Sunday, February 24, 2008

NYT article on McCain's alleged affair

McCain allegedly has an affair... What does the publishing of this article by the New York Times say about gender (and sex) in our American culture?

The Long Run
For McCain, Self-Confidence on Ethics Poses Its Own Risk

Ruth Fremson/The New York Times
Senator John McCain during his 2000 presidential bid. His campaign this year is not as focused on the corrupting power of money in politics.
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By JIM RUTENBERG, MARILYN W. THOMPSON, DAVID D. KIRKPATRICK and STEPHEN LABATON
Published: February 21, 2008
WASHINGTON — Early in Senator John McCain’s first run for the White House eight years ago, waves of anxiety swept through his small circle of advisers.

The Long Run
Honor and Influence
This is part of a series of articles about the life and careers of contenders for the 2008 Republican and Democratic presidential nominations.
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The lobbyist Vicki Iseman, whose relationship with Mr. McCain troubled some of his aides.
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Readers shared their thoughts on this article.
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A female lobbyist had been turning up with him at fund-raisers, visiting his offices and accompanying him on a client’s corporate jet. Convinced the relationship had become romantic, some of his top advisers intervened to protect the candidate from himself — instructing staff members to block the woman’s access, privately warning her away and repeatedly confronting him, several people involved in the campaign said on the condition of anonymity.

When news organizations reported that Mr. McCain had written letters to government regulators on behalf of the lobbyist’s client, the former campaign associates said, some aides feared for a time that attention would fall on her involvement.

Mr. McCain, 71, and the lobbyist, Vicki Iseman, 40, both say they never had a romantic relationship. But to his advisers, even the appearance of a close bond with a lobbyist whose clients often had business before the Senate committee Mr. McCain led threatened the story of redemption and rectitude that defined his political identity.

It had been just a decade since an official favor for a friend with regulatory problems had nearly ended Mr. McCain’s political career by ensnaring him in the Keating Five scandal. In the years that followed, he reinvented himself as the scourge of special interests, a crusader for stricter ethics and campaign finance rules, a man of honor chastened by a brush with shame.

But the concerns about Mr. McCain’s relationship with Ms. Iseman underscored an enduring paradox of his post-Keating career. Even as he has vowed to hold himself to the highest ethical standards, his confidence in his own integrity has sometimes seemed to blind him to potentially embarrassing conflicts of interest.

Mr. McCain promised, for example, never to fly directly from Washington to Phoenix, his hometown, to avoid the impression of self-interest because he sponsored a law that opened the route nearly a decade ago. But like other lawmakers, he often flew on the corporate jets of business executives seeking his support, including the media moguls Rupert Murdoch, Michael R. Bloomberg and Lowell W. Paxson, Ms. Iseman’s client. (Last year he voted to end the practice.)

Mr. McCain helped found a nonprofit group to promote his personal battle for tighter campaign finance rules. But he later resigned as its chairman after news reports disclosed that the group was tapping the same kinds of unlimited corporate contributions he opposed, including those from companies seeking his favor. He has criticized the cozy ties between lawmakers and lobbyists, but is relying on corporate lobbyists to donate their time running his presidential race and recently hired a lobbyist to run his Senate office.

“He is essentially an honorable person,” said William P. Cheshire, a friend of Mr. McCain who as editorial page editor of The Arizona Republic defended him during the Keating Five scandal. “But he can be imprudent.”

Mr. Cheshire added, “That imprudence or recklessness may be part of why he was not more astute about the risks he was running with this shady operator,” Charles Keating, whose ties to Mr. McCain and four other lawmakers tainted their reputations in the savings and loan debacle.

During his current campaign for the Republican presidential nomination, Mr. McCain has played down his attacks on the corrupting power of money in politics, aware that the stricter regulations he championed are unpopular in his party. When the Senate overhauled lobbying and ethics rules last year, Mr. McCain stayed in the background.

With his nomination this year all but certain, though, he is reminding voters again of his record of reform. His campaign has already begun comparing his credentials with those of Senator Barack Obama, a Democratic contender who has made lobbying and ethics rules a centerpiece of his own pitch to voters.

“I would very much like to think that I have never been a man whose favor can be bought,” Mr. McCain wrote about his Keating experience in his 2002 memoir, “Worth the Fighting For.” “From my earliest youth, I would have considered such a reputation to be the most shameful ignominy imaginable. Yet that is exactly how millions of Americans viewed me for a time, a time that I will forever consider one of the worst experiences of my life.”

A drive to expunge the stain on his reputation in time turned into a zeal to cleanse Washington as well. The episode taught him that “questions of honor are raised as much by appearances as by reality in politics,” he wrote, “and because they incite public distrust they need to be addressed no less directly than we would address evidence of expressly illegal corruption.”

A Formative Scandal

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Barclay Walsh and Kitty Bennett contributed research.

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New Republic's analysis of NYT article on McCain

The New Republic
The Long Run-Up by Gabriel Sherman
Behind the Bombshell in 'The New York Times.'
Post Date Thursday, February 21, 2008

DISCUSS ARTICLE [411] | PRINT | EMAIL ARTICLE

Credit: Getty Images

John McCain

RELATED CONTENT
Jonathan Chait on McCain's secret political history (2/27/08).
S.V. Date on the inside story of how McCain secured his position as the GOP frontrunner (2/6/08)
"Neo-McCain": John B. Judis discovers the roots of McCain's hawkish tendencies (10/26/06).


Last night, around dinnertime, The New York Times posted on its website a 3,000-word investigation detailing Senator John McCain's connections to a telecommunications lobbyist named Vicki Iseman. The controversial piece, written by Washington bureau reporters Jim Rutenberg, Marilyn Thompson, Stephen Labaton, and David Kirkpatrick, and published in this morning's paper, explores the possibility that the Republican presidential candidate may have had an affair with the 40-year-old blond-haired lobbyist for the telecommunications industry while he chaired the Senate Commerce Committee in the late-1990s.

Beyond its revelations, however, what's most remarkable about the article is that it appeared in the paper at all: The new information it reveals focuses on the private matters of the candidate, and relies entirely on the anecdotal evidence of McCain's former staffers to justify the piece--both personal and anecdotal elements unusual in the Gray Lady. The story is filled with awkward journalistic moves--the piece contains a collection of decade-old stories about McCain and Iseman appearing at functions together and concerns voiced by McCain's aides that the Senator shouldn't be seen in public with Iseman--and departs from the Times' usual authoritative voice. At one point, the piece suggestively states: "In 1999 she began showing up so frequently in his offices and at campaign events that staff members took notice. One recalled asking, 'Why is she always around?'" In the absence of concrete, printable proof that McCain and Iseman were an item, the piece delicately steps around purported romance and instead reports on the debate within the McCain campaign about the alleged affair.

What happened? The publication of the article capped three months of intense internal deliberations at the Times over whether to publish the negative piece and its most explosive charge about the affair. It pitted the reporters investigating the story, who believed they had nailed it, against executive editor Bill Keller, who believed they hadn't. It likely cost the paper one investigative reporter, who decided to leave in frustration. And the Times ended up publishing a piece in which the institutional tensions about just what the story should be are palpable.



The McCain investigation began in November, after Rutenberg, who covers the political media and advertising beat, got a tip. Within a few days, Washington bureau chief Dean Baquet assigned Thompson and Labaton to join the project and, later, conservative beat reporter David Kirkpatrick to chip in as well. Labaton brought his expertise with regulatory issues to the team, and Thompson had done investigative work: At The Washington Post in the 1990s she had edited Michael Isikoff's reporting on the Paula Jones scandal, and in 2003 she broke the story that Strom Thurmond had secretly fathered a child with his family's black maid. Having four reporters thrown on the story showed just what a potential blockbuster the paper believed it might have.

From the outset, the Times reporters encountered stiff resistance from the McCain camp. After working on the story for several weeks, Thompson learned that McCain had personally retained Bill Clinton's former attorney Bob Bennett to defend himself against the Times' questioning. At the same time, two McCain campaign advisers, Mark Salter and Charlie Black, vigorously pressed the Times reporters to drop the matter. And in early December, McCain himself called Keller to deny the allegations on the record.

