The culture wars are back!!


by Sunny
4th September, 2008 at 4:06 am    

It has been said often that the American generation of the 1960s started the ‘culture wars’ that led the country to among the most angriest left-right political debates of any western democracy. The political divide among the Republicans and Democrats is far and wide on social issues, even if they largely agree on foreign policy and economic issues.

Barack Obama said he was going to get over that, and this is one of the reasons why many conservatives like Andrew Sullivan crossed over to his side. McCain too was seen as a ‘maverick’ who opposed his party frequently and together they would conduct a civil and serious election that wouldn’t be characterised by mud-slinging. I called bullshit on that months ago.

And now Sarah Palin’s pick as possible vice president ensures the culture wars are back because even if she doesn’t rally angry Hillary Clinton supporters, she will certainly rally the traditional Christian evangelical Republican base. Don’t even get me started on what a nutjob Palin is.

Over at Socialist Unity, Andy Newman’s response to this is:

Although it is tempting for liberals and progressives to attack Palin for her socially conservative views, this is playing into the trap set by the Republicans. The trick is to keep talking about the economy, America’s oil dependency, social welfare and the war in Iraq.

On one hand he’s right – by giving into the issues Republicans love, Democrats / progressives are accepting that these issues are important, when actually they’re not as important as people dying of poverty or through wars.

BUT. This also betrays a problem with those on the liberal-left – they hate playing social issue politics. They would much rather focus on substantive issues like the economy and healthcare. I think this is a losing strategy. Social issues matter and there’s no doubt that people are interested and influenced by them. The reason why Democrats have largely stayed out of power since the 1960s is because they were bad at fighting the culture wars. Thanks to that, they’ve ended up in a situation where Christian evangelicals hold serious sway in an election; abortion rights are constantly under attack; and they keep losing elections.

Did I mention they keep losing elections? I think I did. The bottom line is – its time for Democrats, and the left in general, to learn how to fight and win the culture wars. Attacking Palin as a religious nut might annoy the hell out of the Republican base, but they’re not the majority of the country. It will rouse the Democrat base and also bring over the Independents – who are the ones deciding the election. Attack, attack, attack. Enough of the flaffing around.


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  1. Mushawaz — on 4th September, 2008 at 5:41 am  

    This upcoming Presidential Election will be unpredictable. Palin, for all the embarassing disclosures about her, and seeming lack of appropriate experience for VP, in fact, appears to be the catalyst that may bring out the Evangelical voters in Michigan, Ohio, Colorado, New Mexico and Nevada which could put McCain over the top or at least make the results on Nov. 2nd darn close, perhaps even cause another election dispute.

  2. Rayyan — on 4th September, 2008 at 6:59 am  

    I winced when she dissed Obama’s experience as a community organiser, then insulted his record and speeches. Is this how low they will go?

    Barack Obama, to his credit, told the media to lay off Palin. And this is how she responds? She’s airlifted lines right out of Obama’s own story: “politics at usual”/”taking on the lobbyists and the special interests and the big oil companies”. All this stuff about ethics reform – what lies! She even lied AGAIN about the Bridge to Nowhere!

    The gloves are off. You’re right, Sunny, the Democrats need to take the fight to the social issues: remind every American that believes in tolerance and pluralism, human rights and reproductive rights, ethics and telling the truth, just what these two people are. It is clear that the whole “maverick (McCain)/outsider (Palin) taking on politics as usual at Washington” and “Obama wants bigger government and more of your money” are going to be their main lines of attack, until it fails.

    In responding, the Dems cannot go this low but how should they respond? How do they avoid the trap of giving more credence to the smears by repeating them in an attempt to refute them? How can they fight McCain and Palin on these economic/political issues without giving more airtime to their opponents’ lies, which, as we all know, only gain ground in the minds of the American people the more the networks repeat them?

    We need to help by suggesting ideas on Oh Boy Obama, the unofficial campaign think tank:

    http://www.ohboyobama.com/

    We can’t donate money, so perhaps we should make some calls instead.

  3. tim — on 4th September, 2008 at 8:58 am  

    Remember that Andy Newman is a member of Respect, all of whose elected politicians take the same line on abortion as Palin.

