Monday :: Mar 31, 2008

The Transcendental Sweetness of Hope, Change and Unity

by eriposte

Susie Madrak:

Some very smart people on the media bias panel I moderated yesterday - Will Bunch, Eric Boehlert, Athenae, Spocko, and Doug Smith.

The most interesting part to me was Eric Boehlert’s take on how the blogosphere is handling the primary:

Next is Media Matters’ Eric Boehlert. He refers us to for the excellent book produced by Media Matters, Free Ride. MM doesn’t use the word “bias,” but there’s a new phenomenon … it goes back to Gore’s press in 1999 which was “really unfair and really weird.” What’s happening online now is potentially dangerous: HRC has gotten dreadful press, not fair, “gotcha,” and so on — there’s a portion of the blogosphere that has ignored that and there’s a portion that has encouraged that.

It’s dangerous because the media criticism has to be consistent and relentless, and we can’t very well say, “You can’t go after our candidates … except this one.” I get nervous about pushback regarding disingenuous coverage - our response needs to be, “You can’t treat Democrats this way.” When people in the left blogosphere are quoting an anonymous Matt Drudge source, it makes me nervous.

I noticed that after he said this, only half of the audience clapped. [emphasis mine]

I have to say I'm a bit stunned that half the audience actually applauded - I was expecting to hear that there was perhaps a scattered show of hands (I suppose my expectations about the so-called "netroots" have fallen rather steeply in the last few months). Susie continues (emphasis mine in the remainder of this post):

I then mentioned something I’ve written here before: When you read or hear something that makes you disgusted with another Democrat, you need to dig deeper into the story.

I’d been chatting with Eric the night before, and he told me he’d been interviewing Clinton bloggers for a book about how bloggers are affecting the 2008 presidential campaign, and was “shocked” to hear again and again that people felt they could no longer speak freely in the blogosphere.

I’m not,” I said. I told him most of the bloggers I know are appalled at the present state of affairs, and that they’d basically been bullied into silence. (Which I find ironic - white working class Clinton voters are called “Archie Bunker types” by Obama supporters, and yet the Clinton supporters are the ones being told to “Stifle yourself!”)

She adds:

Later, for the evening’s entertainment, Rude Pundit performed his crowd-pleaser “Why I Won’t F*** Ann Coulter.” (He’d originally planned to perform “Why I Won’t F*** Hillary Clinton,” but in light of the day’s conversations, he decided not to.)

These days I'm not sure whether a statement like that is meant to be a joke or whether it reflects reality, but I'll leave it at that. Susie also has this note from a conversation with Paul Krugman:

Over a nice Vietnamese dinner yesterday with my Very Good Friend Paul Krugman®, who allegedly knows a thing or two about economics, he talked about the vicious hate mail he gets for saying positive things about Hillary Clinton. (No surprise to me.)

(Susie also has a link to a post that is worth reading in full - also see this comment.)

I will try to come back to the topic of pro-Clinton bloggers and their experience during this campaign in a future post, but I want to mention that this experience is not limited to the blogger world. In the past couple of months, there have been a number of stories about some of the most progressive Democrats in Congress being bullied and threatened because they chose to support Sen. Clinton over Sen. Obama. The latest incident involves progressive Democrat Sheila Jackson Lee getting booed by some Obama supporters for doing the Most Dastardly Thing in the WorldTM - supporting Sen. Hillary Clinton (more here in Alegre's diary at MyDD). Don't you just love the Moral ClarityTM? If only this clarity is extended to people like Sen. John Kerry, Sen. Ted Kennedy, Gov. Bill Richardson, and a number of others who are supporting Sen. Obama despite the will of the people in their states or districts.

Feb 15, 2008:

He said Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. of Illinois had recently asked him "if it comes down to the last day and you're the only superdelegate? ... Do you want to go down in history as the one to prevent a black from winning the White House?

"I told him I'd think about it," Cleaver concluded.

Jackson, an Obama supporter, confirmed the conversation, and said the dilemma may pose a career risk for some black politicians. "Many of these guys have offered their support to Mrs. Clinton, but Obama has won their districts. So you wake up without the carpet under your feet. You might find some young primary challenger placing you in a difficult position" in the future, he added. ... ..