In early December, according to sources with knowledge of the events, Thompson requested a meeting with Bennett to arrange access to the senator and to discuss why the Republican presidential candidate had sought out a criminal lawyer in the first place. Bennett agreed to meet, and on the afternoon of December 18, Labaton, Rutenberg, and Thompson arrived at his Washington office. During a one-hour meeting, according to sources, Bennett admonished the Times reporters to be fair to McCain, especially in light of the whisper campaign that had sundered his 2000 presidential bid in South Carolina. He told them that he would field any questions they had, and promised to provide answers to their queries. Of the reporters in the room, Bennett knew Labaton the best. In the 1990s, Labaton had covered the Whitewater investigation, and Bennett viewed him as a straight-shooting, accurate reporter who could be reasoned with. Rutenberg he knew less well, and Bennett was miffed that Rutenberg had been calling all over Washington asking probing questions about McCain and his dealings with Iseman. The rumors were bound to get out.

Two days after that meeting, on December 20, news of the Times' unpublished investigation burst into public view when Matt Drudge posted an anonymously sourced item on the Drudge Report. "MEDIA FIREWORKS: MCCAIN PLEADS WITH NY TIMES TO SPIKE STORY," the headline proclaimed; the story hinted around the core of the allegations and focused on Keller's decision to hold the piece. "Rutenberg had hoped to break the story before the Christmas holiday," the item said, quoting unnamed sources, "but editor Keller expressed serious reservations about journalism ethics and issuing a damaging story so close to an election."

Immediately, the media pounced on the budding scandal. "If John McCain has hired Bob Bennett as his lawyer," one commentator said on Fox News, "that's a big--you don't hire Bob Bennett to knock down a press story. You hire Bob Bennett because you have serious legal issues somehow." On MSNBC, Pat Buchanan speculated that the Times newsroom was the source of the leak. "They've been rebuffed and rebuffed on this story, and they say we've had it, and they go around then and Drudge pops it just like he popped the Monica Lewinsky story first."

Initially, the McCain campaign refused to acknowledge the Drudge post. But by the afternoon of December 20, McCain denied the allegations at a press conference in Detroit, and his campaign released a statement deriding the Drudge item as "gutter politics."

Rumors of the unpublished Times piece swirled through the Romney campaign, then still locked in a tight dogfight for the Republican nomination. After the Drudge item flashed, Romney's traveling press secretary Eric Fehrnstrom went to the back of the campaign plane to ask New York Times reporter Michael Luo, who was covering Romney, if he had heard when the piece was running.

Inside the Times newsroom, the Drudge item sent the McCain piece into hiding, making it both tightly guarded and "a topic of conversation," as one staffer put it. "The fact that it ended up on Drudge pushed it into secrecy," added another staffer. "The paper gets constipated on these things," a veteran former Times staffer said, describing the editors' deliberations over whether to run the piece.

In late December, according to Times sources, Keller told the reporters and the story's editor, Rebecca Corbett, that he was holding the piece in part because they could not secure documentary proof of the alleged affair beyond anecdotal evidence. Keller felt that given the on-the-record-denials by McCain and Iseman, the reporters needed more than the circumstantial evidence they had assembled to prove the case. The reporters felt they had the goods.

The Drudge item didn't derail the investigation, however. By late December, the reporters had submitted several pages of written questions to Bennett for comment, and completed a draft of the piece before the New Year. But to their growing frustration, Keller ordered rounds of changes and additional reporting. According to Times sources, Baquet remained an advocate for his reporters and pushed the piece to be published, but sources say Keller wanted a more nuanced story looking less at personal matters and more at questions of Iseman's lobbying and McCain's legislative record. (The Washington-New York divide is an eternal rift at the Paper of Record: Baquet had successfully brought stability and investigative acumen to the Washington bureau; with the McCain piece, he was being sucked into his first major struggle with New York.)

In mid-January, Keller told the reporters to significantly recast the piece after several drafts had circulated among editors in Washington and New York. After three different versions, the piece ended up not as a stand-alone investigation but as an entry in the paper's "The Long Run" series looking at presidential candidates' career histories.

It was at about that time, amidst flurries of rumors swirling about the looming Times investigation, that the Times' McCain beat reporter, Marc Santora, abruptly left the campaign trail after covering the senator for four and a half months, frustrated by the McCain rumors. A rising star at the paper, Santora had been working grueling hours, joining the 2008 election coverage straight from a reporting assignment in Baghdad. As the campaign headed to South Carolina, the site of McCain's defeat in 2000, Santora e-mailed the Times' deputy Washington editor, Richard Stevenson, to vent about how the rumors were dogging him on the campaign trail, and left the McCain beat on January 10. "The last thing I wanted was to be a pawn in this thing," Santora told me. "I was exhausted, there were a lot of rumors flying around. I thought the best thing for me to do was take a break."

Santora wasn't the last casualty of the process. Two weeks ago, in early February, Marilyn Thompson, one of the four reporters working on the McCain investigation quit the Times. Thompson had been a staffer at The Washington Post for 14 years, until 2004. She had spent just six months at the Times and recorded only four bylines before accepting an offer to return to her former employer as an editor overseeing the Post's accountability coverage of money and politics. According to sources, Thompson became increasingly dispirited with the delays, and worked around the clock through the Christmas vacation on the piece, only to see the investigation sputter. Declining to comment on the investigation itself, Thompson told me her decision to return to the Post "was an opportunity to go back to the place that has been a home to me." (Thompson celebrated her byline during her last week at the Times. Her final day at the paper is tomorrow.)


Some observers say that the piece, published today, was not ready to roll. On Wednesday evening, much of the cable news commentary focused on the Times' heavy use of innuendo and circumstantial evidence. This morning, Time magazine managing editor Rick Stengel told MSNBC that he wouldn't have published such a piece. Since the story broke, the McCain campaign has been doing its best to pin the story on the Times and make the media angle the focus.

Indeed, when TNR started reporting on the whereabouts of the story on February 4th, all parties seemed intent on denying its viability. "There's absolutely no story there. And it'd be a mistake for you to write about a non-story that didn't run," McCain adviser Charlie Black told me last week. "Drudge shouldn't have put that up. He didn't know what the hell he was doing."

McCain communications director Jill Hazelbaker told me last week the campaign had no further comment beyond the December 20 statement assailing the allegations. According to McCain advisers, the Times reporters hadn't contacted the campaign about the investigation for several weeks before the piece ran, and only a few reporters from competing news organizations have put in calls on the matter. Two members of the McCain team had contacted TNR's editor to pressure him not to investigate the story.

Of course, each of these sources had reason to keep the story from breaking. But what actually pushed it into publication? The reporters working on the investigation declined to comment. In an e-mail to me on February 19, Keller wrote: "This sounds like a pointless exercise to me--speculating about reporting that may or may not result in an article. But if that's what Special Correspondents of The New Republic do, speculate away. When we have something to say, we'll say it in the paper."

Late in the day on February 19, Baquet sent a final draft of the Times piece to Keller and Times managing editor Jill Abramson in New York. After a series of discussions, the three editors decided to publish the investigation. "We published the story when it was ready which is what we always do," Baquet told TNR this morning. He added: "Nothing forced our hand. Nothing pushed us to move faster other than our own natural desire that we wanted to get a story in the paper that met all of our standards."

When the Times did finally publish the long-gestating investigation last night, the McCain camp immediately tried to train the glare back on the Gray Lady. In fact, McCain advisers stated that TNR's inquiries pressured the Times to publish its story before it was ready so this magazine wouldn't scoop the Times' piece. "They did this because The New Republic was going to run a story that looked back at the infighting there, the Judy Miller-type power struggles--they decided that they would rather smear McCain than suffer a story that made The New York Times newsroom look bad," Salter told reporters last night in Toledo, Ohio.

This morning, after the piece ran, and as TNR's article was about to be posted, Keller finally responded to repeated requests for interviews. In an e-mail, he defended the substance, and the timing, of the story. "Our policy is, we publish stories when they are ready. 'Ready' means the facts have been nailed down to our satisfaction, the subjects have all been given a full and fair chance to respond, and the reporting has been written up with all the proper context and caveats." Important as the story may indeed turn out to be, it may have provided the Times' critics with a few caveats too many.


Gabriel Sherman is a Special Correspondent to The New Republic.





© The New Republic 2008


DISCUSS ARTICLE [411] | PRINT | EMAIL ARTICLE

TNR TALKBACK [411 comments]
Interesting. I've been following the story all morning, and this article actually makes the NYT story much more credible, as it shows that the respected reporters - all 4 of them - thought they had "nailed" the story, including the extramarital affair - but were repeatedly blocked by higher-ups in New York.
Bostonian
New York Times scoops New Republic scoop about New York Times scoop! Meanwhile, life continues as normal on a small planet called Earth....
ratnerstar
No facts, just rumor and innuendo, with anonymous sources, about something that allegedly happened nine years ago. Yeah, let's print that story! If this is all the NYTimes has, they're going to find themselves in a world of trouble.
Jared

Race & Gender debate in Christian Science Monitor

Gals: Don't know if any of you read the Christian Science Monitor... I know the name can throw one off... That said, it is a terrific, respectable newspaper... Here's some of their reporting on race and gender in the Pres. election.

