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“Hey, Hillary: Smile, Girl”: An Unhappy Century For White Men, And It’s About To Get Worse

You know, the world would be a happier place if a girl would just smile more.

Just ask the guys on Twitter.

Now, by “girl,” I mean a former U.S. senator and secretary of state who is likely to be the first female president of these allegedly united states.

As for “the world,” let’s narrow it down. We’re talking mean men who apparently spend much of their day breathing into paper bags because they’re not even allowed to ask a secretary to grab them a cuppa joe anymore without someone from HR signing them up for diversity training.

What? No more office wife? Evidence of hell in a handbasket right there. Just ask them.

So now we’ve got this Hillary woman going all presidential on us. She’s everywhere. Giving speeches. Declaring victories. Starring in one town hall after another. How much suffering must a good ol’ boy endure?

“God,” they pray, “pick another name.”

On Tuesday night, Hillary Clinton did what even Hillary Clinton thought she wouldn’t do: She swept the primaries. Missouri (barely), Illinois, North Carolina, Florida — she won them and my home state of Ohio, which is in the Eastern time zone, people. Boy am I tired of (SET ITAL) that (END ITAL) question.

Clinton strolled her conquering self across the stage in Florida as results poured in, and she delivered a victory speech while some of the white guys in TV-land offered their critiques via Twitter.

MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough: “Smile. You just had a big night.”

Because nothing says “commander in chief” like a girlish grin for the camera.

Fox News’ Brit Hume: “Hillary having a big night in the primaries. So she’s shouting angrily in her victory speech. Supporters loving it. What’s she mad at?”

Well, golly. Let’s take a look at what she was saying.

This, for example:

“Our commander in chief has to be able to defend our country, not embarrass it; engage our allies, not alienate them; defeat our adversaries, not embolden them. When we hear a candidate for president call for rounding up 12 million immigrants, banning all Muslims from entering the United States, when he embraces torture, that doesn’t make him strong; it makes him wrong.”

Banning Muslims? Torture? Rounding up immigrants? Where are the punch lines, Madam Secretary? If you can’t find a joke in this material, how will you ever make us laugh about the Islamic State group?

Or this:

“Our campaign is for the steelworker I met in Ohio on Sunday night,” Clinton continued, “who’s laid off but hoping to get back to work. It’s for the mother I met in Miami whose five children haven’t seen their father since he was deported. She dreams of a day when deportations end and families are reunited on a path to citizenship in America. And it is for the mothers I stood with in Chicago yesterday, who have lost children to gun violence.”

Not one smile during that whole paragraph.

See what he means?

Fox News’ Howard Kurtz tweeted: “Hillary shouting her speech. She has the floor; a more conversational tone might be better for connecting with folks at home.”


Kurtz’s follow-up tweet: “Getting attacked for saying Hillary shouted. Was not saying she was shrill. I’ve just heard her deliver more effective speeches.”

This reminded me of another primary night — the one two weeks ago, when MSNBC cut away from Clinton’s live victory speech so that three guys could talk about how she needs to speak more softly.

At a rally.

Okey-dokey then.

Politics is still a home away from home for women, apparently. Takes me back to a moment a couple of years ago when a Republican U.S. senator, who clearly had no idea that I was married to one of his Democratic colleagues, asked me what I do with my days.

“I write for a living,” I told him.

“Good for you,” he said, swinging his fist across his chest. The smile on his face made me think he’d misunderstood me to say that I had just learned how to make my own aprons.

Some men hear what they want to hear, and too many men don’t want to hear from women at all. This is an unhappy century for them, and it’s only going to get worse. One grandmother barreling her way toward the presidency is bound to work up all kinds of other women who’ve had it up to here with the catcall mentality of men who measure our worth by our ability to make them feel better about their limited view of us.

“Where will it all end?” they wonder.

At the White House, I’d guess.

I’m smiling as I say that. Does that help?


