Politics Makes Strange Bedfellows

America, I–the hippie liberal commie lefty no-make-up-wearing, man-hating, lesbian, abortionist, feminist rear-guard–should not be reading things in The American Spectator that make me go “Well, I disagree with this and this, but I think his overall point is probably true.”

But anyway, here’s the thing that George Neumayr says that I sadly grow more and more convinced is spot on:

Since liberalism is not based upon natural justice but willfulness, it never fails to devour its supposed beneficiaries. Ferraro’s condescension captures the tone of paternalistic liberalism perfectly. Its “victims” should know their place and plot their ascent according to the progressive charts set up by the white liberal establishment.

We’ll let you know, Barack, when it is your time to win — that’s been the tacit theme of the Clinton campaign all along. Such is the generosity of Lady Bountiful she’ll even let him serve as her apprentice in the VP chair for eight years.

But chaos has erupted and the plantation progressives don’t know what to do, except to blurt out pent-up racial resentments. Then, the victims, whom they spent the last few decades training in hair-trigger racial sensitivity, turn on them in righteous fury, detecting nuances of racism in everything from Andrew Cuomo’s description of Obama’s press conferences as “shuck and jive” events to Bill Clinton’s belittling Jesse Jackson comparison to Ferraro’s sniffing at his “luck.”

Ignore the fact that Neumayr talks about “natural justice” and “willfulness” like being willful is a bad thing and waiting around for nature to take its course is a good thing.  And overlook for a second his stupid assumption that, if not for white people teaching them, non-white people wouldn’t be so racially sensitive.  I know those are big hurdles.

But answer me this: doesn’t it seem as if the outrage among Clinton supporters is rooted in this kind of blind outrage that Obama is overstepping?  That he’s taking a spot that Clinton deserves, not because of her qualifications, but because it’s her turn?

Because, let’s be frank.  If this turns into a contest about who is the most “qualified,” we’ve got a young U.S. senator who wrote a couple of good books and served in his state legislature vs. a U.S. senator with a couple of terms under her belt who was married to a dude.  Being married to a dude is not a qualification.

Listen, we have to take a moment and discuss this for a second.

It used to be that, if you wanted to be a Methodist minister (even though there have been women preachers in the Methodist tradition since its inception, I’m talking about what happened in general), you married a Methodist minister and you served, for free or for very little pay, in some mixture of Sunday School Teacher, Youth Group Leader, Secretary, Choir Director, and Organist.

Did the minister’s wife have a lot of power in the church?


Did the minister’s wife have a lot of responsibility in the church?


Did the minister’s wife often feel called to be a minister?


Was the minister’s wife a minister?


Even now, if a woman married a man right after college and was his spouse while he was in seminary and went through ordination and served with him in every church he served in, if she wanted to be a minister, could she just skip the whole seminary and ordination stuff?


Which was why it was always a bullshit move to funnel called qualified women out of seminaries and into parsonages as spouses.

At some point in the Clinton household, they decided to put their resources behind Bill and the two of them worked together for Bill’s success.  Does Hillary have a shit-ton of experience? Yes.  Does she intimately know more about being President than most folks?  Yes.

But it’s that same situation that pastors’ wives faced.  No matter how much you do, no matter how much your work benefits the church and is pastoral in nature, you are not the pastor.

In the same way that I, who spent almost every day of my life between birth and graduation from high school in church at least for a few minutes, who sat in the nursery and ran the youth group and read the Bible and discussed theology, am not a pastor (even though I joke that I have spent longer in Methodist parsonages than most ministers).

Yes, it sucks that women do work, hard work, for which we receive very little credit, in the furtherance of our husbands’ careers.  That’s why we have feminism.

But it is not good enough to suggest that the feminist thing is for women to continue to do work, hard work, for which we receive full credit, in furtherance of our husbands’ careers.

Women should do our own work in furtherance of our own careers or we should accept that we do not actually have our husbands’ careers and that the work we are doing, though important, is not the same as the work our husbands are doing.

But the thing is, I think this is another generational divide (speaking in broad terms) between feminists.  For older feminists, especially older middle and upper class white feminists, they could secure a lot of personal power and personal fulfillment working to further their husbands’ careers.  It was a way into various careers that otherwise shut women out.

But could you even imagine a woman my age or younger thinking “Hmm, I’m really interested in politics.  I think I’ll marry a politician.”?  “Hmm.  I really feel called to minister to others.  I think I’ll marry a pastor.”?  “I bet I could run a multi-million dollar corporation. I’ll marry someone with an MBA from Harvard.”?  “I find the law fascinating.  I should marry a lawyer.”?