As Obama gains, he whittles Clinton's lead among baby-boomer women.

from the February 21, 2008 edition
E-mail Print Letter to the Editor Republish del.icio.us digg
Page 2 of 2

Page 1 | 2


Reporter Alexandra Marks interviews Linda Purdy about her decision-making process, choosing between Democratic presidential candidates Sen. Hillary Clinton and Sen. Barack Obama.
Ms. Purdy, who was born at the end of the baby boom, finds the idea of the first female president very appealing, and she admires Clinton. But so is the idea of electing the first African-American president, and she finds Obama inspiring. She likes Clinton's healthcare plan and Obama's stance against the war.

"I finally realized that I didn't want to look at gender or race. I wanted to vote for the person who was the most capable of running the country," she says. But Purdy admits to looking at national polls – and in that analysis, gender did end up playing a role in her decision.

"I've come to the conclusion that this country isn't ready for a female president," she says. "I think Barack Obama has a much better chance of winning in the general election, and so I've decided to vote for him."

Baby boomer Davia Temin, a management expert in New York, is just as adamant that Clinton has the best chance of defeating the Republican nominee and is better prepared to lead the country.

"I run a company, and before that I was a very senior executive in corporate America, and I respect what it takes to run large and small institutions – not just to inspire them but to lead them and manage them in the right way," she says. "From all of Hillary's accomplishments and intelligence and track record, she's the only one out there capable of doing this."

But for Chela Sullivan, a social worker in her late 20s who lives in Phoenix, the Iraq war was a deciding factor, not experience. She says she didn't like Clinton's vote on the war or the way she's handled her explanation for it.

"I would absolutely want a woman president if I felt like they were the best choice," she says. "But I just don't think Hillary is the best choice. For me it's just not about gender."

Such diverse and strong opinions among women show, according to political analysts, that the choice of a candidate remains a personal and complex matter.

"It's more complicated than early projections indicated, because there's more to people's political world view and how they view others than race and gender," says Margie Omero, founder of Momentum Analysis, a Democratic polling firm. "Those are big, obviously, but there are other things."

It's those other things, as well as race and gender, that are making this political race a win-win proposition for Clinton supporter Cory Atkins.

"As a Democrat, I am just so proud of our field this political season," she says. "It's always better to have too many choices of wonderful people than not a good candidate at all. As a party, I think we can't lose."

1 | Page 2

Thursday, February 21, 2008

More for you Obama fans...

Friends,

This note from my father-in-law, who met Barack Obama in Grand Rapids, Michigan. My FIL is a former television reporter-turned-Democratic activist. (Yes, I know I'm getting off topic from the gender/race dialogue, but I thought his comments were really interesting.)

Julie,

Enjoyed your "dispatch" on the Obama rally. I met Obama last summer at a fundraiser here in G.R. It was organized by Patrick Miles, Jr., who Jim knows, and was held at the home of a retired, black OB-Gyn, Ralph Mathis. At the time, I was open to whatever Democrat I thought could win. So, I had not committed to any of them. I was blown away by Obama. Not only was he an inspiring speaker. He was a careful and considerate listener. He didn't simply participate in conversation, he completely engaged in discussion. He didn't let you get away with simply asking him what he thought, he insisted on knowing what you thought.

It was one of the most fascinating gatherings I have ever attended. As we walked away we looked at each other and said to each other, he could really do this. Been involved in his campaign ever since.

Jim

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Julie's Dispatch from Obama Rally

Friends,

(Since so many of you asked for a report when we got
back...)

Well, we did it. My mom and I went downtown Dallas
today to "Barack"
the vote. It was just amazing. Honestly. I was
literally brought to tears...but not by the stump
speech (very good and filled with new details) but by
the people who turned out. There were about 18,000 of
us...some of whom had been waiting in the que since 4
a.m. Fellow Blue Moonie Jane Jooset, an ex-pat from South Africa
energized by the thought of a real democracy, met us
on the roof of a parking deck where the line to enter
Reunion Arena snaked more than two hours long... We
were sandwiched behind a pack of cute frat boys from
TX Christian University, several Muslims in head
scarves, young black professionals, granola grannies,
a suburban Republican gone "Obamlican," freaky
teenagers with spiked hair and Hockaday prep school
girls in plaid kilts. While I was observing all this,
my 67-year-old liberal mother (who should be Hillary's
vote) was prattling on about the merits of a new
antique china cabinet Jim and I recently purchased...
It was just SURREAL. God Bless Texas...and Obama for
bringing so many different types of people in the Lone
Star State together. I really think he just might win
this thing...and do right by ALL of us.

JULIE
Suburban Mama for Obama

Monday, February 18, 2008

Backgrounder #6: Newsweek, "Barack's Rock" on Michelle Obama

Gals: Check out Newsweek's compelling cover story this week on Michelle Obama and her take on race/gender in America as well as in her personal life experience. I can't cut and paste it, but it is available on newsweek.com.

Backgrounder #5: Obama making sexist comments?

Obama's Sexist Dog Whistle

Barack Obama brought up Hillary Clinton's period! "I understand that Senator Clinton periodically,'' (See? He said it!) "when she's feeling down, launches attacks as a way of trying to boost her appeal." Clearly, he was saying his rival ought to look into hormone replacement therapy.

What, this sexism is too subtle for you? Not for pro-Clinton blogger Taylor Marsh, who accused Obama of "demeaning women,'' or even straight-down-the-middle Andrea Mitchell, who said on MSNBC, "When you start describing a female candidate as being 'down' and 'striking back,' I don't know, that's a little edgy, don't you think?" Karen Stabiner, the author of well-received books about single-sex education and breast cancer, wrote that when she heard what Obama had said, "That was the moment when I, and other women of a certain age, all over the country, winced. The change candidate had embraced one of the oldest clich├ęs in the book—that women are held hostage by emotion, that we can't be trusted with the big decisions because, depending on our age, we're either on the rag or having a hot flash.''
Beyond this accusation itself—so ludicrous my eyes might twirl right out of their sockets—what makes me wince is how such claims undermine actual affronts to women: One in six American women has been raped or endured an attempted rape, and stories about pregnant women killed by their boyfriends are commonplace. Female employees in this country made 77 cents for every $1 a man earned—in 2007, for heaven's sake—and the workplace has not, alas, been utterly transformed since as a college kid, three male supervisors at my summer job in a Texas bank called me in to say I should be wearing a real bra instead of camisoles. Then there was the boss who guessed my weight every time I walked by his office—with such accuracy that, had the whole newspaper thing not worked out, he could always have joined the circus. So far be it from me to say women should declare victory in the war on stuff that shouldn't happen but does, still, all the time. Yet I'm not sure that Clinton supporters who read sexism into Obama's recent remarks are helping her candidacy. And wouldn't we hate to look back on this presidential race as the moment feminists themselves undid some of the progress that has been made—by reviving the defunct stereotype of the hysterical female, strategically overreacting to imagined offense?
Posted Monday, February 18, 2008 2:07 PM by Melinda Henneberger
Filed under: Barack Obama, women, feminism, Hillary Clinton, Democrats, gender issues, '08 election, stereotype threat, gender stereotype, work

Backgrounder #3: Diane Rehm Show on Race & Gender

Gals: For whatever reason, I could post the transcript this time... I love D.R... She's is a terrific interviewer...very thoughtful.

AMERICAN UNIVERSITY RADIO WAMU 88.5 FM

THE DIANE REHM SHOW

RACE AND GENDER QUESTIONS IN PRESIDENTIAL POLITICS

MONDAY, JANUARY 14, 2008

GUESTS


ANDREW KOHUT
Director of the Pew Research Center
for the People and the Press

DEBORAH SIMMONS
Washington Times Editorial Page Editor
and a Columnist

MICHAEL FAUNTROY
Assistant Professor of Public Policy
George Mason University
Author of Republicans and the Black Vote

CHARLES OGLETREE
Harvard University Law Professor

TODD SHAW
Assistant Professor of Political Science
and African American Studies
University of South Carolina


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RACE AND GENDER QUESTIONS IN PRESIDENTIAL POLITICS

10:00 a.m.

MS. REHM: Thanks for joining us, I'm Diane Rehm.

As pollsters, pundits, and politicians try to figure
out last week's primary results in New Hampshire, the
presidential campaign has moved south and west. Some
have suggested race played a role and questions
whether Americans are ready to elect an
African-American President. Others think gender may
have been a factor in the outcome including the high
turnout among women for Senator Clinton.