By: Connie Schultz, Pulitzer Prize-Winning Columnist and Professional in Residence at Kent State University’s School of Journalism; The National Memo, March 17, 2016

March 18, 2016 Posted by | Hillary Clinton, Media, White Men | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Barack Obama, Set Free”: He Isn’t Going To Let These Last Two Years Go To Waste

Here’s a little blast from the recent past, a meeting of the minds between Bill O’Reilly and Brit Hume in October 2013:

O’Reilly asked Hume, “Is he just not interested? Is he bored with it? Is it deniability?”

Hume said that unlike some past presidents, Obama is “not a micromanager” and prefers to rely on others. O’Reilly charged that right now, Obama’s performance is so bad, he’s in “major trouble on the history front” and has to be “in the bottom ten” in a ranking of all the U.S. presidents.

This was a major theme in conservative and not-so-conservative media for quite some time: Obama is passive, he’s bored, he just doesn’t care anymore, he’s like a senior two weeks from graduation who just can’t wait to get it over with. Here’s a piece from June by Ron Fournier passing on complaints about Obama from anonymous Democrats, including “his disengagement from the political process and from the public.” “He’s bored and tired of being president,” Fournier cites one as saying. Not long after, Fox News actually took a poll asking people, “Do you think Barack Obama wants to be president anymore?”

I suppose that six months ago Obama might have been bored with some parts of his job. One certainly couldn’t blame him for being bored with the process of trying to get something out of Congress. But I always thought the charge was absurd. People do all kinds of armchair psychologizing of the president based on the occasional snippets they see of him in public, combined with the opinions they hear from other people who, like them, have no access to the actual person. I’m not saying I haven’t been guilty of that from time to time, but you have to be careful about imputing attributes and psychological states to him just based on whether you approve of the things he’s done or hasn’t done lately. And that’s what it usually comes down to.

But with today’s announcement that we’ll be undertaking a normalization of relations with Cuba—a mere 54 years after the embargo began—combined with other recent moves on immigration and climate change, Obama is looking pretty engaged. The approaching end of his term and the loss of both houses of Congress seem to have liberated him. While the Cuba deal was apparently in the works for many months, it wasn’t something in the headlines like immigration. Who knows how many other surprises Obama may have in store.

And while it’s true that there are limits to things the president can do just with executive action, this could be a new model for a way to use the bully pulpit. Obama can’t actually end the embargo entirely—that would require an act of Congress. But by taking some concrete action where he can, he’s forced the issue onto the agenda. I’d be surprised if there wasn’t a move in Congress to finally bring the embargo to an end. For some time, there have been Democrats and Republicans who favored it; because of what Obama has done, they might have the opportunity to move that legislation forward. He could try to create the same kind of evolution in other areas.

In any case, the man certainly looks like he’s been set free. He doesn’t have to worry about getting reelected or about losing Congress (done both), so he can go back to see what fell off the to-do list and do things that he’s always wanted to, whether they were politically risky or not. This might be an interesting two years after all.


By: Paul Waldman, Contributing Editor, The American Prospect, December 18, 2014

December 19, 2014 Posted by | Cuba, Politics, President Obama | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“In Full Swoon Mode”: Rick Perry And How The Press Loves To Treat GOP Campaign Losers Like Winners

Thirty months after flaming out on the Republican primary campaign trail, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, whose aborted 2012 run logged a fifth-place finish in Iowa and a sixth-place showing in New Hampshire before being suspended, is suddenly enjoying a Beltway media resurgence. With the issue of America’s border security and the influx of unaccompanied children generating headlines, Perry has been out front criticizing President Obama, and the governor’s performance is earning raves.

“People love his ass” is what “one Republican operative close to Perry” told Buzzfeed (anonymously). On The McLaughlin Group this weekend, so many panelists sang Perry’s praise (“shrewd,” “winning,” “absolutely terrific”) that host John McLaughlin announced, “a star is born.”

Time has been in full swoon mode lately, touting Perry as “swaggering,” “handsome and folksy,” and insisting he’s “refreshed his message, retooled his workout routine and retrained his sights toward the national stage.” Meanwhile CNN’s Peter Hamby claimed Perry is “completely underrated” as a 2016 contender. Why? Because “other than Chris Christie, it’s hard to think of another Republican candidate with the kind of charm and personal affability, and frankly just good political skills, that Rick Perry has.”