    The line on this should be simple.
    Sarah Palin made her choice.She wishes to take away your right to make that choice.

  4. Harpymarx — on 4th September, 2008 at 10:30 am  

    I agree with what you say Sunny.

    Abortion is relegated to a “social issue” when it is politically vital to defend same with lesbian and gay rights. But also these issues are bound up together and you just can’t pick and choose your battles. I think it is politically wrongheaded to just talk about the economy but keep quiet on a woman’s right to choose. It also lets the right-wing dictate the agenda if we remain silent and also it shows we are running scared.

    “The reason why Democrats have largely stayed out of power since the 1960s is because they were bad at fighting the culture wars.”

    Or in fact capitulated, or remained silent or just plain confusing on issues such as abortion.

  5. shariq — on 4th September, 2008 at 12:01 pm  

    Sunny, its too simple to say Democrats need to fight the culture wars. Instead look at the swing states and what works there. I’ve been doing some math on 270towin.com and swing states are as follows.

    1) Pennsylvania and Ohio – If Obama keeps Penn and flips Ohio he wins. Hands down. Key issues in those states? The Economy, Health Insurance, Job losses.

    This is why he picked Biden (born in Penn, catholic) although I wouldn’t have been surprised or disappointed if he had chosen the Gov. of Ohio.

    http://www.theleftanchor.com/2008/05/vice-presiden-1.html

    Also, people in Ohio tend to be socially moderate/conservative so fighting culture wars there isn’t a great idea.

    2) Virginia + 1 of New Mexico, Colorado, Iowa

    Virginia is definitely in play. Its possible to win there without being pro-life e.g. Mark Warner who has also increased health care, cut middle income taxes and raised topend taxes. However, you want to emphasise the economy not the culture wars.

    In fact, why didn’t Obama pick Warner? Possibly because as a successful Governor his record would have overshadowed Obama’s. I reckon he’s a future president so lets see what happens.

    http://www.theleftanchor.com/2008/05/vice-preside-11.html

    3) Western Strategy – New Mexico + Colorado + Nevada

    Here you can finally say that winning culture wars would be successful as they tend to be more socially liberal. However it will be tough to take all 3 and is made worse by the fact that Arizona which fits the model isn’t in play.

    Overall, keep emphasising the economy while targetting people you know are democrat voters about the threats to a women’s right to choose. John Paul Stevens can’t live much longer!

  6. Hermes123 — on 4th September, 2008 at 12:08 pm  

    Patriotism, religion, strong armies, home-made apple pie….these are the things that will win the election, not just the fancy talk and speechmaking from Obama. It makes me weep, but that’s the reality in Amercian politics. Palin (yes a nutjob, Sunny) is a winner in the eyes of millions of ordinary working class Americans. Her background is a refreshing change from the liberal elite from the East Coast that usually dominates. Obama’s campaign reminds me too much of the arrogance of the Bliar years.
    I am sorry to say it, but Obama is history!

  7. BenSix — on 4th September, 2008 at 12:11 pm  

    And picking a VP sixty days before an election, purely on the basis of their symbolic worth isn’t arrogant?

    Ben

  8. Sunny — on 4th September, 2008 at 1:22 pm  

    I think it is politically wrongheaded to just talk about the economy but keep quiet on a woman’s right to choose. It also lets the right-wing dictate the agenda if we remain silent and also it shows we are running scared.

    Harpymarx – spot on!

  9. shariq — on 4th September, 2008 at 1:30 pm  

    Sarah Palin would have been a great pick if this election was mainly being contested in the Western states. Its not though, the key states are Penn, Ohio, Michigan and Virginia.

    A lot of those folks don’t care about culture wars and how Sarah Palin is a maverick governor. They care about better social services and new jobs.

    Folks, Barack Obama is not an economic populist at heart. Everything we knew about him before the campaign suggested that he was pretty pro free-trade. He’s adjusted his policies to fit the battle ground, knowing that after he becomes elected the main issues will be Iraq, Health Care, Taxes and Global Warming.

