I’ve a long history of wading into hostile waters without floaties and I’ve no intention to stop doing so, but if I ever did, it’d be because of statements like “I see no difference presently between the terms democrat and progressive.”  Or claims that almost-imperceptibly-left-of-center candidates are socialist, communists, Marxists, &c. On the entire internet, this conceptual sloppiness is the only thing that ever threatens my equilibrium.  Stupidity I can handle.  Ignornace doesn’t bother.  Willfully ignoring what I’ve said will only earn you my titular faux-Hulk.  But play fast and loose with categories and you’ll piss me off so much I’ll have no choice but to ignore you.

Revising my dissertation, I think I’ve come to understand why: in my “professional” life, that’s all I do.  I define, re-define, pre-define, counter-define, retroactively define, retroactively re-define, retroactively pre-define, retroactively counter-define, &c.  The dissertation has taught me to put items in proper boxes because almost no one will be able to tell when you don’t.  Items and boxes entail a responsibility people who put Obama in the Marxist box (or Ayers in the Leninist box and Obama in the Ayers box) don’t understand, except unlike shifting London from the Darwin to the Spencer box, the actions of irresponsible bloviators have a measurable impact on our lives.  Stuffing Palin in the feminist box allows a host of anti-feminists in as well, as evidenced by the past week of Republicans in deep dudgeon over the “sexist” attacks on the VP candidate.

My metaphor, on the other hand, teeters on actual sexism, so I’ll stop while I’m behind.  Wait, can’t stop there either.  I don’t mean to say that there were no sexist attacks on Clinton, or that there haven’t been sexist attacks on Palin.  I’m simply saying the hypocrites who crow about “sexist” attacks on Palin care not one whit about sexism per se — that is, had McCain not tapped Palin, conservatives would’ve avoid women’s issues for the forty-fourth Presidential election in a row.

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23 comments

Agreed. I think the Daily Show pointed this out too. Although there is a lot about self-fucking in those proteinwisdom comments that is kind of… nauseating.

Charges of sexism have been hurled around so much during this campaign that I’ve begun to wonder if anyone actually cares about it or if they just trot it around for political purposes.

had McCain not tapped Palin

There you go again!

Can’t be that sexist — or wait, my lord, now I’m a homophobe too?

And David, you say it better than I did:

pecifically, I have contempt for women who like to fashion themselves as “pit bulls” or academic bullies, but upon being counterattacked, retreat behind a position of feminine weakness, whereby they proclaim themselves the victims of an ill-defined misogyny.

Although “contempt” may be a little too strong for me.

I join with you in the raised blood pressure. I’ve spent too much time lately arguing over the misuse of words like elitist, sexist or socialist. (Thanks for that last one, Pete Wilson, you moron.) And every time I start to feel like a flailing pedant, I remember linguist Victor Klemperer’s slow, careful documentation of the Third Reich’s Orwellian manipulation of language in Language Does Not Lie. Words actually do still matter.

The words of morons do not matter. Avoid reading them.

Post x-posted, comment x-posted.

Let’s see: I float my cursor over the links and see proteinwisdom.com over and over. Why are you bothering, Scott? Do you have liberal’s disease? How much evidence do you need in order to conclude that it’s a worthless blog with an intellectually dishonest poster and a host of commenters who think that “yah he’s socialist, he’s a commie” is the height of argument?

For the sake of sanity you have to be willing to give up on certain people who have proven, over and over, that they don’t want to think. At this point, that includes everyone remaining in the Republican party. Sure, their actions have to be dealt with, just as we have to deal with the next hurricane that rolls up to Louisiana, but you don’t have to waste brain cells trying to fit their confused mush of garble into proper boxes. You can’t make them be coherent, because they don’t think.

OK, that should be most words of most morons. In the cases of exceptions, the import will become clear enough, and can be dealt with then.

First, “tapped” is definitively proven not to be sexist. I win.

rja, I hate to say it, but Zizek of all people has a fine article on the importance of words and American myopia in this respect. It’s not often I find Zizek him as persuasive as he finds himself entertaining, but this time I do.

Rich and Jason, I know, but at the same time, I hold out hope (like every other occasional masochist).

See, I have a somewhat different take on this: the discussion of the sexism in regards to the Clinton campaign was, overall, a good thing, and a lot of people *do* legitimately care about sexism. Yes, her campaign was deeply flawed, but she had a solid record on women’s issues, taking on things like children’s poverty and Plan B despite the risk that she’d be seen as less serious for it. And now we’re talking about equal pay for equal work in a presidential race, a first in my memory. That campaign (which I didn’t support) raised people’s consciousnesses, to use that old phrase, that there are still grievences when it comes to equality – even for relatively well-off and accomplished women – though more so for those not doing as well, of course.

The Palin stuff, however, makes me want to hurt puppies.

Consideration of sexist bias in reporting is just an attempt to see the candidate more clearly, both her strengths and her flaws—to make sure that you’re seeing flaws personal to her rather than flaws falsely attributed to all women everywhere. It’s not like all other information about the candidate or her competition flies out the window at the mention of the “s” word.

In Palin’s case, one of those personal flaws is massive hypocrisy.