Keep in mind, Perry recently compared gays to alcoholics (and then acknowledged he “stepped right in it”), and suggested that the Obama White House might somehow be “in on” the wave of immigrant refugees crossing the U.S. border. He also became something of a punch line last week when a sourpuss photo of his meeting with Obama lit up Twitter.

As for the issue of border security, Fox News’ own Brit Hume noted on Sunday, Perry’s demand that the National Guard be sent to patrol the border doesn’t make much sense since, by law, Guardsmen aren’t allowed to apprehend any of the refugee children coming into the country. (Children who are turning themselves over to Border Patrol agents.)

Apparently none of that matters when the press coalesces around a preferred narrative: Perry is hot and perfectly positioned for 2016. (He won the week!)

Perry’s soft press shouldn’t surprise close observers of the Beltway press corps. It’s part of a larger media double standard where Republican campaign trail losers now routinely get treated like winners. (Think: John McCain, Sarah Palin, and Mitt Romney.) The trend also extends to Republican policy failures, like the discredited architects of the U.S.’s invasion of Iraq, who have been welcomed back onto the airwaves to pontificate about Iraq, despite the fact they got almost everything wrong about the invasion eleven years ago.

And no, the same courtesy is not extended to Democrats. John Kerry did not camp out on the Sunday talk shows after losing to President Bush in 2004 and become a sort of permanent, television White House critic, the way McCain did after getting trounced by Obama in 2008.

But wait, Hillary Clinton lost in 2008 and she’s treated as a serious contender, so why shouldn’t Perry be? First, Clinton collected nearly 2,000 primary delegates during her run, whereas Perry earned exactly zero. Second, Clinton enjoys an enormous lead in Democratic nomination polling if she chooses to run. Perry barely even registers among GOP voters.

Last month the Texas Republican Party held a straw vote and among possible 2016 hopefuls, the Texas governor finished a distant fourth, among Texas Republicans. Outside of Texas, his support remains even thinner. A recent WMUR Granite State poll from New Hampshire had Perry winning a barely-there two percent of Republican support for the 2016 GOP primary.

How bad of a candidate was Perry during the 2012 push? Really, really bad. Not only did he suffer a famous brain freeze when he couldn’t remember which three government agencies he boldly promised to dismantle if he became president (“oops”), but he also called Social Security a “Ponzi scheme” and dined with birther Donald Trump.

Less than three years ago, Rick Perry showed himself to be an extraordinarily bad campaigner with a tin ear for retail politics (i.e. an absent-minded quasi-birther). Yet today, the same Rick Perry is touted by the Beltway press as a “handsome” and “underrated” campaigner who stands poised for greatness in the next presidential campaign.

Somewhere Al Gore must be shaking his head.

After he lost the 2008 election to a Supreme Court ruling, Gore was not treated to pleasing, Rick Perry-like press coverage. Rather than treating Gore as a “swaggering” star of American politics, the Beltway press basically told Gore to get lost. (The caustic coverage continued the endless media slights Gore had suffered during the campaign season.)

When the former vice president grew a beard, the catty D.C. press corps erupted in mockery:

Gore “look[s] more like an accountant on the lam from the IRS than a White House-compatible action figure” (Time); it’s “scrawny and grey-patched” (the New York Post); it “might cover up some of the added chin heft” of his rumored post-election weight gain (the Boston Herald).

And when the former vice president stepped forward in 2002 to offer a prescient warning about against with in Iraq? On CNN’s Reliable Sources, The New Republic’s Michelle Cottle described her colleagues’ reaction to Gore’s speech: “[T]he vast majority of the staff believes this was the bitter rantings of a guy who is being politically motivated and disingenuous in his arguments.”

Note that after losing an electoral landslide in 2008, Republican McCain was showered with the exact opposite type of coverage. As Media Matters noted five year ago, “[T]he media treated McCain as though his loss last November endowed him with even greater moral authority and quickly took up his crusade as their own.”