It’s ludicrous on its face.

And for that, for sure, we have second-wave feminists to thank.

We don’t have to settle for being the wife of a doctor or a lawyer or a politician or whomever and working really hard to make sure they succeed.  We can imagine ourselves being those things ourselves.

But sometimes, sitting here at this end of the paradigm shift, it’s like watching a bunch of women who do not recognize the house they built for us.  They’re wandering around, marveling at how much laundry they’ll be able to do in the mudroom right off the kitchen and we’re all like “Wow, look, we can totally stick a fireplace here in the living room and I’m going to put some shelves in this room and make it into a library and I can make this room my office and, hey, look at this awesome deck we’re putting up out back here… No, that’s a window.  You put the door over here. Those are the stairs you built.  Yeah, remember, back in the sixties, when you wanted to make it easier for us to sneak lovers in here?  No, really, you did that.”

You made this place for us.  And we’re inhabiting it.  And, frankly, it’s hard to understand why you’re not inhabiting it, too.  But damn if we don’t see the likes of Ferraro, Jong, and Steinem out there pouting on the porch because they wanted us all to meet in the kitchen so that we could make a cake for Clinton and some of us were like “Um, we’re in the kitchen fixing lunch, so y’all cannot be in here, right now, too” and some of us were like “Why don’t we just buy Clinton a cake?” and some of us were busy getting our shoes on so that we could go over to Barak’s house.

I don’t know.  Maybe I’ve gotten off track.  But I read that, about how certain segments on the liberal side of things want to set the agenda for others and it rings true to me.  It feels like the truth.

And I’m really bothered by that.

22 thoughts on “Politics Makes Strange Bedfellows

  1. First, Clinton does have more experience than Obama. That’s just true. Maybe experience isn’t as important as some are making it out to be – there’s good research to indicate that. Maybe she doesn’t have that much more experience than he does, which is the argument I think you’re making.

    But I think you’re being incredibly unfair to her with regard to what she is counting as experience in the White House and in the Governor’s mansion and all the work she has done before, with, and since his presidency. I don’t think the minister’s wife analogy is fair at all. What formal training requirements do we have for politicians that are comparable to seminary? She went to law school all on her own, passed the bar, and practiced. She’s attended all the rallies and meetings for decades. She has line items on her resume as a First Lady that are not the same as Dolly Madison’s or Jackie Kennedy’s or whoever. She does know what daily life there looks like. She wasn’t the pres or the VP, but she’s not claiming that. She and Bill have always talked about themselves as a partnership and insisted she is exactly NOT the woman behind the man that you are saying she must be because he’s had more limelight. They didn’t throw in together for him; they share values and ideas and work toward them in best way they think they can while knowing that he was more electable in past trials.

    Maybe what some of these feminists want is not a “it’s him or me” but that we can rethink independence and partnership in ways that mean women finally get credit for all kinds of stuff we do in the background, that expertise does come from more than we used to think counted as experience building.

  2. First of all, what The Professor said. Second, Aunt B., the only thought that gets provoked when I read wingnuttia is usually “How can I get paid to write intellectually dishonest or downright pea-brained diatribes?”

    Trying to separate what looks like a good point from a wingnut diatribe is like plucking a kernel of undigested corn from a mound of feces. Sure, it’s a kernel of corn, but even if you wash it off you can’t ignore the time it spent as part of a pile of shit.

    Wingnut propagandists have decades of practice at making dishonest arguments. They have foundations and institutes dedicated to cultivating such talents and making sure they have unlimited access to our nation’s public discourse.

    So while I don’t disagree with some of the issues you raise and grapple with in your post, Aunt B., I just don’t think a wingnut diatribe is the best starting point for examining them. If you’ll forgive my using a second scatalogical metaphor in the same comment, the guy is full of shit and he’s writing about a process (campaigning) that tends to get very flatulent on its own. Much-ado-about-nothing².

    That’s about all I have on that, except to ask WTF is “natural justice”?

  3. No, I hear you and I agree that it is important to say that more than what’s normally counted as experience should be counted as experience.

    But I do think that two people, even in partnership, who say “we’re both working towards these goals, but you be the governor and the president while I wait my turn” are saying “you take the role as public face while I work to support you.”

    And yes, I believe that it’s true that, all things being the same, if Hillary had been more electable, he would have gladly supported her.

