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“Donald Trump, The Candidate For The Ladies”: Trump Is Not Just Sexist, But ‘Spectacularly Sexist’

Donald Trump is ready to throw down with Hillary Clinton over the issue of sexism. Being a big fan of the ladies (at least until they hit their 40s), Trump is not going to sit back and take any criticism from Clinton on this subject:

Donald Trump on Sunday accused Hillary Clinton of unfairly trading on her gender while declaring Bill Clinton to be “fair game” as the former president hits the trail to campaign for his wife.

“She’s playing the woman’s card,” Trump said during an interview on Fox News, before turning his attention to Clinton’s husband, declaring him “fair game because his presidency was really considered to be very troubled because of all the things that she’s talking to me about.”

There are a number of things to unpack here. Is Clinton “playing the woman’s card”? Well, yes. In this campaign, much more so than when she ran in 2008, she has talked a lot about how it’s long overdue for a woman to be elected president. She has also stressed many issues that affect everyone but are particularly important to women, like family leave. And she hasn’t shown any reluctance to call out sexism when she sees it.

All of which seems perfectly legitimate to me, though you might feel differently. The truth is that for her entire time as a public figure over the last two-plus decades, Clinton has been the target of sexist venom that has no parallel in both its volume and intensity in our recent history. There are a number of ways one can react to it — ignore it, acknowledge it but pretend it doesn’t bother you, call attention to it — all of which she has done at one time or another. You can argue that no one should vote for her solely because she’s a woman, and I doubt she herself would disagree. But you can’t say it won’t be an issue if she’s the Democratic nominee.

And if Trump ends up being the Republican nominee, sexism will be a much bigger issue than it would be with any other GOP candidate. That’s because — let’s be honest here — Trump is not just sexist, but spectacularly sexist. He constantly comments on women’s appearance, treats women differently than men (you’ll remember how, during one of the debate shout-fests, he singled out Carly Fiorina: “Why does she keep interrupting everybody?”) and is plainly horrified and repulsed by women’s bodily functions, whether it’s breastfeeding, menstruation or peeing. And oh yeah, he seems to have a creepy interest in his own daughter.

You can rest assured that if Trump and Clinton are the nominees, there will be multiple occasions on which Trump will say something unbelievably sexist about Clinton or someone else, Clinton will express her outrage, and it will be the topic of extended discussion in the media. Which will serve to reinforce what a big deal it would be to have our first woman president.

But what about Bill Clinton? If you look at what Trump has said in interviews and on Twitter, he’s arguing that not only shouldn’t Hillary Clinton talk about sexism, but Bill Clinton shouldn’t even campaign for her, given his past. The idea that Clinton shouldn’t talk about sexism because she stayed with her husband after he had an affair with a 20-something White House intern has been raised before, but it doesn’t make any more sense now than it ever has. It’s not as though she ever excused his behavior, and it’s hard to believe there are too many voters who abhor sexism and will vote against Hillary Clinton because of her husband’s personal failings.

When Bill Clinton campaigns for her, that’s not going to be what he talks about, and when he does get asked about it, he’ll surely dodge the question with little difficulty. And on the whole, Bill will be an effective surrogate for her. He’ll be able to remind everyone of the successes of his presidency, particularly on the economy, and while Hillary may not be able to claim credit for them, she can certainly argue that she’ll be following a similar approach that will produce similar results.

Yes, there will be questions about his post-presidential activities and what he’ll be doing if he becomes First Spouse. And there’s always the chance that in the heat of political battle he could make mistakes, as he did at certain points in 2008. But Bill Clinton remains extraordinarily popular — in fact, he’s almost certainly the most popular partisan political figure in America. In a national Bloomberg poll last month, 60 percent of Americans said they had a favorable opinion of him (well ahead of the much-improved 45 percent George W. Bush got).

You can argue that candidates’ gender shouldn’t matter at all, or that while it would be good to have a woman president, Hillary Clinton shouldn’t be that woman. But what you can’t say is that Donald Trump is the candidate to support if you want to strike a blow against the kind of sexism Hillary Clinton represents. The only person crazy enough to believe that is Donald Trump.


