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Posted by on May 23, 2009 in Politics | 13 comments

RNC Train Wreck Continues: Ad Casts Pelosi As “Pussy Galore”

trainwreck2.jpg

The time has come to ask whether the Republican party’s bigwigs are determined to turn their once Grand Old issue-oriented, serious political Party into a cult or talk radio extension. The RNC’s latest ad is sure to get it lots of attention, but it’s going to turn off some voters in droves: who is the genius who thought it would be just a GREAT idea to cast beset House Speaker Nancy Pelosi as James Bond’s “Pussy Galore?”

Except for getting a lot of new and old media press on a slow news weekend, you have to wonder what the idea was — except to perhaps please the kinds of partisans who thought “Barack the Magic Negro” was an absolutely hilarious, not offensive, and sure to win over independent voters song — if only people who were NOT already conservative Republicans could just kick back, have a chuckle and hear and enjoy those witty lyrics…

The result will be what smart political operatives would not want: this ad will likely shift the present new and old media narrative about Pelosi as a toe-stubbing, on the ropes politico giving halting, seemingly contradictory answers about what she knew and when she knew it about torture, to the narrative of a 69 year old grandmother who is third in line to sit in the Oval Office being clumsily linked to a James Bond character whose last name would get an elementary school kid who said it sent to the office. We’ve deleted and banned people in comments on this site for using it.

But it’s indicative of the continued lowering of the bar of American political discourse: even by the increasingly sleazy standard of political ads utilized by both sides, this ad is a particularly smelly one.

The Politico (see above link) reports:

The wisdom of equating the first woman speaker of the House with a character whose first name also happens to be among the most vulgar terms for a part of the female anatomy might be debated – if the RNC were willing to do so, which it was not. An RNC spokesperson refused repeated requests by POLITICO to explain the point of the video, or the intended connection between Pelosi and Galore.

Anyone in the journalism biz knows: “repeated refusals” usually means the source has a hand caught in the cookie jar and is huddling with associates to try and find a way to get it out — and appear as if it was never in it. If a source repeatedly refuses to explain, or won’t answer a slew of calls, it usually means something.

The bottom line: if this is a preview of what is to come from the RNC, the party’s efforts will be counterproductive in getting back the independent voters, Democrats who may not be entirely pleased with Obama and moderate Republicans it will need to win elections. Not to mention women voters, who will not be amused. The Politico piece has some reaction from some groups and it is not…ahem…favorable. The Politico again:

But what isn’t open to debate is that the waterboarding conflict has been accompanied by a cascade of attacks on the speaker, not as a leader or a legislator, but as a woman.

Earlier this week, Pittsburgh radio host Jim Quinn referred to the speaker on his program as “this bitch”; last week, syndicated radio host Neal Boortz opined “how fun it is to watch that hag out there twisting in the wind.”

There has also been a steady stream of taunts about the speaker’s appearance, and whether it’s been surgically enhanced. On CNN’s “State of the Union,” Republican strategist Alex Castellanos said, “I think if Speaker Pelosi were still capable of human facial expression, we’d see she’d be embarrassed.”

Here’s the RNC video. Watch it and judge for yourself.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UcNQuHsrxXY

Just what segment of voters that the RNC didn’t already have did it expect to win over with an ad like this?

But perceptions on this ad do differ. Here’s how some others see it:
The Politics Daily:

I don’t think the RNC was “calling her a pussy,” either. Any kid on a playground will tell you that makes no sense. They were clearly equating her with a movie character named “Pussy Galore,” which actually is demeaning. They also feature a mimic of the sexually charged Bond titles sequences. Maybe the sexy woman with her back turned is supposed to be the CIA, not Pelosi.

Hot Air’s Allahpundit:

The RNC does occasionally display suicidal tendencies — see, e.g., pretty much anything to come out of Michael Steele’s mouth over the past few months — but I can’t believe they intended to call Pelosi a “pussy” knowing how offensive it is, how many votes it could cost them, and how outrageously outraged the media would be on her behalf as a way of changing the subject from her lies about waterboarding. Even the GOP’s not that self-destructive. They are, however, evidently tone-deaf enough to cast her in the role of a generic Bond femme fatale here, which very stupidly and gratuitously injects her gender into a war they were winning.

