Let me be clear, I do not object to the NY Chapter of NOW releasing a statement expressing disappointment at Ted Kennedy's selection and re-emphasizing their support of Hillary. I thought nation-wide NOW had a particularly polite and graceful response (and I could stand something less polite than that). What I think was not correct, strategically and morally was the unhinged nonsensical rant NY NOW provided us with on the day that Senator Kennedy endorsed Obama. Jon appears to think that by not mentioning the actual text of the statement and supporting a general statement of disappointment, we will all forget the what NY NOW actually said. However, it was the vicious nature of NY NOW's rant that caused so much controversy and what, in my mind, made it inappropriate. Let's go through the statement to see just how silly it was:
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.
Women have also been appalled by his drunken advances at many a Capitol Hill bar, his long discussions on the joys of spending time at sea, and his incessant invitations to "go for a drive" towards the end of parties. But seriously, it's difficult to follow what they are charging here, since Title IX and the ERA were issues 30 years ago, while the Family Leave and Medical Act is actually called the Family and Medical Leave Act and Kennedy voted for it.
This extraordinary harsh opening is bothersome for two reasons. For one, Kennedy has consistently been on the right side when it comes to women's rights. It was he, after all, who stood up hours after Robert Bork was nominated and gave the blistering "Robert Bork's America" speech which set the tone for the confirmation process, and I can't think of a single women's issue that Kennedy has been on the wrong side of. Evidently NY NOW can't either, since they are bringing up acts for which Kennedy voted and bills from 30 years ago (which he may have voted for as well, I just can't find the records).
Bottom line, you don't treat your good friends like this. If, after hearing Jon endorsed Hillary, I posted on this blog saying: "I have experienced the ultimate betrayal! Jon was slow to congratulate me on my graduation from high school and my many appearances on the dean's list. He never once wrapped my birthday presents in the wrapping paper I liked, and consistently refused to work MY favorite episodes of Spin City into his conversation..." I would be being pretty unfair to Jon because (1) those are pretty silly complaints and (2) he has been good to me in so many other respects. Similarly, condemning your good legislative friend in the strongest possible manner and trying to throw any argument against to wall, hoping it will harm his reputation with women is really a disgrace.
The other important reason this part is bothersome is that because they are being unfair here, they look ridiculous and hurt the cause they are fighting for. I might be wrong, they might have a real gripe about Senator Kennedy here, but I think most people (and most women) would equate Senator Kennedy with a strong record on women's rights. Outlandish charges with no support and over-the-top language makes your organization look ridiculous and makes people not want to identify with you. Now, I know that sometimes I express opinions in an over-the-top manner, but it's just me that looks silly. When you are an organization that represents a cause you have a larger responsibility and should act accordingly.
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.
What the hell is their slogan, NY NOW: The Paranoid Schizophrenic Women's Organization You Keep? Have any of these organizations backed Obama? Let's see, a quick check shows democrats.com has not, nor has Howard Dean, Alternet is a collection of articles from different sources, and then there's the very professional “Kucinich lovers.” I assume by “Kucinich lovers” they mean that annoying friend Wendy invited to the last dinner who liked Kucinich and who was clearly a misogynist because he enjoyed the work of Diane Keaton (don't ask) and didn't support Hillary.
It appears Progressive Democrats of America has a lot of pro Obama and Edwards stuff up, so they got one, and, really, one out of seven ain't bad. People don't expect all that much accuracy from an organization that unfairly slams one of their bigger supporters in the first paragraph of their press release. You might as well make up fake enemies from the feverish visions inside your head, and then accuse them of ignoring women's issues when they talk about silly issues like poverty “or whatever.”
Perhaps instead of launching bombs at the groups that are most on their side and accusing all the “white men” involved with them of misogyny, they could educate people on why exactly it would be important to have a woman as president or what other women's issues besides the usual ones we all ought to be supporting. But no, forget that, they should just keep on with the hyperbole and the cheap stereotypes. I'm sure that will convince people of their position.
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.”
What's actually telling about the status of women's rights is the fact that it's very likely that Hillary will jump way ahead in the race for the nomination on Tuesday, and that she's seen as the tougher more qualified one in this race. I fully support any women's organization deciding to endorse Hillary. I don't think it's ridiculous to want someone you can identify with in the White House, especially when you've never had that opportunity. I just think it's disgraceful and childish to kneecap your friends with ludicrous charges in the process. I also think it's terribly selfish to sully the reputation of your organization because you were particularly annoyed at a decision someone made. NY NOW may consist of a ton of perfectly wonderful, hardworking, and successful grassroots activists, but when I think of them in the near future, I will think of this insane press release and many others will too. That is unfortunate.