This is what I hate about politics

The Clinton campaign has put out a last-minute attack mailing against Obama in New Hampshire, and the content really pisses me off:

Barack Obama’s campaign fought back Sunday against rival Hillary Rodham Clinton in an under-the-radar dispute over who would best protect abortion rights.

Obama’s campaign made automated phone calls to New Hampshire voters accusing Clinton of “last-minute smears.”

The recorded message came in response to a Clinton mailing that said Obama failed to stand up for the right to choose abortion. The mailing said that while serving in the state Senate in Illinois, Obama voted “present” seven times on abortion legislation instead of taking a yes or no position.

In the Obama call, Wendy Frosh, of Planned Parenthood in Northern New England, said Obama “has a 100 percent pro-choice record and has always been a champion for women’s rights.”

Yes, this does look very bad on paper. But here are the facts: Obama’s “present” votes were Planned Parenthoods’ idea.

Pam Sutherland, president of Illinois Planned Parenthood Council, said Mr. Obama was one of the senators with a strong stand for abortion rights whom the organization approached about using the strategy. Ms. Sutherland said the Republicans were trying to force Democrats from conservative districts to register politically controversial no votes.

Ms. Sutherland said Mr. Obama had initially resisted the strategy because he wanted to vote against the anti-abortion measures.

“He said, ‘I’m opposed to this,’” she recalled.

But the organization argued that a present vote would be difficult for Republicans to use in campaign literature against Democrats from moderate and conservative districts who favored abortion rights.

Lisa Madigan, the Illinois attorney general who was in the Illinois Senate with Mr. Obama from 1998 through 2002, said she and Mr. Obama voted present on the anti-abortion bills.

“It’s just plain wrong to imply that voting present reflected a lack of leadership,” Ms. Madigan said. “In fact, it was the exact opposite.”

I recommend reading the full article, because it explains some of the weirdness of the “present” vote culture in Illinois. I find it to be odd, too, but Obama didn’t make the rules. As for the rest of his “present” votes, I think that he has given adequate explanations for most of them. Others, not so much. But then again, Clinton doesn’t exactly have a perfect voting record, either. What pisses me off is that Clinton and her campaign are smart enough to know better. They know that the ads are huge manipulations of the truth and that Obama is actually an incredibly strong pro-choice candidate. In fact, it’s probably my favorite thing about the guy. So I call bullshit very loudly and indignantly.

The upside, I realized, after the burst of anger subsided, is that there really must be parts of this country where abortion rights are a winning issue. Otherwise, the mailing never would have seen the light of day.

I also can’t bring myself to pick on Clinton too greatly. Earlier today, during a Q&A session, she teared up while answering a question about “how she does it.” The video is after the jump.

I think that all of us have been anticipating for some time that if this ever happened — if Hillary dared to shed a tear — she would be torn apart by the masses and get quite the opposite reaction to what her husband’s tears received. But you know who I didn’t think was going to be the first to jump at the opportunity to call Clinton weak? My candidate John Edwards:

ABC News’ David Muir, Raelyn Johnson and Sunlen Miller Report: Former Sen. John Edwards, D-N.C., on the tail end of his 36-hour campaigning marathon in New Hampshire on day before the primary vote, reacted to rival Sen. Hillary Clinton’s emotional moment Monday.

Edwards offered little sympathy and pounced on the opportunity to question Clinton’s ability to endure the stresses of the presidency.

“I think what we need in a commander-in-chief is strength and resolve, and presidential campaigns are tough business, but being president of the United States is also tough business,” Edwards told reporters Laconia, New Hampshire.

Seriously. Edwards. Go fuck yourself.

No, I don’t believe that he would have made the same remarks if Obama got choked up talking about missing his daughters or something like that. And not only because Edwards seems to be running for Obama’s VP right now, but because it would be considered a mean and low blow. It still is unnecessarily cruel and pointless. I also think that he’s capitalizing on misogyny, which makes the statement itself misogynist.

Certainly, Edwards has pissed me off before. And certainly, he has never taken my advice. But I give him 24 hours to issue an apology. Which I don’t see coming. And then, I think I’m going to have to hitch a ride on the Obama bandwagon. At this point, I can’t really say that any of the candidates have the levels of personal integrity I would like. That includes Obama. He has launched some attacks that I absolutely can’t get behind.

And yet, he has also managed to go several weeks now without making me want to punch him in the nose. Which is more than I can say for the rest of the candidates. And sadly, probably the best that I can hope for.

UPDATE: Edwards has backed off of his remarks about Clinton. It’s about halfway through the video. The problem? It’s more of a denial than an apology. The remarks he makes here are the remarks he should have been in the first place, and I can’t help but feel that he’s being a tad disingenuous that his remarks not referring to Clinton.

On the other hand, fuck, the guy is likable. This is indeed the Edwards dilemma. He absolutely infuriates me over something that it’s totally justifiable to get pissed about. And then he goes and acts like a great guy and an awesome candidate and makes me remember why I liked him in the first place. *grumbles*

Your thoughts?

0 thoughts on “This is what I hate about politics

  1. Merope

    Yes to all of your points. Edwards’ jumping at this “opportunity” is surprising and disgusting. For not the first time, I’m wondering who it is I want to support.

  2. Cara Post author

    Yeah . . . there is apparently now some debate at Feministing over what Edwards meant about his remark. Someone claims to have seen a video of it and says his comments were made in a sympathetic tone. But they didn’t post a link, and I haven’t seen it posted anywhere else. If a video does turn up, I’ll let you know.

  3. MR

    Obama has never actually done anything. After a privileged upbringing he went from being editor of the Harvard Law Review in 1990 to the Illinois state legislature for a safe all-black district in 1996 to being elected virtually unopposed to the Senate all of three years ago. He has absolutely no record for anything except windy rhetoric of the “let’s all unite and feel good” type which some people seem to love so much. If he didn’t have the novelty value of being black he would never even have thought of running for president.