    I’m also afraid to say that in hindsight Hillary Clinton would have easily taken Ohio and probably won the election. Having said that, given the overall demographics it was worth taking the risk for Obama as he offered greater upside once he reached the White House.

  10. Hermes123 — on 4th September, 2008 at 1:42 pm  

    Ben,
    No, it’s not arrogance, just a very shrewd move by the Republicans. Certainly got team Obama wetting their pants in fear.

  11. BenSix — on 4th September, 2008 at 1:49 pm  

    Shrewdness isn’t the point. They’ve picked a VP purely for electoral gain, in the knowledge that – if McCain wins – Palin may have to step in as President.

    Ben

  12. Ravi Naik — on 4th September, 2008 at 1:49 pm  

    And picking a VP sixty days before an election, purely on the basis of their symbolic worth isn’t arrogant?

    You nailed it, Ben. Of course, such arrogance is just a symptom of the media giving a pass on his daily gaffes. I mean, imagine Obama going on tour in the middle-east, and confusing Shiahs with Sunnis and having a Republican correct him. But that story went against the media narrative that McCain is a foreign policy expert and more experienced than Obama, so this huge gaffe (which repeated twice afterwards) was largely ignored, as well is his constant reference of Czechoslovakia.

    And now, he thought he could get away with Palin by not even vetting her. He thought that any scandal that would appear could be easily brushed off by throwing “sexism” card. What McCain didn’t expect though, was that (a) what happens in Alaska, pretty much happens there, (b) each scandal is huge, (c) the media will continue to look the other way. However the on-going scandals are huge, and not even the media can pretend otherwise. I mean, a book-burning creationist who thinks abortions should be criminalised in cases of rape and incest? And they are selling her as a reformist – even Shamit was impressed at her for refusing the Bridge to nowhere. Except that is not just a lie, but a freaking big LIE. She was for it big time, and when it was refused, she still used the money.

    The reason why McCain is going to fail, and miserably at that, is that they are rehashing the exact same campaign of 2000 and 2004. The problem for them, is that we live in the world of youtube, blogs and whatnot, and there is no way they are going to be able to market Palin as a competent moderate conservative in spite of all the evidence otherwise. McCain would know that if he knew how to use “the Google” and “the internets”.

  13. Ravi Naik — on 4th September, 2008 at 2:02 pm  

    No, it’s not arrogance, just a very shrewd move by the Republicans. Certainly got team Obama wetting their pants in fear.

    A close source of mine from the Obama camp told me they were celebrating with McCain’s choice. Obama managed to break the 50% barrier for the first time in two major polls (after Palin’s choice was announced) , and the more people know about Palin and her ultraconservative ways – the less they will be willing to put her in a position of power.

    I mean, you think that the majority of Americans will want a book-burner creationist who wants to criminalise abortions in cases of incest and rape? And the idiots at the McCain camp think Obama will let her “reformist” rebranding go unnoticed?

    Oh, and Jeremiah Wright just got neutralised by Palin’s pastor – where two weeks ago in a service she attended, the pastor said that Jews killed by Palestinian terrorists were a punished by God for not being Christians. Not to mention her strong links (and her husband’s – he was an official) to a separatist party that wants Alaska secede from the US.

    This is not even a parody.

  14. Rayyan — on 4th September, 2008 at 2:42 pm  

    I can’t believed she lied about the Bridge to Nowhere AGAIN, on PRIME TIME – clearly these people think they can get away with it

  15. shariq — on 4th September, 2008 at 3:23 pm  

    Rayyan forget about the bridge to nowhere. She repeated the assertion that victory in Iraq is near. Even if you don’t consider that to be lying, its telling that not one single speaker at the RNC has mentioned Afghanistan once!

    http://www.democracyarsenal.org/2008/09/republicans-and.html

  16. Ravi Naik — on 4th September, 2008 at 3:33 pm  

    Best analysis of Palin’s speech here:

    I don’t think the Republicans are doing as good a job as the Democrats were doing about pairing their speeches to the strengths of the speaker. It’s as if they wrote seven or eight speeches, and drew lots to determine who would deliver which one. So you have Mitt Romney — one of the wealthiest men ever to run for office — critiquing east-coast elitism, and Mike Huckabee — who is an economic populist in disguise — critiquing big government, and Sarah Palin — who voters don’t know one iota about — critiquing Barack Obama’s biography

  17. Ravi Naik — on 4th September, 2008 at 3:39 pm  

    Rayyan forget about the bridge to nowhere. She repeated the assertion that victory in Iraq is near. Even if you don’t consider that to be lying, its telling that not one single speaker at the RNC has mentioned Afghanistan once!

