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Saturday, June 07, 2008

Stereotypes in 2008

Today, Hillary Clinton delivered a speech in Washington suspending her campaign and throwing her support to Barack Obama. Unsurprisingly, journalists, bloggers and political analysts have spent much of this past week analyzing why Clinton's campaign failed. After all, she started out as the big favorite with significant advantages.

Many of her most fervent supporters believe that Clinton was a victim of overt media bias and sexism. For example, a number of bloggers have been linking to this video highlighting the disturbing sexism and misogyny in the media. In linking to this video, Judith Warner wrote on June 5:
... if similarly hateful racial remarks had been made about Obama, our nation would have turned itself inside out in a paroxysm of soul-searching and shame.
Is this basic analysis correct?

Was Hillary Clinton victimized in a way that Barack Obama was not?

Allow me to review some of the lowlights of this past campaign. I'll ignore informal reports of racism on the campaign trail. Let's pretend the voting demographics don't matter and overlook the role Obama's black church played in the campaign. Instead, I'll focus on the same kind of verbal snippets used in the video.

Joe Biden, February 2007:
"I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy,"
Biden said. "I mean, that's a storybook, man."
Billy Shaheen, December 2007:
"one of the things Republicans are certainly going to jump on is his drug use."..."It'll be, 'When was the last time? Did you ever give drugs to anyone? Did you sell them to anyone?'" Shaheen said. "There are so many openings for Republican dirty tricks. It's hard to overcome."

Bill Clinton, January 2008
"Jesse Jackson won South Carolina in '84 and '88," Clinton said at a rally in Columbia. "Jackson ran a good campaign. And Obama ran a good campaign here."
Hillary Clinton, January 2008:
"Dr. King’s dream began to be realized when President Johnson passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, when he was able to get through Congress something that President Kennedy was hopeful to do, the president before had not even tried, but it took a president to get it done,” she said. “That dream became a reality, the power of that dream became real in people’s lives because we had a president who said we are going to do it and actually got it accomplished.”
Bill O'Reilly, February 2008:
"I don't want to go on a lynching party against Michelle Obama unless there's evidence, hard facts, that say this is how the woman really feels. If that's how she really feels -- that America is a bad country or a flawed nation, whatever -- then that's legit. We'll track it down."
Geraldine Ferraro, March 2008:
" "I got up and the question was asked, 'Why do you think Barack Obama is in the place he is today" as the party's delegate front-runner? "I said in large measure, because he is black....If Obama was a white man, he would not be in this position. And if he was a woman, he would not be in this position. He happens to be very lucky to be who he is. And the country is caught up in the concept."
Ron Fournier (AP), March 2008:
Arrogance is a common vice in presidential politics. A person must be more than a little self-important to wake up one day and say, "I belong in the Oval Office." But there's a line smart politicians don't cross — somewhere between "I'm qualified to be president" and "I'm born to be president." Wherever it lies, Barack Obama better watch his step. He's bordering on arrogance....both Obama and his wife, Michelle, ooze a sense of entitlement.
Hillary Clinton, April 2008:
Sen. Obama's remarks are elitist and they are out of touch. They are not reflective of the values and beliefs of Americans. Certainly not the Americans that I know - not the Americans I grew up with, not the Americans I lived with in Arkansas or represent in New York.
Rep. Geoff Davis (R-KY), April 2008:
“I’m gonna tell you something. That boy’s finger does not need to be on the button,”
Mike Huckabee, May 2008:
Appearing in front of about 6,000 gun rights activists, Huckabee's speech was interrupted by a loud noise. The former Arkansas governor said, "That was Barack Obama. He just tripped off a chair. He's getting ready to speak and somebody aimed a gun at him and he -- he dove for the floor."
Hillary Clinton, May 2008:
"I have a much broader base to build a winning coalition on," she said in an interview with USA TODAY. As evidence, Clinton cited an Associated Press article "that found how Sen. Obama's support among working, hard-working Americans, white Americans, is weakening again, and how whites in both states who had not completed college were supporting me."
HRC was correct about one thing she said in May, "There's a pattern emerging here."

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