Kennedy on Clinton

January 29th, 2008 by ChrisPa


Admittedly, I was a bit surprised by Ted Kennedy’s endorsement of Obama over Clinton. I immediately read it as politics — he thought he was joining up with the winning team. But who knows. One thing I will say is that I never would have suggested that it was due to Kennedy being anti-woman. I still don’t think it. But some do, apparently…

Here’s the statement from New York’s chapter of NOW. Pretty strong stuff:

Women have just experienced the ultimate betrayal. Senator Kennedy’s endorsement of Hillary Clinton’s opponent in the Democratic presidential primary campaign has really hit women hard. Women have forgiven Kennedy, stuck up for him, stood by him, hushed the fact that he was late in his support of Title IX, the ERA, the Family Leave and Medical Act to name a few. Women have buried their anger that his support for the compromises in No Child Left Behind and the Medicare bogus drug benefit brought us the passage of these flawed bills. We have thanked him for his ardent support of many civil rights bills, BUT women are always waiting in the wings.

And now the greatest betrayal! We are repaid with his abandonment! He’s picked the new guy over us. He’s joined the list of progressive white men who can’t or won’t handle the prospect of a woman president who is Hillary Clinton (they will of course say they support a woman president, just not “this” one). ‘They’ are Howard Dean and Jim Dean (Yup! That’s Howard’s brother) who run DFA (that’s the group and list from the Dean campaign that we women helped start and grow). They are Alternet, Progressive Democrats of America, democrats.com, Kucinich lovers and all the other groups that take women’s money, say they’ll do feminist and women’s rights issues one of these days, and conveniently forget to mention women and children when they talk about poverty or human needs or America’s future or whatever.

This latest move by Kennedy is so telling about the status of and respect for women’s rights, women’s voices, women’s equality, women’s authority and our ability – indeed, our obligation – to promote and earn and deserve and elect, unabashedly, a President that is the first woman after centuries of men who ‘know what’s best for us.’”

This seems pretty ridiculous to me. Now I’m not defending Ted Kennedy’s record on pro-women oriented legislation, and I’m not defending his legislative status as a feminist (hard to swallow, given some of Ted’s historical shenanigans). So I’ll give NY NOW their say on that. But they have absolutely no evidence at all that Kennedy has turned to Obama simply because he’s a man. Frankly, it’s seems patently ridiculous to make the charge with no evidence other than the fact that he’s chosen Obama (the guy) over Clinton (the woman).

In fact, the only way to really accept their argument is to make a ridiculous move: that any self-respecting supporter of womens’ rights or of feminism will support Clinton (because she’s a woman). Thus, any support for the non-women candidates is a straight admission that one has abandoned women’s causes.

To take identity politics to that level is beyond stupid, it’s downright hurtful to women’s causes. It simply empties them of significance. If that’s what “being a feminist” means, then I would stop being a feminist. Luckily, I’m not gullible enough to sheepishly accept NY NOW’s definition of feminism, as in my book they left intelligent feminism behind with this stupidity.

I’d love to ask NY NOW: if it were Karen Hughes vs Obama, who would they support? What if it was Bay Buchanan vs Obama? Somehow I doubt they’d support Hughes or Buchanan. Would that make them anti-feminist? I mean come on.

This is so stupid it’s hard to know how to respond effectively to it.

(h/t to Professor Bainbridge. After three years of reading his blog, I think we’ve agreed twice. This was one of those two times.)

11 Responses to “Kennedy on Clinton”

  1. brandy Says:

    Yep, I definitely agree with you on this. I think it sets a scary tone when the idea of supporting a man can be turned into someone being ‘anti-woman’.

  2. eyeingtenure Says:

    By that same logic, those who don’t support Obama are racist.

    What’s a forward-thinking white male to do?

    http://awaitingtenure.wordpress.com/

  3. Chris Says:

    That’s pretty much right. Now, I’m not naive here — I suspect that many people who won’t vote for Obama probably are racists. And I have no doubt that many who won’t vote for Clinton will refuse to do so because she’s a woman.

    But in particular cases, without further evidence showing that this is indeed the reasoning, you can’t simply point to the behavior of not voting Clinton (or Obama) and then condemn them as anti-black or anti-woman.

  4. OFF: Ted Kennedy’s Sexist Agenda « On the Tenure Track Says:

    [...] both points of view, check out the links here, here and here. No Comments Leave a Commenttrackback addressThere was an error with your comment, please try [...]

  5. Swad Says:

    As if Chappaquiddick didn’t prove he was anti-woman… :-)

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chappaquiddick_incident

  6. Chris Says:

    Swad,

    That’s actually what I was referring to above with respect to his “historical shenanigans.”

    Still, that was 40 years ago, so I don’t think it sheds any light at all on this issue.

    Like I was saying — I’m not defending Kennedy’s record with respect to women’s rights/legislation. The Kennedy’s have hardly been model citizens when it comes to their treatment of women.

    But short of some actual evidence other than a 40 year old event, his support of Obama doesn’t say much to me vis a vis his stance towards women as president.

  7. eyeingtenure Says:

    I grew up listening to my dad demonize Ted Kennedy, mostly on the basis of the Chappaquiddick incident. I grew up believing it.

    I’m not so convinced any more. That was almost 40 years ago, as Chris points out. I’m idealistic enough that I’d like to believe he could redeem himself, and that philandering isn’t a civic sin of politicians. It’s inevitable.

  8. Million Says:

    I’m interested to hear who YOU will endorse.

    Will it be the Senator from back home? New York City! The place that brought us rampant voting fraud immortalized in Gangs of New York? And machine politics!

    Will it be the Gentleman from Arizona (who I’m sure you share an AARP membership with).

    Or silence prove to be golden?

  9. Chris Says:

    Hey, Gangs of New York is a great film. The old Tammany Hall politics of old get me all misty eyed and nostalgic.

  10. Swad Says:

    Yeah, I think the whole car-in-the-bay thing doesn’t matter much these days… but I had to reference it nonetheless.

    Oh, and if the longing for machine politics ever gets too overwhelming, I’d be more than happy to give you a tour of Chicago. You could vote again while you’re up here! It’s great! :-)

  11. Chris Says:

    I’m not opposed to voting twice. I’m from New York, remember. Tammany Hall politics is in our blood. I think the Chicagoians learned their dirty tricks from us!

    Actually Christie and I will be in Chicago for a few days in early June. Christie’s good friend dates the guitarist from REM, and they are having a concert there in June, so we’re hooked up with sweet tickets.

    I’ll definitely look you up while we are there!

    Oh — did you take that class with Nussbaum?

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