    Most Americans will not know that there is a war in Afghanistan. The Bridge-to-nowhere, on the other hand, is just a damn lie that they are repeating, but will backfire, because the evidence is there. Why on earth are they selling her as a reformist, when she exploited the system as no other? I will spare you the details, but things are getting very embarrassing for Sarah Palin on that front, and it reflects really badly on McCain.

    McCain looks like an amateur compared to Bush and his team.

  18. Ravi Naik — on 4th September, 2008 at 3:49 pm  

    Talking about chutzpah, here is celebrity McCain in one movie (Wedding Crashers as his fucking self) and one Saturday Night Live sketch. Guess all the attention Obama is getting makes him jealous. :)

  19. Shariq — on 4th September, 2008 at 4:01 pm  

    Good point about the Bridge to Nowhere being a more important political tool Ravi.

    According to Yglesias she also slashed funding for programs helping children with special needs.

  20. Rayyan — on 4th September, 2008 at 4:28 pm  
  21. Ravi Naik — on 4th September, 2008 at 6:00 pm  

    Add one more blunder to McCain’s choice: she has upstaged him. Neo-conservatives are energised because of her, not with him. And this ticket is transforming from McCain-Palin to Palin-McCain. So McCain effectively made his ticket vulnerable to all scandals that are coming, and the media this time will not look the other way – for one, they are scandal whores, and for another it is too difficult to hide this enormous incompetence.

    It is also a time to reflect on what we are witnessing. A candidate who believes in book burning, in creationism as science, in wars led by God (she literally said that Iraq War = God’s will) is theoretically two steps away from becoming VP of the US. How far we have come from the Middle Ages, uh?

  22. El Cid — on 4th September, 2008 at 8:26 pm  

    This might not be the New York Times, but I still think you need a sub mate!
    “…as people dying of poverty…” . That’s just funny. I suggest you keep a lid on the bleeding heart stuff (that’s meant constructively).
    And what does “flaffing” mean?

    Anyway, on a more serious note, I see from the previous post that you equate going on the attack with giving up on objectivity. I guess I should salute your honesty. If that’s what rocks your boat and that of other picklers, then good luck to you. I don’t know what else to say.

  23. MaidMarian — on 4th September, 2008 at 8:51 pm  

    Sunny –

    There is a slight elephant in the room here I think. You have, of course, made no secret of your strong preference for an Obama presidency but there has to be an acknowledgement that the Clintons are masters of the culture wars game.

    I actually think that Palin is someone who very much can speak to disilusioned Clinton voters and can peel some of them off to McCain.

    Maybe it is because the Republicans are getting lots of convention coverage but I get a faint sense that Obama and the Democrat machine in general has severely underestimated McCain and that is not a mistake that the Clintons would have made.

    Attacking Palin as a religious nut would I fear do nothing but look desperate. Perhaps because desperate is a good description of what it would be.

    As they say over there – it’s the economy stupid. The values vote is a paper tiger. Evangelicals put food on no one’s table but thier own. Hillary struck me as understanding that, I can’t say the same for Obama and Biden.

    Sorry.

  24. Desi Italiana — on 4th September, 2008 at 9:07 pm  

    MM:

    “I actually think that Palin is someone who very much can speak to disilusioned Clinton voters and can peel some of them off to McCain.”

    That’s exactly what McCain was thinking when he put up Palin.

    “As they say over there – it’s the economy stupid. The values vote is a paper tiger. Evangelicals put food on no one’s table but thier own.”