    But, frankly, I think you’re being too generous to that crowd of feminists who keep “supporting” her. I don’t think that they’re about rethinking independence and partnership. I really think they’re about being angry that it’s her “turn” and she’s not going to get it.

    I think, and I could be wrong, but I don’t think I am, that it’s very hard for those of us who have grown up in the world they made for us to get why Clinton getting her turn is so important to them, because to us, it seems like some kind of vestigial reason. There are tons of reasons why Clinton should and could be president.

    Being her turn is a very compelling reason to some women and completely foreign to others.

  4. That’s because you are very generous and fair-minded human being, B. And I can see where you’re coming from in what you wrote, I think.

    I guess I don’t really dwell on the sniping between the two Dems and their supporters, even if some of the sniping is based in deeper issues that are important. I just think that is so much else that is at stake that goes beyond the two candidates themselves, and those are things we should be paying attention to. What have they done with their political careers so far? Who are their advisers? Who are their largest campaign donors? What kind of policies can we expect from a Clinton and/or Obama administration? When I ask such questions, I tend to come up with answers that make me feel really cynical about November.

  5. Obviously, I don’t care much which one of them gets the nomination, so don’t think I’m favoring Obama over Hillary.

    CS,could your wife fill in for you at work?

    My wife is a brilliant woman. We talk to each other about our careers pretty much ever day.
    To think she could do my job, or I could do hers, for a minute, is laughable. There’s no way.

  6. There are times when good old fashioned, boring competency is what is needed in a national leader.

    This is not one of those times.

    I just don’t see why experience is so important, when what the nation needs is to be whipped out of its decades long doldrums, and discover its dreams and optimism again.

    Sorry, I know it’s a tangent, but I reject the premise that experience should be more than a minor conisderation this time around.

  7. Exador, as The Professor so eloquently explained, President of the United States is a unique job. More than that, though, as I said, you can’t just look at the individual running for the office. You also have to look at all the people they’re likely to bring with them.

    Also, as Slarti implies, there is a multitude of other factors as well. There is no telling what kind of ‘experience’ is going to best fit the circumstances faced by the next occupant of the White House.

    That said, Slarti, I must respectfully disagree with one point you made. “Dreams and optimism” are the last thing we need right now. The doldrums you describe are what we have inflicted on ourselves through decades of acting on fantastical and childish thinking. What this nation really needs is to grow up and face some harsh realities. We can choose to face those realities standing up or we can keep pretending until they collapse on top of us.

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  9. I don’t see how B is being unfair to Hillary in regards to her experience relevant to being President especially as she has defined what it means to be experienced enough to be President. What she points to in that regard is the kind of resume padding a lot of us do. Sen. Clinton has done a lot in the public and private sector for better or for worse. She could point to many things besides her time at 1600, but for some reason her team thinks that’s her best play.

    It is implicit in her argument that being married to Pres. Clinton is part of her “training,” which I don’t buy, but I wouldn’t discount it either. I’m the son of a former CAO in the TBR system. It isn’t on my resume but it becomes a mitigating factor if I ever go nuts and decide I want to be an administrator.

    We have to remember that “ready from day one!” is just as much a campaign slogan as “Yes we can!” If you ask yourself what it really means to be “ready from day one” you can infer as many meanings as you can to “Yes we can.”

    Anyway . . .
    George is really making a pot call with regard to how the liberals do things. “Waiting your turn” is a bipartisan ritual that the Republicans are very familiar with. He really didn’t mean that we would pick out that part of his diatribe and run with it, he wanted to wag the finger at the “hypocrites” on the left, saying the same stuff I’ve heard from a lot of right wing pundits today. Haha see what you get for playing identiy politics, hahah. It appeals to their idea of the gods being interested in retribution.

    There is a lingering feeling among some groups within the left that some of the base is less important than others, with White males at the top of the pyramid scheme. That was certainly the case back in the day, and my remedy for that as a political director was simply to show people that they are not less important. Suddenly, less infighting over resources, no complaints about why isn’t the President coming to our area, etc.

    Obama’s team gets that. Clinton’s team doesn’t. That’s because there are two former community organizers at the top of Obama’s campaign, himself being one.

  10. I love to see the 2 national parties being swallowed by their own hypocrisy. Whether it’s Republicans tapping their feet in public bathrooms, or Democrats yelling racism/sexism at each other, I have but two words for all of them:

    Reap it.

