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It’s Clinton’s divisiveness, not Klobuchar’s choice, that should draw feminists’ ire

Doug Grow wrote in Tuesday’s MinnPost that Jackie Stevenson, a superdelegate pledged to Hillary Rodham Clinton, is miffed at Sen. Amy Klobuchar for endorsing Barack Obama (“Klobuchar’s Obama support miffs some state women”). Stevenson believes she “exemplifies a generation of state women who were political pioneers and feminists,” Grow reported. “They waited and waited for the chance to elect a woman as president and they’re not happy with Klobuchar’s decision — or the timing.”

And Rep. Phyllis Kahn, a Clinton supporter, “thinks that perhaps younger women, such as Klobuchar, don’t understand how hard it was for women to break down barriers,” the story said.

I’m on the young end of the pioneering generation that Stevenson and Kahn claim to speak for — a feminist who continues to look forward to electing a woman president. But the person I’m not happy with is Sen. Clinton, not Sen. Klobuchar. And I’m, well — miffed by Stevenson’s and Kahn’s condescension toward Klobuchar and women like me who have chosen Obama over Clinton. And, by the way, there are many notable women “pioneers” of a certain age who have made the same choice — Arvonne Fraser, Sylvia Kaplan, Janet Shapiro and Marilyn Gorlin, to name a few. For many of us it was not an easy choice — but, sadly, Clinton’s behavior in the last few months has convinced us that it was the right choice.

As a lifelong feminist, well aware of the obstacles and sexism women continue to face, I’m also miffed that I’m now seen as someone who doesn’t get it because I can’t accept Clinton’s dissembling. Though a lifelong supporter of Democrats, particularly women Democrats, and a fundraiser and contributor to Bill Clinton’s two campaigns and Hillary Clinton’s two Senate campaigns, I’m now implicitly accused of being a sexist when I say that Hillary’s tone is harsh and robotic, and that her campaign tactics are ill-conceived and badly executed.

Kahn says she agrees with what former state Sen. Ember Reichgott Junge said recently on “Almanac”:

“For a woman of my age, it’s important that she stay in and fight to the very end.”‘

Fine. Amy Klobuchar says the same thing. Me, too.

And so does HuffingtonPost writer and Obama supporter Jon Robin Baitz, calling for Clinton to stay in the race as long as she can stand it. “I hope that Senator Clinton’s many supporters are entirely satisfied that she did this to herself. That she exhausted her every chance.”

It’s Sen. Clinton’s poor judgment and desperate divisiveness that drove away potential supporters like me. That’s what should draw Kahn and Stevenson’s ire, not Amy Klobuchar’s decision to support the candidate who won the MN caucuses by a 2-1 margin.

Susan Lenfestey, a Minneapolis writer, is a frequent contributor to the opinion pages of the Star Tribune. She writes occasionally at the Clothes Line blog.

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Comments (7)

  1. Submitted by Bernice Vetsch on 04/03/2008 - 04:33 pm.

    Beyond their styles of campaigning, Klobuchar might have studied differences revealing something about their future exercise of power.

    Hillary: Answer that phone at 3am ready to handle trouble anywhere in the world. Wording and TV commercials SOUND LIKE

    Obama: Like Kofi Annan, seek to prevent the resentment leading to trouble at 3am by fostering the dignity of every person: work, family, health care, education, food, clothing, shelter — all within reach. Much like Roosevelt’s Second Bill of Rights, actually.

  2. Submitted by Dave Wright on 04/03/2008 - 02:11 pm.

    One person’s divisiveness is another person’s gravy. Ms. Lenfestey offers no proof — merely concepts — regarding Mrs. Clinton’s “bad behavior.” She offers no reasons for her Obama support. And she follows the condescending line of telling Hillary supporters that it is “okay” with her that Mrs. Clinton stay in the race.

    Gee, thanks.

    The woman must be doing something right. The votes that have been allowed to be counted are split nearly 50-50 between the two senators. Letting the battle go to the convention floor is about the only way now to make sure things are done on the up and up.