    Er, no… values is very much a big deal here in the US, which explains why some poor folks vote for the Republicans based on ‘values’ rather than the economy. If they voted based on the economy, they wouldn’t be voting the Repubicans.

  25. Sunny — on 4th September, 2008 at 9:13 pm  

    Where is Rumbold these days??? :P

  26. Desi Italiana — on 4th September, 2008 at 9:18 pm  

    Sunny:

    I agree that the Dems are bad at playing the ‘culture war’ against Republicans, but IMO, that’s because Dems are largely part of the same culture (or a sub-set of it).

    Not sure if I am misreading what you’ve written here, but:

    “On one hand he’s right – by giving into the issues Republicans love, Democrats / progressives are accepting that these issues are important, when actually they’re not as important as people dying of poverty or through wars.”

    There should be no slash between Democrats and Progressives; they are not one and the same, progressives have criticized Democratic agendas and some see themselves as distinct from Demos.

    Secondly, the economy, America’s oil dependency, social welfare and the war in Iraq ARE important issues, at least to me as an American. And you say that these issues are not as important as people dying through poverty and wars; don’t people die from poverty partially because of the economy and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq?

    “BUT. This also betrays a problem with those on the liberal-left – they hate playing social issue politics. They would much rather focus on substantive issues like the economy and healthcare.”

    Economy and healthcare don’t fall under ‘social issues’? They do, partially.

    And yes, I want focus on healthcare and the economy. We need universal healthcare, hopefully subsidized by the gov’t (yeah right, as if that will happen) as every citizen’s right, and I want a sustainable economy.

    Also, I’m wondering what ‘social issue politics’ would entail…is there an example?

  27. Rumbold — on 4th September, 2008 at 9:25 pm  

    Sunny:

    “Where is Rumbold these days???”

    Pretending that Mrs. Palin wasn’t selected. Heh. But it is interesting to see all the abuse hurled at John McCain, an immigrant. Shades of the BNP?

  28. MaidMarian — on 4th September, 2008 at 9:33 pm  

    Desi Italiana (24) – Thank you for taking the time to reply.

    Yes, I agree that Palin was put in as a political calculation. A bloody good one it has to be said, but still a calculation first and foremost.

    I should have been clearer – values are certainly a big deal in America. I just suspect that they will not be first and foremost at this election. I may well be wrong!

    ‘If they voted based on the economy, they wouldn’t be voting the Repubicans.’

    Agreed. For all the heat generated by Bush’s wild goose chase in Iraq, I believe that the worst of his legacies long-term may be the disintegration in the value of the dollar. I saw an article that sid at one stage last year a dollar in 2008 was worth 60% of what it was worth in 2000!

    Either way – I’d still have a nasty feeling that the Clintons would be more likely to win on the economy, values or any combination.

  29. Desi Italiana — on 4th September, 2008 at 9:45 pm  

    MM:

    “I should have been clearer – values are certainly a big deal in America. I just suspect that they will not be first and foremost at this election. I may well be wrong!”

    Hmmm… interesting. I think on the Repubican side, values certainly ARE playing a role, with the creationism and abstinence and Christian shit. On the Demo side, I think that values DO pop up in this election in another way. Isn’t voting Obama indicative of some sort of ‘value,’ like ‘change’ (as vague as this notion has played out), and voting in someone who is not Anglo-Saxon looking? Even if Obama does not come from the same ‘group’ as the socio-economically disadvantaged African Americans, he still DOES represent some sort of ‘value’: looking at things other than JUST race (or bi-ethnicity).

    As a sidenote, I think that maybe Americans feel comfortable voting for Obama but he’s part Kansasian (?). I am not sure how much support he would have got if he were not bi-ethnic; but then again, look at Bobby Jindal. In the end, it’s probably how closely your politics and discourses align with the dominant framework that matters the most.

  30. Desi Italiana — on 4th September, 2008 at 9:49 pm  

    Obama’s wife, though, is a real firecracker, props to her. And interestingly, as Demos are wont to do, they have since attempted to water down her strong politics. Shame on them, they have no fucking balls whatsoever.

