Tag Archives: election 2008

Obama Says No to Barbara Walters’ ‘Girly Dog’ (or why I still want a woman to be President)

I am happy that Obama will be our next president for a number of reasons. Really, I am. His recent interview with Barbara Walters actually did a good job of reminding me why I am confident in Obama’s ability to handle the challenges facing the US. For once, I got to see Obama without the horns trumpeting in the background announcing the first, honest-to-goodness, real-life, responsible Black man. Not only does he love his wife but he loves his kids too! And, he has a job! Seriously, who’s not tired of this narrative (please don’t answer that…I know half of America is not tired of this narrative).

Still, as much as I liked the interview, I have to say that I was not at all amused by Obama’s casual display of a kinder, gentler sexism near the end. He talks about not wanting a ‘girly dog’ that ‘yaps’ and ‘sits in your lap.’ Now, I don’t tend to like those types of dogs either but Obama has got to know that dismissing something as girly is just, well, a bit sexist. I can tell that he thinks it’s cute and I’m sure others will swoon over his display of manliness but the whole thing just served to remind me why I still want to see a woman in the White House. And no, Sarah Palin doesn’t count.

Check out the girly dog comment here:



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Filed under election 2008, sexism, women

What’s up with Karl Rove?

Is he planning something nefarious? Is he a pod person? Is he on drugs? What ever it is, it’s worrying me. First he predicted a landslide victory for Obama. Then he acted strangely on Fox News on election night as well, according to Andrew O’Hehir over at Salon,

Barnes kept circling back to his meme of the moment, the idea that a “center-right” nation has inexplicably elected a dangerous left-winger. Bill Kristol was ready to join in the wailing and gnashing of teeth, but Karl Rove — I’ll say that again, Karl Rove — struck a far more conciliatory tone, describing Obama as “a very smart politician who has clearly moved to the center over the course of this campaign.” Mind you, Rove appears to believe that Nancy Pelosi is the dangerous radical in Washington, one who yearns to drag a moderate president-elect into quasi-socialistic excesses.

I wasn’t able to watch Fox News over here as they weren’t doing streaming video and my friends’ Sky TV didn’t get the channel We were all a bit disappointed as we were ready to enjoy a bit of schadenfreude. But apparently we wouldn’t have enjoyed it at Rove’s expense anyway. WTF? Has he just decided everything’s going to suck for at least the next four years so we might as well let a Dem take the blame? Is there just no more money for the Cheneys of the world to suck out of the nation into their personal bank accounts, so no point in having a Republican administration? Or maybe he’s just trying to alienate Obama’s followers by starting the ‘he’s betrayed his Left values’ perception early?

To borrow a phrase from Rachel Maddow, could someone talk me down here?


Filed under election 2008

What the presidential election does not (and might) mean

OK, I’ve officially regained full use of my critical faculties, or at least enough that I’m ready to start calling the media on some bullshit. Because something unexpected happened, everyone is scrambling for causes, effects, and the ultimate meaning of an event that many people thought they’d never see. Many of the causes, effects, and ultimate meanings currently being offered are misleading, wishful, or just crazy. Here’s my attempt at a breakdown of some of the myths and potential truths:

What the election doesn’t mean:

1. That we have achieved racial equality in America. You’d think this went without saying but, as htg points out below, that is not the case if you judge by the people being interviewed on American TV.

2. That the upward-mobility narrative of America really works. (The variants of this belief currently circulating among those interviewed on TV are ‘Anyone can be president’ and ‘Only in America.’) Yes, Obama is not a privileged white man whose grandfather and great-grandfather belonged to Skull and Bones. But one of the reasons he stands out is that so few black men have the opportunity to make it to Harvard Law in the first place. An exception does not make the rule invalid; instead (and again, you’d think this went without saying) the exception makes the rule.

3. That America has been reborn as a progressive country. Obama got a bigger percentage of the popular vote than any Dem since 1964, it’s true. But almost half the country was still willing to vote for a party that brought them Bush, the Iraq war and the Washington bailout. McCain is a member of a party with a sitting president more unpopular than Nixon after Watergate. That he got as much of the vote as he did suggests a ideological commitment to conservative values among many voters that overrode everything else.

4. That Obama is safe. I was impressed by McCain’s concession speech because I thought he was visibly trying to drain aggression from his followers; I actually thought he was doing his best to try to keep Obama alive. I doubt his words will have much effect on the kind of people the government has so far arrested with assassination plans, but I appreciated the attempt.

Things the election might mean:

1. When Americans wanted to believe positive transformation is possible on a national level, the thing that most signaled that transformation for them was a vision of racial justice (of a certain kind). That is, electing a black man seems to have offered Americans an indisputable sign that their country had reclaimed its ability to improve rather than decline.