    Or is that too much work for some folks?

  3. Submitted by Joel Jensen on 04/03/2008 - 02:11 pm.

    I will take exception to only one aspect of your article.

    If, at some point, it becomes clear that one of our remaining candidates cannot win the Democratic nomination, then I would hope that candidate would stop campaigning.


    Because campaigning costs money and it is not their money they are spending.

    It is ours – on both sides.

    And on both sides, at least at this point (most high-end givers having long since hit their caps), it is ordinary folk for whom money is getting very dear these days with the price of food and gas and every other thing seeming to go through the roof.

    And money ain’t exactly falling from trees these days.

    So, if the outcome becomes clear, maybe for our sake, and our ability to fund a general election campaign, it might make sense to stop spending our money.

  4. Submitted by Mary Duffy on 04/03/2008 - 03:04 pm.

    Thank you Senator Klobacher!! Clinton has just become so divisive, so “win at all costs” that I could no longer support her either. I had always supported the clintons, now I am ashamed I fell for all the spin and, yes, lies. What kind of a person makes up stories of running under sniper fire?? Would her husband send their child into a war zone??
    The more I see of the Clintons, the more they seem like Bush, using campaign tactics worthy of Karl Rove.
    I’m so proud we caucused overwhelmingly for Obama.

  5. Submitted by Bonnie Turrentine on 04/03/2008 - 02:45 pm.

    I am responding to Susan Lenfestey’s article about her reasons for supporting Barack Obama. I, too, am angry at women who deride any woman who would not support Clinton for president. I am reminded of my dear father-in-law who was a Republican politian in Kansas for many years. I asked him one time how he could possibly continue to support Nixon after the Watergate scandal. He said, “I believe that the most corrupt Republican is much preferred to any Democrat”. In the current case, are we women to believe that “any” woman is preferable to a man? I have joined the voices of those who were delighted when Mondale chose a woman to run for vice-president. I was proud to vote for Klobuchar but I did so because I believed, and still do, that she was the best candidate. I am 80 years old and have been active in League of Women Voters for many years. I support Obama because he is running a campaign with integrity.

  6. Submitted by Craig Westover on 04/03/2008 - 06:22 pm.

    Lenfestey complains:

    “I’m now implicitly accused of being a sexist when I say that Hillary’s tone is harsh and robotic, and that her campaign tactics are ill-conceived and badly executed.”

    Take heart, Susan. You’re not being called a “racist” when you question the value of affirmative action. You’re not being labeled a “homophobe” because you have a faith-based view of marriage. You’re not being called “cruel and hateful” because you suggest maybe able-bodied, single males out to pay for their own health insurance.

    If the Clinton/Obama campaign has shown us anything, it is that liberals don’t like being smeared by liberals any more than conservatives do.

  7. Submitted by Barbara Miller on 04/04/2008 - 09:17 am.

    Susan writes: Stevenson believes she “exemplifies a generation of state women who were political pioneers and feminists,” Grow reported. “They waited and waited for the chance to elect a woman as president and they’re not happy with Klobuchar’s decision — or the timing.”

    Stevenson is wrong. Hillary Clinton does not have carte blanche to represent women of a certain age. I certainly never gave her my proxy! And, in fact, being one of those women, it’s upsetting to watch Clinton and Geraldine Ferraro undermine the aspirations of women to see one of “our own” elected to the presidency.

    “Desperate divisiveness” is spot on. While I have never been inclined to support Clinton’s nearly decade-long candidacy, there was a time when I at least respected her.

    Why Obama? Because he generally talks out of only one side of his mouth. Because he doesn’t seem to rise up each day, checking which way the wind is blowing before he takes a stance. Because he is a steadfast Obama day by day, as opposed to, say, donning the persona of Rocky Balboa. Because he is relatively unflappable in these hair-trigger times. Because he taught constitutional law, which has become a new essential in this country where disregard for our constition has become the norm. Because . . . my ample gut says, “Obama yes, Hillary no.”

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