Hillary. Obama.

Circa 1991 maybe, I remember my father and one of my brothers having a conversation — of a type that could exist anywhere between anybody at any time — centered around this question:  Will America elect first a Black President or a Female President?  The answer came out to be “Black president.  Because they gained the right to vote first.”  That logic is a bit strange, come to think of it — because it then follows that there have been more women elected into political office.

Thinking about how this nation conciously and unconciously thinks about racial and gender issues, in a vacuum, sans any particular politicians and circumstances, my answer now would be “Black President”.  (Let alone a Female Black President.)  Simply put, a black candidate has one basic hurdle to clear, and this is to assure white America that he does not fit their stereotype (no afros or dreadlocks).  Joseph Biden gave this away concerning Barack Obama just recently — I, um, hear that Barack Obama is “articulate” and “clean”.  Perhaps Obama is not entirely out of the woods yet (I’d think that Harold Ford, Jr had cleared the racial deck in 2006, but then Corker found the right racial message) — and Barack Obama now has a strange “Swift Boat” type operation going against him which would quite literally place him in a Madrassa.  Couple that with the constant reference to his middle name — “Hussein”.

A female presidental candidate is in this no-win scenario of having to conform somehow to gender stereotypes while showing she is “tough” enough for the job.  In the case of Hillary Clinton’s negativities, I once posted some negative opinions on a message board and received a sort of agreeing response, which casually referred to Hillary Clinton as “bitchy”.  This word is basically non-transferrable to a male politician, who may or may not have the same goddamned characteristics, and is a general article of faith about Hillary Clinton in much of this nation’s mind.  (There are other words, more coded, that have been tossed at Clinton.  Keep in mind: I’m not a fan of her’s, but much of the press on her has been off-putting.)

On the other hand, it’s been a while since I’ve heard anyone refer to Clinton by her maiden name — a dig that many right wingers threw out during the Clinton presidency, an allusion to the fact that she originally did not go by Clinton when married to Bill — marking her, I suppose, as a goddamned Feminist.

The question of answering the question now reflects less about the question in the abstract and more on the skills of the two politicians in navigating these racial and gender currents in American politics.  Or Hillary may win over Obama simply because she has had the opportunity to build a more secure political apparatus — largely passed to her by her husband.  Oh, god, more gender considerations!

Then again, Obama’s greenness and political aspirations may reflect our nation’s desire to have a black president who fits our desired profile of such an event, setting him up for a tumble — perhaps merely to vice-president.  Or he may have caught the right political currents and the right time.  I don’t know.

Jon Stewart’s predictability is showing.  When I heard him proclaim “a veritable Rainbow Coalition is being offered by the Democrats.  America may get their chance to elect the first Woman President.  (shot of Hillary).  Their first African American President.  (shot of Obama).  Their first Hispanic American President.  (Richardson)”  — at the moment he said “African American President” I predicted the punchline “First Elf” — Kucinich.

4 Responses to “Hillary. Obama.”

  1. Valley Jen Says:

    The Dems are asking for disaster if they nominate Hillary. My book club is full of Democrats who’ve been Democrats for years and would hardly consider voting Republican. They were excited beyond description for Bill Clinton, Al Gore, John Kerry, even for Michael Dukakis back in 1988. But in a couple recent conversation drifts about politics, half of them stated unequivocally that they won’t vote for Hillary Clinton at any point. Not even if she’s nominated.

    The Iraq War and the general warmongering attitude is an obvious source of resentment, but if anything, it seemed like people were even more angry at HRC over her DLC economic crap– the pro-big business, pro-corporate predatory policies that are about 10 years behind the reality of the US at the current moment.

    If anything, the buzzword in the group was “outsourcing” to India and elsewhere– people are really sick about it and furious about the way it’s disrupting so many professions, and they’re very angry at Hillary and others in the DLC club for supporting things like tax breaks and support for companies that participate in outsourcing.

    I was really surprised at the animosity in the room from so many liberals and moderate-to-liberals to a Hillary campaign, and disturbed that it’s coming this early in the campaign, before the GOP attack machine (or primary opponents) have even swung into gear. A good number of the folks in the room who didn’t like Hillary, said they’d stay home if she were nominated, but others said they’d vote 3rd party, and a few even said they’d vote for a moderate GOP nominee especially Rudy Giuliani, who really does have a lot of support across the aisle.

    The Dems could win with many candidates. Obama could win and I’ll bet Edwards could too– they’re more populist especially on these basic economic issues. But Hillary has a small and shrinking base. Her only current edge is massive name recognition after about 15 years in the limelight, and that edge disappears early in the primary season. Democrats are angry about her foreign policy and infuriated especially by her economic stands.

  2. Michael Says:

    Interesting that all of the names Jen mentions in her first paragraph are associated with the Skull and Bones society.

  3. Michael Says:

    What about noting a known open fact requires Moderation? Michael

  4. Justin Says:

    Initial posts from anyone require moderation. And I do not delete any comment.

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