Author: has written 1136 posts for this blog.

Return to: Homepage | Blog Index

136 Responses

  1. Caren
    Caren April 9, 2008 at 9:46 am |

    He’s thinking John McCain can’t go a day without some foreign policy gaffe, even if Lieberman is there to help cover it up. McCain has no idea who is Sunni, who is Shia, or which one of those Iran supports. If you don’t know these things, how can you possibly come to a diplomatic solution?

    McCain’s not lying about 100 years in Iraq. We want their oil, and we’re not leaving without having contracts signed giving rights to that oil to American companies in perpetuity. And b/c that’s FUBAR, we have to keep our troops there to enforce those contracts–rule of law and all.

  2. Sarah J
    Sarah J April 9, 2008 at 9:53 am |

    Actually, he said that he’s been on those trips, not that Clinton is ‘just a wife.’ He was comparing his own experience to hers. Other people who have experience with her so-called diplomacy have already come out and said that she was full of it. Nobody said that she was incapable of doing diplomacy because she was a woman, just that Hillary Clinton did not do much diplomacy.

    What would you like him to have done with his Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee? And what have Clinton and McCain done that is so great? If you’re going to say things like that, back it up please.

    And I do think it is important that he has lived in other countries and that he knows the difference between Sunni and Shia as a matter of course, since McCain clearly still doesn’t know the difference.

    Every time Obama promotes himself at the expense of Hillary Clinton is not misogyny, sorry.

  3. sigh
    sigh April 9, 2008 at 9:54 am |

    zuzu, I think I love you

  4. Tobes
    Tobes April 9, 2008 at 9:55 am |

    HA! I never really thought of it like that.

    You know. Obama is really starting to tick me off with this crap. Why are his personal life experiences any more valuable than hers? It’s pretty apparent than he’s arguing that his male-ness makes him more qualified…

    “See I’m not wasting time watching little kids dance… I do REAL WORK.” Okay– such as?

    Zuzu is right, that is what diplomacy IS.

    It’s funny because Obama and Clinton just spoke in N.D. and I got a chance to see them one after the other. Clinton wiped the floor with Obama in her speech where she outlined all her qualifications. I’m sick of everyone trying to discount the AMAZING work she’s done and framing it in sexist rhetoric.

  5. MizDarwin
    MizDarwin April 9, 2008 at 10:05 am |

    Good. On. You.

  6. Jay
    Jay April 9, 2008 at 10:07 am |

    I think Obama’s point was that actually living in other countries and visiting them as an ordinary person rather than as a foreign dignitary may provide as much or more insight into the rest of the world as attending photo-ops and staged events with people hand-picked by politicians.

    After all, Bush’s life-long contact with various Saudi royals and their servants didn’t exactly yield a lot of insight into the Middle East. Maybe someone who had lived in Saudi and spent time among ordinary people there could have avoided some of his mistakes.

  7. anony
    anony April 9, 2008 at 10:16 am |

    1) He lived in Indonesia from the ages of 6 to 10, 40 years ago. I lived in New Jersey from birth to age 13. Can I be governor when Corzine leaves office?

    I think that’s unfair. I grew up straddling two countries (the US and Colombia), but haven’t returned to Colombia since I was about 11. I do still have family there, though. That part of my childhood shaped me – it’s impossible for it NOT to shape you. To spend a significant part of your childhood fully immersed in a fundamentally different world and culture IS meaningful (and whatever people might say about Jersey, it’s not quite the same). It IS different that those diplomatic trips. I may not be explaining it well but I TOTALLY get what he’s saying.

    2) As I discussed in comments to this post, dismissing the diplomacy that Clinton did as “having tea” or being “just a wife” or doing no more than watching “children do native dance” is sexist, because it diminishes the role of women in diplomacy and it ignores the fact that a lot of diplomacy is, in fact, simple schmoozing:

    I think that’s exactly his point – diplomacy IS schmoozing, so whether you’re male or female, simply taken these trips does not give you a lot of insight into the world. (And I have to say I LOVE the comment about the kids doing a native dance.) I don’t think he’s saying Clinton’s experience as First Lady was meaningless, just that diplomatic visits don’t really give you all that much insight into the world. The same would be true of McCain’s trips, so I don’t see the sexism in this case. (The “just a wife” thing was sexist, but this is a different argument.)

    3) WHAT THE HELL IS HE THINKING? …[snip]…he still comes off with less relevant experience than Navy brat John McCain, who was born in the Panama Canal Zone, traveled extensively as a child, and spent more time hanging by his thumbs in the Hanoi Hilton than Obama did in Indonesia.

    Again, I disagree. McCain was a navy brat – he grew up on navy bases surrounded by other USers, going to American schools, etc. They traveled a lot and based on his wiki page, he attended 20 different schools by the time he was 15 and the family settled in VA. That’s not immersion. That’s not the background of someone who grows up with an ability to identify with and really understand a non-US perspective, which I think is the advantage of Obama’s upbringing. (If anything, growing up military tends to really instill that narrow US view in people, in my experience.) It’s true that living abroad with a military job can provide your children with a decent amount of immersion, but I’ve seen no evidence that McCain actually took advantage of that. I’m not even sure he had the chance given how often his family seems to have moved, and I don’t know what countries he “lived” in either.

  8. Astraea
    Astraea April 9, 2008 at 10:30 am |

    UGH. Thank you for highlighting this. I am so sick of Obama’s condescending remarks about what Clinton did as First Lady. He can’t even list any substantial accomplishments. He could almost have a point about knowing the people vs. schmoozing the leaders but he’s so busy being smarmy about the role of the First Lady he misses it completely.

  9. marie
    marie April 9, 2008 at 10:30 am |

    It was just a matter of time when the self-proclaimed unifier would target Clinton with gender-biased tactics. Because regardless of what color his skin is, he is still a man. Does he still claim to be a better candidate for women than an actual woman?

    Talking about his living in Indonesia as a child and visiting Pakistan during college will only feed the right-wing into making him into a terrorist. While we are still emgaged in Iraq and Afghanistan, trying to present himself as international is not going to help him. It makes him a great candidate for diplomacy rather than the presidency.

  10. TA
    TA April 9, 2008 at 10:34 am |

    Thank you for this. I’m sure State Department spouses all over the world are groaning. Professional diplomacy actually IS a real job; and it’s not just done by the paid employees.

  11. Olivia
    Olivia April 9, 2008 at 10:59 am |

    I agree with this completely. His personal experiences may provide him with more empathy for people in other countries than a person who hasn’t traveled, but it doesn’t make him more experienced in diplomacy.

  12. Oh
    Oh April 9, 2008 at 11:02 am |

    Wow, I really didn’t hear that as dismissing the role of the First Lady–I don’t think of the kinds of trips he described as the work of a stereotypical First Lady. It’s the kind of trip a high-level official takes. He didn’t say you *just* see the kids do a native dance–he said that’s a part of the trip along with briefings and meetings, and he said you don’t get to know a country that way. And, yeah, I think it’s an important point to make that these kinds of trips really don’t give officials a good sense of what things are like in other parts of the world and how US actions really affect and are perceived by the people there.

    I do think US and the world would be a lot better served if US foreign policy paid much more attention to issues in other countries from the ground up, and I felt like Obama was saying that his personal experience of living abroad among regular people who weren’t from the US makes him invested in seeing that happen.

  13. votermom
    votermom April 9, 2008 at 11:07 am |

    Thanks for posting about this. It’s laughable; and I think Clinton did laugh at it.
    Fox news asked her about it:
    http://elections.foxnews.com/2008/04/08/clinton-takes-obama-to-task-over-foreign-policy-experience-claim/

    “I’m somewhat shocked by that since I don’t see any evidence of it,” Clinton said, chuckling. “This is, you know, kind of hard to square with his failure ever to have a single policy hearing on the only responsibility he was given, chairing the European and NATO subcommittee on the Foreign Relations Committee.

    “And as he admitted in the last debate, he was too busy running for president to pay attention to what we needed to do to improve our chances in Afghanistan and get NATO more involved. So, you know, I, I ,I don’t, I don’t know, I’m speechless. I mean, you know, making an assertion like that belies the facts and the record.”

  14. Oh
    Oh April 9, 2008 at 11:22 am |

    His personal experiences may provide him with more empathy for people in other countries than a person who hasn’t traveled, but it doesn’t make him more experienced in diplomacy.

    See, basically, this is the point I thought he was trying to make–that he thinks people in charge of US diplomacy needs to include a lot more empathy for people in other countries. And I personally think that makes a lot of sense since so many foreign-policy problems have come up as US officials just haven’t cared about how their decisions would actually play out for people in other parts of the world, and they just end up being reactive when those actions create problems that become big enough to get their attention.

    I saw him as being dismissive of the emphases Washington has put on diplomacy , not the way women vs men/professional diplomats and officials vs spouses have participated in it. Of course, you can agree or disagree with whether this touchier-feelier approach will play well with voters, whether Obama will actually be able to back it up with anything substantive, whether it’s actually important to do, etc.

  15. Morningstar
    Morningstar April 9, 2008 at 11:33 am |

    i think he makes perfect sense.

    living abroad can be a pretty humbling experience, you suddenly realize just how little you know about the other culture. you learn how the people think and operate, what drives them what makes them angry, these will all help when you encounter someone from that culture later on in life.

    secondly, he’s absolutely right about clinton’s (lack of) foreign policy experience. he wasn’t being misogynistic or disparaging to female diplomats. he was stating that those really brief trips abroad are just for show. and of course they are.

    i mea,n both for time constraints and security reasons she couldn’t interact with the local people, she couldn’t interact with lower levels of government to see and understand what’s going on in these nations.

    her foreign policy experience is a joke.

  16. Becca
    Becca April 9, 2008 at 11:33 am |

    Woah, as far as point #2, I didn’t read it that way at all! I read it like Sarah J did. I don’t see how you could interpret ANYWHERE from his statement that he was dismissing Hillary Clinton for just being a wife. He’s saying that’s the typical experience for ALMOST ALL politicians (read: the vast majority of whom are men, including himself).

    There was no sexism in that statement, at all. Period.

  17. puggins
    puggins April 9, 2008 at 11:36 am |

    I can’t see anything remotely misogynistic in what you quoted. Maybe something that you didn’t include changes the interpretation a bit, but when he says…

    When Senator Clinton brags ‘I’ve met leaders from eighty countries’–I know what those trips are like! I’ve been on them.

    … (emphasis mine) I think he’s very obviously talking about the typical senatorial trip to other countries, whether taken by male or female senators- he specifically includes that he’s been on those same apparently meaningless trips, and thus invalidates some of his experience on the SFRC in order to invalidate her larger group of similar experiences. He doesn’t mention anything about her experiences as a first lady. I think you’re putting words in his mouth in that respect.

    This a typical election game, as far as I’m concerned. Of course foreign diplomatic trips matter. Obama, though, recognizes that Clinton has him creamed in that regard, and is trying to eliminate them as a factor. She’s done the exact same thing with his general positive attitude- a commodity that is an asset and that, fairly or not, he’s got her beat on in the realm of public perception. It’s a tactic as old as time, and in this case has nothing to do with her being a woman and everything to do with her having been a senator in the SFRC for a longer time than he.

  18. puggins
    puggins April 9, 2008 at 11:38 am |

    his senior foreign policy advisor has dismissed it as the tourism of “just a wife,”

    … this, on the other hand, is a totally different story.

  19. Kate Harding
    Kate Harding April 9, 2008 at 11:49 am |

    The guy made a really dumb statement that’s going to come back and bite him in the general if he’s the nominee. Trying to squelch criticism of that isn’t going to make it go away.

    Exactly.

    Also, points for the best post title ever.


    his senior foreign policy advisor has dismissed it as the tourism of “just a wife,”

    … this, on the other hand, is a totally different story.

    And if you recognize that, how can you not see these comments as part of the same pattern?