In fact, despite a wildly unsuccessful presidential campaign and his lack of senior standing inside the U.S. Senate, McCain made at least 15 Sunday talk show appearances in 2009. (By contrast, after he lost his White House run in 2004, Sen. John Kerry appeared on just three Sunday talk shows during the first eight months of President Bush’s second term.) In 2013, the New York Times reported McCain had appeared on more than 60 Sunday talk shows in less than four years.

He wasn’t the only candidate to have their reputation weirdly burnished by losing badly to Obama in 2008. Sarah Palin was catapulted into media superstardom after she helped lead the GOP to magnanimous defeat. In 2009, as she readied her book release, the obedient Beltway press treated her like a political “phenomena.” (“It’s as if she’s like a senator or something,” marveled NBC’s David Gregory.) On the day her book arrived in stores, the Washington Post commemorated the event by publishing no less than four articles and two columns. That week, the paper also hosted nine online Palin-related Q&A sessions.

What did most of the awestruck commentary often politely ignore at the time of the media’s Palin “phenomena”? The fact that the vast majority of American voters were united in their conviction that Palin should not run for president. That included a majority of Republicans.

While Palin likely became the first losing vice presidential candidate exulted into D.C. media celebrity status, Republican Dick Cheney probably also made history by becoming not only the least-liked vice president in modern American history, but the first veep from an utterly failed administration to be treated by the press as a sage upon leaving office.

Cheney’s media return in recent weeks, where he continually blames Obama for the troubles in Iraq that Cheney and President Bush first uncorked with their misguided war and faulty planning, was telegraphed five years ago when the D.C. press, just weeks after Cheney left office, hyped his anti-Obama utterances as news events. Keep in mind, at the time Cheney’s approval stood at a not-to-be-believed 13 percent.

But for some reason, Republican losers get treated as winners by the press.


By: Eric Boehlert, Senior Fellow, Media Matters for America, July 15, 2014

July 17, 2014 Posted by | GOP, Media, Press, Rick Perry | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“It’s Not About Content Of Character”: Hey, Fox Pundits! How Blatant Must The Anti-Obama Racism Be?

I have a question for George Will.

If he can’t answer it, maybe Brit Hume can. Both men were recently part of a panel on Fox News Sunday to which moderator Chris Wallace posed this question: Has race played a role in the often-harsh treatment of President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder? Wallace was reacting to a clip of Holder strongly hinting that a testy encounter with House Republicans was part of a pattern of race-based abuse of himself and the president.

Some of the panelists framed their answers in political dimensions, i.e., what does this mean for the midterms? But Hume and Will responded directly.

Has race played a part? Heck no.

Said Hume: “This strikes me as kind of crybaby stuff from Holder. My sense about this is that both Eric Holder and Barack Obama have benefited politically enormously from the fact that they are African-American and the first to hold the jobs that they hold.”

“Look,” added Will, “liberalism has a kind of Tourette’s Syndrome these days. It’s just constantly saying the word ‘racism’ and ‘racist.’ It’s an old saying in the law: If you have the law on your side, argue the law, if you have the facts on your side, argue the facts. If you have neither, pound the table. This is pounding the table.”

And here, let us remove Holder from the equation because, frankly, the question I’m here to ask is more pertinent to his boss than him. I just wish Messrs. Will and Hume would explain one thing:

You say race has played no role in the treatment of President Obama? Fine. What would it look like if it did?

I mean, we’re talking about a president who was called “uppity” by one GOP lawmaker, “boy” by another and “subhuman” by a GOP activist; who was depicted as a bone-through-the-nose witch doctor by opponents of his health care reform bill; as a pair of cartoon spook eyes against a black backdrop by an aide to a GOP lawmaker, and as an ape by various opponents; who has been dogged by a “Tea Party” movement whose earliest and most enthusiastic supporters included the Council of Conservative Citizens, infamous for declaring the children of interracial unions “a slimy brown glop”; who was called a liar by an obscure GOP lawmaker during a speech before a joint session of Congress; who has had to contend with a years-long campaign of people pretending there is some mystery about where he was born.