  11. What role race plays in this primary is an empirical question, one which will never be answered with any degree of precision. People will not admit, even if they do know, how much weight they give to race when voting. Ferraro’s comment though was not speculation. It was a bold assertion. She is a partisan – raising money for Clinton, not a disinterested analyst. It was a cheap shot, a violation of unwritten rules, and harmful to the party in the long run.

    Imagine if McCain and Huckabee were locked in a death match and, before a primary in a state with few evangelical voters (but many WASPS), a McCain supporter employed a similar technique. Not a perfect analogy but all I’ve got…

    Pundits on the left would, rightly, chastise the Establishment Republicans. The evangelicals would be indignant. They were cultivated and groomed by the party but get the message that getting the nomination is out of the question.

    Now suppose that a young WASP, call him Bif or Chip, favored the evangelical becuase he liked the guys policy preferences and the fact that the candidate grew up in a small town, went to some tiny Bible college, and rose to be governor of his state – evidence that the guy is on the ball. The young WASP is being told, implicitly, that it ain’t about that. All that stuff we said about self-reliance, initiative, faith and family… all about getting votes. We didn’t really mean it, at least to the point that one of those snake-handlers would get the nomination.

    George Will wrote a couple months back about the Repubican Party’s secret weapon – namely the Democratic Party. I don’t think most on the left favored things like affirmative action and diversity training in order to get votes. I think they really believe that stuff. However, does anyone doubt that there are many Clinton supporters who are beside themselves because they are losing to a black guy because,at least to some extent, he is black? Many establishment Republicans would feel the same way with a threatening upstart evangelical.

    Point: Aunt B is right to agree with that writer’s primary point. It is the truth.

    Point 2: The Clinton’s are, usually, great for Republicans. They were in 1994 and still are.

    Point 3: Hillary is very sharp and very capable but as ruthless as they come.

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  13. Don’t know what link I clicked on to find this post, but it’s terrific and on spot.

    As a Black woman, it’s always been there.

    Who the hell does this Uppity Negro think he is.

    As an Uppity Negro myself, I can spot the subtext a mile away.

    The entire ‘ Dream Ticket’ is the height of this White Privilege, Entitlement and Arrogance.

    Oliver Willis calls it the ‘ Back of the Bus’ proposition, and he’s on the money.

    The things folks have written and said on the air as it became obvious that Obama wasn’t going away; that he was actually WINNING this has shocked folks – White and Black – to the core.

    The White side is ‘ who the hell does this Uppity Negro think he is?’

    On the Black side, it’s been equally as revealing.

    The only reason that there hadn’t been a full-scale generational revolt by now, is that some folks were under the delusion that their elected officials actually had their best interests at heart. One by one, that’s been stripped away, and accounts for the vitriol from some of the so-called Black leaders. Black folk are actually beginning to utter the words ‘ Black Official’ and ‘ ACCOUNTABLE’ in the same sentence, and it scares them TO DEATH.

    I knew it would be ugly. I knew Obama’s candidacy, if it truly lived up to how I hoped it would, would become a National Racial Rorschach Test. Somethings have disgusted me, but very few things have surprised me.

  14. What I don’t understand about Hilary’s position, is why she hasn’t leaned heavily on her experience as an attorney, and then Senator, used that as a basis…because being a Senator or a Governor…that’s on almost *every* elected presiden’ts resume, no?

    And, then, from that basis, added on the “You know I wasn’t asleep when my husband was president. I picked up some good intuitions about doing this job, that does give me an edge over someone who say, has been in the Senate a comparable amount of time, but has not been quite as involved in someone else’s Presidency as I have been with my husband’s.”

    You can take issue with the amount of relevance that last piece has, certainly, but *not* with whatever she highlights as her work in the Senate.

    Why she didn’t make *that* her centerpiece, I’ll never get.

  15. Damn Aunt B, you’re a lesbian? Judging from the way you write, I always figured you were kinda hot.

    But you’re right on both counts, the author is full of shit but he pretty much nailed it on this one.

  16. Considering which election this is, and the particular tempers raging at the moment, perhaps I should amend my previous comment by pointing out that it was sly, slightly trollish snark aimed at provoking knee-jerk reactions, the act of which makes it infinitely less clever. I was, in fact, just kidding.

    (Unless you really do want to hook up sometime, Aunt B. Then I wasn’t kidding.)

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  18. Late to this post, but thank you for writing it. And the metaphor of the house is both graceful and apt. I dealt with many of the same themes (in particular, the piece about being authentically grateful for what the second wave feminists accomplished, and building on that) in this post, fwiw.

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