  20. Brooklynite
    Brooklynite April 9, 2008 at 11:52 am |

    I do think those that say that knowing a country from the ground up is valuable experience have a point. But the way he presents that argument is silly; he’s saying that his childhood experience is better than the experience of his opponents, rather than that his experience is perhaps not the traditional kind of experience, but in an increasingly global world, blah, blah, blah, it’s an important and valuable thing to know the people of the world, not just their political leaders.

    Two things:

    First, Clinton and McCain have been deriding Obama as inexperienced. When your opponents are slamming you as unfit for the job, it seems like smart tactics to spin your experience as not just comparable to theirs, but better.

    Second, Obama’s argument here is more than just tactical. He’s making the claim that DC experience in diplomacy and foreign relations blinds politicians to the reality of the world, and leads them to make decisions that are worse than the ones they’d make if they were less acculturated to Washington’s ways. He’s arguing that his lack of experience is an asset, as outsider politicians have done since time began. You may think that argument is a crock, but it’s at least grounded in a coherent strategy — and one that should be at least as effective against McCain as Clinton.

    This is why some of us are mystified by Clinton’s frequent admiring statements about the impressiveness of McCain’s qualifications to be commander in chief, by the way — by praising his experience now, she’s making it harder to criticize him on those grounds in the general election.

  21. anony
    anony April 9, 2008 at 11:55 am |

    He’s dismissed her experience as “having tea,” his senior foreign policy advisor has dismissed it as the tourism of “just a wife,” and now this.

    He’s being dismissive of diplomatic visits as a method of gaining significant insight into the world outside your own borders/culture. The experience of a diplomatic visit is limited and does not – can not – influence someone’s thinking the same way as living in or having familial ties to a different country does. Is anyone really going to disagree with this statement?

    The statement is true whether the diplomat/politician/visitor in question is male or female, and in this case the individual happens to be female. That does not make it a sexist criticism.

    I also don’t see how “having tea” is dismissive of her as a woman, unless you’re thinking only women have tea, which is not true when you’re talking about certain foreign cultures and diplomatic meetings. Tea is actually a huge diplomatic thing. He’s not talking about a bunch of women in pearls sitting around chatting about their charity work. I think you’re the one gendering this, so to speak, based on a US caricature of what “having tea” means.

    I agreed in my post that the “just a wife” comment was sexist and did denigrate the role of women – wives in particular – in politics and international relations. It was right to call that out. And while I’m not going to claim Obama is free of all sexism – he’s a man in a patriarchy, after all – I don’t think a comment by one of his advisors reflects an anti-woman strategy on the part of his campaign.

  22. Morningstar
    Morningstar April 9, 2008 at 11:55 am |

    This a typical election game, as far as I’m concerned. Of course foreign diplomatic trips matter.

    not nearly as much as clinton would like us to believe.

  23. Kim@Religiarchy
    Kim@Religiarchy April 9, 2008 at 11:57 am |

    Anyone who thinks that living or traveling in a country, trips as a Senator (with no executive power, even as a spouse) is equivalent to WORKING WITH WORLD LEADERS has NO CLUE what diplomacy is.

    And what are the hosts of his first state visit supposed to think when he makes his first trip after these statements? He basically just vilified the entire diplomatic process and preemptively insulted world leaders with whom he would be visiting. Wow. What a uniter.

  24. Rika
    Rika April 9, 2008 at 12:00 pm |

    It seems to me that some people don’t understand what diplomacy is. The point of diplomacy is not to become intimately familiar with the culture of other countries, so you can better serve them. The point is to negotiate for the benefit of your own country. If the President needs specific knowledge of a certain country and its culture, well, that’s what s/he has advisors and specialists for, right? They’re running for President, not trying to join the Peace Corps or whatever.

    I definitely think that Obama’s experiences are valuable ones, but I also believe that its ridiculous to claim that those experiences are more relevant.

  25. Hot Tramp
    Hot Tramp April 9, 2008 at 12:00 pm |

    I don’t agree that Obama’s comment fits the misogynist mold we’ve seen from other folks. He’s saying that diplomatic trips undertaken by non-diplomats are not particularly intense or involved and do not significantly build one’s foreign policy qualifications. He doesn’t say she’s “just a wife”; in fact, he’s basing his evaluation of these trips on trips he’s taken in a non-wifely capacity. I agree with you that he’s wrong about these trips’ value, but I don’t see the sexism in this particular comment.

  26. juju
    juju April 9, 2008 at 12:06 pm |

    I do think those that say that knowing a country from the ground up is valuable experience have a point. But the way he presents that argument is silly; he’s saying that his childhood experience is better than the experience of his opponents, rather than that his experience is perhaps not the traditional kind of experience, but in an increasingly global world, blah, blah, blah, it’s an important and valuable thing to know the people of the world, not just their political leaders. So rather than arguing for broadening the definition of what’s relevant and valuable experience — which is something that Clinton is doing, though not explicitly, by claiming her experiences as First Lady as relevant and valuable — he’s arguing for narrowing the definition, so that his experience is the only relevant and valuable kind.

    I see your point. The issue seems to be in the framing of the argument, well that and the fact that it seems to fit within a pattern of problematic statements.

  27. Morningstar
    Morningstar April 9, 2008 at 12:14 pm |

    obama isn’t mocking diplomats, he’s mocking clinton’s claim that her visit to 80 nations makes her a foreign policy expert.

    and he’s saying that if clinton wants to pretend as if traveling matters, well then, his traveling is more relevant and more beneficial for a president.

  28. Hawise
    Hawise April 9, 2008 at 12:16 pm |

    Don’t get me wrong about how circumscribed foreign diplomatic trips are but when First Lady Clinton stepped up to fill in on those trips she freed the Secretary of State from having to do them. Albright did a ton of groundwork on major hot topics because Hillary was aware of the need to get her out of the glad handing trips and that shows a remarkable depth of knowledge and willingness to do the job. The First Lady is a volunteer job and she deserves credit for putting in the hours. And when Obama is talking down those trips to build himself up he is showing a remarkable denseness about how complicated they actually are and what their goals are.

    http://wampum.wabanaki.net/

    He is also remarkably dense on other matters as observed at Wampum-

  29. anonymous
    anonymous April 9, 2008 at 12:22 pm |

    It seems to me that criticizing Hillary these days is like criticizing Israel: you can’t do it without being accused of being an anti-Semite and wanting the state of Israel to go away.

    Seriously, I would have more respect for Hillary supporters if they could acknowledge there are valid criticisms of her and her policy proposals. Instead every conversation i have with Clinton backers centers around perceived sexism.

    My other big issue with Clinton’s supporters is that I rarely see them getting upset over vile sexist statements aimed at other non-liberal women. This is less an issue here on Feministe, where readers are ardent practicing feminists. But it is an issue in the Democratic community at large. We have heard (and have called) the Bush twins bitches; we have heard Condi Rice called “Bush’s whore” and “the house servant.” No one on the Democratic was screaming bloody murder over the outrageous homophobia, racism and sexism that has been repeatedly aimed at Rice by conservatives and liberals alike. I think we have got to admit that we don’t care about this nearly so much when it is aimed at those women whose politics we don’t like.

    Sadly, we ourselves have dismissed the sexual harassment allegations against Bill and excoriated his women accusers. I regret profoundly things I once said about Monica Lewinsky. I now realize I was wrong; that if Orrin Hatch or any other random republican had a history as a serial harasser, I would have supported those women 100 percent. We supported Anita Hill because we disagreed with Thomas’ political view. Let’s just admit we haven’t been nearly so consistent with non-liberals, or non-Clintons. Bill Clinton is unfortunately profoundly sexist when it comes to using his power to prey on women and cheat on his wife, which he has done repeatedly.

    The Clintons have often been the targets of unfair criticism; that does not render all criticism of them unfair. I think they’ve championed very destructive policies. If Hillary doesn’t disavow the Defense of Marriage Act (she still supports the key discrimination clause), or the “anti-terrorism” laws passed after Oklahoma City (which vitiated habeas corpus, making it easier on Bush to destroy the constitution) or the dreadful “Prison Litigation Reform Act” (which destroyed prisoners’ rights and paved the way for the erosion of human rights completed by the Bushies)…Then I won’t be impressed by her because she’s a woman who was present while Bill was doing all those things.

  30. puggins
    puggins April 9, 2008 at 12:42 pm |

    … this, on the other hand, is a totally different story.

    And if you recognize that, how can you not see these comments as part of the same pattern?

    Well, there are a couple of differences, and I will admit that they are very relative.

    (1) The two quotes were from two sources. His adviser made the wife comment. That’s not to excuse it, of course, but I will treat the two as different when trying to spot a trend in Obama’s opinions about Hillary. The quote from the adviser means that Obama hires lousy campaign advisers sometimes, it doesn’t mean that Obama shares that view.

    (2) The tea comment may have been misogynist. It certainly had misogynist undertones, but that may not have been Obama’s intent. As a person that very frequently puts his foot in his mouth, I’m sympathetic towards people whose intent was good but whose word choice was lousy. Obama may have made a poor choice of words, which would mean that he’s not an ideal campaigner, but I would still find him acceptably open-minded and would be able to support him whole-heartedly. On the other hand, he may have meant to include the misogyny, which would be far, far worse. None of the things mentioned are sufficiently damning to indicate the second choice- even as a pattern- though they do come uncomfortably close.

    In the end, though, I’m not really trying to defend the guy- I just don’t want to damn him outright by implication. He’s certainly not my ideal candidate- the guy doesn’t have enough of a spine when it comes to gay rights, he seems to be equivocating on national health care and he appears to be somewhat thin-skinned. But I’ll reserve my misogyny judgment until later, fully recognizing that he’s treading awfully close to it.

  31. marie
    marie April 9, 2008 at 12:50 pm |

    Couple this latest comment from Obama with ‘he does not want his daughters punished with a child’ really tells me alot. This is exactly what the criticisms from everyone (Republicans, pundits and Obama) against Clinton are – devalue women’s roles in and outside of the home. She has been a senator longer than he – reality.

    I think he is taking a page out of the Clinton book by inflating his international experience. A typical politician.

    Alot of people are debating about what his point really is. I am sick and tired of needing to analyze what he says as if I need a Ph.D. So much for talking to people like a real person and not a politician.

    And McCain was a POW in Vietnam for 5 1/2 years- more than Obama’s life abroad. So I guess that makes McCain better for the presidency? Obama’s logic is flawed and without logic where is his judgement?

  32. Christine
    Christine April 9, 2008 at 12:52 pm |

    I would like to say this, you are reading to deep into sexism in this statement that is not really there. What he is saying has quite a bit of truth to it. This is not an issue about a wife having tea with foreign leaders, rather it is critique of understanding and grasping outside perspectives, something which American politicians are terrible with, because of lack of real exposure to outside perspectives. In that he is dead right. These diplomatic meetings often amount to nothing but photo-ops often. What Obama is saying here is to understand foreign perspectives we need to move beyond the photo-op diplomacy, and move into a deeper mindset of considering wider perspectives.

    There is nothing sexist in the remark, in reality it is a justified critique of American arrogance on what is or is not foreign policy expertise. Obama is saying that expertise goes beyond hollow diplomatic trips or meeting with foreign leaders, but also understanding the country in a deeper way. The truth is, Hillary’s foreign policy experience is based in this hollow reality, it in fact lacks much of this perspective (and in some ways so does McCains, even with the military stuff). Judgement do not come from sub-committee meetings or diplomatic photo-ops.

    You are implying sexism that is not there at all, what is there is a valid critique of photo-op diplomacy. One that weighs more on experiences and perspectives outside of the American hegemony and imperialism that has caused so many problems. If you are reading into it as sexist in its subtext, you are missing the point, and in reality, its not even there, because he is critical of this being touted as experience that speaks for ones judgement, if you are male or female. The truth is this was a very valid critique of diplomacy and American arrogance and failure to understand cultural perspectives. Make no mistake…Hillary has displayed quite a bit of that American arrogance that is sourced in imperialistic attitudes. Much more then Obama has since the start of the campaign. This is not about misogyny, rather this is about internationalism.