    It now appears that he may well be able to beat Clinton and bluff his way to the nomination, but if he is nominated the Repubs will absolutely eat him alive, particularly if they have enough brains left to nominate McCain, a man percieved by many as having real substance and integrity and with a distinguished personal and political record. Not only will the Repubs quite legitimately be able to attack Obama for his non-existent record and experience, and for the shallowness of his policies, which are mostly just slogans, they will also run a covert racist campaign that will undermine his support everywhere except on the liberal coasts.

    Given Bush’s record, the Repubs ought to be heading for a massive defeat in November, but the Dems might just have found a way to lose again – by nominating a candidate with zerocredentials to be president and massive vulnerability to the kind of dirt campaign the Repubs do so well. It’s hard to credit, really.

  4. Cara Post author

    Hmm. Somehow, MR, with your mentioning Obama’s race twice in your attack of how he’s unqualified, I have trouble taking your comment in good faith and believing that you don’t like him for a reason other than — as you so helpfully point out — he’s black.

    And actually, Obama has the longest record in public office when compared to both Clinton and Edwards. I agree with you that Obama’s policies are more rhetoric than actual plans, but I do think that will change somewhat once he wins the nomination. It also doesn’t seem to be bothering the people all over the country who are placing him first in the primary polls.

    You’re also right that the Republicans will run a racist campaign if Obama gets the nod. But here’s a clue: the Republicans always run a racist campaign. And do you think they won’t run a sexist campaign if Hillary wins? And that they won’t run just a plain old dirty, deceitful campaign like they did to bring down Kerry and Gore? Because they’re all white. There are more than enough overt racists out there — I write about them regularly. I also try to not make my political decisions based on what racists think.

  5. MR

    Remember Harold Ford, the black Democrat Senate candidate in Tennessee in 2006, who polled well below what the polls said he would poll. This is called the Bradley Effect, after Tom Bradley, the black Los Angeles mayor who twice ran for Governor of California and twice lost, despite polls saying he would win.

    Voters act very differently in the privacy of the voting booth than what they tell public pollsters.

    The Dems would be mad to nominate Obama: not only would the Repubs eat him alive for his total lack of experience, but white voters in the crucial states wouldn’t vote for him, regardless of what they tell the polls.

    The allegation that Obama has no qualifications to be president (only a federal Senator for 3 years – compare that to JFK’s 8 or Warren Harding’s 6) will not be a smear, it will be a fact, and the Repubs will flog it for all it’s worth. That, on top of the Bradley Effect and the racist campaign the Repub grassroots will run, would make Obama’s job very difficult, whatever the polls say now.

  6. Cara Post author

    Shorter MR: “I’m not going to vote for a black man because racists won’t vote for a black man.”

    I’m sure that those racists are other people, though. Not the ones telling us to not vote for Obama because he’s black, but the ones who . . . uh, are telling us to not vote for Obama because he’s black?

    Of course these things are of genuine concern, and the Dems should be thinking about how to handle the attacks now. But they’re also a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy, and hardly the way to make voting decisions. If the polls are wrong, we’ll find out soon enough, when people all across the country get into their voting booths in the next month or so, now won’t we?

  7. Crispy

    Boy, that’s just what I’m looking for in a leader: “Obama’s “present” votes were Planned Parenthoods’ idea”. Not that Hillary has shown much in the way of leadership as a Senator.

    By the way, for all the bigots out there of all kinds, Barack Obama is actually of mixed race, with a white mother and black (African from Kenya) father. It doesn’t really matter to me, since I’m mixed too, but some folks find blood of this color to be a positive and that color to be a negative–he’s got both.

  8. Cara Post author

    I don’t see what is wrong with Obama talking to the country’s most famous pro-choice organization about his pro-choice votes. Actually, I think it’s great to have politicians in office who go to the experts in making their decisions and work in collaboration with the people whose work they support, instead of just thinking they instinctively know what’s best for everyone by virtue of being elected.

    Also, I’m pretty sure that Obama’s blood is red just like the rest of ours. *rolls eyes*

  9. Carrie

    I’m bummed about Edwards’ reaction to Clinton’s show of emotion (especially b/c I spent this past Saturday canvassing for him in NH…) but I’m not sure I’m ready to jump ship just yet. The article you quote goes on to say that Edwards later adopted a more sympathetic tone. I would like to see a video before jumping to any conclusions. More generally, the overall Edwards media coverage (or lackthereof) is driving me crazy. He isn’t given equal time to Obama & Clinton, & as Michael Moore has hinted at, I wonder to what degree Edwards’ refusal to embrace corporate dollars has hindered his campaign (what media giant wants to promote a candidate like him???). On a kind of related note, I’d be curious to hear your thoughts on Gloria Steinem’s op-ed in today’s NY Times.

    I’ve just recently discovered your blog–and I think it’s great. Thanks for promoting thought-provoking and feminist dialog. 🙂

  10. Cara Post author

    Thanks, Carrie. I was actually rather displeased with the editorial, and rather disappointed because I like and respect Steinem. My basic thoughts are here. I think that Steinem could have made her argument about sexism towards Clinton without making some bogus claim that sexism is more pervasive than racism. I also think her suggestion that Clinton’s gender lost Iowa for her is bogus. I think she lost because Obama is extremely charismatic (I think that Clinton is, too, but Obama still beats here there), he threw a HUGE amount of personal effort into his campaign there, and he just all around ran a better campaign. I was hoping for an Edwards win, personally, but I do have to be impressed with Obama’s win. He worked his ass off for it.


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