By: Paul Waldman, Senior Writer, The American Prospect; Contributor, The Plum Line Blog, The Washington Post, December 28, 2015

December 29, 2015 Posted by | Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, Sexism, Women | , , , , , | 2 Comments

“The Same Priorities She’s Emphasizing Now”: What Hillary Said About Paid Leave, Child Care, Inequality — Yesterday And 20 Years Ago

Following Hillary Clinton’s first major campaign speech on Saturday, purveyors of conventional wisdom have assured us again that she is tacking toward the left to deflect her challengers and mollify her party’s liberal base. Such assertions usually hint that Clinton is not progressive herself, but merely swayed that way by polls and consultants.

On the evening before her big event in Four Freedoms Park, New York’s memorial to its favorite son, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, I picked up a copy of her 1996 bestseller, It Takes A Village. (While many journalists once thumbed through it, few seem to remember its contents.) Published during an era when the nation showed few signs of turning leftward, Clinton’s first book offered pithy arguments for the same priorities she is emphasizing now. Consider the views she expressed on family leave — and, in particular, the limitations of the law signed by her husband in 1993:

As I have mentioned, the Family and Medical Leave Act guarantees unpaid leave to employees in firms with more than fifty workers. That is a good beginning. Many parents, however, cannot afford to forgo pay for even a few weeks, and very few employers in America offer paid maternity and paternity leave….

Other countries have figured out that honoring the family by giving it adequate time for caregiving is not only right for the family and smart for society but good for employers, who reap the benefits of workers’ increased loyalty and peace of mind. The Germans, for example, guarantee working mothers fourteen weeks’ maternity leave (six weeks before and eight weeks after delivery) at full salary…

Other European countries provide similarly generous leave, some of them to fathers as well as mothers. In Sweden, for example, couples receive fifteen months of job-guaranteed, paid leave to share between them…

As First Lady, Clinton obviously was in no position to demand that her husband’s administration (or the Republican-dominated Congress) institute paid family leave, but her own opinion was clear enough. So was her view of early childhood education, another current issue that she highlighted on Saturday:

Imagine a country in which nearly all children between the ages of three and five attend preschool in sparkling classrooms, with teachers recruited and trained as child care professionals. Imagine a country that conceives of child care as a program to “welcome” children into the larger community and “awaken” their potential for learning and growing.

It may sound too good to be true, but it’s not….More than 90 percent of French children between ages three and five attend free or inexpensive preschools called écoles maternelles…

While I was in France, I had conversations with a number of political leaders, from Socialists to Conservatives. “How,” I asked, “can you transcend your political differences and come to an agreement on the issue of government-subsidized child care?” One after another of them looked at me in astonishment. “How can you not invest in children and expect to have a healthy country?” was the reply I heard over and over again.

Finally, Clinton drew sharp attention to the social instabilities of the post-industrial American economy and the role of government in redressing what she called a “crisis.” Observing that “long-established expectations about doing business have given way under the pressures of the modern economy,” she warned bluntly:

Too many companies, especially large ones, are driven more and more narrowly by the need to ensure that investors get good quarterly returns and to justify executives’ high salaries. Too often, this means that they view most employees as costs, not investments, and that they expend less and less concern on job training, employee profit sharing, family-friendly policies…or even fair pay raises that share with workers – not to mention their families and communities – gains from productivity and profits…

Despite record profits for many companies, the gap in income between top executives and the average worker has widened dramatically….This growing inequality of incomes has serious implications for our children.

She went on to again praise Germany, where “there is a general consensus that government and business should play a role in evening out inequities in the free market system” — and where higher base wages, universal health care, and superb job training guaranteed “a distribution of income that is not so skewed as ours is.”

Writing 20 years ago, when President Clinton was running for re-election against the odds, Hillary hedged her message — and yet she was prescient in addressing the harms of an increasingly unfair economy. What she said then undergirds what she is still saying, more and more forcefully, in this campaign.