Here to talk about the issues of race and gender in
the presidential campaign, Andrew Kohut of the Pew
Research Center, Deborah Simmons of the Washington
Times, Michael Fauntroy of George Mason University,
and joining us by phone from Harvard, Charles
Ogletree.

Throughout the hour, we'll welcome your calls, your
comments, questions. Join us on (800)433-8850. Send
us your e-mail to drshow@wamu.org.

Good morning to all of you.

MR. KOHUT: Good morning.

MS. SIMMONS: Good morning, Diane.

MR. FAUNTROY: Good morning, Diane.

MR. OGLETREE: Good morning.

MS. REHM: Andy Kohut, if I could start with you.
How do you explain the difference between what the
polls predicted would happen in New Hampshire and what
actually happened?

MR. KOHUT: Diane, I don't explain it. I just --
I'm puzzled by it, and I think it’s going to take a
lot of deconstructing of these polls to figure out --

MS. REHM: What factors can you rule out?

MR. KOHUT: Well, I think we could pretty much rule
out the fact that it’s a general failure of surveys,
because these same polls did a wonderful job of
predicting McCain's victory. It’s not a matter of
subtleties of polling methodology, because you had big
sophisticated polls like Gallup and CBS having almost
the same misstatement as the local polls and even the
computerized polls. So it’s not -- doesn’t look like
it’s methodology. It’s something systematic. It’s
something about the race between Obama and Ms.
Clinton.

MS. REHM: You wrote in the New York Times last week
that one possibility that cannot be ignored is "The
long-standing pattern of pre-election polls
overstating support for black candidates among white
voters, particularly white voters who are poor."
Elaborate for us.

MR. KOHUT: Sure. I just will quickly also say, it
probably wasn’t a trend because there wasn’t that much
trend in the exit polls, and it probably wasn’t
turnout. So I look at the kinds of people who are
supporting Ms. Clinton, lower socioeconomic people,
poor white people, people with less formal education,
and those are the kinds of people that surveys miss.

We get too few of them, we end up interviewing some
of them, and we statistically adjust the people that
we get in that category, but they may not be like --
the people we miss may not be like the -- like the
people we get.

And we know that this income category, this
socioeconomic category has less favorable attitudes
toward African-Americans. And I don’t claim to say
this is the reason. What I'm saying is, given the
history of problems of polls in biracial elections and
the character of her constituency, we cannot rule it
out.

MS. REHM: Andrew Kohut, he is president of the Pew
Research Center. Turning to you now, Deborah Simmons,
why do you think pollsters got it wrong?

MS. SIMMONS: Well, there are two reasons. One, I
don’t think they got it wrong, because they had been
putting Hillary ahead all along. Ever since last
summer, polls were saying Hillary and Rudy, Hillary
and Rudy, Hillary and Rudy.

More importantly though, I think we are missing the
pollsters that is, and the pundits as well, and the
politicians are not looking at the various cultural
aspects of this race. Class is important, absolutely
right. So -- and I agree with Andy on that without a
doubt.

But there is -- there are also -- there is the fact
that there are people who look at Obama as being
black. There are people who look at him as being
African-American, and there are folks who look at him
as being biracial. There is the Muslim aspect of this
race, there are the Evangelicals, there are the
Southern Protestants, there is the Baptist, there is
the Catholicism, there are a lot of cultural
underpinnings to this race that I don’t think can be
captured in this poll.

As for the -- so -- and as for the women of the
lower economic status, I think there is still going to
be a tug of war between the race that John Edwards
based his candidacy on. He went out of his way to go
to New Orleans and gather a bunch of young, poor
Katrina affected ward -- ninth ward children, gathered
them around for his photo op and his dog and pony show
when he announced his race. So I think that he was
able to pull some of those votes away without a doubt
from Obama, but Hillary was strongest in that
category.

MS. REHM: Michael Fauntroy, how do you see it?

MR. FAUNTROY: Well, I see -- I agree in part with
what has been said before that. But I want to add
something I think has been somewhat overlooked, and
that is most of the polling ended prior to Senator
Clinton's voice cracked, and I think that the
Kennedy's forum on Saturday Night coupled with her
voice cracking on Monday may have moved a number of
women who were on the sidelines into the game, and
when you look at the turnout, the incredible turnout
that happened in New Hampshire, I think that -- you
know, I think Andy is right, you can’t overlook the
so-called Bradley effect, but there is so many other
issues in addition to that, and so --

MS. REHM: Explain that Bradley effect.

MR. FAUNTROY: Well, the Bradley effect refers to an
unfortunate reality in polling, and Andy alluded to it
at some point. That is -- you know, white voters
haven't always told the truth when it comes to black
candidates in polls. And when Tom Bradley ran for
governor of California in 1982 not withstanding his
long service as mayor of Los Angeles, you know, the
polls showed him winning, and he ended up losing, and
then there are so many other examples of that along
the way, but I think that’s the most significant.

MS. REHM: Charles Ogletree, how do you see the race
factor, the gender factor playing out in New Hampshire
and throughout the rest of this race?

MR. OGLETREE: Well, Diane, I certainly don’t see
this as a factor at all in New Hampshire. Barack
Obama got over a hundred thousand votes more than John
McCain. The people loved him. It was a very close
race. And I think what people missed is the fact that
Michael's referred to, there are a lot of people in
New Hampshire who never make their mind up until the
day or day before they vote, sometimes until they walk
to the polling place.

They didn’t go into the polling place in New
Hampshire and say, gosh, do I vote for a black guy or
not. I think that is a fiction of pundits and media
and distorts what happened if you see what happened in
Iowa. If you look at what’s happening around the
country, people are not letting race, in some sense,
define Barack Obama in narrow ways. And I think what
you see, as you see the loss in New Hampshire, you see
a closer race in national polls than you’ve ever seen
before.

There is a different Barack Obama once the public
gets to know him. And I think we can keep talking
about race, bantering about race, but the reality is
that people are looking at the difference between the
status quo and change, and that change message is
catching on to new voters and interesting voters. And
I'm not at all conceiving that this is going to be a
Bill -- a Tom Bradley resolution as we go through a
lot of these other primaries over the next several
weeks.

MS. REHM: Andy.

MR. KOHUT: You know, I’d like to believe it was
trend. But if you look at the exit polls they were --
people were asked, "When did you decide?" And of the
people who decided that very day in which they were
voting, and people can be accurately telling you, I
decided today; they were 17 percent of the electorate.
And Ms. Clinton did have a small edge, three points,
40 to 37, or something like that. That three-point
edge is not enough to explain the distortion between
polls and findings. It’s -- certainly she had a
little momentum going her way.

As to turnout, if you look at the character of the
democratic vote in terms of age, various demographic
characteristics and percentage of new voters, and most
importantly, the mix between Independents and
Democrats, it’s exactly what it -- well, not exactly,
but it parallels the democratic vote in 2000.

It’s not like Iowa where we saw a tremendous
transformation of the electorate between -- the
caucuses between one election and another. This
looked like more voters, but the same kinds of voters
that had voted in democratic primaries in New
Hampshire.

MS. REHM: Michael.

MR. FAUNTROY: One point very quickly, Joe Biden
wasn’t in the race in New Hampshire. And while Joe
Biden never really played much of a role in this, it
is notable because he ran on experience. And Hillary
Clinton won voters in New Hampshire who were citing
experience as among their top reason for voting for a
candidate by 71 to 5.

So if Joe Biden's, you know, one percent joined the
one percent or so -- the three percent or so of folks
who move one way or the other with regard to deciding
on the day of the election, and you have that up to
the people who may have been motivated by other
reasons, you know, you begin getting explanation as to
what happened.

MS. REHM: Deborah.

MS. SIMMONS: Look, look, look, I think we -- I
think it was Charles who hit the nail on the head with
the aspect that actually I'll bring it home, people
lie, they lie in pre-election polls, and they lie in
exit polls, because nobody is in that booth but you
and your conscience. And well, I don’t doubt that the
misty-eyed Hillary Clinton drama aspect that she put
on in New Hampshire before the polling -- the voting
actually took place, did have a role.

There is always a sympathy vote no matter whether
it’s deliberate or whether you view her misty-eyed
response as deliberate or not. But the bottom line is
that people lie, and there are Independents in New
Hampshire. I think they really showed us that they
were independent, that there were aspects of that race
that had them sway one way or the other.

And more importantly -- and I don’t know whether Andy
has the numbers because they escaped me, is the fact
that Hillary really did not beat Barack Obama by that
larger margin of victory. There really wasn’t that
much disparity between the votes for each of them.