The left’s cried wolf over GOP ads so many times, in such astoundingly hysterical ways, that by now the presumption of innocence is almost irrebuttable. And yet, I’d love to know who among the Republican brain trust thought this was a good idea. Even if their motives were pure, after seeing what happened to Limbaugh’s “I hope he fails” comment, they simply have to be more attuned to how their message will be received and whether they’re giving their opponents easy opportunities to distort it. A private citizen like Rush, who doesn’t have to worry about winning elections, can afford to be indifferent to that. In the case of the RNC, it’s inexcusable.

Balloon Juice:

These are the people that led weeks of Congressional hearings about Janet Jackson’s breast.

Michael Stickings:

The video, of course, is deeply sexist, but perhaps most of all it’s just plain stupid. Obviously, the intent is to cast Pelosi not just as a villain but as a dangerous woman with her hands on the levers of power — and yet, also, as a pussy. (I’m sure Republicans prefer the ‘c’ word, but even they wouldn’t go there publicly.) To characterize not just one of the leaders of the Democratic Party but also one of the most powerful women in American history is shameful — and all-too-typical for the Republican Party. (Steve Benen has more on what else Pelosi is being called on the right.)

And it goes further than that — although I’m not sure, beyond the obvious, what the makers of the video know of the Pussy Galore character, both in the book and in the movie (Goldfinger, one of the best Bonds). (Check out Wikipedia.) She runs an organized crime ring, but she’s also a lesbian — hence the sexual subtext, not so hidden, bubbling beneath the surface of the RNC video, intentional or not. And, at first, she is indeed a Bond “nemesis,” a “villainess.” The thing is, she ends up switching sides, turning on Goldfinger and helping Bond thwart his plan to rob Fort Knox. And, of course, she ends up with Bond at the end, a lesbian no more, or at least not in the arms of Sean Connery.

Steve Benen:

I think it’s true that, politically, the right’s misogynistic attacks against Pelosi are insane. Conservatives think they have the Speaker on the run — why overreach and begin making sexist attacks?

Ultimately, though, political strategy isn’t nearly as important as basic human decency here. It’s a quality the right is lacking, and this recent pathetic display against Pelosi says far more about them than it does about the Speaker.

At Largely:

Has the RNC devolved into a group of 12 year old misogynists? Yes. Obviously the Grand Old Party has always been in favor of second-class status for women. But now in their last pangs of relevancy, the RNC has entirely and collectively regressed to pre-pubescence, making their misogyny come across as more dork-like than insulting on any real level.

When grown men decide to call the Speaker of the House “Pussy Galore” or pussy anything for that matter, they are pretty much signaling their level of maturity, not to mention their life-long stunning failure with women. Let us assume that they wanted to paint Speaker Pelosi as an evil villain of some sort, surely these fine mental-all -stars could have located someone named something other than Pussy? So much for family values. What will they tell their kids when a youngster starts using that term at home?

Sundries Shack:

I do agree that the ad does send the wrong message. Nancy Pelosi is not a Bond villain; she’s much worse than that. Here’s the ad. Judge for yourself if the RNC is calling Pelosi “Pussy Galore” or if they’re saying that Pelosi’s craven weaseling is emblematic of the Democratic Party over the past six years….

…..By now, it’s a given that the left is going to shriek bloody murder about any ad the RNC puts out, no matter if it’s the most polite ad in the history of political commercials. So why not put one out there that throws a stuff little jab then, when the inevitable wave of outrage arrives, simply shrug, point, and say “There they go again”? The GOP should take every opportunity to show the left as led by two-faced whining hacks followed by fawning, uncritical media lackeys.

Daily Kos:

Sarah Palin, John McCain, and none of the House or Senate Republicans contacted by Politico have agreed to comment yet on the RNC video. Democrats shouldn’t hold back. The RNC just (bleeped) itself. Might I also add a thought; how many younger-voters know who the hell Pussy Galore even is? It’s from ’64!

Mac’s Mind:

Enough of this “lets be nice otherwise the left will speak about us in a harsh way” crap. Man up Allah, one of the freaking reasons we’re sucking wind at the ballot box is that we’ve been too busy apologizing for our existance to the likes of Pelosi, Reid, Andrew Sullivan and other nutroots who wouldn’t think twice of making the same comparisons.

