The Media to Gloria and Geraldine: “Okay, You Want to Take a Stand? We’ll Show You!”

The Fawning Media, as if to say to two of our most outspoken women, “Okay, you want to speak out? We’ll show you!” Under their collective breath: “Onery women!”

The most recent flaps, first Gloria Steinem’s on-air utterance that John McCain’s war prisoner status made him no more viable as a candidate than Hillary. Whoa, did that raise the official patriotism meter! Perhaps I should say, arouse it. I think her point was that war experience is not necessarily a qualification for creating peace.

Then there was Geraldine Ferraro. I’ve just been laying low, not writing too much here, in my very own first blog entries, watching this tennis match, engaged, surprised, sometimes not believing what I see or hear. Here’s how covered this story after Ferraro had to justify her statement, made at a private event, that Obama is where he is in the 2008 Presidential race because he’s black:

“I got up and the question was asked, ‘Why do you think Barack Obama is in the place he is today?’ ” She alluded to her own position 24 years ago as the first female candidate for vice president.

She said Wednesday that her comments about the impact of Barack Obama’s race on the electorate were taken out of context and that she stands by her words.

She says in an interview, “It’s the guys sticking together. . . . If he were a woman of any color, we wouldn’t be voting for him right now.” Just as when she was a Vice-Presidential candidate in 1984: she claims she would never have been picked were she not a woman.

I think that’s true. She’s talking about experience, and that the black community is turning out for Obama simply because he’s black. Geraldine says she’s the first to admit that she was only picked for her gender. I think she’s brave–basically stating that race is an issue, as is gender. Isn’t that why many people are voting for Hillary–because she’s a woman? I admit, it’s part of why I am, so I can’t hold Obama supporters in any more judgment than that. They have to make a choice, it’s just a shame, based on the Clintons’ lifelong support of civil rights and the black community. How come now they’re the bad guys, and their entire contribution is called into question? Oh that? Well yeah, I’m sure, for some people.

But then, of course, the public got offended, went ballistic. In all the TV discussions nobody spoke of why that was happening. I think that Ferraro’s comments seemed insensitive, but were actually made purposefully with seasoned knowledge of the political system and electorate. She was trying to make a point. The sticky part was that people listened to her as meaning Obama didn’t deserve, or work to get where he is. Her statement didn’t seem to acknowledge the talent that he has and how he motivates and inspires others–people feel him.

So Hillary’s move in all this was to disavow both stalwart women who made inflammatory statements, as opposed to going more deeply into their actual meaning, and then using the breakdown as a way to open a discourse. Perhaps she could have taken a page out of Barack’s book this week: He turned all that Preacher Wright flap into a fantastic major speech on Race in America. Now that was some fine lemonade he made. It’s been wall-to-wall Obama, all channels, all week.

I know our girl’s been just a bit busy, flying lightning speed around the country, but what would have happened had she faced these issues and gone deeper into them? Could she have revitalized the debate about how the media and other women are treated? She likely thought of those topics as diverting her current message, which is true, and perhaps felt like we’re not ready for the fem conversation yet–just like half of the electorate seems to prefer a less experienced black man than a more experienced white woman. Oh, you’re remembering the part about, “she’s just not likable, she’s cold, I don’t trust her, she’s ambitious. If it were any other woman, I’d vote for her, it’s just her.”

Even the book I bought, thinking it would give me fortitude, after skimming it at B&N, “Thirty Ways of Looking at Hillary,” edited by Susan Morrison, has been too frustrating to read. Half the essays trash and super-analyze her, and the other half provide analysis that helps me understand why the first half is trashing her. Of course, they’re interspersed, and I can feel my stress level rise as moods pass through me making me feel like I’m going to rip the book in half, throw it away, or perhaps sell it right after I’m done. Sometimes I feel like I don’t want anyone else to even read it and destruction or trash might be best. Like when I go online, for instance to daily kos or the Huffington Post, or various news outlet blogs or comment sections, and Hillary haters are spewing. As a sorry few have commented about the language used to describe Hillary and her campaign, if people talked about Barack Obama in that way, it would be considered racist. After several Saturday Night Live skits, the media actually discussed it for a week. I was happy to see that, but they’ve since moved on and are back to their old ways.

Sigh. I’m just amazed. Hillary Clinton is such a fighter.


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