    In no way did he say “she is just a wife” what is here is a very valid critique of what is in fact has become fairly hollow diplomacy, and a lack of perspective in the United States of conditions in other nations, and how diplomacy in the US has been simplified, rather then understanding the complex perspectives of the other side.
    He is dead on. The only misogyny and sexism, is coming from other folks, or being read into when it is not even there. This is a general criticism of photo-op diplomacy, and the lack of perspective, not an ounce of sexism in the statement.

    And yes, I think the fact he has family in Africa and spent part of his childhood outside of the US, does give him a much better perspective of foreign policy then the committee meetings and photo-op diplomacy many American politicians claim as foreign policy experience. It’s called cultural perspective, and its something many Americans pretty much lack, and it is only through life experiences such as that in which one gains it. Just as I think peace core volunteers have significantly better perspective and judgment then a politician who’s idea of foreign policy experience is photo-op diplomacy and committee meetings. His perspective is something new, otherwise you are left with two candidates who claim photo-op diplomacy, and the same imperialistic attitudes that have dominated America for over a quarter century count as foreign policy experience. Please, its time for something new.

    Reading sexism into every valid critique of Hillary Clinton, especially when its not there, is not a good thing. This is a valid critique, and has nothing to do with her gender. It is a much broader critique of cultural perspective, one which I agree with him on.

  33. Hawise
    Hawise April 9, 2008 at 12:53 pm |

    I would have more respect for those who denounce Hillary supporters if they actually talked about Hillary and didn’t go into long unrelated rants for no apparent reason. Name calling is name calling and a Presidential primary campaign is just an extremely expensive and annoying public job interview. It would be nice if when we look at a candidate’s record that it stays on the candidate.

    Hillary went on public relations trips as First Lady- she was not required to do so, she chose to and was effective at the time.

    Hillary and Barack have gone on Senatorial fact finding trips. They are not required to do so, but it is worth questioning how they view those trips, what value they have had, and how they will use such trips in the future. It is a part of the job.

    We can also consider how their spouses will act in the role of First Spouse. Will Michelle be an activist First Lady or chose a more subdued, traditional role? Does Hillary see Bill glad handing his way across the globe for four years, hosting brandy parties and watching native sporting events?

    Eyes on the prize.

  34. Kate Harding
    Kate Harding April 9, 2008 at 1:05 pm |

    it seems like smart tactics to spin your experience as not just comparable to theirs, but better.

    It’s only a smart tactic if your spin doesn’t fall apart under scrutiny, which this certainly does.

    Seriously, I would have more respect for Hillary supporters if they could acknowledge there are valid criticisms of her and her policy proposals. Instead every conversation i have with Clinton backers centers around perceived sexism.

    It utterly baffles me why people keep coming to feminist blogs and asking why there’s all this talk about sexism.

  35. Oh
    Oh April 9, 2008 at 1:12 pm |

    The point of diplomacy is not to become intimately familiar with the culture of other countries, so you can better serve them. The point is to negotiate for the benefit of your own country.

    Right, but I think there’s an argument to be made that it’s not really in the US’s interest to go into countries just with a narrow focus on getting something done that’ll seem to provide a short-term benefit to the US. Not thinking about how those kinds of foreign-policy “triumphs” are actually going to play out because of the way they affect people in other parts of the world means they very often come back to bite the US in the butt. And then the US often doesn’t have a good strategy for dealing with the unintended consequences, because they seem to come out of the blue.

    It isn’t that the US necessarily needs to think about serving other countries; that often won’t be in its interests. But there’s been way too much tendency on the part of the US to expect other countries to accept things just because it’s in the US’s interest–an assumption that if it makes the US happy, it would just be shocking that it doesn’t make other countries happy. That kind of ignorance doesn’t benefit the US.

    I see Obama trying to argue that he’s better able to understand non-US-centric perspectives and that such understanding is important for effective foreign policy.

  36. Astraea
    Astraea April 9, 2008 at 1:27 pm |

    Seriously, I would have more respect for Hillary supporters if they could acknowledge there are valid criticisms of her and her policy proposals.

    With all due respect…

    STRAW. You has it.

  37. FashionablyEvil
    FashionablyEvil April 9, 2008 at 1:36 pm |

    It utterly baffles me why people keep coming to feminist blogs and asking why there’s all this talk about sexism.

    I am also baffled about how every post about sexist comments about Clinton devolves into “No! It’s not sexist! These are legitimate critiques of Clinton’s experience!”

  38. octogalore
    octogalore April 9, 2008 at 1:37 pm |

    Outstanding post. When Obama gets into the substance beyond the “hope” and “unification,” the brass tacks justification on the issues, which is what this is supposed to be about, appears to dissipate. A great job in distilling the problems with assumption that one is covered on important issues and on calling out subtle (and not so subtle) misogyny.

  39. shah8
    shah8 April 9, 2008 at 1:38 pm |

    I don’t think you’re being especially fair, zuzu. The two set of quotes don’t seem to be related. One is Obama talking about the how people talked about as strong in foreign policy (I really think he’s pushing back against any ideas about Webb or one of those flyover country senators as VP), and the other is in a completely different context with Tucker Carleson giving leeway for bad behavior.

    Reading the first quote by itself, well, I can’t see the sexism in it. Moreover, any comparison with Clinton is more about a comparison with the likes of Lord Mountbatten rather then Mamie Eisenhower. Lastly, I fundamentally agree with his premise. Obama is probably going to be the first president since Roosevelt with significant cultural exposure to a non western culture, and I think this is a necessary antidote to the whole “My Oil Is Under Your Land” attitude that many people in high circles have. Obama is saying that he will have a more deft diplomatic touch than a person who has an extraction first, a native dance later attitude.

    Not to mention that this is a callback to Tuzla. Clinton went there, had a photo-op with a young girl, didn’t really go to any of the flashpoints, dined with muckety mucks, and went home. It’s a callback to diplomacy as schmoozing, that isn’t dangerous, controversial, or even resulting in much change.

  40. lizvelrene
    lizvelrene April 9, 2008 at 2:07 pm |

    Oh wow. I just don’t see it at all. I guess I should turn in my feminist card..

  41. TA
    TA April 9, 2008 at 2:11 pm |

    Zuzu at 15? Word.

    Thank you for articulating this. I just don’t think there is any equivalency between the life experiences of a CHILD and what Hillary Clinton did (as a grown WOMAN, with a graduate degree, advisors, briefings, etc.). I think his experience is different, and valuable, but it’s not more, and it’s not better.

    It is arrogant, infantilizing, and sexist of him to make this argument. But he keeps doing it.

  42. exholt
    exholt April 9, 2008 at 2:13 pm |

    Now we come to 3) WHAT THE HELL IS HE THINKING? Great, so he lived in Indonesia for four years as a small child, he took a couple of trips with his college buddy to Pakistan and India, and he’s got impoverished relatives in Africa whom he’s visited. By the standards he just set out, however, he still comes off with less relevant experience than Navy brat John McCain, who was born in the Panama Canal Zone, traveled extensively as a child, and spent more time hanging by his thumbs in the Hanoi Hilton than Obama did in Indonesia.

    Zuzu,

    This point falls short of the mark as McCain’s experience is almost exclusively within the confines of American military bases which some ex-military classmates have likened to “Little Americas”. From what my cousin who served 7 years in the Navy told me along with other acquaintances who served in the military, unless one really goes out of their way to take the initiative to explore the country they are stationed in, attempt to learn the local language(s), and actually interact with the local community beyond touristy stuff/business…it is too easy to settle for an extremely superficial view of the society/nation despite living there that is little different from those who never traveled outside the US but who think they are experts on a foreign culture on the mere virtue of watching a foreign film, consumed a foreign dish, etc.

    One particular case I remember from an aunt is the story of an American missionary who spent 30 years in China/Taiwan….yet was completely ignorant of the local Chinese dialects being spoken in his area…..or of Chinese/Taiwanese/Aborigine cultures period.

    From this story and observations of American/European expats and some college students in China, spending a few days, weeks, or decades in a given foreign country is meaningless in terms of attempting to learn more than the extremely superficial rudiments of its culture if one does not take the initiative to break out of the comfort zone of being insulated in a shell of one’s society of origin. It is not whether one visits a foreign society(s) or the amount of time spent in them….but also what one does while they are there. Though it is reportedly getting better, the classmates and acquaintances who work in the Foreign Service or are expats in foreign countries decry the too common tendency among their fellow Americans or other nationalities to mostly isolate themselves in their national cocoon except to go on occasional touristy jaunts.

  43. Laura
    Laura April 9, 2008 at 2:24 pm |

    Complaining that this is sexist missing the really important part of Obama’s answer to this question, which was highlighted over at Pandagon:

    “Nobody is entirely prepared for being Commander-in-Chief. The question is when the 3 AM phone call comes do you have somebody who has the judgment, the temperament to ask the right questions, to weigh the costs and benefits of military action, who insists on good intelligence, who is not going to be swayed by the short-term politics. By most criteria, I’ve passed those tests and my two opponents have not.”

    Translation: Obama always knew the war was a dumb idea. HRC was either duped by the WMD claims or cowed by public opinion, and McCain will bomb anyone who looks at him cock-eyed.

    That’s judgment and smarts, not misogyny. It would also make Barbara Lee a better candidate than Hillary Clinton, but sadly she’s not running.

    If it’s not intelligence, bravery, or life experience, then what’s your explanation for why Obama opposed the war and HRC supported it? Can you give an explanation for that vote that isn’t sexist? I would honestly like to know what that would sound like to you, because it does take some practice to remove sexism from our speech, but we should still be able to debate on the issues. How do you think this could have been handled better?

  44. Astraea
    Astraea April 9, 2008 at 2:42 pm |

    So he said something that wasn’t sexist, that means other things he said couldn’t be sexist? That makes no sense.

    Laura, how do YOU explain that their votes on Iraq while performing similar jobs are pretty much identical?

    If it’s not intelligence, bravery, or life experience, then what’s your explanation for why Obama opposed the war and HRC supported it? Can you give an explanation for that vote that isn’t sexist?

    How about… political pressure. A very LARGE number of people who supported the Iraq vote. A large number of democrats who ALL failed, collectively, in opposing the president. A general philosophy in part of the democratic party that opposing the president on Iraq would be bad for the party.

    Clinton wasn’t exactly unique in that situation.

  45. Sarah J
    Sarah J April 9, 2008 at 3:03 pm |

    Astraea, 21 Democratic Senators voted against the war. Clinton would hardly have been alone on a limb. And to top that off, she made speeches in support of the war. And she has consistently refused to apologize for her vote or to at the very least admit that she was wrong.

    I have blogged and written elsewhere about sexism on this campaign. But I think to frame every comment ever made by a candidate in terms of its possible sexist value..well, then Obama should just shut up and go home, because he’s clearly not allowed to say anything about his opponent that is even remotely negative.

    I don’t wonder why there’s talk about sexism on a feminist blog. I just wonder why everything that Barack Obama says is parsed to the Nth degree to find any possibly sexist connotation.

    I linked there before, but Susie Bright wrote an excellent post about why saying that Obama is “not ready” is coded racism.

  46. Mnemosyne
    Mnemosyne April 9, 2008 at 3:23 pm |

    I’m not sure what you’re asking me to respond to, Laura. Who’s saying that the AUMF vote criticism is sexist? I certainly didn’t.

    Since the basis of this criticism is that Clinton and McCain voted for the war while Obama was against it, does that mean that you’re reading sexism into it that isn’t there? Your whole argument is that criticizing Clinton on her Iraq war stance and saying that it happened because she was a sheltered diplomat is sexist, so you can’t back down now.

  47. Newbie
    Newbie April 9, 2008 at 3:23 pm |

    I usually don’t respond to these things, but I’m compelled to point out this sentence:

    “This I know. When Senator Clinton brags ‘I’ve met leaders from eighty countries’–I know what those trips are like! I’ve been on them.”