  31. Desi Italiana — on 4th September, 2008 at 9:52 pm  

    Expanding on comment #29 and 30 about Obama’s Kansas roots, I found this article on Slate:

    “Meanwhile, last week was also a big one for Barack Obama, with his triumphal convention speech highlighting his Midwestern roots (as opposed to anything more, ahem, cosmopolitan). There is now an “executive summary” of the speech newly bolted to his biography page. “Kansas heartland”? Check. “Values”? Check. “Christian”? Double check! (Michelle Obama’s biography was also reworked. In keeping with the effort to soften her image, a dry résumé was changed to focus far more on family.)

    http://www.slate.com/id/2199228/

    W/r/t Hilary, I remember they did the same shit to her: Demo advisors told her to “tone it down’ when her hubby was running. Because you know, strong women in politics have no place, unless they are Repubican (ie, my twins Michelle Malkin and Anne Coulter).

  32. MaidMarian — on 4th September, 2008 at 10:07 pm  

    Desi italiana (27) – ‘Isn’t voting Obama indicative of some sort of ‘value,’ like ‘change’ (as vague as this notion has played out), and voting in someone who is not Anglo-Saxon looking? Even if Obama does not come from the same ‘group’ as the socio-economically disadvantaged African Americans, he still DOES represent some sort of ‘value’: looking at things other than JUST race (or bi-ethnicity).’

    That’s too hazy I’m afraid – I can’t see that being the reason that people vote Obama. What ever ‘values’ the values vote is coming out for, it isn’t ‘change.’ This to me sums up Obama’s problem quite well actually. It all just feels very fuzzy at the edges to say the least. For good or for bad that is not something one could say about the Clintons.

    I agree absolutely with you that Americans will vote for a non-white person (male or female). It’s just that with the best will in the world I just can’t see that person being Obama.

    I hope I’m wrong.

  33. Ravi Naik — on 4th September, 2008 at 10:09 pm  

    You have, of course, made no secret of your strong preference for an Obama presidency but there has to be an acknowledgement that the Clintons are masters of the culture wars game….Hillary struck me as understanding that, I can’t say the same for Obama and Biden.

    I followed the Democrat primaries, and if anything, Clinton did play the culture wars game when she was in Ohio and Pennsylvania, with her sudden love of guns and her distaste for liberal San Francisco values and Obama’s elitism for bringing up the bitter comment. The fact is that her negativity brought and energised Obama’s supporters and independents. And she lost by March, it was improbable for her to win the necessary votes. Obama would not have the support that he has if he engaged in such divisive wars. After all, he does reach for evangelicals and has more support from these people than Al Gore and Kerry.

    The point is, that Obama has a better strategy than to play cultural wars (fire against fire), and he is betting that a good number of people are in real bad shape and want someone who is more interested in solving problems than to engage in negativity. It is undeniable that his “change” shtick has taken him very far. Which is not to say he shouldn’t attack – he has, and will continue to do so – and he can do it without actually engaging in cultural wars.

  34. Desi Italiana — on 4th September, 2008 at 10:18 pm  

    MM:

    “That’s too hazy I’m afraid – I can’t see that being the reason that people vote Obama.”

    I agree, so let’s look at how Obama had to fend off rumors that he was Muslim, and how he has made it a point that he’s Christian. In the larger scheme of politics, it doesn’t matter whether you are Christian or Muslim, does it? And yet, he had to respond to a values thingy.

    Also, being pro-abortion, pro-gay marriage, etc ARE values as well.

  35. MaidMarian — on 4th September, 2008 at 10:37 pm  

    Desi Italiana (34) – Yes, sort of. Firstly, quite how, after the Jeremiah Wright episode those rumours got any traction is beyond me, but there you go!

    I readily accept that ‘values’ may well be code for ‘religion.’ In other words, it matters very much to the ‘values vote’ whether one is muslim, christian etc. Obama had to respond to a religious question with all the laden connotations that has. Values were the connotation, but religion was the important part.

    Clinton, of course, has all her dirty laundry in public – fully scrutinised. If ever any candidate was in a position to take on the values crowd it was her.

