war and peace, politics, books, rants, the passing parade ...
Friday, January 16, 2004
Obsessing Over Judy
Suddenly bloggers and press alike are obsessing over Judith Steinberg Dean. "Where's Judy Dean?" blared Drudge the other day (no, I'm not linking to the creep's site). Maureen Dowd wrote a particularly obnoxious op-ed piece in the NYTimes that claims, "The doctors Dean seem to be in need of some tips on togetherness and building a healthy political marriage, if that's not an oxymoron."
She went on to say, "Even by the transcendentally wacky standard for political unions set by Bill and Hillary Clinton, the Deans have an unusual relationship." "Transcendentally wacky standard"? I guess it's just plain over the top for a president, or presidential candidate, to have an intelligent professional as a spouse! How wacky! Yeah, wacky!
Commenting on a photo of Steinberg that appeared in Tuesday's Times, Dowd helpfully provides Limbaugh et al. with some hints as to how they might begin their character assassination: "In worn jeans and old sneakers, the shy and retiring Dr. Judith Steinberg Dean looked like a crunchy Vermont hippie, blithely uncoiffed, unadorned, unstyled and unconcerned about not being at her husband's side--the anti-Laura. You could easily imagine the din of Rush Limbaugh and Co. demonizing her as a counterculture fem-lib role model for the blue states."
Ooooh, a hippie! A counterculture fem-lib! Wearing jeans and sneakers! How ... how ... wacky to wear jeans, sweaters, and knitted hats in Vermont, where the temperatures are below zero in the winter! Suddenly Dowd is the fashion maven of the NY Times, what with her riffs on Wes Clark's sweaters and now this.
She ends this little hatchet job with the injunction, "Physician, heal thy spouse." "Heal"? The suggestion that Steinberg is sick is, well, nauseating.
Then there's Newsday's Ellis Henican, who declares, "Let it be said by a guy who loves headstrong, independent women, who's been around them all his life: There's something odd about this particular example, impressive as the woman seems." There it is again: she's "odd." Henican ends his piece with a nasty bit of sarcasm: "Who knows? Given her busy schedule and all the other demands, she might even find time to vote for [Dean]."
Steinberg's absence from Iowa is being blamed for the last-minute surge of the Kerry campaign. A reporter rounded up an Iowan, Julie Packard-Knutson, who, after seeing and being impressed by Theresa Heinz Kerry, said, "'I happen to think a White House spouse has an awful lot to do with the camaraderie of the administration. A president needs good, honest feedback from a spouse.' ... Packard-Knutson noted pointedly that Dean's wife, Vermont physician Judith Steinberg Dean, has avoided the campaign trail."
And so it goes. Go ahead and Google Judith Steinberg Dean--you'll see many, many more examples of the we-like-independent-women-but-itsn't-it-odd-that-Judy-is-never-seen-with-Dean-on-the-campaign-trail train of thought. Actually, "we"--that is, commentators, reporters, and throwbacks--don't like independent women. They make "us" nervous. They have the unmitigated gall to believe that their own careers are important, not amusements to be tossed aside when hubby calls. "We" want to see a woman stand by her man, and if she doesn't, well, "we" can't be held responsible for the consequences. This is what underlies the rationalizations that "we," as one columnist said, want to see the candidate "in context. And you can't see a man in context without his wife."
And here I thought electing a candidate had to do with his beliefs, policy proposals, position on crucial issues, qualifications for the job, and other trivia, when all the while it's about whether he and his wife have a good (read: man-dominant, woman-subservient) marriage. Silly me.
"I'm a benevolent despot," Kos says. Go see for yourself.
Tuesday, January 13, 2004
Black Rage in Vermont
Monday, January 12, 2004
Dean, Michigan, Letters, Money
Have you signed up to vote in the February 7 Michigan presidential caucuses? If not, go, go, go! By signing up online, you can vote via the Internet or by mail. You'll receive a ballot in the mail as soon as your application is processed.
Iowa is creeping closer, and handwritten letters are still needed by the Dean campaign. Go here to get a name and address in Iowa. It'll make you feel good, and it may help put Dean over the top. Some polls show him neck and neck with Gephardt, so we need to make an extra effort. Come on, Michigan can do better than the measly 1831 letters that have been sent from the state so far!
And finally, can you spare a few dollars for the campaign? I can't tell you how often I've donated to the bat, and I know I'll be doing it again.
Here's something I've been doing: When I get a call from a charity or organization that I've donated to in the past, I tell the caller, "I'm sorry, but I'm donating all my money to Howard Dean's campaign. My priority is to get Bush out of the White House." This makes the caller think. And sometimes I get a heartfelt "I understand what you're saying!"in return.
Nearly a million dollars has been taken in by the campaign in the past five days or so, but the attacks against Dean are getting uglier by the day and the race in Iowa is close. Go here to contribute.
Conspiracies R Us
If you haven't yet sampled the delights of World O' Crap, click on over there and indulge in the Best of the Wingnut Press. This intrepid blogger reads, summarizes, and comments on what the far right has to say. Be sure to scroll down to "Just a Simple Mom." I'm still laughing.
The Democratic Rush Limbaugh?
The Freepers really got their shorts in a knot over Ed Schultz's talk-radio show going national.
Schultz is being touted as the "Democratic Rush Limbaugh." According to my spouse (he heard about Schultz on NPR, but I haven't been able to track down the show), Ed began as a conservative, but saw the light somewhere along the way--althougn he's still anti-gun control and anti-abortion. His local show out of Fargo, ND, has now gone national.
It's no secret that the left has been looking for a way to get its message out on the airwaves. The problem is that the left rarely finds it difficult, if not impossible, to reduce complex issues into black-and-white forumulations, with their accompanying slogans. For the most part, we still believe that civil discourse is worth cultivating.
Unfortunately, civil discourse died a nasty death with the arrival of wingnut talk-radio. Millions of people like having their hate-filled, bigoted notions confirmed by the likes of Limbaugh and Michael Weiner (aka "Savage"). Provoking thought is not the raison d'etre of the people who host such shows. Rather, they stir up the masses with appeals to racism, jingoism, and the audience's self-perceived victimization at the hands of treasonous libruls. As writers like David Neiwert have shown, Rush Limbaugh plays an important role in the right wing's increasing demonization of all things liberal.
So it is with mixed feelings that I view the arrival of an Ed Schultz on the scene. On the one hand, we'd all like to see somebody with the chutzpah to take on Rush and his ilk. "They can dish it out," says Schultz of right-wingers. "Let's see if they can take it." On the other hand, what chance have we of ever re-establishing anything even resembling civilized discourse if politically opposed groups merely call each other names and accuse each other of worse and worse motives and actions?
Whatever we may think, Big Eddie's time has come, and he's part of the push to get liberal--or as they seem to have re-branded themselves, progressive--voices on the air. This push is being heartily embraced by Democrats, who have pledged upwards of a million bucks to get progressive talk radio off the ground.
The Freepers' mantra is, "But they already have NPR!," a statement so ridiculous it serves as an apt illustration of just how pathetic the right wingers are. During the invasion of Iraq, many of us referred to NPR as "National Pentagon Radio," it was so eager to prove itself on the side of the state propagandists. Yet the legend lives on that NPR is a taxpayer-funded organ of the left.
No matter that Republicans control the White House, both houses of Congress, and the news media. The whining of the right wing goes on (and on, and on, and ...), with Rush and his media brethren there to affirm and deepen the wingers' deepest, darkest fears. So let's hear it for Ed Schultz and anyone else out there determined to meet Rush on his own ground, nasty though it is.