MR. KOHUT: It was a narrow margin, and given the
long slope of the election, this is certainly a good
showing for Obama, but he did not meet the
expectations of these polls. As to people lying, the
exit -- it would be easy to explain -- use that as the
explaining factor, the exit poll is a private poll.

People do it and cover up their answers as opposed
to answering on the telephone. That could explain it
but I don’t believe it’s lying. I believe it has more
to do with the kinds of people we miss in polls.

MS. REHM: Andrew Kohut, he is president of the Pew
Research Center; Deborah Simmons of the Washington
Times, Michael Fauntroy of George Mason University,
and Charles Ogletree of Harvard. We'll be right back.

(Intermission)

MS. REHM: And here is our first e-mail, from
Cathleen, who says, "What you’re witnessing is the
racial shift of the Clintons. For years now Bill, and
to some degree Hillary, have enjoyed the ability to be
familiar with black people. Bill has done so because
he's known how to shuck and jive with black people,
and Hillary through her affiliation with Bill. Now
that there is a possibility of a real black president
the Clintons find themselves a little bit whiter.
White women have often seen themselves as having the
ability to be most familiar with blacks and this time
she couldn’t."

Now, Charles Ogletree, how do you react to that
e-mail?

MR. OGLETREE: Well, I react to it this way. I
think the reality is that race should never have been
injected into this campaign.

MS. REHM: How do you think it has been?

MR. OGLETREE: I think that although they were
unscripted by Hillary Clinton's remarks about Dr.
King, turned a (inaudible) with a lot of people, not
just African-Americans. You know, this is --

MS. REHM: And just to be clear, I think we ought to
say what she said. It came as a discussion of civil
rights was going on, and she said that the president
-- then president, Lyndon B. Johnson, really carried
through on Martin Luther King's plans and promise.
How did that offend people, Charles Ogletree?

MR. OGLETREE: In the sense that it belittles King's
impact. People forget that on August 28, 1963, King
marched on Washington over the objections of president
John F. Kennedy, and that he --

MS. REHM: Oh, my goodness, I'm afraid we’ve lost
Charles Ogletree, why don’t you go ahead, Michael
Fauntroy?

MR. FAUNTROY: Yeah, I just -- I can understand how
that comment would offend some black people. But as
someone who is the nephew of one of Martin Luther
King's chief lieutenants, I can assure you that it was
never thought of that this was just the movement.
People understand that you have to march in the
streets to prick the conscience of the country, to
move toward doing something. And ultimately that’s
going to have to result in legislation being crafted
and the President signing it into law.

MS. REHM: So back to you Charles Ogletree, you feel
that Hillary Clinton's statement regarding Lyndon B.
Johnson belittled Martin Luther King.

MR. OGLETREE: It’s in the prose that the -- Senator
(inaudible) determines it, but the unfortunate remarks
offended people across race, class, and gender lines,
number one. And number two, Dr. King was a moral
force. He marched in 1963 over the objections of
President Kennedy with the march on Washington. He
pushed civil rights at a time when Lyndon Johnson was
not ready for it. But his movement was black and
white, young and old, people across every particular
spectrum, and I think that’s what makes King so
important.

And to belittle what he did 40 years after his
assassination is unfortunate for everyone. And I
think we need to move beyond this, and to acknowledge
how great he was, and what he did to get people in
executive positions, or legislative positions to move
further than they were comfortable moving back in the
1960s.

So -- and I think it comes on the heels of South
Carolina, where half the voters are African-American.
The reality is that folks are going to vote in South
Carolina, and in Nevada, and California based on who
they think is the best candidate who offers the most
chance for hope.

People want to get out of the war, they want a
stronger economy, and they want a better healthcare
plan. And it's going to be the quality of the
candidate and not issues of race or gender that will
ultimately determine who is a democratic nominee and
who will go up against what will undoubtedly be a
strong Republican nominee as well.

MS. REHM: All right. And now let’s turn to Todd
Shaw. He is assistant professor of Political Science
and African American Studies at the University of
South Carolina. Good morning to you, sir.

MR. SHAW: Good morning to you.

MS. REHM: I know that tensions have developed over
the weekend between the Obama and Clinton campaigns
over the Martin Luther King role, and the role of
Lyndon Johnson, in advancing civil rights legislation.
What do you make of the dispute and how it’s
affecting voters in South Carolina?

MR. SHAW: Well, I think the dispute, similar to
what Professor Ogletree was saying, is at least
bringing about a set of concerns among
African-American leaders. Everybody's talked about
Congressman Jim Clyburn, he being a pivotal figure in
South Carolina politics, and certainly in
African-American politics in the state. And him being
concerned about the fact that the Clinton comments
seem to diminish the role of civil rights activists,
particularly Martin Luther King.

But I think what it will do with regards to the vote
is certainly reinforce what black South Carolinians
have been doing, and conclusions they’ve been reaching
and favoring Obama over the next couple of weeks. And
I think it sort of suggests that you have for those --
I would agree that we're not going to see this vote
simply upon the basis of the fact that Obama is an
African American, that African Americans will vote for
him. But I think he -- will have overcome the hurdle
of being electable as Iowa, and to some degree New
Hampshire have proven.

Now, the sense that he can represent this extension
of the civil rights movement, you know, a modern day
extension of the civil rights movement does have some
valiance upon black voters. And I think the degree to
which that’s attacked by the Clinton campaign suddenly
and maybe unintentionally, but still directly is we're
seeing the numbers or likely to see the numbers simply
increase.

MS. REHM: Andy Kohut, how do you see this going on?
What do you see the statement on the part of Hillary
Clinton, and the reaction within many, many African
Americans? How do you see this playing out in South
Carolina?

MR. KOHUT: You know, Diane, I don’t know. I'm not
covering the Clintons, and I'm not covering their
campaign, but I cover public opinion. And I do know
it wouldn’t be the Clintons' advantage to see the race
structured along racial lines.

Look, in Iowa, New Hampshire, we were dealing with
white publics. But the Democrats are --
African-Americans are a big important segment of the
democratic folk. And if you take the fact that Obama
does very well among liberals, very well among rich
people, add blacks galvanized around Obama and -- you
know, he could really have a head of steam. That
leaves Hillary Clinton with moderate, conservative,
lower socio-economic whites as her most important
black, and of course women.

The long and the short of this, I don’t see this as
advantageous to Hillary Clinton. I can’t imagine that
that would --

MS. REHM: Go ahead Michael.

MR. FAUNTROY: She gets no real benefit by offending
black people in South Carolina. That’s just --

MS. REHM: You don’t think she's out to offend black
people --

MR. FAUNTROY: I think you'd have to be an idiot to
set out to offend them, so --

MS. REHM: Well, exactly.

MR. FAUNTROY: Listen, I believe that there are
women in America -- some women in America who is
supporting Hillary Clinton just because she is a
woman.

MS. REHM: Because she is a woman.

MR. FAUNTROY: And there are black people in America
who are supporting Barack Obama just because he is
black.

MS. REHM: Deborah Simmons --

MR. FAUNTROY: And there are people supporting John
Edwards because he is neither. And that’s just the
way it is in America, and to try to dance around that
I think is showing more hope in the country than
actually exist.

MS. REHM: But you know what I'm concerned about are
the issues that each of these candidates represents,
Deborah. And what you seem to be saying here is that
the vote is going to go either for a woman or an
African-American, or neither, not necessarily based on
any issues.

MS. SIMMONS: Exactly. This is an emotional vote.
For lack of a better word right now, here on live
radio I can’t grasp one right now. But look at what
Bob Johnson, who -- the founder of BET.

MS. REHM: Black Entertainment --

MS. SIMMONS: Formally worked on Capitol Hill under,
I believe, Reverend Fauntroy, from that --

MR. FAUNTROY: He was --

MS. SIMMONS: Absolutely, absolutely. Okay. And
Bob Johnson does it. And while Bob Johnson is a
Democrat he has supported some conservative, the tax
cuts and things like that. Okay, now --

MR. FAUNTROY: He is a capitalist first.

MS. SIMMONS: So -- absolutely, money, money, money,
can’t fault him for that.

Here is the deal. You have a man who has enormous
visibility and name recognition among black Americans
because of BET. He owns a sports team down in the
Carolinas who -- and the second or third guy under him
is Michael Jordon who also has enormous popularity and
name recognition down in Carolina come out and say,
make disparaging remarks, what I consider disparaging
remarks, about Barack Obama, and what he was or was
not doing back during the civil rights days.