    I fail to see how stating his made the same trips as her is misogynist. He’s belittling something they’ve both done because of the experience itself, not because of her gender.

  48. Kakos
    Kakos April 9, 2008 at 3:42 pm |

    I think you forgot to read part of his statement: “I know what those trips are like! I’ve been on them.”

    He was specifically comparing Senator Clinton’s experiences with his own. He’s not dismissing her foreign policy experience as being some sort of act as “just a wife”; he’s dismissing her foreign policy experience (along with his own, in this particular type of foreign policy!) as being a PR show rather than anything substantive.

    There is a lot of sexism out there and a lot of it desperately needs to be pointed out, but don’t go labelling things as sexist when they are not. It only serves to reduce your credibility and reduce the impact of your activism.

  49. Kate Harding
    Kate Harding April 9, 2008 at 3:43 pm |

    Your whole argument is that criticizing Clinton on her Iraq war stance and saying that it happened because she was a sheltered diplomat is sexist, so you can’t back down now.

    Oh, bullshit. The argument is that the framing of the criticism is sexist. There’s nothing wrong with the criticism itself, and Zuzu never said there was.

  50. Astraea
    Astraea April 9, 2008 at 4:00 pm |

    Sarah J, I’m not saying she was right. I’m not defending her vote. I’m showing that there are many valid reasons or excuses that don’t rely on sexism or misogyny.

    Your second paragraph just sets up a strawman. No one has said he can’t say anything negative about Clinton. In fact, the part of the quote after what Zuzu pointed out is not sexist, and stands fine on it’s own. But we do have to call out sexism where we find it, even when it’s people we might support. (I’m not anti-Obama. I’m just troubled by a lot of things he says. Just like I’m similarly troubled by some of what Clinton has said or done).

    I just wonder why everything that Barack Obama says is parsed to the Nth degree to find any possibly sexist connotation.

    Everything? Seriously? Hell, we would be doing nothing else.

  51. Astraea
    Astraea April 9, 2008 at 4:12 pm |

    …And what does Susie Bright’s essay have to do with this discussion? This thread isn’t about whether or not Obama is “ready,” and no one is using that argument.

  52. Christine
    Christine April 9, 2008 at 4:12 pm |

    I am not saying there has not been sexism in the campaign regarding Hillary Clinton, there has been quite a bit of it, especially in the media. This is definitely not one of those instances. In fact quite a bit is out of context, implied by the writer but not in the text of the speech, and drawing from things he did not say and were in fact coming from sexist talk pundits or talking heads on news channels.

    When claiming sexism, sexism actually has to be there either in the text or subtext, and in this case its not. There has been quite a few sexist comments in the campaign, along with quite a bit of racism. But we, as adults, as feminist, and progressives, need to understand not every statement is one that has a sexist subtext with regards to Clinton, or a racist subtext when it is regarding Obama. It just looks bad, especially in this case.

    With regards to what he said being arrogant, infantilizing and sexist. What he is saying is not that his experiences as a child count more, but America relies to heavily on a beltway perspective where graduate degrees, photo-op diplomacy, briefings, and so-called foriegn policy experts matter more than trying to grasp an understanding of cultural perspectives when making foreign policy decisions. This has resulted in an imperialistic and arrogant attitude within DC with regards to foreign policy. This is not a slam against Clinton’s experiences as a grown woman, but rather a critique of the entire Washington based dichotomy of what is considered foreign policy expertise and experience. There is nothing arrogant, infantilizing or sexist about what he is putting forth. In fact he is being critical of the DC based perspective of diplomacy and foriegn affairs that both Clinton and McCain are without question part of, and honestly it goes right down to his message of change, in this case a change to abandon the politics of American imperialism and arrogance, that in many ways Clinton has proven she is part of. As I stated before, it is implying sexism in a critique that is not actually sexist in text or subtext. The critique is both of the so called experience of both Clinton and McCain, that relies heavily on a DC centric perspective of what foreign policy expertise is or is not. It in no way a sexist attack against Clinton herself, rather it is an attack of the beltway folks who claim expertise, like Clinton or McCain (he mentions both), who claim significant foriegn policy experience and expertise, but often fall under the same spell of American imperialism and hegemony because the lack of cultural perspective.

    Challenging DC conventional wisdom regarding foreign policy and bringing a different perspective on foreign policy is a central theme to his campaign. There is not one bit of sexism in the statement, because it is fairly consistent with his broader campaign themes, and even the subtext of the statement is not sexist rather it just reinforces his overall theme of moving away from DC conventional wisdom so the country acts with better judgment, because that DC conventional wisdom has been destructive.

    It think the entire statement is best summed up by the “experience in Washington is not knowledge of the world”.
    He is attacking both Clinton and McCains foreign policy experience in the statement, because what he is ultimately saying while both are experienced in Washington, they are also captured to it, and lack knowledge of the world. At its heart, its not sexist, its anti-DC foreign policy conventional wisdom, something that is at the heart of his campaign.

  53. RoRo
    RoRo April 9, 2008 at 4:18 pm |

    I think maybe a couple things are getting lost here. First, we need to remember that going on diplomatic trips to 80 countries is not something that any First Lady has ever done before Clinton. While I’m sure there was plenty of tea drinking and dancing-child watching going on, Ms. Clinton spent huge amounts of her time as First Lady listening to rural women in countries all over the globe, and then advocating for the rights of those women to medical treatment, education, equal treatment under the law, etc. Remember that whole “Women’s rights ARE human rights” thing?

    I would definitely agree that contact with local people and some sort of genuine immersion into the culture is very valuable. But while it was most certainly NOT meant as a positive from Obama, participating in local rituals like tea and dances is a fantastic and meaningful way to get to know a culture. So what in the world is wrong with that again? She didn’t spend the majority of her time hob-nobbing with big wigs; she spent most of it hanging with the local women. I wasn’t even old enough to vote when I was following her stories in the 90s.

    Hillary got a helluva lot of criticism in the 90s for her comment that she didn’t want to sit around making cookies, and now she’s being accused of doing nothing but drinking tea and being “just a wife”. Sounds like a pretty typical sexist double standard to me.

  54. Kakos
    Kakos April 9, 2008 at 4:20 pm |

    Just because you don’t see it, doesn’t mean it’s not there. And I’ll file your last sentence where it deserves to go.

    The reverse is also true. Just because you want to see it, doesn’t mean it is there.

  55. Brooklynite
    Brooklynite April 9, 2008 at 4:24 pm |

    He’s making a general foreign-policy argument that his childhood experience counts for more than either Clinton’s or McCain’s adult, Washington-based experience.

    Actually, he’s not. He’s saying he has a lifetime of familiarity with the world beyond our borders, beginning — but by no means ending — with his childhood. And he’s saying that that experience, combined with the Washington experience he shares with Clinton and McCain, trumps theirs.

  56. Astraea
    Astraea April 9, 2008 at 4:43 pm |

    Except, Brooklynite and Christine, that’s not HOW he said it. That is the freakin’ point!

  57. Josh
    Josh April 9, 2008 at 4:47 pm |

    Why don’t you just cut and paste the daily press release from the Clinton campaign? It would save time. Adding your own straw men doesn’t do much.

  58. Brooklynite
    Brooklynite April 9, 2008 at 4:48 pm |

    There’s a bunch of freaking points, Astraea, including the one that I was directly responding to — one that’s pretty much summarized in the title of the post.

    Zuzu says Obama claimed “his childhood experience counts for more than either Clinton’s or McCain’s adult … experience.” But Obama never made that claim. That’s my point.

  59. exholt
    exholt April 9, 2008 at 4:50 pm |

    And he *did* spend more time in Vietnam, up close and personal with the Vietcong

    Other than flying combat missions over Vietnam and some touristy “R & R”…McCain spent most of his time stationed on a Navy carrier a ways from the coast. In comparison to Army, some Air Force, and Marine personnel..McCain had practically little “in-country” experience beyond flying bombing runs until he was shot down and imprisoned in a POW camp. Even then….being a POW does not usually grant someone the full range of cross-cultural experiences necessary to fully understand another society due to the very nature of being in a war and experiencing what must have been a torturous ordeal. This is certainly not a basis to claim even limited foreign policy/diplomatic affairs cred…even in regards to Vietnam…not to say the rest of the world.

    By the same logic, does spending two or more decades in various East Asian colonies as a member of the Japanese Imperial military occupation force make those soldiers/sailors experts on East Asian/SE Asian/Pacific culture and affairs?!

    Does experiencing torture as an Allied POW in Japanese/German run POW camps make those POWs experts in Japanese/German society?

    Do you see the absurdities of assigning McCain even a smidgen of expert status on Vietnamese culture and life based on what is really a limited and polarizingly negative experience due to war and being a POW?

  60. Astraea
    Astraea April 9, 2008 at 5:03 pm |

    He’s trying to make a claim that Clinton is exaggerating her experience. So to counter that, one of the examples he gives is living in another country as a child.

    1. Obama (aided by the media) attacks Clinton’s experience as First Lady as insubstantial and meaningless.
    2. Obama and said media claim Clinton is exaggerating her experience.
    3. Obama naturally wants to show how his experience is substantial and not exaggerated, as opposed to Clinton.
    4. In listing his resume points Obama includes time spent in another country as a child. (his college experience was included not as a comparison to clinton, but as a comparison to McCain, who didn’t know what Sunni and Shia “was.”)

    The very basis of his argument is that his time in Indonesia gives him substantial, not exaggerated experience, i.e. superior to Clinton’s as First Lady and Senator.

  61. octogalore
    octogalore April 9, 2008 at 5:12 pm |

    Zuzu — looks like you’re in good company, re Joseph Wilson’s post:

    http://www.taylormarsh.com/archives_view.php?id=27376

    In relevant part:

    “Sen. Barack Obama declared in Pennsylvania on March 27 that his foreign policy would “return” to that of George H.W. Bush and that Sens. John McCain and Hillary Rodham Clinton both had strayed from that model. Having served in the first Bush administration, as acting U.S. ambassador to Iraq in the run-up to the first Gulf War, and subsequently as ambassador to two African nations, I cannot fathom what Obama is asserting.

    His entire foreign-policy claim that he would be a better president than Hillary Clinton rests on the slender reed that he possesses intuitively superior judgment, which would have led him to vote against the Authorization for the Use of Force in Iraq had he been in the U.S. Senate in October 2002.

    The first President Bush (Bush 41), of course, has publicly supported his son (Bush 43) throughout the second conflict in Iraq.

    When Saddam Hussein’s troops invaded Kuwait in August 1990, I was in charge of the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, responsible for the safe release of Americans held hostage, and I personally confronted Saddam to persuade him to depart Kuwait peacefully. It was axiomatic in our approach that the only way to influence Iraqi behavior would be to threaten military action in the event Saddam did not respond to diplomatic demands. If we were going to make those threats credible, we would have to be prepared to act on them, which we were, and which we did, with full international backing.

    What would Obama have done differently in the first gulf war from what he claims he would have done in 2002 had he been in the Senate at that time? In 1990, Saddam was deemed a threat by the first Bush administration. Senior administration officials threatened military action while working toward a diplomatic solution. Congress was ultimately faced with a vote to support the president’s approach. Some Democrats, including then-Sen. Al Gore, voted with the administration, while a majority voted against.”

  62. Brooklynite
    Brooklynite April 9, 2008 at 5:21 pm |

    Astraea, I think it’s completely legitimate for Obama to note, in the course of describing the life experiences that he brings to bear in his conduct of foreign policy, that he lived in the developing world for four years as a child. I guess we’ll have to agree to disagree on that one.

  63. Astraea
    Astraea April 9, 2008 at 5:27 pm |

    Brooklynite, I can think of many good ways he could have referenced that experience. What I disagree with is his framing.

