Molly at Whiskey Fire:
And so we who look at this primary season as another example of systemic prejudice often have reasons for doing so. Dismiss them as personal or petty if you like, but don't pretend that we are emotional and you the disinterested arbiters of what is and is not fair game. I have been accused of everything from willful stupidity to “vaginal solidarity” over these last weeks. It's insulting and demeaning, and intended to be so, as much as major opinion pieces on how dumb girls are and how Hillary should just climb on the Obandwagon.
Indeed, it seems that Senator Obama will be the candidate, not because of (or in spite of) my vagina, but because of his ground game. I respect that. But I also ask respect for my position, for my experiences. Win with grace, not with sneers at old ladies who have repeatedly been told that it wasn't their turn yet, only to be told that sorry, their turn has passed by. That's about as alienating as you can get. I don't think his followers are shallow—at least not most of them—but many are rudely dismissive and do not seem to know whose framing they're adopting.
I started out last year thinking that Hillary would be the nominee, because she was the party insider and had the benefit - experience or exposure, however you want to characterize it - of being in the first two-term Democratic White House since Roosevelt. Also, I thought Americans are more racist than sexist.
I was wrong. It turns out that white men fear having a woman in power over them more than they fear having a black man over them.
Some Obama supporters have made it clear that they are not against Hillary because she is a woman, but because of what kind 0f person she is. I don't think there is any way to know, really, whether that's true or not. My gut tells me it's largely bullshit. I doubt these Democrats loathed Bill Clinton in 1996, by which point you knew what you had in the Clintons. Electing a woman to legislative positions seems to be problematic enough. Electing a woman to be Commander in Chief stirs up anxious masculinity all over the place. You can hear it in the vitriol directed at her that isn't aimed at her husband. Women hear it and know where it comes from. They've heard it before.
The thing is, Obama will need white women to vote for him in the fall, and although he himself hasn't done anything to merit their anger, his supporters have burned those bridges on his behalf. As I wrote yesterday:
Let's look at where we are: I believe that at the end of the night tomorrow, Obama will have won Texas and Vermont, and Hillary will have won Ohio and Rhode Island, confirming that his pledged delegate lead is insurmountable. At that point, he'll open up a double-digit lead over her in the national polls, her small-donor base will dry up, and either publicly or privately senior Dems will call on her to step down, and I think she should.
Obama has been very smart in not criticizing her personally in harsh terms: Smart, because declining to make or validate personal attacks fits his overall strategy, and because it makes it easier for Hillary supporters to accept her defeat. That makes it less likely they'll want her to stay in the race after Tuesday and more likely they'll be enthusiastic about Obama's candidacy.
I don't disapprove of criticizing Hillary; after all, I support Obama for a variety of reasons, including that he showed good instincts and judgment on issues like the invasion of Iraq that she didn't. But millions of people voted for Hillary, and they weren't stupid or evil for doing so. I'm just saying, towards fellow Democratic voters, be gracious in defeat and magnanimous in victory.
I don't think people are listening, though. Women and African-Americans have given Democrats their margin of victory in the past. Assuming Obama becomes the nominee, I think he can't take for granted that the gender gap will help him.