    Ravi Naik (33) – I don’t disagree with much of that, but…

    ‘Obama would not have the support that he has if he engaged in such divisive wars’ The Clinton machine ultimately had no interest in forcing that issue with Obama because it would have dragged her down before the general election.

    It is a luxury that the GOP will not give him.

  36. Ravi Naik — on 4th September, 2008 at 10:43 pm  

    W/r/t Hilary, I remember they did the same shit to her: Demo advisors told her to “tone it down’ when her hubby was running. Because you know, strong women in politics have no place, unless they are Repubican (ie, my twins Michelle Malkin and Anne Coulter).

    There are many strong women among Democrats, not to mention liberal female bloggers. And I don’t think anyone was telling Hillary to tone down when she was a candidate. The trouble is that spouses can go off-message, or say something that is interpreted the wrong way and be ravaged by the media and the opponents. So I understand that position. There were several calls for Bill Clinton to tone down after South Carolina.

  37. Desi Italiana — on 4th September, 2008 at 10:45 pm  

    Hey, I have a question: how is one defining ‘culture wars’ here? I’m not trying to be cheeky, I sincerely want to know.

    Because Obama has responded (brilliantly, in my opinion, but ‘brilliantly’ doesn’t mean truthful, just that it was clever) about the priest thing, race relations, rumors about his being Muslim, etc, and I am not sure if that qualifies as ‘culture’ wars, but it might for some, so pray tell, what def. is everyone going by?

  38. Desi Italiana — on 4th September, 2008 at 10:48 pm  

    Ravi:

    “There are many strong women among Democrats, not to mention liberal female bloggers.”

    Yeah, but being a blogger and a potential (or actual) first lady are two different things, and during both the Bill Clinton reign and Obama campaign, their opinionated wives have been kept on a leash.

    “And I don’t think anyone was telling Hillary to tone down when she was a candidate.”

    I don’t think so either, not someone major anyway, though I’d like to check that. But she did get called really, really nasty things during Clinton’s presidency. And though I don’t agree with her politics, I did feel a certain solidarity with her because no one deserves to get denigrated based on their gender.

  39. Desi Italiana — on 4th September, 2008 at 10:49 pm  

    ““And I don’t think anyone was telling Hillary to tone down when she was a candidate.”

    No, but Maureen Dowd just couldn’t shut the hell up about Hillary being a woman.

  40. Ravi Naik — on 4th September, 2008 at 11:06 pm  

    The Clinton machine ultimately had no interest in forcing that issue with Obama because it would have dragged her down before the general election.

    It is a luxury that the GOP will not give him

    She was already with more than 20 million dollars deficit, virtually no support among the Democrat establishment, and even so she tried to get her way in counting Florida/Michigan votes. She was already way down, and had no choice but to concede if she wanted to have a future in the Senate (by that time Obama was more popular than her in NY state), and if she wanted to have a shot in 2012 if McCain ever manages to win.

    My take is that Obama’s biggest obstacle to the Presidency was Clinton, not McCain.

  41. Ravi Naik — on 4th September, 2008 at 11:29 pm  

    I am not sure if that qualifies as ‘culture’ wars, but it might for some, so pray tell, what def. is everyone going by?

    To me culture wars, is emphasising the differences between opposing values – e.g. traditional vs liberal, christians vs non-christians, NRA vs gun control….

    Yeah, but being a blogger and a potential (or actual) first lady are two different things, and during both the Bill Clinton reign and Obama campaign, their opinionated wives have been kept on a leash.

    I just mentioned liberal bloggers because you mentioned Malkin and Coulter. I think it has more to do with going off-message and not being as political savvy as their spouses than anything else. Did you see how Michelle Obama’s “first time being proud of America” was turned into?

    No, but Maureen Dowd just couldn’t shut the hell up about Hillary being a woman.

    True. She also uses the term “effette” to describe Obama. It is disheartening to see how the media, specially a publication like the NY Times, still hires these people. I mean Bill Kristol?

  42. Desi Italiana — on 4th September, 2008 at 11:56 pm  

    Ravi:

    “I think it has more to do with going off-message and not being as political savvy as their spouses than anything else. Did you see how Michelle Obama’s “first time being proud of America” was turned into?”