  64. cy
    cy April 9, 2008 at 5:29 pm |

    yeah, i don’t see it either. this post seems like a stretch to me, but to each her own.

  65. Josh
    Josh April 9, 2008 at 5:32 pm |

    You’re welcome to find another blog to read, if this one doesn’t make you happy. I hate to break this to you, but this is a feminist blog, so it’s quite likely that you will encounter discussions of sexism now and again.

    Why do you think I was objecting to discussions of sexism? I was objecting to the StrawObama you set as (1), since he’s not, of course, claiming that his foreign travels are all that qualify him to be President. Your point (2) is ridiculous for different reasons, since it assumes “first lady” and “woman” are coextensive, thus ignoring that there have been many female diplomats (Madeleine Albright, Condoleeza Rice) who did, you know, actual substantive diplomacy. WHY ARE YOU DIMINISHING THE EXPERIENCES OF THESE WOMEN?!?!?! SEXIST!!!

  66. Rika
    Rika April 9, 2008 at 5:37 pm |

    “knowing the leaders is not important–what I know is the people”

    This doesn’t make sense. You don’t engage in diplomacy with the common person, you talk to the leaders, so how is that unimportant?

    I still think the President can just hire someone who has in-depth knowledge of a certain country. If Clinton becomes President and has to make a trip to Indonesia, perhaps she could take Obama along, since he apparently knows so much about the country.

    Besides, I don’t think the President is ever really the main negotiator for anything, right?

  67. megan
    megan April 9, 2008 at 5:40 pm |

    Fuck you, Josh. You’re obviously objecting to this discussion of sexism. Oh, lord.

  68. Rika
    Rika April 9, 2008 at 5:44 pm |

    [Obama] lived in the developing world for four years as a child.

    The developing world? Which world is that? I didn’t realize that all developing countries could be lumped together as “the developing world.” Knowledge of one developing country doesn’t make you knowledgable of them all.

  69. Hawise
    Hawise April 9, 2008 at 5:50 pm |

    When Senator Clinton brags ‘I’ve met leaders from eighty countries’–I know what those trips are like! I’ve been on them.

    This is where I have difficulty- he is comparing the trips that he has made as a Democratic Senator with the trips of an Acting First Lady. One is a series of trips made counter to the activities of the administration and the other is a series of trips made with the participation and support of the administrtion. If he was simply comparing his service as a Senator with hers then he would be comparing apples to apple, he is not. He is comparing apples to oranges and then claiming that the fruit is spoiled anyway because it comes from the wrong farm.

  70. megan
    megan April 9, 2008 at 5:55 pm |

    Absolutely, Howsie, and let’s remember he is comparing his experience as an inexperienced, first term senator, at that! It’s not even like Kennedy or Kerry, or it’s someone who just got elected v. the First Lady.

    barf barf barf.

  71. Brooklynite
    Brooklynite April 9, 2008 at 5:57 pm |

    Astraea, I was objecting to Zuzu’s characterization of Obama’s claim, not defending his framing.

    Rika, that strikes me as a really weird nitpick.

  72. Hawise
    Hawise April 9, 2008 at 6:31 pm |

    But zuzu, it is volunteer work like serving tea and biscuits at the church social and so has no standing at all. God, I dream of someone telling Bill Clinton that any work he does as First Spouse is just Fluffernutter because he isn’t paid for it. ‘After you do a 10 country tour of Africa, revisit the sight of the great tsunami and cut the ribbon on the new hospital you can go walk the dog, Bill and leave the real work to the grown-ups. ‘

  73. marie
    marie April 9, 2008 at 6:31 pm |

    After reading all of these pro and anti comments, I think Obama’s arguement has absolutely no merit. First of all, what makes a person more world aware than another? Someone who was raised in a city with alot of international cultures? One who has travelled extensively and worked or done business on a variety of continents? One who lives in America and abroad regularly? I have not clue what the definition is, but unless one does all three of those things in every single nation around the world no one can be ready to handle any issue with any country. I grew up with two different cultural backgrounds in a major internation city, does that make me a better candidate for the presidency than someone raised in a small midwestern town?

    I have always found Obama arrogant and his youthful dismissiveness of more experienced candidates makes him sound like a twenty-something college grad demanding entitlement.

  74. bc
    bc April 9, 2008 at 6:32 pm |

    zuzu, I’m not even going to get into whether or not there’s sexism in there, because there’s obviously a clear divide between the people who think there is and the people who don’t see it, and it may or may not have something to do with which candidate they support (for me, that lines up, and I don’t see it) so I really don’t think anyone is going to be convinced one way or the other. What I really don’t understand is why you’re annoyed with Obama questioning Clinton’s experience while playing up his, and calling his strategy in doing so dumb. In the first place, he’s getting hammered on experience by Clinton and will get hammered again by McCain. He has to come up with *something* to spin his life into meaningful foreign policy experience and I think this is an excellent (if not the only) way he can do it. I think what he’s saying is perfectly valid and there are numerous others (Jay, anony, Oh) have made good points as to why this is a reasonable argument to make, and just because you are ready to dismiss it as “kindergarten” doesn’t mean that everyone finds that argument unpersuasive. In the second place, Clinton is his opponent and has been taking every chance she can (and rightfully so!) to attack him on positions, experience, etc, and he’s supposed to be nice about hers? Why does he have to take the high road? Just because her experience happens to be as First Lady and therefore any criticism of it is automatically sexist? I’m really, really failing to see any other political options for Obama other than critiquing her experience while playing up his, especially since he knows it is perceived as his weak point.

  75. Hot Tramp
    Hot Tramp April 9, 2008 at 6:52 pm |

    reducing her entire experience to seeing children dance and taking a tour of a factory negates a lot of the more actively-engaged stuff she did. Which just happened to be, in large measure, a lot of work with and meetings with women’s groups and organizations, as well as groups that worked on children’s issues. It’s probably not coincidental that those get erased, and not even dismissed along with the factory tour and the dancing kids and the tea parties.

    This makes sense to me, zuzu. Thanks.

    Also, and this is a tangent, obviously, but I don’t think Obama or Clinton can win against McCain based on “experience.” He’s been in the federal government for a long-ass time. And even if we (as we should) parse Clinton’s time as first lady as time as a cabinet member, I don’t think “experience” shakes out in her favor. Nor do I think “experience” is as important to the voters as it used to be.

  76. Sickle
    Sickle April 9, 2008 at 6:54 pm |

    Hillary voted to give Bush the authority to invade Iraq. Now, Bill Clinton’s administration largely believed that Iraq was contained. The 1998 air strikes were largely targeted government posts, not supposed WMD factories. (Many thought that none of the targets were WMD facilities.) When Bill Clinton left office, Iraq was believed to be contained, not producing WMDs, and was not nearly the threat that Al Qaida was.

    But two years later, Hillary believes that Iraq was making WMDs and authorizes Bush to go to war there at a critical time in Afghanistan. Edwards can be forgiven for that vote (especially after he apologized for it) because he was not privy to the Clinton administration’s Iraq assessements. I’d have to assume that Hillary did know, however, especially since we’re being asked to believe that she was in the loop on important foreign policy decisions.

    So knowing what she knew, why did she just rush head-first to jump on the Iraq bandwagon? All that foreign police experience, all that time in the White House, and she’s as easily bamboozled by the Bush administration as Edwards, the first-term Senator? Something’s off there.

    I say all this as a guy who voted for Edwards and will support either Obama or Hillary, whoever wins the nomination. I personally like both of them quite a bit. Obama’s health care plan troubles me, but so does Hillary’s foreign policy and her Iraq War vote, which she refuses to renounce.

    That vote is dear to me. I come from a military family and still have a little brother on active duty. There are the thousands upon thousands of lives lost or destroyed, both here and abroad. Women are being raped by their fellow soldiers and coworkers with no real prospects for justice. People—children—were and are being tortured and killed. Iraqi teenagers are being kidnapped and sold into sex slavery. Those are consequences of that vote, and we shouldn’t forget that.

    Obama’s pointing out that conventional foreign policy wisdom, including the definition of “experience,” are subjective and need to be submitted to a further test: who has the best judgment? I don’t actually know the answer to that question, but there’s absolutely nothing wrong with asking it, nor with pointing out that all that Hillary and McCain “experience” led us into an expensive, deadly quagmire. Obama says he knows “the people.” That’s a very important thing to say, since anyone who understood the Iraqi people before the invasion knew that the Iraqis would fight with one another, and with us.

    this post confused me…I thought it was going to be about another sexist framing by Obama or one of his lackeys but it wasn’t. It’s just a hit piece on Obama for what are actually rather tame comments along the lines he’s been making for the past year.

  77. Brooklynite
    Brooklynite April 9, 2008 at 6:58 pm |

    George Bush won in 2004 in large part by portraying Kerry’s military record as inferior to his own. Turning an opponent’s (perceived) greatest strength into a liability is a classic political tactic. That’s what Obama’s revving up to do against McCain.

    We’ll see if it works. Maybe it won’t. But it’s not an off-the-cuff thing. A lot of thought has gone into it, and whatever his flaws as a candidate, Obama hasn’t come this far by being a dumb campaigner.

  78. exholt
    exholt April 9, 2008 at 7:36 pm |

    I think Obama’s arguement has absolutely no merit. First of all, what makes a person more world aware than another? Someone who was raised in a city with alot of international cultures? One who has travelled extensively and worked or done business on a variety of continents? One who lives in America and abroad regularly? I have not clue what the definition is, but unless one does all three of those things in every single nation around the world no one can be ready to handle any issue with any country. I grew up with two different cultural backgrounds in a major internation city, does that make me a better candidate for the presidency than someone raised in a small midwestern town?

    Abruptly dismissing arguments that may have some currency with those who understand where he is coming from would be a grave mistake on the part of Clinton’s campaign and its supporters. Moreover, though I lean more towards Clinton, I do see some merit in his argument…though he could have articulated it better.

    IME, it is not enough merely to travel to foreign societies/local areas with great cultural diversity….or even live there for long periods.

    All foreign travel/living in foreign societies/culturally diverse regions does is provide the opportunity to immerse oneself and thus, learn more about a given society beyond superficial touristy jaunts. The individual concerned must also take the initiative to partake of this opportunity….or have it circumstantially mandated as seen by examples such as attending the local school systems or living with/among the local populace where daily social interaction with the local population is required.

    In short, it is not the quantity of the travel or the diversity of the places one visited/lived in….the individual concerned must also have the willingness to embrace the opportunity to engage the foreign culture beyond mere tourism and business by getting out of his/her comfort zone to truly appreciate the society they are visiting/living in.

    If they were enough, that American missionary from my aunt’s story who spent 30 years in China/Taiwan should have had a decent working knowledge of the local culture and society and be able to at least speak enough of the language for common courtesies. He couldn’t even remember the words for “hello” and “goodbye” and had to rely on a translator for even the most rudimentary interaction with the local populace.

    It would also make the all of the college students I was studying alongside with in China as well as the non-Chinese expats I saw in Beijing and Shanghai paragons of expertise on Chinese society….a notion that would prompt nothing but well-deserved scornful laughter from the Chinese locals.* This is especially due to the well-known fact that most of those expats and some of the college students tended to cocoon themselves among those of their own nationality…which means that they effectively never left their own country except for the occasional touristy jaunts.

    Just to make myself clear, there is nothing wrong with doing touristy stuff if that’s what one is into. One should not, however, use that experience as a foundation to claim your cred as “expert” on a given foreign culture….or on world affairs/diplomacy.

    * Incidentally, I’ve heard similar accounts from Korean and Japanese classmates about the behavior of foreign expats and some of the college students in their countries.

  79. sbsanon
    sbsanon April 9, 2008 at 8:07 pm |

    Wow. I am a very strong feminist and I think it is great to discuss sexism on a feminist blog and point out places where it occurs. How could it be a feminist blog if you didn’t discuss sexism? However, I am starting to feel like a “bad feminist” just because I don’t happen to see the sexism in this particular statement from Obama, due to the tone of some of these comments.