By: Joe Conason, Editor in Chief, Editor’s Blog, Featured Post, The National Memo, June 15, 2015

June 16, 2015 Posted by | Democrats, Economic Inequality, Hillary Clinton | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“What I Learned From Beau Biden”: Our Politics Of Recrimination Does A Profound Disservice To How Much All Of Us Care About Family

Between now and the 2016 election, we need to have a searching national debate over family values.

It will not be about whether we as a country are for them. We are. What’s required is a grounded and candid discussion about what those words actually mean.

Note that I did not follow the convention of putting quotation marks around family values. That punctuation is appropriate only when the phrase is defined in a narrow, partisan way, aimed at claiming that some large number of Americans don’t believe in family responsibility or love.

I will be haunted for a long time by last Saturday’s funeral for Beau Biden, the vice president’s son, who died of cancer at the age of 46. I suspect anyone who watched or listened to the eulogies feels this way, and I hope especially that staunch social conservatives give some of their attention to hearing the tributes. Beau Biden’s sister, Ashley, and his brother, Hunter, spoke with a power and an authenticity about love, devotion, and connection that said more about how irreplaceable family solidarity is than a thousand speeches or sermons.

And President Obama captured rather precisely what family is about when he described what he called “the Biden family rule.” Its components: “If you have to ask for help, it’s too late. It meant you were never alone; you don’t even have to ask, because someone is always there for you when you need them.”

I certainly don’t pretend that social conservatives who experience these eulogies will suddenly convert to liberalism or be transformed into supporters of Obama or Joe Biden. What the Biden funeral brought home is that the feelings and convictions that very nearly all of us — left, right, center, and apolitical — have about the bonds between parents and children, brothers and sisters, truly transcend our day-to-day arguments. We so often wage political war around the family that we forget how broadly shared our reverence for it is.

This helps explain the paradox of the gay marriage issue: Our opinions on it have changed in large part because of ties of family and friendship. A Pew survey released this week found that now 57 percent of Americans favor allowing same-sex marriage, while 39 percent oppose it. Just five years ago, only 42 percent of Americans supported same-sex marriage, while 48 percent opposed it.

The key to this long-term shift is deeply personal. The number of Americans who know that someone they care about is gay or lesbian has skyrocketed over the decades, and risen a lot even in recent years. Pew found that the proportion of Americans who know someone who is homosexual has gone to 88 percent, from 61 percent in 1993. Among those who know many people who are gay or lesbian, 73 percent support same-sex marriage. Among those who know no gays or lesbians, 59 percent are opposed.

These numbers underscore again that so many of the issues related to family are more complicated (and less about ideology) than the angry, direct-mail style of discourse we are accustomed to on these matters would suggest.

Yet you don’t have to be right wing to worry that the family in the United States faces severe stresses and challenges. It would be genuinely useful if the 2016 campaign focused on practical measures that would help parents do their jobs.

Discussions of how policies on taxes, child care, family leave, wages, and criminal justice affect the family’s well-being (and specific proposals in each area) would be so much more constructive than polemics that cast one part of our population as immoral enemies of family life and the other as narrow-minded bigots. A politics of recrimination does a profound disservice to how much all of us care about family.

In 2007, after a Democratic presidential debate, I was approached in the spin room by Beau Biden, then Delaware’s attorney general. He wanted to talk about how well his dad performed, and his father had, indeed, done very well that night on the stage. But Beau Biden was most animated (and spoke at much greater length) when he turned to describing what an extraordinary father Joe Biden had been.

This fact about a politician certainly didn’t require anyone to vote for him. But it always helped explain to me why I feel as I do about Joe Biden and also why our discussions of family life need to recognize that love and commitment go way beyond politics. Family is too precious to let it divide us.


By: E. J. Dionne, Jr., Opinion Writer, The Washington Post, June 10, 2015

June 11, 2015 Posted by | Beau Biden, Family Values, Politics | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Chill, People!”: Hey, Warren Fans; Hillary Would Be The Most Liberal Nominee In Your Lifetime

So, Hillary’s taken a few questions from the press now. But something more interesting than that has been happening over the past month: She has moved to the left or signaled her intention to do so on a pretty broad range of issues. All of you who want Elizabeth Warren in the race? Chill, people. She practically is.

