What the Clinton-Obama rift tells us about the Democratic Party

The Clintons have spoken. Obama is their guy, and the media are debating whether they truly passed the torch or just temporarily bestowed their benediction on Barack. Cynical if not smart money is on the latter. But as with much of the drama at the Democratic  convention, the Clinton-Obama rift has something more to teach us about the Democratic Party philosophy.

Once a few nits have been picked, there’s not a whit’s bit of difference between Clinton and Obama policy objectives and not much more difference on how they propose to achieve them. When a critical debate point is whether mandates or incentives (i.e. regulations and penalties) are the best way to secure universal health care, there’s really not a whole lot to argue between them. And when there’s really not a whole lot to argue about, differentiation tends to get personal.

So for a while Clinton and Obama tried to differentiate on the basis of readiness to be president — Clinton’s experience vs. Obama’s judgment. Subjective debate, however, only goes so far. Too much room in the middle to waffle. Differentiation proceeds not a line in the sand, but a position cast in stone. In the Clinton-Obama struggle, that would be gender vs. race.

Playground fight
The evolution of the gender-race controversy is not exceptional. Watch two little guys on any playground working themselves up to a scuffle and the name-calling focuses on obvious physical traits. The kid with the glasses is “four eyes” and the one with the bad complexion is “pizza face.” The kids get older and racial epithets hold sway. Move up to nations fighting nations, and it’s mandatory to dehumanize the enemy. It’s human nature, hardly surprising.

But what makes interesting the Clinton supporters’ charges that Obama ran a sexist campaign and the hints of Clintonian racism coming from the Obama camp is that these invectives were flying among the anointed, the betters among us who jump on every wage differential as proof of sexism and every concern over social spending as an indication of racism. These are the people who have been lecturing America for decades about sexism and racism; the people who have used government power to “correct” the sexist and racist society that perpetrates such evil.

The temptation is to call their behavior “liberal hypocrisy,” but there’s more to it than that. That Clinton and Obama supporters played the gender and race cards speaks to their humanity, not their hypocrisy.

Gender matters. Race matters. We notice. We react. We’re human. Elevator eyes doesn’t make one a sexist. Crossing the street to avoid a “scary-looking” black man doesn’t make one a racist. Humor is a release of tension, and telling a “sexist” joke or a “racist” joke doesn’t necessarily make one a sexist or a racist. Such jokes are funny because they play upon the tensions between what we feel and what we think. That’s human nature. That’s reality.

The gender-racist overtones of the Democratic primary campaign is an indication of the unworkability of a Democratic philosophy that is contrary to that reality. If even enlightened and anointed Democrats can slide down the slippery slope to sexism and racism, what makes them think that policy coercing the attitudes of the unwashed who lack their enlightenment and understanding is an achievable policy? What makes them believe such policy isn’t dangerous?

A future to look forward to?
Obama’s running mate, Joe Biden, is touted for his work on the Violence Against Women Act, worthy in intent, but a law that tortured the Commerce Clause (beyond even the tolerance of the Supreme Court) in an effort to federalize crimes against women — an idea anathema to the U.S. Constitution, which with logical exceptions for treason, counterfeiting and “piracy on the high seas,” leaves criminal definitions and prosecutions to the states. Federal crimes ultimately lead to a national police force. Is that a future to look forward to with hope?

“Hate crime” legislation sets the precedent that government may criminalize and impose penalties on what a person thinks. It sets the precedent that some victims are more equal than others. It opens the door to applying the adjective “terrorist” to legitimate acts of protest and imposing harsher penalties than otherwise fit the “crime.” Is that a future to look forward to with hope?

Time will tell whether the Clintons and Obama continue to be BFFs, but whether they continue to exchange Christmas cards is far less significant than whether the Democratic Party is nominating Barack Obama for the constitutional office of president … or anointing him for some higher purpose.

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Comments (1)

  1. Submitted by Frank Brooks on 08/28/2008 - 05:01 pm.

    Senator Joe Biden proudly proclaims that he was regularly and severely beaten by his older sister as a child and as an adolescent. This is the same sister that raised his two sons after his wife and daughter were killed in an auto accident.

    Biden has often claimed that the Violence against Women Act is the greatest achievement of his career. He also claims that a woman cannot be a perpetrator of domestic violence, despite the fact that hundreds of studies show that women commit acts of domestic violence as often as, or more often than men. Many studies also show that lesbian women physically attack their intimate partners at least as often as heterosexual men.

    As a result of Biden’s Violence against Women Act, the federal government pays states to create laws effectively requiring that innocent men be removed from their homes and families without even an allegation of violence, with no legitimate standards of evidence, when a woman makes a claim that she is afraid.

    Elaine Epstein, president of the Massachusetts Bar Association (1999), has said “the facts have become irrelevant… restraining orders are granted to virtually all who apply. Regarding divorce cases, she states “allegations of abuse are now used for tactical advantage”. According to Epstein, who is also a former president of the Massachusetts Women’s Bar Association, restraining orders are doled out “like candy” and “in virtually all cases, no notice, meaningful hearing, or impartial weighing of evidence is to be had.”

    State restraining order laws are starting to fall because they’re unconstitutional. The federal law behind them, written by Joe Biden, is likely to fall as well, not because it isn’t popular, but because it is clearly unconstitutional.

    There is a rapidly growing activist community dedicated to addressing this issue. One of the focal points of this community is the Glenn Sacks blog, http://www.glennsacks.com .

    Supporting Documentation

    Here are some of the facts regarding Biden’s abuse at the hand of his sister. During senate hearings held on December 11, 1990, Biden testified to the abuse.

    http://www.ifeminists.net/introduction/editorials/2006/0503roberts.html

    This recent CDC study indicates that women between the ages of 18 and 28 initiate reciprocal violence against their intimate partners about as often as men. It also indicates that women initiate non-reciprocal violence against their intimate partners more than twice as often as men.

    http://pn.psychiatryonline.org/cgi/content/full/42/15/31-a

    Here is a link to a bibliography of over 200 studies indicating that women are as violent as men in their intimate relationships:

    http://www.csulb.edu/~mfiebert/assault.htm

    According to the US Department of Justice, women also abuse, neglect and kill their children at significantly higher rates than men. Here’s some of the data on child homicides.

    http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cb/pubs/cm04/figure4_2.htm

    Research clearly indicates that lesbian battery is at least as common as heterosexual battery.

    http://www.glennsacks.com/domestic_violence_a_2.htm

    http://www.musc.edu/vawprevention/lesbianrx/factsheet.shtml

    http://lesbianlife.about.com/od/lesbianhealth/a/DVFactsMyths.htm

    Cathy Young reports on the Elaine Epstein quote and the broader issue at Salon.com here:

    http://www.salon.com/mwt/feature/1999/10/25/restraining_orders/

    and provides in depth analysis here:

    http://www.iwf.org/files/50c58dda09f16c86b2c652aa047944f6.pdf

    This report from RADAR (Respecting Accuracy in Domestic Abuse Reporting) provides much insight into the situation brought about, in large part, by Joe Biden.

    http://www.mediaradar.org/docs/RADARreport-VAWA-A-Culture-of-False-Allegations.pdf

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