Although “contempt” may be a little too strong for me.

That’s funny, because when I first wrote up that post I wanted to say that I hate women who act this way, but then I softened it up to say I merely had contempt for them. (Wait…is contempt softer than hate? Either way, I really don’t like them.)

Basically, I think that all this concern-trolling over sexism is self-inflicted damage that Democrats are doing to themselves. Because of all the crap that floated to the surface from the Clinton-Obama brawl (and with some exceptions, I think the charges of sexism in that instance were also overheated), Republicans are using the sexist theme to allow a female candidate to hide from the press, and to characterize all attacks on her as somehow out of bounds. So she traipses around the country lying about her own record repeatedly and Democrats just sit there with their thumbs up their asses worrying about the discourse.

Fuck that. Attack her. Palin is like a hanging curveball that’s just sitting there waiting to be smashed, except the batter is too worried that in clobbering it he might hurt the ball, or the fans might be offended by him if he hits the ball too hard. It’s absolutely absurd.

Ach, the first sentence of that post was supposed to be italicized, as it was written by SEK.

It’s not like all other information about the candidate or her competition flies out the window at the mention of the “s” word.

Right. Look, morality aside, straight-up sexism strikes me as unlikely to work; women are the base of the Democrats, not the Republicans. There’s so much to legitimately criticize Palin about that there’s good reasons not to swing so wildly with the bat that you take out your own bullpen.

I’m not sure what it is that you want to say that’s sexist that you fear being squelched, so it’s hard to know what to say in response. The hypocrisy? Fair game. That she’s attractive? Probably not.

Also worth keeping in mind: she ain’t the nominee for President. If she does the job she was picked for, and fires up the base so they come out and vote, that’s all McCain needs out of her. Those people aren’t reachable; everyone else needs to hear more about how bad he would be.

I just don’t want to conflate the Clinton and Palin cases, myself. The fact that Republicans borrow feminist rhetoric in bad faith doesn’t mean there’s no problem there.

The problem here, or one of the problems, is that a lot of Democrats seem to believe that attacking a candidate’s personal character doesn’t work, even though Republicans have demonstrated, repeatedly, that it does work.

Sure, Democrats can keep focusing on the issues, the way they always have. That’s won them how many elections since 1964? American voters respond much better to personal attacks, which of course will include gendered attacks. But you have to know what you are doing.

I’m not saying Obama should make the campaign all about Palin. But let’s face it: right now the media is already making her the center of this campaign. Obama’s attacks on McCain: that he doesn’t understand the economy, that he offers four more years of Bush, etc., are old news by this point. Everyone has heard them, and most people have already made their minds up about it one way or the other. Palin, meanwhile, is becoming something of a cultural phenomenon, so the window of opportunity to do something to halt her in her tracks is closing.

As a side note, I don’t get the focus on her looks. She’s not especially attractive.

I don’t think she’s swoon-worthy, but look what normally passes for a cute Republican: a old white dude whose hair still has some color.

Just once, I’d like a Republican candidate for President to go home wondering what the hell just happened to them. Just once. Well, twice, because it happened to Dole in 1996.

My sense is that Presidential elections are fought out over four main areas:
1. national security
2. economy
3. culture
4. biography of the candidate

The Democrats have ceded 1 to the Republicans since Vietnam, the Republicans took back 3 & 4 in the 1980s, and that leaves 2 on the Democratic side. That’s not enough to win Presidential elections and it shows.

And for God’s sake, J McCain has been handing the Obama campaign pithy little statements to use for all of them.

1. John “Hundred Years in Iraq” McCain
2. John “I don’t know how many houses I have” McCain
3. John “I wanted to get the pro-abortion guy on the ticket” McCain.
4. John “I left my injured first wife for a rich second wife” McCain.

Imagine if the Democratic candidate had provided the Republican candidate with those openings? Obama’s only really used #2 so far.

People keep forgetting that John McCain is the most popular Republican politician in the United States, that his maverick reputation makes it very hard to tie him to the Bush administration, and that the docile press will never stop fellating him no matter how abusive he becomes. Plus, I’m not sure if anyone has noticed, but Barack Obama isn’t white. And this country is just a bit racist. Even still, it’s only a few days after the Republican convention, a big party at which McCain rolled out his super-secret weapon, the moosehunting mavericky Mugwump Palinbot, and he’s still barely even in the national polls. And none of that takes into account that Obama has more money for the home stretch and a ground game that would make the Barry-Switzer-era Oklahoma Sooners jealous.

Ari,

You are right. Obama can still win just focusing on the issues. When the voters get in a sour enough mood, it can work, as it did for Clinton in 1992 (although it seems worthwhile to point out that he won just 43 percent of the vote, and in fact never cleared 50 percent in an election).

But Democrats still need to get better at making personal attacks. The dumber the attack, the better it will probably play with voters. I’ve noticed lately on the stump that Obama keep saying, “They must think you’re stupid.” I have to wonder if Obama is wondering the same thing at this point as well.

David, I didn’t mean to imply that Obama shouldn’t be attacking more. Honestly, I’m not a very good strategist or tactician. My point was just that many people are getting very worried, and there may not yet be that much to worry about.


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