The. FUCK. Is this where we still are? Can we not let this kind of crap go? Yeah, I've been hearing radio talk show assholes snicker about the size of her behind, etc., but in my naivete I didn't think the mainstream television news was itself so little removed from that.

It's insulting, both to her and to all of us, women and men, as voters.

When these campaigns were just getting going, it grated on me that the Democratic candidates perceived to be front runners were discussed as "Hillary, Edwards and Obama." Never "Hillary, John and Barack," cause that would (rightly!) have sounded really weird. Why the double standard in the use of her first name? It struck me as disrespectful until I saw that her own website is bannered "Hillary for President." So, OK, I guess. Maybe she likes it, and/or she's using it to give her campaign a kind of down-home familiar glow. I still think that it's inappropriate from major broadcast media, unless we're going to start talking about Barack and John, too. It's inconsistent, which in news coverage, means it's flawed. That nobody significant cares doesn't mean it isn't wrong.

I'm a ways off from deciding for whom to vote in the Massachusetts primary on February 5, and I've never been a particular fan of Hillary Clinton's. However, after taking in just a tiny fraction of the complete and utter nonsense that passes for legitimate discussion of her candidacy, I do have new respect for her. Issues aside, however far she gets, it's in spite of a lot of very disheartening, still very backward thinking.


  1. The name thing really annoys me, too. By playing along, I think she contributes to a problem that is pervasive throughout the press and even literature. It's her choice, obviously, but there should be one standard for all, regardless of gender.

    Also, they are reporting, in Europe, that her emotional breakdown (..they call *that* a breakdown?!?), gave her the win in NH. Appalling...


  2. I hesitate to go so far as to say she's contributing to a problem. There's too much damned-if-she-does, damned-if-she-doesn't as it is. I'm not going to fault her for "Hillary for President"; I do wish the media would hold to a standard when discussing the candidates.

    That's odd about the reporting in Europe. Sen. Clinton didn't have a "breakdown." Britney Spears had a breakdown. You'd think the press would know the difference. Apalling is right.

  3. Perhaps they are making a distinction between the Clintons - Bill and Hillary? Like "George W." or "Dubya"

  4. It bugs the heck out me too when they refer to Clinton as Hillary but the guys are all referred to by their last names. Perhaps there might be some confusion with her husband, but we got through that with Bush I and II.

    Unfortunately, I think it is inevitable that people start talking about her thick ankles, her waistline, her butt, her hair - all because she is a woman. We have a l--o--n--g way to go yet! Then again, nobody talked about Margaret Thatcher's physical attributes, did they?

    Perhaps we should start a "political" blog that picks apart the male candidates' clothing choices, physical appearance, etc., for balance.

    Our primary in Michigan is worthless if you support a Democrat. The DNC doesn't approve of our Jan 15 primary, so most of the Dem candidates aren't on our ballot. Just Clinton and Kucinich. No Obama, no Edwards. And you can't write anyone in, so supporters of Obama and Edwards are urged to vote "Uncommitted." Whoopee! Since it is an open primary, I'll probably vote in the Republican primary. They've got a full slate of candidates, at least.