Can Crabby Old Lady be the only American or, at least, the only American feminist who feels no surprise and no particular gender pride at Senator Hillary Clinton’s presidential candidacy?
Over the past two years, gallons of ink have been used examining the senator, her campaign and voters’ acceptance of a woman candidate, and it has been obvious with every poll and every primary vote that the gender issue in regard to the presidency is dead. There will be a woman president this year or another, when the majority of voters believe the candidate is the best person for the job.
The zeitgeist of the country has been right for a woman to be president for some time. Building on that, Senator Clinton carefully prepared her way starting on the day of George Bush’s first inauguration. She never intended to be a bona fide representative of New York's interests as Senator Charles Schumer has been. Using her marriage to the most popular Democratic president since John F. Kennedy, she carpetbagged her way into the job and conducted herself in it for seven years as a stepping-stone to a planned presidential run.
Although Crabby didn’t like what Senator Clinton was doing, politics is politics and she isn’t the first to take advantage of a family member's popularity. Robert Kennedy did the same thing in the same state two generations ago. (Crabby Old Lady has never been able to forgive the voters of New York for falling for it – either time.)
Senator Clinton is an old-time, practiced pol, no different from the men in the race. Her campaign is calculated and calibrated depending on daily polls, just like the men. She stretches the truth in attacks on her opponents and runs misleading ads, just like the men. She gets as good as she gives - fairly and otherwise - just like the men. And she has held her own in one of the two top spots throughout the campaign, even making a fairly dramatic comeback last night.
No one can say the Democratic nomination process has not been fair in regard to Mrs. Clinton - as fair, that is, as politics ever is. Yet there is a coterie of certain women who continue to complain and who, Crabby senses, will not be satisfied with anything less than a unanimous anointment of Senator Clinton as Queen of the United States without all this messy bother of an election.
Yesterday in the Washington Post, there was yet another examination of women's support, or lack of it, for Senator Clinton. The title of the piece, “To Women, So Much More Than Just a Candidate”, is misleading as all the people interviewed for the story are professional feminists who, it turns out from the article, are not representative of Crabby, her politics and, most particularly, not her kind of feminism.
The jumping-off point of the story was the dearth of attendees at an Akron, Ohio rally in support of Senator Clinton where half a dozen prominent feminists were scheduled to speak. Not one, in the Post story, gave a reason to vote for Senator Clinton except that she is a woman wronged.
Marion Wagner, a regional director for the National Organization for women, says,
“The issue that’s not being talked about in this campaign is the blatant sexism. There are some people who promote Barack Obama because they want anybody but a woman. Would they like a white man instead of a black man? Of course. But they'll take a black man over a woman.”
Actually, Crabby is bleary-eyed from all the talk about sexism in the campaign and that last sentence gives Crabby a creepy feeling of old-style racism, or maybe sexism or both.
Marj Signer, president of NOW's Virginia chapter:
"They try to bury her, to vaporize her. They make her out to be a bimbo. I guess the message is that women are still fair game."
Bimbo? Did Crabby miss that debate? And Senator Clinton has more than held her own in the bury and vaporize sweepstakes on the campaign trail.
Diane Dodge, NOW president in Ohio:
"There are people who say, 'Your battle is over. There's no more sexism anymore,' she said. "Well, at the very least, maybe the whole experience of this campaign will wake those people up."
There is no one to wake up except the feminist leaders who haven't moved beyond 1965. No 21st century feminist believes the battle is over; it's just moved forward from the extreme rhetoric at the beginning of the women's movement, and continues to progress as this campaign proves.
Reporter Eli Saslow continues:
"As Wagner and other NOW executives toured Ohio last week, they repeated a resounding message: Clinton has been mistreated by an opponent who subtly demeans her, by mainstream media that ridicules her, by voters too threatened to vote for a confident woman, by young women who no longer feel the urgency of the women's movement, by African American women for whom race is more important than gender."
Is there anyone these women haven't dissed? If this is the leadership of feminism, Crabby Old Lady is embarrassed to call herself a feminist. Nowhere is there mention of Senator Clinton's strengths, of her positions these women believe are better than Barack Obama's or why she is the best person (person! not woman) to be president. And nowhere an understanding or acknowledgment that politics in the United States is a blood sport and the men, like Senator Clinton herself, will take every advantage they can. Like it or not, it's how the game is played.
The NOW leaders point, according to the reporter, to Senator Obama's pulling out Senator Clinton's chair at debates as evidence of unfairness:
"You can bet that's a calculated move," Wagner said, "and it's absolutely demeaning."
Oh, please. We fought that battle more than forty years ago. Today, it is a polite, social gesture; there is no subtle disrespect it.
"The problem, NOW leaders said," writes the reporter, "is that too many young women [are] turning to Obama because they feel no obligation to vote for a historic first for their gender."
Nor should they. Crabby is with the young women in this argument. Remaining pockets of prejudice aside, this election is not about gender or race or an historic first (although the last item will happen if either Democratic hopeful is elected). It is about digging our country out of the deepest trouble we've known in Crabby's 67 years, and we must choose the candidate we each believe can best do that regardless of gender, race or age.
The only group the NOW leaders did not demean are elders, but the one leader who made Crabby squirm most in this story is a Clinton fundraiser from Cleveland named Lana Moresky, who said,
"I think a lot of women are really in shock about it, and they're going to feel gypped if she loses." [emphasis added]
Where Crabby Old Lady comes from that word, a pejorative for the Romany people, is not used any more than the N word or the K word or all the rest that demean ethnic groups, and Crabby is surprised the Washington Post printed it.
It is hard not to wonder if Senator Clinton's recent slippage in polls and primaries (overcome in yesterday's primaries) was not, in some part, due to feminist supporters like these. If they are the leadership of the feminist cause today, Crabby Old Lady needs to find another way to describe her support of women's rights. In no way do these feminists speak for Crabby.
[At The Elder Storytelling Place today, David Wolfe is back with another tale from his childhood titled My Errant Behavior as a Grandchild.]