Well baby boy -- Barack is a baby boy, he wasn’t
even born until 1961. What did we expect him to be
doing back in the height of the civil rights movements
in the '50s and '60s, and even in the '70s when we
know that one issue that hasn’t been brought up is the
fact that Hillary at that time was a Republican.

I mean, come on, even in her college days. So the
sympathy vote, the emotional vote, the emotional vote
tied to race, the emotional vote tied to gender is
clearly recognizable here.

MS. REHM: Charles Ogletree, do you believe that
that is the factor on which the Democrats will base
their nominee?

MR. OGLETREE: I think it’s going to be based on
change. And there are a couple of things. Black
people don’t just vote for black people. Ask Al Gore
in 2000, ask John Kerry in 2004, they support for who
they think is the best candidate. And George Bush
tried to change that vote. He slightly increased the
number of African-Americans. But the reality is that
the messages are different.

But if you look at Barack Obama's message from last
February until January it’s all been about change. If
you listen to the Clinton camp's message, and many
others, even some Republicans like Romney, they are
taking his words because they know they work. They
know he has a vision that people are hungry for.

So I think what they are looking for is a candidate
who has some ideas, that’s not afraid to change
Washington, that’s not afraid to say, you know what, I
like people who are Republicans and Independents. I
like blue and red states. We haven't heard that in a
very long time. I'm not saying he is John Kennedy or
Robert Kennedy. That’s not the direct comparison.

What I'm saying is that here is a guy who has worked
his entire life, entire life for change as a community
organizer, as a constitutional-law professor, as a
state legislature -- legislator, that’s what people
are seeing. And I think you’re going to continue to
see amazing changes going across the country from
South Carolina and beyond.

Look at the endorsements of Janet Napolitano,
western -- Governor of Arizona, the culinary union out
of Las Vegas, it is just remarkable, three moderate
democratic senators this past weekend. That’s not
about race. That’s about a new message that is
resonating with people, because they are tired of
being shut out of the White House in the 21st century,
and they are ready for change.

MR. KOHUT: Let’s talk about the change motivation.
In -- Iowa and New Hampshire were different in a lot
of respects, but they were same in one respect; 54
percent of the voters or so in both places said,
change was the most important thing for me and Obama
carried them by a big margin.

But the difference between New Hampshire and Iowa
was that more people supported Hillary in New
Hampshire than in Iowa, who said, experience was
important, and she also got a good deal of the support
from people who said, understanding voters like me,
compassion, that worked for her in New Hampshire in a
way that it didn’t work in Iowa. She made her things
work for her in New Hampshire, they didn’t work in
Iowa.

MS. REHM: At 27 before the hour you are listening
to the Diane Rehm Show. And it's time to open the
phones (800)433-8850, first to Dover, New Hampshire.
Good morning, Peter thanks for joining us.

PETER: Good morning, Diane. While your discussion
has been very interesting up to this point and many of
the factors that your people have talked about are
accurate and played a role. But there is one thing
that the media has been largely ignorant of and is --
which is major in my estimation, and those of the
political people that I talked to and I am very
involved in politics in New Hampshire.

And that is in the last day or so, the Clinton
forces injected a poison pill into the New Hampshire
primary process, by circulating to women voters,
registered women voters a piece that stated that
Barack Obama -- called into question whether Barack
Obama was pro-choice or not.

And I, although I did not campaign for Barack Obama,
I did vote for him. I was not campaigning for him; I
didn’t wear a Barack Obama button. And yet within
that 24-hour period before the election, two women,
quite independently of each other without the
discussion of politics being on the table, both
brought up to me, you know, I am hearing Barack Obama
is not pro-choice.

And this, as you can imagine, not only among you
know, independent women and many Republican women, for
that matter, choice is a major factor, and --

MS. REHM: Yes.

PETER: -- it is in point of fact a deal breaker for
many women.

MS. REHM: Andy Kohut, you were polling there. Did
you hear or see anything to support what Peter is
saying?

MR. KOHUT: Well, I wasn’t polling there, but I was
reading the exit polls as they were coming out, and I
saw no evidence in these exit polls. I’ve never heard
of this before, so I have just no comment about it.

MS. REHM: And what about you, Todd Shaw, did you
hear anything to that effect?

MR. SHAW: No, I did not. It does play in to what I
was thinking along the lines of whether or not Barack
Obama, this tension between Obama and Clinton is the
race and gender dynamics such that is it the sense --
is there a interest being, as I said previously, this
sympathy vote for Clinton in a sense of racial
sensitivity.

And I am not sympathetic to that view, but it's this
argument that are you getting too sensitive about ways
in which the -- you know, the charge of her being on a
racially insensitive in her comments is
hypersensitive. I am wondering what ways that would,
at the margins mobilize some white voters sympathetic
to that view. And the gender dynamic could cut across
that be another -- yet another cleavage.

MS. REHM: What do you think, Michael?

MR. FAUNTROY: Well, actually I wanted to raise a
point with regard to the change argument. Andy talked
about that early. You know, every campaign is looking
for a buzz word to facilitate the marketing of that
candidate. And change is the best card for Barack
Obama to play, and in some respects that is the only
card he can play, and this is the very same card that
Clinton played in 1992.

But it is also no different from the other buzz words
like family values that Reagan and Bush I played over
in -- current President Bush was talking about
returning honor to the White House. These are all
sorts of buzz words, and so the question becomes,
"Change to what?" And how do you expect to effectuate
that change?

MS. REHM: Todd Shaw, let me finally ask you how you
think the election is going to go, next week?

MR. SHAW: In South Carolina, it appears that the
head of steam that Barack Obama has will be
maintained, and that African-American voters, and I
should critically underline African-American women,
who make up two-thirds of the black votes, and
certainly a large segment of the Democratic vote are
going to be that segment, you know, that makes a
critical difference.

And it will be interesting if this new set of
tensions have brought, made African-American women
compelled to think race over gender versus race and
gender.

MS. REHM: Todd Shaw is assistant professor of
Political Science and African-American studies at the
University of South Carolina. Thank you so much for
joining us.

MR. SHAW: Thank you.

MS. REHM: We’ll be right back.

(Intermission)

MS. REHM: As you can imagine there are an awful lot
of people who want to weigh in on this subject.
Here’s an e-mail from Walter who says, "As a black
man, who went to jail marching during the civil rights
movement, I find your show, and the comments from some
of your black guests ludicrous. I saw and heard what
both said, and even though I plan to vote for Obama, I
find his campaign use of fairy tale as a description
of Mr. Obama's campaign an insult to my intelligence.
President Clinton did not call his campaign a fairy
tale.

"As for President Johnson, he lost the South for the
Democrats by signing the civil rights bill advocated
by Dr. King. Please tell your American of African
descent to give us intelligent black folks a break by
assuming we cannot understand what was said." Andy.

MR. KOHUT: Well, this comment and the comment of
Todd Shaw speaking about the tensions that are
developing, leads me to worry for the Democrats. One
of the things that we have seen is that while there
were differences and preferences, both candidates,
Clinton and Obama were seen as acceptable candidates
by overwhelming numbers of Democratic voters or -- and
independents who were likely to vote Democrat.

Unlike the Republicans, where there is real
displeasure with the candidates. This race could end
up, if it keeps getting mean and meaner, it could end
up with a situation where the eventual nominee has to
put together the Democratic coalition because people
have become so frustrated and angry over the argument
that is occurring between Obama and Ms. Clinton.

MS. REHM: Charles Ogletree.

MR. OGLETREE: I don’t think that’s a real
consideration. I am pretty confident the Democrats
see within their reach a change, and they are going to
make sure it happens. We saw that in the 2006
elections, the fact that the surprising success for
Democrats taking over the Senate and the
not-so-surprising taking over of the House was a big
victory.

And I think with the insight of a victory that
Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama or whoever is
the nominee will be supported by whoever is not the
nominee, along with Biden and Edwards and everyone
else. So I think this is not one that the Democrats
are -- will give away, or can afford to give away,
because they are bringing in new voters.

I mean, that’s the great thing. If you look at Iowa
and New Hampshire, even South Carolina, they are
people who wee frustrated in 2000 and 2004, now they
see a change, and I think it's not just about the
word, "change" but it's really about a new paradigm,
and I suspect that it's going to get even more
interesting as we go forward toward these elections.

MS. REHM: Michael.

MR. FAUNTROY: You know, I think if this race
continuous as it is with two heavy weight candidates
going at each other like this, it's going to be more
reminiscent of the Democrats in 1980, when Jimmy
Carter and Ted Kennedy fought all the way through the
convention and never made up, and we saw what happened
then, and so that’s a concern that I have going
forward.