Let me say this. African-American Democrats are among the most progressive ones in Congress. They are part of the reason why the woeful Democratic party hasn't tilted even farther right in the past several years or even a decade or two. When I see a senior Obama advisor basically threatening some of these people using racial arguments (no surprises there) and making it clear that their jobs might be at risk if they don't support Sen. Obama, I have only one reaction to this and that reaction is unprintable. Stated another way, this is a classic example of doing anything to win even if it severely divides the Democratic party and damages a key part of the Democratic party's progressive base in Congress.

Feb 28, 2008:

African-American superdelegates said Thursday that they’ll stand up against threats, intimidation and “Uncle Tom” smears rather than switch their support from Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton to Sen. Barack Obama.

“African-American superdelegates are being targeted, harassed and threatened,” said Rep. Emanuel Cleaver II (D-Mo.), a superdelegate who has supported Clinton since August. Cleaver said black superdelegates are receiving “nasty letters, phone calls, threats they’ll get an opponent, being called an Uncle Tom.

“This is the politics of the 1950s,” he complained. “A lot of members are experiencing a lot of ugly stuff. They’re not going to talk about it, but it’s happening.”

After civil rights icon Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) switched his support from Clinton to Obama earlier this week, other black superdelegates have come under renewed pressure to do a similar about-face. A handful have bowed to the entreaties in recent weeks, including Georgia Rep. David Scott, but many say they are steadfast in their support for Clinton and resent strong-arm tactics to make them change.

Rep. Diane E. Watson (D-Calif.), a black lawmaker and Clinton backer, said the intense lobbying for Obama would not alter her vote.

“I’ve gotten threatening mail,” Watson said. “They say, ‘Your district went 61-29 Obama and you need to change.’ But I don’t intimidate. I can hold the ground. … I would lose my seat over my principles.”


Some [Congressional Black Caucus] members are threatening to vote against their constituents, and perhaps against the will of the American people, by casting their superdelegate vote for Sen. Clinton,” the website reads. “We can prevent this from happen by letting black leadership know we're watching.”

But Watson said that she could not see switching her vote simply because Obama is black.

“I don’t support one type of person above all others. How would that message resonate with Koreatown?” she asked. Watson’s Central Los Angeles district is 35 percent Latino, 30 percent black and 12 percent Asian-American, including many Korean-Americans.


Rep. Gregory W. Meeks (D-N.Y.), a Black Caucus member, said he is still “very strong” for Clinton even in the wake of Lewis’s turnaround. He was unmoved by discord in his Queens district, which backed Obama in the New York primary.

“Some people threw out flyers. That doesn’t faze me at all. If someone wants to run against me, that’s democracy,” he said. “Sen. Obama is a very inspirational person. People in the district are proud. I’m proud. You can’t not be proud being an African-American… But I have to do overall what’s in the best interests of my district.”

Cleaver questioned why white superdelegates such as Massachusetts Sens. Edward M. Kennedy and John F. Kerry weren’t being targeted to support Clinton after she carried their state.

“If white people were being harassed and threatened because they were not supporting a white candidate, we’d see headlines,” he said.

Feb 29, 2008:

With the Democratic race extremely tight, the party's superdelegates -- the 800 or so unpledged elected officials and party members -- are facing growing racial pressure, and even threats, to back Sen. Barack Obama.


But other African-American politicians find the shifting loyalties disturbing.

"With all due respect to my colleagues, whoever you are, I firmly believe if you don't have loyalty and integrity, what do you have? ... I am a woman of my word. I will not leave her," said Ohio Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones.

Neither will California Rep. Diane Watson, though she said she's received not only pressure, but also threatening e-mails.

"We can disagree. But I don't think that's a cause for viciousness and for launching a campaign against me," Watson said.

All I can is that all this stuff brings back "fond" memories of a person who campaigned as a UniterTM and was the most divisive President in modern history.

P.S. Yes, yes, Sen. Clinton has not run a perfect campaign and this post does not excuse her or her campaign for anything offensive.

eriposte :: 7:45 AM :: Comments (25) :: Digg It!