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Hullabaloo


Monday, January 07, 2008

 
Golden Girl In Boots

by digby

Molly Ivors worked Maureen Dowd over as she deserved for her rude condescension toward the so-called "Golden Girls" who support Hillary. (Be sure to click through for the graphic.)

Dowd is warming up to to Senator Obama, at least for the moment, which is good news for the him and the Democrats. But it won't last. She's got her insults all set to go when the worm turns (especially if the Manly Maverick gets the nod.) There is nothing more the Queen of Mean likes to do more than build people up so she can viciously tear them down. As bartcop has famously said for years: Maureen Dowd, she hates everybody.

On a related note, I agree with Kevin Drum about this, both his irritation and his optimism. (John Cole as well.) I get constantly lambasted as a Hillary shill/hack/DLC scumbag, which I'm not, because I've written a lot about the media's truly shameful coverage of her over the past few months. (I also defended Edwards and Obama, but because the nature of the attacks against Hillary were often so sexist --- and there were so many more of them --- it's unbalanced.)

I know defending her upsets some people because they dislike her so much. But I guarantee that this is going to happen to others who they don't believe deserve it. There are many more egregious political characters in the past couple of decades who have been treated with far more respect and decency by the press than Hillary Clinton, Al Gore, Howard Dean and John Kerry among others (and undoubtedly Barack Obama, when they decide they need to give their corporate masters some love.) It's a much bigger problem than the Clintons or the Democratic establishment and I hope that when the smoke has cleared from this primary and we all step back and take a good hard look at what the kewl kidz did this time out, we can discuss this reasonably.

The right wing noise machine and the media have created a situation where progressives and Democratic standard bearers eventually become so tainted by character attacks and "where there's smoke there's fire" innuendo that they have a hard time functioning effectively. There's a history of this going back for quite some time.

Here's a little something to ponder on the subject before you tear me apart on this:

John Bullock:

Much work on political persuasion maintains that people are influenced by information that they believe and not by information that they don’t. By this view, false beliefs have no power if they are known to be false. This helps to explain frequent efforts to change voters’ attitudes by exposing them to relevant facts. But findings from social psychology suggest that this view requires modification: sometimes, false beliefs influence people’s attitudes even after they are understood to be false. In a trio of experiments, I demonstrate that the effect is present in people’s thinking about politics and amplified by party identification. I conclude by elaborating the consequences for theories of belief updating and strategic political communication.


Ezra Klein explains:

So let's be clear on how this works: Bob the Republican gets an e-mail saying Barack Obama is a Muslim, spent his early years in madrassas, and had been cynically implying a Christian faith in order facilitate his campaign. Bob takes from this that Obama is untrustworthy, possibly disloyal, and probably a bit dangerous. Then, Bob's watching the news, and they cut to a segment on this smear, showing it to be a heap of falsehoods and racist insinuations. Bob stops believing in the smear, but is still left with the vestigial impression that Obama is untrustworthy, etc. The damage remains, even as the causal facts are erased.


All of us are subject to this phenomenon even if we are disposed to think well of someone to begin with. I know that I have developed certain irrational feelings of loathing about people who could at least be expected to draw forth neutral feelings as a basic ally. But you hear these things, over and over, and it takes its toll. You tire of having to defend them, lose respect for the person as a constant victim and even if you don't know specifically why it's happened you just recoil from the whole thing after a while.

I'm not saying that's why all of you Hillary opponents have such strong feelings about her, but reading around the blogosphere and watching television, I'm convinced it's true for a fair number of people. That rightwing "strand of energy" has been focused like a laser for 15 years on hating her and it has taken a toll. The level of visceral loathing for her among some people is not the result of her record or her stump speech. It just isn't.

This is, sadly, the best argument against her candidacy for me. (I think all of the top three Democrats are equally qualified and would make good presidents. Again, I know that many people have perfectly legitimate reasons for opposing her, and I am not trying to pick a fight on that.)But I do believe there is so much internalized rightwing hate and a rather shocking reservoir of sexism in enough people to make it difficult to elect her in the general. I wasn't sure before the primaries, but I'm pretty sure now. And I suppose that's what primaries are for, aren't they? (If she manages to battle back, then maybe I'll be convinced otherwise.)

This pattern of systematic character destruction (and sexism) is not just bad for Senator Clinton, it's bad for all progressives, who are always the victims of the professional rightwing smear institutions and the puerile press corps that can't get enough of this stuff. We need to figure out a way to change this or we are going to be seeing more of our progressive politicians --- many of whom you may like better than Hillary Clinton --- turned into vessels of irrational loathing over time.

The smartest thing Al Gore ever did was get out of presidential politics and work global warming from outside. They had destroyed him as a traditional politician and he knew it.

Update: Matt Stoller, Jane Hamsher, Steve Benen and D-Day below have posts about the revolting pile-on today about her choking up. It's making me sick to my stomach.

Update II: On the other hand, she's not just a weepy hysteric, also a lot like Bush, getting angry at anyone who crosses her:

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CAFFERTY: Ouch. Remind you of anybody?

We've had seven years of a president who gets angry any time somebody disagrees with him or has the temerity to suggest that he might not have all the answers. And that little outburst you just saw from Saturday night's debate is probably not going to help Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire, where 45 percent of the voters are Independent.

ABC News senior national correspondent Jake Tapper, on his blog, after witnessing that debate, said that Hillary got angry "... not about an issue so much, as about the fact that Obama is beating her."

So here's the question. Will Hillary Clinton's angry response at the debate on Saturday hurt her chances in New Hampshire tomorrow?


And here I'd thought her big problem was that she was a cold, calculating automaton.

This is nice. And unsurprising.


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