MS. REHM: And how about you, Deborah?

MS. SIMMONS: Listen, here’s the thing. We cannot
ignore, I am not saying it’s the most important
factor. I think issues and where candidates stand on
those issues, whether it’s the abortion issue, as the
caller made, or whether it’s the economy, whether it
is transportation and health care, education, et
cetera. Those issues are all important.

And we all, as voters, want to know exactly where
the candidates stand and not just have these -- not
just hear or have somebody criticize where they are,
where they suspect they may be. But the bottom line
is that race and gender are issues in this campaign
season.

We are not going to be able to turn away from them
as there were issues when George H. W. Bush ran, and
we had the Willie Horton ad, as there were issues when
Harold Ford ran for Senate seat in Tennessee, and him
and the blonde ad, as they were in Maryland, just
recently in the Senate seat, where the Democratic
party would not give financial support to Kweisi
Infume as were Michael Steele went head-to-head with
Ben Cardin, and the electorate said they were leaning
toward Michael Steele, but they voted Ben Cardin.

All of these things are coming in to play, and the
fact is that we can’t get away from them, because we
don’t see Barack Obama as merely an American, who was
born in Hawaii, we see him as an African-American,
just as we see Hillary as Bill's wife.

MR. OGLETREE: Let me just say one quick thing
Diane.

MS. REHM: Sure.

MR. OGLETREE: It’s interesting going into the 21st
century; that history is all true. But look at
Massachusetts, the state is not quite as wide as New
Hampshire and Iowa, but it is close. And Deval
Patrick an African-American, a supporter of Barack
Obama, someone who worked in the Clinton
administration and has endorsed Obama ran here for
governor in 2006, and won, and won convincingly.

I worried when he had a 12 point lead that that
wasn’t enough, thinking about Doug Wilder and everyone
else, but in fact in a state like Massachusetts said,
you know, what this guy is talking about change,
having a vision of America, it's different.

MS. SIMMONS: Yeah.

MR. OGLETREE: We got to be careful about how much
the 20th century has taught about today, and how much
today is teaching us about tomorrow. I don’t think we
-- race and gender matter. But judgment is also
important.

And I am concerned about the Bradley effect, but I am
also convinced that Americans individually are above
and beyond that to a large extent, those who aren’t
were never going to vote for the African-American
those are lost causes, but majority of people, who are
waking up I think are willing to vote for the best
candidate, and I think Barack Obama says, let the dice
roll where they may.

MS. REHM: All right, let’s go now to Syracuse, New
York, good morning, Bob.

BOB: Good morning. Andy Kohut, I was watching and
listening to Mark Shields on the NewsHour Friday
night. He says that as far as the polling in New
Hampshire went, that the pollster stopped polling on
Sunday, before the election, and used Monday to
transition to getting ready for their exit polling,
and consequently like a 36-hour gap between the
pre-election polling and the exit polling where they
just missed the shift of 3 or 4,000 votes over to
Hillary.

I just wondered what -- do you have a comment on
that, did they stop polling on Sunday?

MR. KOHOT: I think some of them stopped polling on
Sunday, but some of them kept going on Monday. And
even so 3 or 4,000 votes isn't enough, I mean --

BOB: But that’s all she won, that’s all she --

MR. KOHOT: No, but I am talking about the
comparison between the pre-election polls and the
outcome of the election. She was -- Obama was ahead
by 8-1/2 points on average, and a few thousand votes
couldn’t account for that, and a few thousand votes is
a pretty good accurate assessment of the -- what was
happening in people who decided in the last minute.

That’s I mean, I’d love to believe this, because it
would make it easier for me to think about polling.
You know, it -- we just keep going in, you’ll get it
right.

MS. REHM: Exactly.

MR. KOHOT: And it may well be that there is some
factors here, other than race, but the systematic
nature of this, troubles me.

MS. REHM: But what are you going to do differently
as this race goes on, in terms of doing the polling
and the interpretation thereof?

MR. KOHOT: Well, first of all, I think we are going
to see pretty quickly, because we are going to have
all of these elections, whether the polls do what they
did in New Hampshire and that is overstate Obama, if
they don’t well, then this possibility will rule it
out, if not, I am going to be honest you, I don’t know
what we are going to do, because in my view, it's not
so much a matter of people lying to us, it’s a matter
of the people we are not talking to.

But I am hoping that what we are going see is, that
polls do a pretty good job in these other places, and
this isn't anomaly for some reason, maybe last minute
trend who -- I don’t know what it is, but there is
something so systematic about the nature of this error
that it really troubles me.

MS. REHM: Deborah.

MS. SIMMONS: But Andy, my question is you said it
me that the people you are polling, is it -- doesn’t
it also include what you are asking the voters when
you are talking to them?

MR. KOHOT: No, the measure is -- I am sorry to
interrupt you.

MS. SIMMONS: Okay.

MR. KOHOT: The measures, the way we assess polls,
the way we assess elections is very, very good. Look
at the way how accurate these same polls were with
McCain. In the last two presidential elections among
the closest in modern times the pre-election polls
were better than the exit polls, we know how to do
this.

MS. SIMMONS: But then what do you mean by
"systemic"?

MR. KOHOT: Well, what I mean was that there was a
generalized bias in these polls, regardless of how
they -- the details of the way they were conducted,
and all of these other factors that I would normally
turn to, and say, oh, it could be this, it could be
that, they didn’t seem to measure up.

Now, I am not saying for sure this is race. In
fact, I have my -- the same doubts that some of you
are raising, but this is something that we have to
consider given the nature of this over time.

MS. REHM: All right, let’s take a caller in
Baltimore, Maryland. Good morning, Melissa, thanks
for joining us.

MELISSA: Good morning. Yes, I am a white woman
from Baltimore, who is voting for Barack Obama. But
my black friends and coworkers tell me, he is not
black, and I can’t really believe that people are
still saying that.

(Laughter)

MELISSA: But you know, if -- I tell them, if he
doesn’t win, it's not because white people are not
voting for him, but because black people are not
voting for him. And I really hope he wins in South
Carolina. One more thing, as far as being pro-life, I
don’t care how he feels personally, but whether he
wants to change precedent, "Go Barack."

MS. SIMMONS: Very interesting. I think I kind of
understand without any true context of what she means
that some black folks are saying Barack isn't black.
Barack, unlike me, and a -- the average black
American, I have American parents, who are also black.
Barack has a parent who is an African, and a parent
who is white. So when you use the terms
"African-American" applying it to him, and
"African-American" applying it to me, it is two
entirely different things.

More importantly, I don’t even consider myself, I
know people look at me that way you can’t help it,
plus this sister has dreadlocks, is that people look
at me as being black, when I really and truly consider
myself an American. A Yankee, who happens to be
displaced because I love Washington, D.C. and I am
living below the Mason-Dixon Line, so I understand
where she is coming from.

MS. REHM: What’s your reaction to this, Michael, is
Barack black enough, is what some people have asked?

MR. FAUNTROY: Yeah, I think this question drives me
crazy on a number of different levels. There is more
than one way to be black. And I think that that has
to be emphasized.

You know, Barack Obama doesn’t have the experience
that I had as a child sitting in my grandparents table
and listening to them talk about what it was like to
grow up in a segregated racist society. And I think
that matters.

Conversely though, he can’t go get a cab on a
Lexington Avenue in New York any easier than I can,
and so he has some of those same experiences. He
doesn’t have all the same experiences, but he has
enough of the experiences to be, in my opinion, well
enough connected to black people, to understand what
it's like to be black in America.

MS. REHM: Charles Ogletree, let me ask you this.
Is there as much concern, or is there as much support
for electing a white woman as there is a black man,
where is this divide?

MR. OGLETREE: I think the divide is actually an
interesting one. This is historic, because in either
event it's going to be a first in this country, and a
first coming a little bit earlier than anyone might
have imagined that in the year 2008, we are going to
elect a woman or an African-American.

And I think that women and African-Americans
shouldn’t be battling against each other about who
should be first. They should be battling about who is
going to be best for the country --

MS. REHM: Exactly.

MR. OGLETREE: -- given where we are now.

MS. REHM: Exactly.

MR. OGLETREE: And I think that’s going to be the
key factor.

MS. REHM: Andy.

MR. KOHOT: Well, I don’t know if this is a gender
issue or a Ms. Clinton issue, but we haven’t spent
enough time recognizing the fact that Hillary Clinton
lost male voters by a margin in both Iowa and New
Hampshire.

We talked a lot about women coming back. But men
didn’t come back nearly to the extent. Obama carried
the men in both places, by obviously a much huger
margin in Iowa. And I don’t know whether this is
about gender, whether it's about Hillary Clinton, but
there may be -- she may have a male voter problem.