    It seems clear from the comments that I am not the only feminist who does not see the sexism in this particular statement. So, I have a few questions. Some of you may think the answers to these questions are obvious, but they aren’t to me so please respect that and don’t call me a bad feminist because of it.

    Is sexism in the eye of the beholder? Or rather, if one person, just one person, thinks something is sexist, then is it sexist? Period? Some people, coming from a different background and context just plain might not see how something is sexist. Can we recognize that fact and then go from there? Is it important to make other people understand how something is sexist if you are convinced it is (yes, I think so)? Doing this requires contextualizing things enough so that the other person can see where you are coming from in your analysis. Is it possible that someone can think something is sexist and be wrong? Does it matter what the originator’s intentions were when saying that something is or isn’t sexist? If someone just said something and it came out wrong, is it still sexist? If nothing else, I think that last part, something coming out wrong, just illustrates how deeply embedded misogynist attitudes are – that they are in fact subconscious. And these things are important to point out, so that awareness of them moves in to people’s consciousness.

    So. My basic point is, I hope we can bring this discussion beyond “this is sexist” “no it isn’t” “yes it is” arguments.

  80. TA
    TA April 9, 2008 at 9:08 pm |

    Hawise, I agree that there may be qualitative differences between First Lady trips and Senator trips abroad, generally. I also think it might be more specific to these two individuals, Obama and Clinton.

    I’ve gone back and read what text is available, and I listened to the audio. It’s tough to hear what he’s saying, because people are just cracking the hell up at the description of what you do on a foreign junket.

    He’s basically saying that: you go, they haul out this dog-and-pony show for your amusement, you shake hands, and you leave. Hilarity ensues in the room.

    And I couldn’t help thinking: what a dismissive asshole. Those people, those career diplomats, worked really hard on your behalf, Senator. They hold shit down 24/7, they put together all those events and briefings and reports for your benefit, they coordinate your security, they work around your schedule and apparently they make it look easy. So easy, in fact, that he thinks it is nothing, it is not really very much of a learning experience. He gets very little out of it.

    Has it ever occurred to him that that might say more about him than anything else? Why not read what they give you, ask more questions, stay longer, meet more people…it’s allowed, after all. And what better way to sail into the Presidency than by completely dissing State Department employees worldwide? I am sure he was not rude enough to say this to the embassy staffs he’s personally met; they will surely be delighted to learn of his boredom this way.

    I get that he wants to “do” foreign policy differently, that he wants to connect with the people of the world, and that he, by virtue of his heritage and upbringing, thinks he can “intuit” a new and better path. Perhaps.

    But if he’s gotten so little out of the official travel he’s already done, then perhaps he should consider transforming US foreign policy from home.

  81. prairielily
    prairielily April 9, 2008 at 9:16 pm |

    I also don’t see how “having tea” is dismissive of her as a woman, unless you’re thinking only women have tea, which is not true when you’re talking about certain foreign cultures and diplomatic meetings. Tea is actually a huge diplomatic thing. He’s not talking about a bunch of women in pearls sitting around chatting about their charity work. I think you’re the one gendering this, so to speak, based on a US caricature of what “having tea” means.

    Actually, he is talking about the US caricature. Because he wasn’t making a speech to foreigners who don’t consider tea a bunch of women in pearls sitting around chatting about their charity work, he was making a speech to Americans who have that caricature in their minds. When someone makes comments like that, it’s a good idea to consider the audience. Obama certainly did.

    Why do you think I was objecting to discussions of sexism? I was objecting to the StrawObama you set as (1), since he’s not, of course, claiming that his foreign travels are all that qualify him to be President. Your point (2) is ridiculous for different reasons, since it assumes “first lady” and “woman” are coextensive, thus ignoring that there have been many female diplomats (Madeleine Albright, Condoleeza Rice) who did, you know, actual substantive diplomacy. WHY ARE YOU DIMINISHING THE EXPERIENCES OF THESE WOMEN?!?!?! SEXIST!!!

    Can you please explain to me, then, why Madeleine Albright seems to think Clinton’s foreign policy experience counts?

    I’m really tired of this argument. It’s just entirely too ridiculous to expect me to believe that when the Clintons visited the UK, that Bill and Tony were off in the corner discussing important stuff while Cherie and Hillary stood around looking pleasant and pretty. I refuse to even entertain it, because it makes absolutely no sense.

    zuzu, I’m not really sure I’m adding to the discussion when I post in these topics, but I want to keep voicing my support. And you know what? I lived in the UAE for six years. My family is Pakistani, and I’ve been there so many times that I’ve lost count; it would probably add up to more than a year or two of my life. I even had Hepatitis A there, so I’m pretty familiar with the medical system. For most of the rest of the time, I lived in Canada. That would give me insight into both Arab and East Indian Muslim culture, and the dynamics of the region, as well as experience with the United States’s biggest trading partner and oil supplier. I could communicate with them in their own language and with the local slang! I was against the Iraq war before it started, because I didn’t think there were any WMDs. I even predicted the sectarian violence and rise of extremism. If we want to go down this route, I’m clearly more qualified than Obama, but what do you want to bet that if I was running for President as a WOC and tried to claim that as experience, this conversation would be completely different? That it would mirror the criticisms of Hillary Clinton? Think “playing with her dolls” instead of “having tea.”

  82. Ellid
    Ellid April 9, 2008 at 9:41 pm |

    Oh, for heaven’s sake! Obama has relatives in a foreign country, was partially raised and educated in a foreign country, and was born in one of the most multiracial parts of the United States. He’s actually *lived* abroad, which is more than Hillary “I’ll give interviews to the man who tried to destroy my husband’s presidency” Clinton has ever done.

    As for Clinton, I’m getting damned sick of her trying to inflate being First Lady into meaningful political experience. By her standard, shouldn’t Laura Bush be more qualified for office than John McCain? Just because Clinton has a vagina doesn’t excuse the lies, exaggerations, attempts to co-opt her *husband’s* political record, and sleazy association with Richard Mellon Scaife and the Family religious cult.

  83. Kristin
    Kristin April 9, 2008 at 10:11 pm |

    Perhaps this is a derail. I apologize in advance.

    It’s hard for me to keep getting impassioned about these things. Obama makes an unforgivably sexist comment, and one of the Clintons counters back with an unforgivably racist comment. Neither side has been a paragon of progressive discourse. They are endlessly patronizing to each other (I think this most recent comment was an example of just such rudeness, and not sexism.). What we have are two conservative candidates masquerading as progressives who are nit-picking each other about the details. I’m past the point of getting angry about every little nit-pick. I can’t stand to watch the news coverage anymore. Frankly, it all just makes me very depressed.

    Our vote is reduced to this: “What can I forgive more? The sexism of Obama or the racism of Hilary Clinton?” I don’t have an answer for that. I’m just tired of it.

    Sorry, Zuzu…

  84. rhiain
    rhiain April 9, 2008 at 10:11 pm |

    Zuzu, I’m not necessarily sure I’m interpreting Obama’s statement the same way you are; I’m not sure he wouldn’t have used the same attack against a male opponent, and I’m not sure I see anything about his language per se that’s sexist when removed from this environment of overwhelming misogyny surrounding Clinton. Which, like, I think we’d all like to remove ourselves from, but that isn’t happening, and it’s not like Obama isn’t aware of / playing into that, so… maybe I just changed my mind in the course of this paragraph.

    And, yeah, the tea thing.

    With that being said, I just wanted to tell you I’m feeling so much sympathy for you reading this thread. I had a more or less identical conversation with the bf the other night–he identifies as a feminist ally, but when I pointed out something I saw as pretty damn sexist on Countdown, he went into “Keith’s a progressive so there’s nothing there plus I don’t see it you’re overly sensitive la la la la la I can’t hear you” you and… argh. It’s so much worse when it comes from someone who is progressive in every other way (although, as Melissa said, you can’t be a progressive without being a feminist).

    If it sounds sexist to your ears it is a problematic statement, because you are receiving an anti-feminist message, and even if it does nothing else it is hurting you in all the subtle ways anti-feminism hurts every woman. You should be able to express that without receiving criticism for even opening up the discussion, and… yeah, just feeling sympathy.

    I don’t comment here very often, but the point of this rambling comment is just to say: Keep it up, Zuzu. You do good (and difficult) work here.

  85. rhiain
    rhiain April 9, 2008 at 10:24 pm |

    Ellid (and others), I don’t think the point here is that Obama was criticizing Clinton unfairly. It is a perfectly valid campaign technique for one candidate to point out his or her relative strengths in comparison to an opponent’s. I don’t think anyone would have a problem if he had said “I have more foreign policy experience than Clinton because I have done X and she has done Y.” I think the issue here is that he started in with all this tea party, just-the-first-lady characterization that, because of the language he used and the fact that Clinton really does not a perfect storm of misogyny surrounding her, plays into sexism, to his advantage (and the disadvantage of every woman in this country trying to accomplish anything).

  86. Morningstar
    Morningstar April 9, 2008 at 10:28 pm |

    I grew up with two different cultural backgrounds in a major internation city, does that make me a better candidate for the presidency than someone raised in a small midwestern town?

    probably.

  87. Bruce
    Bruce April 9, 2008 at 10:38 pm |

    Had Obama stopped at the first paragraph, and then pointed out how Clinton and McCain’s “experience” of screwing up massively and with obsequious deference to the stupidest president in the history of our republic has damaged our foreign policy standing, he would have had something useful to say.

    The proper way for Obama to attack Hillary Clinton is not to say that Obama is more experienced, but to attack Clinton for being likely to keep on doing what she’s been doing. Not to pooh-pooh her for her bloody history, but to make her wear it as a hairshirt. Ditto McCain: McCain’s problem is not that he’s a newbie, but that he wants to draft our great-grandchildren before they’re born to fight in Basra after we’re dead. Repentence is the first step towards forgiveness and their “experience” makes their persistent bad judgment more damnable, more unforgivable.

    Question for Clinton o: “Has your experience made you wiser, or do you persist in defending this indefensible war that the American people overwhelmingly reject as a blunder, your blunder?”

  88. exholt
    exholt April 9, 2008 at 10:43 pm |

    Exholt, I’m aware of all that. But I’m talking about the perception game, and spin. Like it or not, McCain is beloved by the press and he’s unaccountably considered wise, experienced and moderate even by Democrats in the general voter public. Can you see the campaign ads now?

    Zuzu,

    I understand the power of the spin machine and I can imagine the campaign ads. I can also imagine good counter-ads that could effectively play up the extremely limited and in many cases…the effective meaningless of much of McCain’s touted “foreign policy experience” on the basis of his childhood, travel, and military service. In fact, considering his past public use of anti-Asian racial slurs and how uncontrollable his temper is, I can easily imagine a Clinton or Obama supporter taking a page from the campaigns of the early 60′s….*Hint* *Hint*

  89. Ethan
    Ethan April 9, 2008 at 10:46 pm |

    The point of diplomacy is not to become intimately familiar with the culture of other countries, so you can better serve them. The point is to negotiate for the benefit of your own country.

    In 1953, Eisenhower approved England’s requests to support a coup in Iran. We did this not knowing about the great amount of nationalism inherent in Iran’s culture, which would make a coup a short term solution at best. We did this not knowing about the love that the Iranians had for their democratically elected president, Mohammad Mossadegh. We did this, as a matter of fact, without a lot of knowledge besides the short term-we wanted Iranian oil.

    Because of the horrific lack of knowledge we had on Iran, we are now in the position we are in now.

    So yes, the point of American diplomacy has always been to negotiate for our short term benefits. That’s why we are so ridiculously fucked now. I, for one, don’t think that continuing on this path is the way to go.

  90. marie
    marie April 9, 2008 at 11:26 pm |

    TA, I agree with you entirely which is why I think people are starting to see his arrogance. His arrogance is outweighing his hope and charm. Dismissing the roles that foreign and domestic diplomats have as well as anyone involved in these types of meetings makes me question his understanding of other government jobs.