Now, for all I know it might make the Clinton people cringe to see me write that, because it surely provides some degree of ammo for the right. But I reckon the right would have noticed this without my intervention, so my conscience is clear. But this is the emerging reality: If you are a 40-something Democrat who has voted over the years for Bill Clinton and Al Gore and John Kerry and Barack Obama, it’s looking like you are about to cast a vote next year for the most liberal Democratic nominee of your voting lifetime.

Start with the two positions she’s taken since the announcement video that have probably gotten the most attention. Her immigration position is considerably more aggressive than Obama’s, expanding his executive actions to allow more people to obtain work permits. Then, on prisons, she famously called for the end of the era of mass incarceration. The speech was filled with pleas to get low-level and nonviolent offenders out of prison and with sentences like “there is something wrong when a third of all black men face the prospect of prison during their lifetimes.”

There’s a lot more where that came from, usually announced, or mentioned, in those meetings with voters that the press following her so loathe. Here are the four most notable ones. These aren’t fully fleshed-out policy proposals, but presumably those will come:

• She told an audience in Keene, New Hampshire, that the country needs a free and universal pre-kindergarten program.

• At Tina Brown’s Women in the World summit in New York, she called for greatly expanded after-school and child-care programs.

• Also in Keene, she came out for closing the carried-interest loophole for hedge-fund managers, and the rhetoric was pretty populist, as she told furniture workers: “You are in the production of goods, and I want to do everything I can to support goods and real services and take a hard look at what is now being done in the trading world, which is just trading for the sake of trading. And it’s just wrong that a hedge fund manager pays a lower tax rate than a nurse or a trucker or an assembly worker here at Whitney Brothers.”

• And most important from my personal point of view, she’s been speaking out strongly in favor of paid family and medical leave, saying to a questioner at a Norwalk, Iowa, roundtable: “Well, boy, you are right on my wavelength because, look, we are the last developed country in the world that has no national paid leave for parenting, for illness.  And what we know from the few states that have done it—California being most notable here—is it builds loyalty.  If you really analyzed turnover in a lot of businesses where you have to retrain somebody—well, first you have to find them and then you have to retrain them—making your employees feel that you care about these milestones in their lives and you give them the chance to have a child, adopt a child, recover from a serious illness, take care of a really sick parent and get a period of time that’s paid just cements that relationship.”

These six positions—along with her support for a much higher minimum wage that’s indexed to inflation—almost by themselves make Clinton the most on-paper progressive candidate (and putative nominee) since who knows when. She is saying things that one never thought the Hillary Clinton of 10 or 20 years ago would have said.

It may be true that it’s less that she’s changed than that the times have, and she’s adapting. But hey, give her credit for adapting. Last summer, during her book tour, she said she didn’t think paid family leave was possible. Now, she’s talking like someone who isn’t merely describing a crappy reality but someone who sees that the point is to change it.

There are some important positions she hasn’t taken yet. On the TPP trade agreement, most obviously, which is one on which I think she might go against the left, although I’m just guessing. I want to see what she has to say down the road about entitlements. Something tells me, the way she’s been talking so far, that there won’t be much emphasis on grand bargains and being responsible and raising the retirement age. I’ll be curious to see, for example, whether she endorses raising the payroll tax cap. I went to see West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin speak at Brookings the other day, and he said he’d gladly support raising the cap to help fix the entitlements’ insolvency problems. If Joe can say it, can Hillary?

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a column urging liberals to suck it up and accept the fact that Hillary Clinton was the choice and there’s too much at stake and there’s nothing else to do so just get over it and support her. That column didn’t say much about her positions. It was just about the Supreme Court and what a nightmare Republican rule would be.