No we don’t always have to be so crass, but we don’t have to walk around like we have our tails between our legs either. Why I don’t relish the idea of a Botox-Incrusted 69 year old hag as “Pussy-Galore”, the comparison in action is quite accurate. Bravo to the RNC.

Taylor Marsh, who was a high-profile Hillary Clinton supporter:

The RNC, however, is not celebrating the women in these classic movies, even by 1960’s standards. Nor are they empowering women through utilizing one of the the cunning female villains who parade around in them by equating her with Speaker Pelosi. I shouldn’t have to spell it out any further, though if the RNC doesn’t have women in their leadership ranks or men who get this stuff and know bad taste when they see it, the Rush, Newt and Cheney Party (as they were aptly called on “Hardball” yesterday) is truly nothing more than a frat boy institution. No offense to fraternities meant.

That a woman, let alone Speaker of the House, should never be hinted to in any public way through the use of “Pussy” insinuations should be obvious. That this is being used by a once major political party in the 21st century is stunning.

But this is one way to skin an adversary, especially if she’s a woman. Ladies, especially Clinton supporters, have been here before…..If the RNC thinks this is the way to attract people to their Party they’ve evidently decided that women won’t be a respected member of their tribe.

-Big Brass Blog:

So, the political discourse in this country has devolved into equating the Speaker of the House with the second most disgusting term for a woman’s anatomy…And what do Ms. Pelosi’s looks have to do with job performance, such as it is? Tip O’Neill wasn’t that great looking and that was never an issue while he was Speaker. And don’t even get me started on Dennis Hastert. Besides, Honor Blackman was quite attractive. In true Republican fashion they really wanted to equate Pelosi’s looks with Irma Bunt or Rosa Klebb but their names weren’t offensive enough.

The Atlantic’s Ta-Nehisi Coates’ post has the headline: OK, I’m No Longer Surprised..with the first line: “It’s just who they are..”
Brad De Long:

For some time now I have been responding to Daniel Klein’s whimpers about the low numbers of Republicans in academia as evidence of some sort of bias by pointing out that the existence of any academics who are Republicans is evidence of an opposite kind of bias–that nobody dedicated to education and truth-telling could stomach being a Republican today, and nobody who isn’t dedicated to education and truth-telling had any business being a Republican.

Now I think it is time to expand that list of professions in which having professional ethics is simply inconsistent with being a Republican..

Fausta’s Blog:

Politico calls this the “RNC’s below-the-belt shot at Nancy Pelosi”

Well, booh-frickin’-whoo. Where was Politico when the Dems were calling Condoleezza Rice the “house negro“?

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Copyright 2009 The Moderate Voice
  • StockBoySF

    From the linked article, “Phil Singer, who dealt with the issue as a spokesman for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, takes it one step further, arguing that such tactics are actually likely to be counterproductive in the end.”

    My thoughts exactly.

    The Republicans are becoming the Democratic Party’s best friends. (By sending voters to the Dems.)

    After reading the post I was all ready to huff and puff, but then after watching the video it wasn’t what I expected at all (drat!) But then again I view James Bond movies as fun and somewhat stupid mindless entertainment and that’s exactly what I took away from the video of Pelosi…. I thought it was hysterical and it just seemed so bad in a campy sort of way…. So badly done that one couldn’t take it seriously. So whatever misogynistic themes it has are simply just lost because it’s hard to take the video seriously.

    Does the RNC have the rights to use the Bond images and music? 🙂

  • Hmm, seems like the RNC is playing the Democrats own game, and Democrats do not like it at all.

    For 8 years the Dems have played deep in the mud, getting personal, getting nasty, and Republicans at the national level did not fight back. Now they do, and Dems are getting the vapors and calling foul. If they can’t take it when aimed back at them, perhaps they should not do it themselves, eh?

    • StockBoySF

      William_Teach, “For 8 years the Dems have played deep in the mud, getting personal, getting nasty, and Republicans at the national level did not fight back.”

      Hahaha.. Except, of course for all those times Bush (and his administration officials and other Republicans) called the Democrats obstructionists, socialists, unpatriotic, terrorists sympathizers, etc. Also let’s not forget that Bush regularly demonized the Dems.

