We all know this, but I think it not unwise to remind ourselves every so often - the attacks of the Republicans are going to get wa-ay nastier
As November draws nearer, the race is likely to become much nastier. Republican strategist Richard Viguerie has promised to figure the Democratic Party as the umbrella of women, wusses and special interests. The powers that outed Valerie Plame, the lobbies that mocked Clinton's proposals for healthcare as an ungodly communist plot, the Swift Boat gang and the deep-pocketed Scaife Foundation--they haven't gone anywhere.
Republicans can't win on their record; their strategy will depend on having us forget that when Bill Clinton left office, he not only had balanced the budget but left a significant surplus of strong dollars. In casting the Clintons as a power-hungry "dynasty," they would have us forget that it is Republicans who have reinterpreted the presidency as a monarchic "unitary executive." It is my hope that we can inoculate ourselves against the apocalyptic nastiness that the past two elections indicate we may be in for. In anticipation of that turn to the low, however, it's worth looking at the race and gender narratives already circulating, whose exploitation we need to resist. /snip/
But there are things to brace for: if history is any guide, his suavity will be construed as too silky smooth, his suits too tailored, his "agenda" too black. Maureen Dowd says that the Obamas "radiate a sense that they are owed." Newsweek sneaked in that Obama tends "toward the grandiose" and that his wife, Michelle, keeps him from "getting too full of himself." Owed? Grandiose? Intimations of "uppityness" will waft up in new guises./snip/
If the script of a strong woman who controls her husband is for now just background noise in depicting the Obamas, it is a full-scale derangement as applied to Hillary Clinton. Much is made of Obama's winning in overwhelmingly white Iowa, but less is said about the fact that he and John Edwards, who came in second, are men. As Senator Clinton campaigned there, it was to the snarky drone of Rush Limbaugh's chuckling about her wrinkles and babbling about how no one wants to watch a middle-aged woman grow old. Dowd cast Clinton as a "dominatrix" "control freak" who "whips" men into line, who "owns" Obama by snubbing him.
On NPR, an Iowan who identified herself as 95 tittered in her papery voice that "all the women are in love" with Obama. No such happy flirtation with "all the guys" is attributed to Clinton, the pants-wearing, perpetually suspected lesbian murderess of Vince Foster. At Christmas, Hillary Clinton nutcrackers were quite the snapped-up item. /snip/
I hope that we Americans can resist the vicious vacuity of politics at the level of whether Tara Reid has hit "scarily skinny." We will have enough to deal with as the right's Rovian spinmeisters kick into action, wrapping both Obama and Clinton in sticky webs of hybridized stereotypes. She will be too "mannish," he too "boyish." She'll be too familiar, he too foreign. He'll be a wimp, she'll be a pimp. Yet this is an extraordinary moment in American history--we have our first serious black and female presidential candidates.
It is my audacious little hope that the two of them, in whatever order, will become running mates by November. They must not fall prey to those who would love to see them wound each other before then, in the scramble to be top dog.
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