    More importantly he is someone who is heralding speaking to other nations such as Iran with no provisions and yet he belittles the simple acts of good faith diplomacy by criticizing Clinton. He is quite inconsistent here.

    Another thing I am bothered by is how he says his judgement is better than Clinton’s. He is saying his judgement is correct all the time and that is some shaky ground to stand upon. If he gets into office and makes one error in judgement what excuse will he have then?

  91. gabi
    gabi April 10, 2008 at 12:15 am |

    This is my first post here, so I hope I’m not over stepping my boundaries. I’ve read some very interesting discussions, and this one prompted me to say something.

    What is most baffling for me, is how patronizing these critiques of Obama seem to be, especially when he is being critiqued or analyzed on some other critique he made about Hillary and specifically THIS time as in the original post. His comments to me, within the original post, are not sexist, but the post itself along with similar ones seem to come from a racist tradition. Some of Obama’s major life experiences are reduced to a kindergarten experience because why? As a black man he’s not allowed to critique his white counter parts? He is not conducting himself in a proper manner (for blacks) by inflating (rightfully or no) some of his experiences that have shaped him to make himself look better than them (something politicians should do but he should because he’s black)? He is not staying in his place? He is daring to challenge a white person? The insolence of Barack Obama for critiquing white colleagues, and the audacity to claim his experiences are worth more than theirs, specifically hers!

    This what I’m getting here, and this post, as well as similar posts (not on this website though I have to admit) come from that tradition. Am I the only one who sees this?

    The perspective of how living abroad and having relatives abroad have a major impact on your life I suppose can only be understood by people with similar experiences. Anyone who has had a cultural immersion experience can honestly tell you how it enriches shapes ones views and life. Which can help in providing and creating empathetic foreign policies that are perhaps less aggressive than would have been otherwise without the experiences towards foreign nations, you know the radical thinking that they are people too? After all it’s easier to think of Africa as being filled with “starving dying, savage and murderous Africans” until you’ve been there, with the people for an extended period of time, and have seen how vibrant and vivacious people are and can be, how streets are filled with life and not death (not saying it’s not there though).

    All this to say that reducing his family ties to “impoverished African relatives [he's visited]” really speaks to the pathological way many westerns view Africans, and does speak to how a person with a different type of perspective (non-pathological) about the people would approach policies that may benefit OUR country but don’t necessarily harm them (an easy thing to accomplish if you believe they’re savages anyway).

    Anyway, I didn’t see the sexism, but I did see the racism. That’s all I’m saying.

  92. bc
    bc April 10, 2008 at 12:46 am |

    well, since he never *said* experience in the statement, you could just as easily conclude that his remarks meant that he had better judgment because of things that happened in his life, not that he meant that living abroad was “experience.” He’s saying he “understands the world better” but he never said the word experience. Even if he could have articulated it better it’s certainly not as dumb a tactic as you’ve claimed it is and the “kindergarten” thing is repulsively dismissive and simplifying the issue completely.

  93. exholt
    exholt April 10, 2008 at 1:56 am |

    The perspective of how living abroad and having relatives abroad have a major impact on your life I suppose can only be understood by people with similar experiences. Anyone who has had a cultural immersion experience can honestly tell you how it enriches shapes ones views and life.

    Cannot agree more as someone who has relatives abroad and has lived abroad and witnessed how foreign travel can be a great way to open one’s horizons if one is willing to put in the effort to be actively engaged with the local population beyond tourism and business……and an unfortunate wasted opportunity for those who while physically situated in a foreign society…are content to effectively live as they never left home.

  94. Redstar
    Redstar April 10, 2008 at 2:11 am |

    I’m glad I’m following so closely on gabi’s comment, because I think it’s an important counterpoint here.

    Yet, I saw Obama’s comments as elitist, specifically the highly-educated elitism that smacks of entitlement, an assumption that our viewpoint is the only legitimate one, and our need to brandish our ties to the “real world” to prove our legitimacy. To me, despite the value of his non-US perspectives, I feel like he’s back to this trust me/judgment theme that just doesn’t have enough meat to it, for my tastes, to make me comfortable.

    He’s no doubt someone who’s lived a transnational, global, multicultural life, with the constraints and opportunities that go along with it. and this will be a great, great asset for our country should he be President. But Obama reminds me of my peers and me in our insular, high status academic orbit who often think rather prematurely that we know best, based on a combination of basic smarts, fancy educations and access, versus appropriate, proven experience. (I also agree with Marie 80)

    I’m a Clinton supporter, but I think that Fox quote in quote #13 is totally problematic. She makes Obama sound like an irresponsible teenager…”the only responsibility he was given”…No surprise he’s trying to reframe the experience debate. If only he’d stop throwing all the tea drinkers and dancing kids under the bus in the process! Damn womenz and their offspring.

  95. Hawise
    Hawise April 10, 2008 at 7:28 am |

    Gabi, he brought up the issue of his Indonesian experience as a child as being more pertinent than her trips as First Lady- directly comparing childhood memories with adult experience. He compared having impoverished relatives with knowing the leaders of countries. He implied that knowing the name of two religious sects is the same as knowing the impact that has on a people. If he wants to be taken seriously he has to do better than that or he is leaving himself open to a world of hurt in the general election.

    The insolence of Barack Obama for critiquing white colleagues, and the audacity to claim his experiences are worth more than theirs, specifically hers!

    The problem with that statement is that if he didn’t want to be critiqued for his audacity and insolence then he shouldn’t have run for President, those two qualities are the hallmarks of a presidential candidate. He is a candidate and he, and us, had better develop a thicker skin and examine how much worse this is going to get before it gets better if it ever does. If she can tough it out then he had better show that he can. I learned that one in kindergarten.

  96. Kristin
    Kristin April 10, 2008 at 8:33 am |

    This is my first post here, so I hope I’m not over stepping my boundaries. I’ve read some very interesting discussions, and this one prompted me to say something.

    What is most baffling for me, is how patronizing these critiques of Obama seem to be, especially when he is being critiqued or analyzed on some other critique he made about Hillary and specifically THIS time as in the original post. His comments to me, within the original post, are not sexist, but the post itself along with similar ones seem to come from a racist tradition. Some of Obama’s major life experiences are reduced to a kindergarten experience because why? As a black man he’s not allowed to critique his white counter parts? He is not conducting himself in a proper manner (for blacks) by inflating (rightfully or no) some of his experiences that have shaped him to make himself look better than them (something politicians should do but he should because he’s black)? He is not staying in his place? He is daring to challenge a white person? The insolence of Barack Obama for critiquing white colleagues, and the audacity to claim his experiences are worth more than theirs, specifically hers!

    This what I’m getting here, and this post, as well as similar posts (not on this website though I have to admit) come from that tradition. Am I the only one who sees this?

    No, I saw this too. Particularly in the comments about how “arrogant” Obama seems. Like he’s just too confident for a black guy and needs to be kept in his place.

  97. lizvelrene
    lizvelrene April 10, 2008 at 10:14 am |

    What is most baffling for me, is how patronizing these critiques of Obama seem to be, especially when he is being critiqued or analyzed on some other critique he made about Hillary and specifically THIS time as in the original post. His comments to me, within the original post, are not sexist, but the post itself along with similar ones seem to come from a racist tradition. Some of Obama’s major life experiences are reduced to a kindergarten experience because why? As a black man he’s not allowed to critique his white counter parts? He is not conducting himself in a proper manner (for blacks) by inflating (rightfully or no) some of his experiences that have shaped him to make himself look better than them (something politicians should do but he should because he’s black)? He is not staying in his place? He is daring to challenge a white person? The insolence of Barack Obama for critiquing white colleagues, and the audacity to claim his experiences are worth more than theirs, specifically hers!

    This what I’m getting here, and this post, as well as similar posts (not on this website though I have to admit) come from that tradition. Am I the only one who sees this?

    Absolutely not, and bravo. I’ve seen exactly this happening all over the blogosphere and particularly all over the feminist blogosphere and I’m extremely disappointed about it.

  98. Kristin
    Kristin April 10, 2008 at 10:15 am |

    He compared having impoverished relatives with knowing the leaders of countries. He implied that knowing the name of two religious sects is the same as knowing the impact that has on a people.

    Did you really just refer to the Sunni and Shi’a as “two religious sects”? The two main branches of Islam that, together, constitute one of the world’s largest religions??? Holy shit.

  99. D.N. Nation
    D.N. Nation April 10, 2008 at 10:17 am |

    Give Obama credit. At least he didn’t go to Richard Mellon Scaife with this line of rhetoric, unlike another candidate for the Democratic nomination.

  100. D.N. Nation
    D.N. Nation April 10, 2008 at 10:18 am |

    Did you really just refer to the Sunni and Shi’a as “two religious sects”?

    They are, just as Catholicism is a sect of Christianity.

  101. watson
    watson April 10, 2008 at 10:33 am |

    Have any of you been a diplomatic spouse?
    It’s not “having tea” and “watching children dance” – it’s WORK. You work ALL THE DAMN TIME. Pretty much 24/7. Under the guise of “merely social” events, you talk to people, try to find out what they’re _really_ thinking apart from what they present at the conference table, you try to understand the concerns/needs of the people of the nation you’re in and pass that on to the “real” diplomats, you try to pave the way for the objectives the “real” diplomats, you’re often called on to defuse misunderstandings that have come up during “real business”, etc etc
    If you can’t do that job effectively, the “real” diplomats don’t allow you out of the house – diplomatic consequences can be pretty far reaching if “only” a spouse missteps.
    And that’s just an ambassador’s spouse. For a First Lady, I can only imagine how much more involved that job is.

  102. Kristin
    Kristin April 10, 2008 at 10:38 am |

    They are, just as Catholicism is a sect of Christianity.

    Except that, you know, America’s War on Terror isn’t usually interpreted as a War on Catholicism. There are political contexts that frame the ways that we say things. If you want to defend the notion of “sect” and apply it to every variation of every major world religion, well, fine… But in its popular usage, “sect” often refers to an extremist group or an isolationist group (like the Amish). It’s not just any old word, free of negative connotation or cultural baggage. When one says, “So what if he knows the difference between two religious sects?” one is implying that Sunni and Shi’a are outside the pale of “normal” religion–and also that they are represented among a pretty insignificant segment of the population.

  103. Kristin
    Kristin April 10, 2008 at 10:48 am |

    The problem with that statement is that if he didn’t want to be critiqued for his audacity and insolence then he shouldn’t have run for President, those two qualities are the hallmarks of a presidential candidate. He is a candidate and he, and us, had better develop a thicker skin and examine how much worse this is going to get before it gets better if it ever does. If she can tough it out then he had better show that he can. I learned that one in kindergarten.

    If the assumption is really just that the candidates must “tough it out,” then why all the outrage on this thread about the alleged sexism against Hillary? I don’t really think this is a valid response, which is why I haven’t met slights against Hillary Clinton with dismissive comments like, “She just needs to learn to tough it out.”

    What I see as the explicitly racist content in this thread is the sense that “Obama is too arrogant.” Can anyone name a viable American presidential candidate since at least Reagan who wasn’t arrogant? Isn’t it more or less par for the course in such races? And is he really so much more arrogant than Hillary (who, though behind in the polls, has had the nerve to suggest that she might let Obama be her running mate)? They’re both arrogant. You’d have to be an arrogant fuck to think you should be president of the United States. Jesus… All the concern about Obama’s arrogance strikes me as explicit racism. I don’t see every criticism of Obama as such (just as I don’t see ever slight against Hillary as sexism.), but I do see it here.

  104. Kristin
    Kristin April 10, 2008 at 10:49 am |

    Oops, I meant to say that Clinton was “behind in the delegate count.” Just typed that too quickly.

  105. D.N. Nation
    D.N. Nation April 10, 2008 at 10:52 am |

    But in its popular usage, “sect” often refers to an extremist group or an isolationist group (like the Amish). It’s not just any old word, free of negative connotation or cultural baggage.