This is an interesting one, and I’d like to hear my fellow bloggers weigh in on it. On one hand, I think there is something positive about this link between racial justice and national progress. It shows that there is some knowledge in the national consciousness that racial violence is at the core of our national history and that the association of America and democratic promise can only persist in the world at large to the extent that we address that history and present-day reality.

On the other hand, though, this belief only acknowledges that violence at the moment of insisting that it has been fixed and eradicated. The statement ‘Finally a black president’ translates to ‘We do know things were unfair but we admit it only now that they’re not.’ Moreover, while there may be something positive about the symbolic equation between racial justice and national progress, #1 and #2 above suggest how easy and problematic it is to substitute a symbol of racial justice for the actual reality of it.

2. The Republicans for some reason didn’t feel able to or didn’t decide to steal this election. I am not sure what to make of this one. Maybe Karl Rove is just getting tired.

3. Some difference in class politics from what many predicted. Someone once defined ‘presidential election’ as ‘a ritual held every four years in which working-class Americans vote against their class interests.’ I wonder if the Republicans might have given some ground here. It does seem that enough white working-class Americans were worried enough about the economy that the Republicans were not able to play race against class in the way that they had assumed they would be able to do. Which doesn’t mean that Americans think differently about race; it may just mean they feel a lot worse about the economy.

The other complicating factor to be considered re: this point is the college-educated vote. This election was the first time that this sector went Democrat since the early 60s. Given the havoc wreaked in the 401ks of middle-class Americans by the Bush regime, the real shift in question may be the allegiance of middle-class voters, who did and do vote in line with their class interests but no longer see those interests as best served by Republican trickle-down economics.

4. Americans want a brainy president. There’s no evidence whatsoever for this one, but I do think people in America are scared, and they would rather have someone at the helm who seems like he can find his ass with both hands and a flashlight. Of course, this doesn’t mean that they won’t welcome the first brain-dead good ol’ boy to turn up once/if Obama gets the nation on track.

5. The Right will be in shambles for a while. I heard this on NPR this morning. The commentator (why oh why do I never remember names??) was saying that he thinks it will be akin to the end of the Thatcher era in Britain, after which it took 15 years for the conservatives to regroup. Please may it be true.



Filed under election 2008, race, Social Justice

Prop 8 Passes in California

Here is the AP article on the passage of Prop 8, via the New York Times.

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Filed under election 2008, race

Alas, Prop 8 May Pass

My relief at Obama’s election was quickly eclipsed by despair, as the polls in California closed the instant the President elect was called on CNN, and the prop 8 race was close. I monitored the polls until 11PM, and expected to know the results when I woke up this morning, only to find that the vote was still too close to call. I listen to a story on Prop 8 as I write this now, with cheering pro Prop 8ers sure of their victory.

I realized at some point last night that the fight would continue: gay rights advocates will fight prop 8 in the court, anti-gay marriage haters will try to have existing same-sex marriages annulled.

I’m jaded, I know, but I’ve lived in so many places that were allegedly the most progressive in the country, and have always been disappointed, feeling either stranded on a small island of tolerance– I hate that word, but I am using it intentionally here– or feeling bitterly betrayed by the shallowness of progressive commitment. I live with the small sliver of San Francisco’s black community that hasn’t been pushed out of the city in the Fillmore district. From this vantage point, in the most progressive city in the most progressive state, I have to ask: What does it mean to be progressive in the United States?

Electing a black president is perhaps one of the most progressive acts of the national American electorate in the history of the United States. But I’m not sure how hopeful that makes me feel about the direction the United States will take. One day into the reality of a President-elect Obama, I am sick of the electorate patting themselves on the back for electing a black person, especially as they use their other hand to casually swipe at the rights of another minority group.

My hope is that Obama will eventually change the conversation, and prompt a civic engagement with a universalist bent that will deliver me and the rest of the world from the divisiveness that rules our country, without compromising so much that no good is accomplished during his Presidency.

A tall order, I know.


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Filed under election 2008, race, Social Justice

President Elect

It’s 6 am in the UK, and I’m sleepy and weepy and more sentimental about my country than I have ever felt in my adult life. If 44% of voters in rural counties in Southern red states can vote for Obama, then America, and by extension the world, may not be the place I thought it was. I will take stock in the morning–or rather, the later afternoon–and see if my cynicism has returned in any form. In the meantime, I am still myself enough to offer the following: Hello, Sarah Palin? Were you paying attention? Because that was America telling you to fuck off.




Filed under election 2008

Is Obama President Yet?

The answer


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Filed under election 2008, Uncategorized