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Posted by on Aug 26, 2008 in Politics | 19 comments

On the media-whipped PUMA phenom & a one-word directive: CHILL

I like Rebecca Traister’s piece on the Party Unity My Ass loyalists in Salon very much but I love this woman.

The setting:

Whether they knew it or not, the PUMAs who had congregated next to the MSNBC stage were making the night of the man who has done everything in his power to destroy their purported heroine. They held aloft Clinton signs and hand-markered cards reading “Stop Delegate Intimidation!” and “South Jersey PUMA.” At one point, three women and three men holding “McCain” signs started a melodic chorus of “Clintons for McCain, sweetie, Clintons for McCain, sweetie,” in reference to Barack Obama’s bad habit of referring to women by that diminutive. Next to them, a man in an Obama hat shouted, “You’re all irrelevant! Jesus!”

But irrelevant is not how the protesters will be portrayed by a media that has been salivating over the possible disruption of the Democratic convention — by angry, broom-riding succubi! — for weeks. Never mind that there were probably no more than 50 shouting PUMAs. Never mind that every national political convention in modern history becomes a locus for vocal agitators. Never mind that over the weekend, antiwar protests had been larger. Never mind that in three days in Denver I had not spotted a single PUMA or Hillary protester until I found where Chris Matthews was broadcasting. Never mind the guy in the toilet outfit. To hear Matthews, and the talking heads at CNN tell it, these demonstrators were “ground zero” in a rift that could potentially destroy the Democratic Party and ruin its national convention.

And from the woman I love, Marie Wilson, founder of The White House Project:

“There is such a fear of women coming into power, that when they protest, they are given more weight,” said Marie Wilson, head of the White House Project, before speaking as part of the Unconventional Women’s programming, acknowledging the likelihood of protest. “Just the fact of women saying they support their candidate and want to make their voices heard sounds more scary than it would be if it were guys. That’s just part of backlash. But come on. When women gather around a water fountain, men get scared. People oughta just chill.”

Wilson acknowledges that there will be residual tension at the convention. But she sees the discord as a positive thing, a perhaps painful step in the right direction. “Putting issues on the table” — as opposed to keeping political frustrations pent up — “is what is going to bring people together.” Wilson believes that in the wake of Hillary’s run, “we are in the middle of a revolution. Women are stepping up and taking power.” She said her organization, which encourages women to seek elected office, has seen a 61 percent increase in participation in the past year. [emphasis mine]

Count 29 year old Hough resident, Stephanie Howse, Cleveland’s newest city council member, as part of that 61%.

Much of my online day yesterday was spent saying much of the same thing, which is that the number of voters who continue to act as though they can threaten the democracy that kept this country together in 2000 after Antonin Scalia made George Bush president is most likely statistically comparable to the usual number of voters in a presidential election year who don’t “get in line” – and maybe even smaller. We don’t know because no one is measuring that – hmm, why do you think that might be?

If you don’t believe me, you can hear Markos of Daily Kos and John Podesta, among others, say it on NPR. And although I can’t remember specifically, I know Dan Moulthrop and his guests went over this point too yesterday morning with at least one caller. (I have to add – neither of those shows had a single woman on the panel, but that’s another post.)

The difference this year, when it comes to those who don’t want to support the nominee?

Chris Matthews forgetting he is or ever was a journalist – and that men get scared thing Wilson references. But Matthews is only the most obvious example of this media-ready explosion of expression, and the netroots have plenty of upshoots in the same vein.

The voters who are defiant in their depression and anger over Hillary Clinton not being on the ticket come by it organically, unquestionably. These voters are unlikely to be the ones who are so much in the center that they can come to see John McCain as the moderate maverick he presented as in 2000 and vote for him now. The problem is, they are being fed and used and portrayed by opportunists of all stripes, not only Carly Fiorina and John McCain, as if they are those voters who could be swayed (and Fiorina is a squirrel banging her head against the cage – these voters, especially the women, are never going to vote for McCain – he simply is not what they want – all they want it Clinton, end of story).

Yet, what confounds me most in the continuation and choice of actions determined by defiance is understanding how voters who are otherwise intelligent and rational in choosing an excellent candidate in Hillary Clinton can now become individuals who will ignore the illogic behind their continued push toward goals that are not, even in a Dennis Kucinich world, achievable.

And I’m someone who wrote, repeatedly, about letting these voters have their say, get it out, be listened to and learned from. Even as the reality became then and is now that Hillary Clinton is not going to be president this year.


And now, disruption, protests and stunts, especially in the face of strong statements from Clinton herself, project nothing but pure narcissism. Listen to Clinton:

I consider Bill Clinton to be one of the most narcissistic people on the face of the Earth, but not Hillary. Whatever inner glee voters (especially those who never before would have voted for McCain and insist that they will refuse to vote for Obama) think Clinton may find in the PUMA protests, how do you think she’s going to feel as a sitting senator who has to work under a McCain administration delivered to her by…her own supporters?

Again – if people were smart enough to vote for Clinton in the primary – and I did – then they should be smart enough now to realize that, as Marie Wilson says, they need to chill.

And go attend a White House Project Go Run! training so that they can be the next female presidential candidate.