      And let’s not forget that some of the Bush appointees that the Democrats had serious concerns about went on to commit crimes or really did turn out to be incompetent.

      • Nice rewrite of history, SBSF. If only Bush had done those things (BTW, being called obstructionist is not mean or getting down in the mud. Democrats were obstructionist. The GOP is being somewhat obstructionist now. Politics 101.) Instead, he barely ever defended his own policies and/or attacked back. The people who were calling you socialists (you actually aren’t, but, that is a different post), unpatriotic, and terrorist sympathizers were mostly the conservative base, and a few Congress critters. And those words still apply.

        Most elected Republicans let you have your way with them.

  • EEllis

    Not as bad as the attacks on Clinton during the Primaries. Honestly I feel worse about being mislead by the description than the add. The only connection the Pussy Galore might be a 1/2 second shot of a female who could be that character I’m not sure. Lets face it, it’s Pelosi vs the CIA and to frame the add they used the most famous spy franchise. Histrionics aside Big deal.

  • StockBoySF

    Here’s the title sequence to the original Goldfinger.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WKDjhZb6iCc

    And of course this scene where Bond is held on Goldfinger’s ranch and scheduled to die the next morning (I think). I love the way Bond and Ms. Galore play with each other- even though they’re enemies. Too bad politicians can’t behave civilly towards each other! 🙂

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dn6T19-kOkQ

  • EEllis

    SB makes my point. Bond is shown in the barrel and so is Pelosi not Pussy Galore. Sure they could of meant something but when it’s that subtle it’s a guess, unless someone confesses otherwise, not fact. Personally it’s very obscure and I doubt 1 in a hundred would have any idea that it was a ripoff of Goldfinger never mind the Pussy Galore connection.

  • JSpencer

    It’s not like the democrats couldn’t benefit from some worthwhile and contructive critiquing, but this continuing descent into adolescent melodrama by the GOP is less than useless.

  • Joe – thanks for highlighting the misogyny being directed at Pelosi. As I’ve written before (most recently in a comment thread w/CStanley), the Dem and the GOP women get this stuff thrown at them. There’s no “more sexist” or “not sexist enough.” It’s all wrong, it all detracts from actual debate and it’s an embarrassment to what the conversations could be and should be regarding really serious issues like torture and its use.

  • StockBoySF

    I agree with Jill that this detracts from the actual debate. That’s exactly what the Republicans want- it was the Bush administration which broke laws and tortured people. The only responses the GOP can give are either “the ends justify the means” or throw mud at the Dems and cause distraction.

    I can see how many people would find it to be misogynistic- because it is. But I just can’t take it seriously. It’s more of a piece of theater because it’s so obvious what the RNC is doing. And as I said earlier it’s so bad I think it is more campy….

    But my opinion doesn’t take away the mean spirit in which it was made and the fallout that it is causing. Though I think if I were in the Democratic leadership I would keep focused on what it is trying to distract everyone from.

  • Guest

    The thing that’s always going to screw the right… they are hard-wired without a sense of humor.

    The right thinks Dennis Miller and “An American Carol” (with a Rotten Tomatoes rating of THIRTEEN percent) are a laugh riot.

    And of course there was the Fox New’s right-wing comedy disaster, “The 1/2 Hour News Hour”.

    Arrogant, authoritarian and humorless… that pretty much sums up the right.

  • kmne68

    It is hilarious watching democrats get all exercised over this non-event and their water-carrying media echo the feigned indignation. The old playbook comes out–when a democrat is in trouble, gin up some strawman to distract attention.

    Pelosi is a bumbling old fool and her party has used this so called torture issue out of political expediency to the detriment of our country and our troops. These self-serving slimeballs, from Pelosi to Murtha to Durbin will one day be judged to be worse than Benedict Arnold.

  • $199537

    The ad isn’t likely to sway anybody and really doesn’t make much sense. All of this outrage coming from the left rings quite false though, straining to read much more into the ad than what is there so they can justify their indignance.

    As far as the ad detracting from the “real debate”, Pelosi’s rambling and confused statements are part of the debate. The GOP didn’t make them up.

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