Friday, June 20, 2008

The Media Don’t Get It

Another masterpiece from the Washington Post:

Since Clinton conceded to rival Obama in the Democratic race on June 7, there has been endless speculation about the intentions of her disappointed female supporters.

Would they refuse to support Obama? Not vote in November's presidential election? Or worse, throw their support to Republican McCain?

What I most take issue with in this article is the phrase “disappointed female supporters.” The media are attempting to turn this group into a bunch of emotional, irrational, over-the-hill feminists.

First, there are a number of men among the Hillary Clinton supporters who have not gotten behind the ticket. The founder of PUMA (Party Unity, My Ass), Will Bower, is male, as is the operator of the much maligned NoQuarter, Larry Johnson. Hillary’s coalition was made up of large numbers of men, including this one. Many of those not (yet, hopefully) supporting the ticket are also men.

Second, this isn’t about disappointment. Many Clinton supporters, myself included, believe that the media and Democratic Party leaders put their thumbs on the scale for Obama.

On March 8, Rasmussen released a report indicating that 59% of Democratic voters believed that superdelegates should support the winner of the popular vote, in the event that the pledged delegate leader was not the winner of the popular votes. Only 25% of Democratic voters and 32% of Obama supporters believed that the nomination should go to the pledged delegate leader if he/she did not win the majority of the popular votes.

That data, many of us believe, is the reason that Senator Obama refused to get behind re-votes in Florida and Michigan. Many of us interpreted his silence, as well as the silence of party leaders, as acquiescence.

Just six days later, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told George Stephanopolous:

"If the votes of the superdelegates overturn what's happened in the elections," said Pelosi, "it would be harmful to the Democratic Party."


"But what if one candidate has won the popular vote and the other candidate has won the delegates?" asked Stephanopoulos.

"But it's a delegate race," Pelosi replied. "The way the system works is that the delegates choose the nominee."

Given that Senator Obama had, by that point, amassed a pledged delegate lead that would be nearly impossible for Senator Clinton to close, that was an indisputable nod to Senator Obama.

Despite the Rasmussen polling data, the narrative in the media was that popular votes did not count, that Senator Clinton had no chance to close the pledged delegate deficit, and that she should drop out of the race:

Here's another first: the press's unique push to get a competitive White House hopeful to drop out of the race. It's unprecedented.

Looking back through modern U.S. campaigns, there's simply no media model for so many members of the press to try to drive a competitive candidate from the field while the primary season is still unfolding.

Until this election cycle, journalists simply did not consider it to be their job to tell a contender when he or she should stop campaigning. That was always dictated by how much money the campaign still had in the bank, how many votes the candidate was still getting, and what very senior members of the candidate's own party were advising.

After the North Carolina and Indiana primaries, I accepted the fact that Hillary would most likely not gain enough of a popular vote lead to convince the superdelegates to support her, especially when the media were declaring her dead. It seemed to me that the narrative was working against her and that it was impossible for her to change narrative.

When the Rules and Bylaw Committee met at the end of the May, I did not expect a game-changing outcome, but I also did not expect the farce that came out of that meeting. Halving Florida’s delegation was fair, as was halving Michigan’s. But giving Obama four of Hillary Clinton’s pledged delegates was a slap in the face. That backroom deal was about sending the Clintons a message: “Piss off.” By that point, it was clear that Obama would be the nominee and that those four delegates would have made absolutely no difference. They did it because they could. Not because it was fair.

Now that the process is over, party leaders are making some efforts to reach out to the Clinton Democrats. Party leaders are now singing Hillary’s praises and Gov. Dean has finally acknowledged the sexist media coverage that Hillary faced.

For many, it’s too little, too late.

The DNC furiously canceled a debate with Fox because it ran the infamous Obama madrassa smear. Where was the DNC when Chris Matthews said Hillary got elected because Bill cheated on her? Where was the DNC when David Schuster said that Hillary was “pimping out” Chelsea? Where was the DNC when Keith Olbermann said that someone needed to take Hillary into a room and only he should walk out? Where was the DNC when a CNBC outlet store at Reagan International Airport began selling the nutcracker? Where was the DNC when Ken Rudin compared Hillary Clinton to the Glenn Close character in Fatal Attraction?

Now they respond to overtures from Senator McCain by reminding Clinton supporters about McCain’s record on abortion and other issues, something that we have done at Clintonistas for Obama.

These public statements now come across as pandering: “Come now, dearie. I feel your pain. But if you don’t vote for Senator Obama, John McCain will control your fetus.”

In the end, the superdelegates had the right to choose whomever they wanted. They chose Obama. I think it was an unwise decision, but that is their right. For many of us, with party leaders and the media pushing their thumb on the scales and with Obama supporters like Jesse Jackson Jr. recruiting candidates to challenge Hillary’s African American supporters in Congress, it seems as though that decision was made under duress. But at the end of the day, they made their decision. It was a close election and it could have gone either way. I see Obama’s nomination as legitimate, and I have no problem supporting him.

I have made the decision to support the ticket because I personally have too much to lose if anybody other than the Democratic nominee is elected. It is not out of the loyalty to the Democratic Party, because I have none. It is not because I identify myself as a Democrat, because I’m a registered independent. It is not because I am such a great admirer of Senator Obama, because I am not.

It may be easy to call the Clinton Democrats who haven’t joined me in the Obama camp “bitter,” “dead-enders,” or “Republicans.” It certainly is easier to dismiss their indignation as sour grapes than it is to address their frustrations.

Senator Obama has my vote, and I’ll be doing everything I can to convince other Clinton Democrats to do the same. In the meantime, I would encourage my fellow progressives to see the Clinton Democrats for the good, loyal Democrats they are and treat them as such.


Post a Comment