Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Sympathy for Oprah

I'm not a huuuge Oprah fan for reasons irrelevant to this post, but let me say, I feel a lot of sympathy for her in the current position she finds herself: between a rock and a hard place. After all, if you're Oprah and a talented, young(ish) black man is running for President, as is a intelligent, self-possessed woman, who do you vote for? Or, more importantly in today's political scene, who do you endorse. Well, it wasn't particular surprising to me when she chose Obama. Apparently, however, some women (I'm sure not representative of the fairer sex) were incensed - to the point of calling Oprah "a traitor" to her gender. Thing is, putting yourself in Oprah's shoes, she was obviously in a lose/lose situation, wasn't she? If she'd endorsed Obama, some would've accused her of being a traitor to her race. In fact, arguably, she was in a lose/lose/lose situation, since if she'd endorsed Edwards, somebody out there would've accused her of being a traitor to both her race and her gender.

Says one commenter on Oprah's site:
For the first time in history we actually have a shot at putting a woman in the White House and Oprah backs the black MAN. She’s choosing her race over her gender.
Kinda hard to avoid the whole race and gender issue when it's shoved in your face like that, huh?

There's a certain type of person, apparently, who will brook no criticism of Hillary Clinton, answering every point about her placed in the negative column with a remark something akin to "If she were a man, you wouldn't care about that." Not so. I really don't feel like voting for Hillary Clinton at the moment, and it has nothing to do with her gender. And the problems I find in her, I find just as distasteful in any male candidate, thank you very much. Furthermore, I'd gladly vote for a female candidate I admire, given the opportunity. (Someone like the extraordinary Madeleine Albright, were she able to run, would stand head-and shoulders above every candidate.) Also, this tendency to change the subject but bringing up gender when faced with criticism is blatant intellectual dishonesty. Hillary Clinton often comes across as arrogant, and entitled (to the White House), she voted for the war in Iraq, and she's been snuggling up with Big Pharma for a while now. Those are criticisms I would level at any male candidate. Hell, that description actually makes her sound like George Bush.

I've long admired Bill Clinton for his work, despite his obvious foibles, but I've lost a lot of respect for the Clintons over the past few weeks, especially, as both of them have descended into dirty tricks and open prevarication about the various stances and the life story of Barack Obama. Suddenly, Andrew Sullivan doesn't sound so truculent. Obama hasn't come out smelling entirely like a rose, but he certainly appears the more dignified by comparison.

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