There’s much more, but you get the drift. So I wish those men would explain how, exactly, the treatment of the president would differ if race were indeed part of the mix. What misbehavior would make them say: “OK, this is definitely about color of skin, not content of character”? Because from where I sit, much of the behavior toward Obama would need white hoods to be more blatantly racial than it already is.

Hume, by the way, says some critics have called his comments themselves “racist.” They’ve also scored the fact that this discussion was undertaken by an all-white panel. While the optics were odd, there was nothing in what he or Will said that would seem to merit that label. Those who slap him with it are likely motivated by the same knee-jerk reflex by which my critics — depend on it — will claim that I consider any disagreement with the president to be — sigh — “racist.”

That’s silly. But then, discussion of this seminal American fault line often reveals in some of us an unfortunate fondness for clownish superficiality. And yet that silliness does not detract from the criticality of the fault line itself. Nor can I share Will’s conviction that manly taciturnity is the best way to seal that fissure.

So what I ask is not rhetorical, not abstract, not a joke. It is a serious question.

And I’d appreciate the same sort of answer.


By: Leonard Pitts, Jr., Columnist, The Miami Herald; The National Memo, April 21, 2014

April 22, 2014 Posted by | Fox News, Racism | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Old Fashion Muscular Tough Guy’s”: Christie Scandal And A ‘Feminized Atmosphere’

It stands to reason that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s (R) admirers are going to defend him as the bridge scandal unfolds. There’s even a predictable defense: the governor wasn’t responsible since he wasn’t aware of his aides’ alleged misconduct.

But some of the arguments Christie’s allies have come up with are more striking than others. Fox News’ Brit Hume, for example, was asked yesterday about the governor’s reputation for bullying those who disagree with him. Hume responded:

“Well, I would have to say that in this sort of feminized atmosphere in which we exist today, guys who are masculine and muscular like that in their private conduct, kind of old fashion tough guys, run some risk. […]

“By which I mean that men today have learned the lesson the hard way that if you act like a kind of an old fashioned guy’s guy, you’re in constant danger of slipping out and saying something that’s going to get you in trouble and make you look like a sexist or make you look like you seem thuggish or whatever. That’s the atmosphere in which he operates. This guy [Christie] is very much an old fashioned masculine, muscular guy, and there are political risks associated with that. Maybe it shouldn’t be, but that’s how it is.”

Perhaps this is the best Republican media can do given the revelations?

I’ll confess I didn’t see that one coming. The Christie administration is accused of abusing its power, seeking petty political retribution against perceived enemies, using public resources as a weapon that endangered the public, and then lying about it.

Leave it to Fox’s senior political analyst to explain that the governor is the actually victim – he’s the muscular tough guy being treated unfairly because of his old fashioned masculinity. Team Christie isn’t “thuggish,” Hume assures us, it only appears that way because of the darned “feminized atmosphere.”

Apparently, we should feel bad for the terrible burdens the Republican governor must feel, being so tough and muscular in an environment that doesn’t fully appreciate a “guy’s guy.”

Elsewhere on the Sunday shows, the RNC’s Reince Priebus, Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.), and Rudy Giuliani all equated Christie’s bridge scandal with the IRS story from last spring, apparently unaware that the comparison is remarkably stupid.

The RNC’s Sean Spicer added that last week’s developments in New Jersey are proof that Christie is “what America is yearning for,” a point echoed by Karl Rove, who said the governor blaming his staff is emblematic of “what we want in a leader.”

None of these folks, by the way, appeared to be kidding. These are their actual talking points.

Kathleen Parker, meanwhile, believes Christie may ultimately thrive because conservatives will think journalists and news organizations are being “mean” to him. “What is certain is that the only thing the Republican base hates more than a liar and a bully is a bullying media,” she wrote. “Once that common enemy is established, the perceived victim often becomes the victor.”

It would appear for many Republicans in media, efforts to address Christie’s controversy on the merits are over. Indeed, they never really started in the first place.


By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, January 13, 2014

January 14, 2014 Posted by | Chris Christie | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment


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