But at the rate she’s going, very little sucking it up will be required. She’s turning into a bona fide progressive. She may not go for the class-warfare rhetorical jugular with quite Warren’s gusto. But “the top 25 hedge-fund managers together make more money than all the kindergarten teachers in America,” which she said this week in Iowa, is close enough for me, and a lot closer than I thought she was going to be at this stage.


By: Michael Tomasky, The Daily Beast, May 20, 2015

May 21, 2015 Posted by | Hillary Clinton, Liberals, Progressives | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“Family Values Hypocrisy”: We Need To Think More About “Positive Liberty”, The Ability To Realize Certain Goals In Our Lives

Politicians talk about family values but do almost nothing to help families. They talk about parental responsibility but do almost nothing to help parents. They talk about self-sufficiency but do precious little to make self-sufficiency a reality for those who must struggle hardest to achieve it.

How often can we hear that government should be more responsive to the problems Americans face now? But the vogue for simply assuming that government cannot — or should not — do much of anything about those problems leads to paralysis. This, in turn, further increases disaffection from government.

For all these reasons, it was exciting last week to see Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York and Rep. Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut introduce the FAMILY Act, the acronym standing for their Family and Medical Insurance Leave Act. The bill would provide partial income for up to 12 weeks of leave for new parents and for other family demands, such as care for a sick family member, including a domestic partner.

How far behind the rest of the world is our country on this quintessential family values matter? The Post’s Amy Joyce cited a Harvard University study in 2004 noting that of 168 countries it examined, 163 had some form of paid maternity leave. We weren’t one of the 163. Joyce observed that “the U.S. is on par with places like Papua New Guinea and Swaziland when it comes to paid family leave.”

The usual knock on proposals of this sort is that they would put an excessive economic burden on employers — or cost the federal government money it doesn’t have. Gillibrand and DeLauro, both Democrats, solve this problem by establishing FAMILY as an insurance program. Premiums would range from about $72 to $227 a year, depending on a person’s income. The maximum benefit is capped at $4,000 a month. They expect the average monthly benefit to be less than half that.

There is nothing revolutionary about this proposal. It builds on the existing (and highly popular) Family and Medical Leave Act, which requires unpaid leave and was enacted two decades ago. It is modest in comparison with leave policies in other well-off countries.

Yet in light of Congress’s dismal record since the Republican takeover of the House in 2010, it would be revolutionary to see any law passed that empowered individuals and families to ease their everyday difficulties.

Our current discussion of what constitutes “freedom” is shaped far too much by a deeply flawed right-wing notion that every action by government is a threat to personal liberty and that the one and only priority of those who care about keeping people free is for government to do less than it does.

This perspective ignores the many ways over the course of our history in which government has expanded the autonomy of our citizens. Consider how much less freedom so many of us would have without civil rights or voting rights laws, without government student loans, without labor laws, without public schools and without Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. (And we don’t take seriously enough the implications of a most basic fact of our national story: that it took big government in Washington to outlaw slavery.)

Gillibrand’s role in championing this proposal also deserves attention. She is known nationally for her battle on behalf of victims of sexual assault in the military. But she has put forward five bills labeled as an “American Opportunity Agenda.” All of them involve ideas that have won broad support over many years. Besides pressing for paid family leave, she is calling for a minimum wage increase, affordable child care, universal pre-kindergarten programs and equal pay for equal work.

At a time when the political news is dominated by a debate between do-little conservatism and do-nothing conservatism — which is to say, between a right-tilting Republican establishment and the radical tea party — Gillibrand’s package includes building blocks for a broader counter-vision inspired by the idea of an Empowering Government.

Yes, we need to protect what the philosophers call “negative liberty.” There are, indeed, many things that government should never be able to do to us. But we need to think more about “positive liberty,” the ability to realize certain goals in our lives. Democratic government can create the framework in which we have more power to reach those ends.

And surely a country that honors the devotion of family members to each other should want to make it at least a little easier for them to do their jobs.


By: E. J. Dionne, Jr., Opinion Writer, The Washington Post, December 15, 2013

December 16, 2013 Posted by | Family Values | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment


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