MS. REHM: At seven minutes before the hour you are
listening to the Diane Rehm Show. Here’s an e-mail
from Garry -- pardon me, in Concord, New Hampshire.
He says, "I can explain it all. I am an Obama
supporter, but I still like Hillary. After the
debate, the tears and Obama's huge lead in the polls,
I voted for Hillary simply because I felt sorry for
her, and wanted to reduce the size of her loss. I bet
there were many others like me." Andy is that a
possibility?

MR. KOHOT: It’s a possibility and she did pick up
some support from those people who were late deciders.

MS. SIMMONS: And it’s the opposite of if you
remember doing one of the coffee klatches that Hillary
had leading up to the New Hampshire election. There
was a woman, who asked her about how do you handle the
stress, and you know, et cetera, et cetera, and being
a woman in this race, and that brought about the tear,
but then two days later we learned what, that woman,
who asked her that very question, that very question
that shows deflects the cleavage in this, ended up
voting for Barack Obama.

(Laughter)

MR. FAUNTROY: You know, I just want to -- which is
a curious irony, by the way. One of the things that
is very interesting to me about the way people react
to Hillary Clinton is just the real visceral nature of
it all.

You know, I -- my students at George Mason, many of
whom are conservative, I have a very large cadre of
left and center students, and even among those
students there is a distinct dislike for her that is
just -- it sort of seems that all of that conservative
advertising and media action against her over the '90s
has become to come back as a sort of -- internalized
among these voters. And I am just wondering if she is
paying a price for what was said about her years ago,
that is sort of being internalized by all of these
people.

MS. REHM: Let me --

MR. OGLETREE: I think that’s one of the problems.
And that’s unfortunate for Senator Clinton, who has
done a lot in her many years in public service. But
it's not just a vast rightwing conspiracy that causes
this 40 percent of her negative and unfavorable, it’s
across political lines, and that’s an issue that I
think also goes to electability that’s going to
continue to haunt, the Democrats throughout this
winter, spring, and into the summer.

MS. REHM: Michael, let me ask you very quickly, is
race going to be a deciding factor in this year's
election?

MR. FAUNTROY: If Obama gets the nomination, it's
going to be huge in November, because the Republicans
are going to have a very difficult time using some of
the usual tricks that they have used in many years.

MS. REHM: Like what?

MR. FAUNTROY: Well, you know, the covert -- the
sort of underlying, under-the-table coverts, sort of
whisper campaign kinds of things because the charge is
going to be that many of those things have already
been used during the primary process.

MR. OGLETREE: Michael, it's not a whisper, when you
are thinking of the details --

MS. SIMMONS: Right.

MR. OGLETREE: You know, in North Carolina against
Harvey Gantt, when you think of what happened with the
caucus with Willie Horton. So it may appear to be a
whisper -- or Harold Ford --

MS. SIMMONS: Yeah.

MR. OGLETREE: I mean that to me, the issue of
gender in race was played out when he ran for Senate
against the candidate where he was in polls, you know,
very competitive. But I think that --

MS. REHM: Quickly -- Charles please.

MR. OGLETREE: -- some of the candidates who he had
to worry about in the Republican Party won’t be in the
race by that time, and I think that’s going to help
Obama ultimately.

MS. REHM: Charles Ogletree of Harvard University;
Michael Fauntroy of George Mason University; Deborah
Simmons, she is a columnist and editorial page editor
with the Washington Times; Andrew Kohot, president of
the Pew Research Center. Thank you all.

MR. FAUNTROY: Thank you.

MS. SIMMONS: Thank you, Diane.

MR. KOHOT: Thank you.

MR. OGLETREE: You are welcome.

MS. REHM: And thanks for listening everybody. I am
Diane Rehm.

SPEAKER: The Diane Rehm Show is produced by Sandra
Pinkard, Nancy Robertson, Jonathan Smith, Tanya
Weinberg, and Emmanuel Touhey. The engineer is Toby
Schreiner. Dorie Anisman answers the phones.

Visit drshow.org for audio archives and CD sales,
transcripts from Soft Scribe, and podcasts. Call
(202)-885-1200 for more information. Our e-mail
address is drshow@wamu.org.

This program comes to you from American University
in Washington. This is NPR, National Public Radio.

Backgrounder #4: Should Women Vote for Women Just Because...

Damned if You Do…
| posted by Melissa McEwan | Wednesday, February 06, 2008 | permalink |

In comments (to the post OMG) earlier today, Tom Watson asked: "Why aren't women more formally organized for Hillary—I honestly don't know."

Maybe, just maybe, it has something to do with the fact that a lot of women who support Hillary see the depth and scope of the organized institutional misogyny being levied against her and feel, somewhere in their guts, that a massive "women for Hillary" movement would actually be used against her and undermine her campaign.

Every time she mentions being a woman, mentions being a mother, mentions being a daughter, mentions being a wife, or even makes any oblique reference to running a historical campaign or being the first woman to do something (like win a presidential primary), she is accused of playing the gender card. She is diminished, ridiculed, criticized, and dismissed using dog whistles, slurs, graphics, and bluntly misogynist commentary. When her womanness is the weapon most used against her, is it any wonder that women who support her may be hesitant to scream it from the rooftops, reluctant to stand behind her in large numbers, lest we undermine her? When womanness is hated, it will inevitably make women feel like a liability.

I don't even think this is a conscious feeling in many women. It certainly has taken me a long time to reach the point where I found this hesitation within myself, that I could bluntly engage the grim realization that I had internalized the expressions of contempt for a strong woman and let them manifest as a disinclination to speak too loudly of any admiration I had for Hillary, lest the contempt for me, for this strong woman here and her strong opinions, add to the weight of disdain Hillary carries already on her shoulders.

I have read several agonizing posts today, written by women who either voted for Obama and feel torn about not voting for a woman, or voted for Hillary and feel bad that they voted for her at least in part because she is a woman. So many of us are plagued by the despondent, sickening thought that if we fail to vociferously support Hillary, despite her being a woman, it somehow hurts her—but if we do vociferously support Hillary in part because she is a woman, that, too, somehow hurts her.

None of us, including those, I suspect, who have come to the decision to support Obama, want to feel like our votes and our support are a condemnation of Hillary's womanhood. Never was I so unhappy as when my very public support of John Edwards was framed by others as "a feminist who supports Edwards instead of Hillary," which implicitly reproved Hillary. Not just her feminist credentials, of course, but her. It was unfair to both of us.

So because women's support and lack of support for Hillary can be used against her, in a way none of us would like, perhaps it has caused many of us to keep silent altogether. Score another one for the patriarchy.

And maybe, just maybe, women have been afraid that being proved right—that seeing their unapologetic, unabashed support in large numbers (outside the polls) actually be used against Hillary, actually hurt her campaign—would undermine our most closely-held survival mechanisms. Maybe seeing that horrible fear realized, facing the incontrovertible evidence of the hatred of womannness so close-up that we can feel its hot, putrid breath on our cheeks, would no longer allow us to deny in an act of self-preservation the profundity of acceptable misogyny. Maybe it would deliver a fatal blow to the carefully constructed internal framework of selective blindness upon which we all depend, and tear the tissue-thin bulwark against self-loathing, which are necessary accoutrements for any sentient woman to get through the fucking day in this country.

Maybe we're afraid to undermine something within us, too. Once built, we are not eager to let fall the load-bearing fortifications that keep us steady against the reverberating onslaught of institutional misogyny.

That doesn't mean not supporting Hillary. It means possibly supporting her in a different way. The people who won't vote for Hillary aren't going to be swayed by millions of women supporting her loudly, anyway. But if millions of women just turn up at the voting booth and strike a silent blow, it won't matter. Their support will be evident.

And can't be used against her.

Monday, February 11, 2008

March backgrounder #2

This from the Christian Science Monitor entitled "In 2008 Race, Many Presidential 'Firsts' Are Possible."

http://www.csmonitor.com/2007/0216/p01s04-uspo.html

March backgrounder #1

Gals,

Here's the first link for the March session on race and gender in American politics. I'm cutting and pasting here, so I'm not sure whether or not you'll be directly linked to the article. I need to play around with the blog a bit... If it doesn't work, I'll snail mail it to you.


http://www.democracynow.org/2008/1/14/race_and_gender_in_presidential_politics

Welcome to Blue Moon Salon

Welcome, Friends, to the new Blue Moon Salon! We'll post our reading (and/or viewing) assignment here each month so that all members will know what materials to review before we meet. Stay tuned for more info...