    I agree with you about the political savvyness, but from what I perceive, with Michelle’s case, it’s the attempt to tone down the ‘angry black woman;” I mean, why ‘soften’ Michelle’s image? Image is one thing, concrete quotes is another. I do agree with you that the ‘proud to be American’ was blown out of context, but I think there is another issue as well.

    I also think that Obama and Michelle both have to show they understand race without doing anything about it. I know I am not articulating this well, but I think their two-pronged approach to race is very clever: acknowledge that race is an issue (which it is in the US), but make it seem like, “But we’re not radical about it or anything).

  43. Desi Italiana — on 5th September, 2008 at 12:00 am  

    Ravi:

    Speaking of Maureen and telling Hilary to water down, here is an article I remember railing at when it came out in 2007:

    “Should Hillary Pretend to Be a Flight Attendant?”

    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/14/opinion/14dowd.html

    And then recent one of Palin, where Maureen’s take on Palin is different.

    “Vice in Go-Go Boots?”

    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/08/31/opinion/31dowd.html?em

    “It is disheartening to see how the media, specially a publication like the NY Times, still hires these people.”

    Meritocracy is sometimes a joke in the US.

  44. Desi Italiana — on 5th September, 2008 at 12:09 am  

    Why not Michelle Obama for president?

  45. Ravi Naik — on 5th September, 2008 at 12:29 am  

    I agree with you about the political savvyness, but from what I perceive, with Michelle’s case, it’s the attempt to tone down the ‘angry black woman;

    I agree. But do you think Obama would also win it if he portrayed himself as the angry black man? I don’t see it as a sexist issue to smooth Michelle down, but rather as a borderline racist issue.

    I also think that Obama and Michelle both have to show they understand race without doing anything about it. I know I am not articulating this well, but I think their two-pronged approach to race is very clever: acknowledge that race is an issue (which it is in the US), but make it seem like, “But we’re not radical about it or anything).

    Absolutely. I have to say I was pretty impressed with the way he turned the Jeremiah Wright fiasco into an advantage. I thought it was over for him at that time, and he managed to rebound.

    Why not Michelle Obama for president?

    I like her a lot. But I wonder if she wants that role.

  46. Desi Italiana — on 5th September, 2008 at 12:52 am  

    Ravi:

    “But do you think Obama would also win it if he portrayed himself as the angry black man? I don’t see it as a sexist issue to smooth Michelle down, but rather as a borderline racist issue.”

    Very good point about race rather than gender. Al Sharpton comes to mind, as well as the other African American candidate who caused a storm during one of the elections as an ‘angry black man’ (I can’t remember which election it was, and what his name was; his wife was of Indian origin).

    “I like her a lot. But I wonder if she wants that role.”

    If her husband wins, maybe after he’s done with his tenure?

  47. Ravi Naik — on 5th September, 2008 at 1:26 am  

    Al Sharpton comes to mind, as well as the other African American candidate who caused a storm during one of the elections as an ‘angry black man’ (I can’t remember which election it was, and what his name was; his wife was of Indian origin)

    That would be Alan Keyes, who ran for President in 1996 and 2000. He also ran in 2004 against Obama for the Senate. Here is a debate clip from 2004 which gets pretty amusing towards the end.

    If her husband wins, maybe after he’s done with his tenure?

    That would be a good thing.

  48. Desi Italiana — on 5th September, 2008 at 2:00 am  

    “That would be Alan Keyes, who ran for President in 1996 and 2000.”

    YES, THANK YOU Ravi.

    It was driving me insane that I could not remember Alan Keyes, and I kept Googling Alan Payne (?????)

  49. digitalcntrl — on 5th September, 2008 at 3:27 am  

    “There should be no slash between Democrats and Progressives; they are not one and the same, progressives have criticized Democratic agendas and some see themselves as distinct from Demos.”

    Democrats are pragmatic progressives that are willing to dump some of their principles so they can get the support of a couple rednecks in Ohio/Kentucky/etc. so they can maybe win an election or two.

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