    Popular usage for whom? People who don’t know definitions? Sorry, though I’ve heard people talk of various “radical sects” and the like, the technical term is still the technical term, regardless of whatever adjectives might occasionally be found with it.

  106. D.N. Nation
    D.N. Nation April 10, 2008 at 10:53 am |

    Additionally, what word should we use, since we’re choosing to just corrupt this one?

  107. Kristin
    Kristin April 10, 2008 at 11:01 am |

    Popular usage for whom? People who don’t know definitions? Sorry, though I’ve heard people talk of various “radical sects” and the like, the technical term is still the technical term, regardless of whatever adjectives might occasionally be found with it.

    If you want to get technical about religions, well fuck… Definition number two in Webster’s Dictionary is “a group regarded as heretical or as deviating from a generally accepted religious tradition.” Words can have multiple and complex uses. I can’t believe you are suggesting that references to Sunni and Shi’a as “sects” has no negative connotation in popular American usage. What the fuck? Have you been to the United States since 9/11???

  108. Kristin
    Kristin April 10, 2008 at 11:02 am |

    Additionally, what word should we use, since we’re choosing to just corrupt this one?

    Umm… I have a really complicated answer for you: We should use: Sunni. and. Shi’a.

    Jesus, people… Could y’all just leave the ignorance at home for the day? I really can’t stand anymore of this shit.

  109. Kristin
    Kristin April 10, 2008 at 11:11 am |

    I can’t believe you are suggesting that references to Sunni and Shi’a as “sects” has no negative connotation in popular American usage.

    And that was meant say… “I can’t believe you are suggesting that references…have no negative connotations…”

  110. Josh
    Josh April 10, 2008 at 11:15 am |

    So, again: why is it that we don’t value the kind of diplomacy done by First Ladies and ambassador’s wives?

    Because pressing the flesh is not the same as hammering out the details of a trade agreement. Clinton did the former but wants you to think she did the latter. Obama is well within his rights to point out the difference.

  111. D.N. Nation
    D.N. Nation April 10, 2008 at 11:48 am |

    Umm… I have a really complicated answer for you: We should use: Sunni. and. Shi’a.

    Ahh, okay. So…

    Islam has two major Sunni. and. Shi’a.s. They are: Sunni and Shi’a.
    The biggest Sunni. and. Shi’a. in Christianity is Catholicism.
    Susie is doing a study on various splinter Sunni. and. Shi’a.s in Scotland.

    Sounds good to me.

    Jesus, people… Could y’all just leave the ignorance at home for the day? I really can’t stand anymore of this shit.

    Ignorance = Showing disdain for the mangling of language?

    Epic, man.

  112. trishka
    trishka April 10, 2008 at 12:06 pm |

    i want to point out that i thought sbsanon’s post 87 was terrific and i’m sorry that it got ignored. these are all good questions and worth exploring.

    i too am extremely troubled by this thread, this blog, and others that are suggesting that if i don’t see the sexism in obama’s statements that zuzu’s do i’m somehow a bad feminist, telling them to STOP TALKING ABOUT SEXISM ON A FEMINISM BLOG or whatever.

    this lockstep crap is not helpful – to anyone. not feminists, not hilary clinton, not the blog, whatever. if feminists can’t respectfully disagree with each other about where incidences of sexism are or aren’t occuring, then i’m turning in my feminism card.

  113. marie
    marie April 10, 2008 at 12:10 pm |

    I feel Obama is arrogant due to his inexperience rather than his race. Unlike other people and Obama himself I view him as biracial, not soley black. I am probably more biased about his arrogance due to his Ivy League education more than racial issues as I attended the Harvard of Cuny, but not Ivy League. I would love to have a viable candidate the was neither a lawyer nor had to constantly throw around an Ivy League college in conversation.

    Also, I can relate to having a sense of entitlement, something I got over real quickly after college when I realized the world expected me to prove myself. After having taught college for 9 years I have long endured the transformation of entitlement to something now that needs to be renamed; it is beyond entitlement.

    As much as I would love Hillary to be President, I am looking forward to a battle between Obama and McCain based on suffering and experience. How is this young senator who had alot of priviledge in this country going to compete with a guy who was a POW for 5 1/2 years. Obama will have to walk a fine line downplaying McCain’s experience without overt disrespect, which I think will be nearly impossible. He completely disrespected his other democratic rivals during one debate that got Richardson so annoyed he had to point out the value of experience. Also taking down an experienced opponent is not going to impress many older people who disdain youthful entitlement.

  114. marie
    marie April 10, 2008 at 12:13 pm |

    I think alot of people are ignoring the ageism going on in this campaign and with huge issues for retired boomers like prescription drugs, healthcare and social security will be completely ignored in an Obama/McCain match.

    Sorry, if this is off topic.

  115. Oh
    Oh April 10, 2008 at 12:57 pm |

    trishka: Especially since so many of zuzu’s responses have to do with why she thinks this is a bad campaign strategy, not with why she thinks this is an example of sexism. It’s important to talk about the subtler sexism in the “just having tea” remark (I call it subtler because I think “tea” is coded as feminine in a way a lot of people don’t consciously think about) and the blatant sexism in the “just a wife”/tourism remarks.

    But if these remarks are supposed to be sexist because other criticisms of Clinton’s foreign policy experience have been sexist, and *these* remarks criticize Clinton’s foreign policy experience…no, I’m not going to say these particular remarks are sexist. Sure, Obama doesn’t bring up other work that Clinton has done in other countries in meeting with regular people and talking about them–but he’s her opponent, and I haven’t heard Clinton herself touting those kinds of experiences. If Clinton wants to engage on that, she’s going to have to maneuver to make him address it. Instead, she’s been presenting herself (and McCain) as qualified because of their Washington experience–which puts value on the sorts of trips Obama is discussing–and Obama wants to bring up doubts about valuing DC-centric perspectives so highly. And he criticizes both Clinton and McCain on that score.

    The closest thing that I think could come to a sexist dogwhistle in these particular remarks is Obama’s mention of the kids doing a dance, and that mention resonates for me as a quick anti-imperialist remark rather than an anti-feminist one (packing in mocking dismissal of the idea that you can know about a country because smiling folks perform for you in quaint/exotic costume).

    But when we ask for elaboration on what’s so bad about these remarks specifically, we hear about the problems it could present for Obama’s upcoming campaign strategy. I would *much* rather talk about sexism; I have very little interest in the horse race. So–really. What’s the sexism?

  116. exholt
    exholt April 10, 2008 at 1:04 pm |

    Yet, I saw Obama’s comments as elitist, specifically the highly-educated elitism that smacks of entitlement, an assumption that our viewpoint is the only legitimate one, and our need to brandish our ties to the “real world” to prove our legitimacy. To me, despite the value of his non-US perspectives, I feel like he’s back to this trust me/judgment theme that just doesn’t have enough meat to it, for my tastes, to make me comfortable.

    He’s no doubt someone who’s lived a transnational, global, multicultural life, with the constraints and opportunities that go along with it. and this will be a great, great asset for our country should he be President. But Obama reminds me of my peers and me in our insular, high status academic orbit who often think rather prematurely that we know best, based on a combination of basic smarts, fancy educations and access, versus appropriate, proven experience.

    Very interesting as the arguments in favor of experience gained from diplomatic visits by our politicians such as senators remind me of the Washingtonian and academic elitism which privileges graduate degrees and limited and arguably cloistered visits due to the leadership due to security and political factors trumps actually living in a given society where one has to interact with the local populace without cocooning themselves among those of their own nationality.

    Ironically, this was the exact mentality among state department employees and many politicians of “We know more than you” despite their never spending any meaningful time in the country that drove knowledgeable classmates working for the foreign service to angrily rant about their cluelessness.

    It is also a reason why the Chinese and I am betting locals in other societies tend to regard diplomats, expats, and non-local students’ claims of expertise on their society and culture with deep skepticism unless those persons concerned prove otherwise.

  117. kathygnome
    kathygnome April 10, 2008 at 1:05 pm |

    Add me as another who just doesn’t see the sexism here. Sorry. I see him comparing his life experience with the typical politician experience. I agree with this notion and I’ve seen the same argument brought up in favor of Obama in the European press.

  118. sbsanon
    sbsanon April 10, 2008 at 2:24 pm |

    Thanks, trishka. It seems that my comment got a little lost amongst the heady discussion about Obama’s campaign strategy and what sort of experience makes one best qualified for foreign relations. But I am glad to know that someone did read my comment and doesn’t think I was going out on a limb…

    I wanted to mention that this comment from zuzu came closest to showing me where there may in fact be sexism underlying Obama’s statement:

    Also, his “I’ve been on those trips” argument is a little hollow. He’s presuming that his trips were the same as hers. Sometimes they were, sometimes they weren’t, but reducing her entire experience to seeing children dance and taking a tour of a factory negates a lot of the more actively-engaged stuff she did. Which just happened to be, in large measure, a lot of work with and meetings with women’s groups and organizations, as well as groups that worked on children’s issues. It’s probably not coincidental that those get erased, and not even dismissed along with the factory tour and the dancing kids and the tea parties.

    I think this is a very good point – that Obama is presuming that his experiences are comparable to Clinton’s, and in fact ignoring other types of experiences she may have had. However, the question in my mind is still, would he have done the same thing with a man – ignored certain of that man’s experiences and presumed that his experiences were the same. Maybe yes, maybe no, I think it is hard to say. I do think it is entirely possible that Clinton’s other experiences did in fact get unconsciously erased in his mind (or consciously, but that we really don’t have any evidence for one way or the other) because she is a woman, because those experiences were related to women’s activism, and because women’s experiences tend to go unseen. I’m not convinced that there is enough in this one statement to conclusively say that this is the case, but it is important to talk about this possibility.

  119. Hawise
    Hawise April 10, 2008 at 4:04 pm |

    If the assumption is really just that the candidates must “tough it out,” then why all the outrage on this thread about the alleged sexism against Hillary?

    This is what has been getting my goat for the last few weeks because there is a real easy answer and one that shouldn’t even be outrageous- because that is what this particular thread is all about. On another thread we may discuss racism, still another ageism or LGBT issues or any number of other issues but each thread is usually about one particular area. The candidates have to tough it out because they can’t stop people from parsing every statement to death, it happened before the internet and will continue into the future with whatever other form of communication gets developped.

    I am sorry Kristin if you dislike the word ‘sect’ but as I was trying to make it a more global sentence encompassing different denominations in all the world religions as opposed to just Islam. I picked sect over denomination as the second is perceived as particular to Christianity while sect is more globally accepted if currently badly misused. Just using Sunni and Shi’a would imply that there are just two main subdivisions of Islam and that is untrue just as Christianity is more diverse than just Protestant and Catholic.

  120. exholt
    exholt April 10, 2008 at 4:40 pm |

    How is this young senator who had alot of priviledge in this country going to compete with a guy who was a POW for 5 1/2 years. Obama will have to walk a fine line downplaying McCain’s experience without overt disrespect, which I think will be nearly impossible. He completely disrespected his other democratic rivals during one debate that got Richardson so annoyed he had to point out the value of experience. Also taking down an experienced opponent is not going to impress many older people who disdain youthful entitlement.

    This is so rich! If we’re going to see who is privileged among the choices of Clinton, Obama, and McCain…….the edge will go to…McCain!! McCain was no mere working/middle-class sailor who enlisted and pulled himself by his bootstraps…but came from a prominent privileged Navy family. I mean he is the son and grandson of Admirals for crying out loud!! I doubt that fact hurt his chances of attending the elite United States Naval Academy at Annapolis and getting some of the assignments he got during his career. Though things have improved by the time my cousin graduated from a topflight engineering school with an NROTC commission as an aviator, he along with other ex-navy people have admitted that being a USNA graduate is a great boost in furthering one’s Naval career….or in the realm of professional connections in areas such as business and politics. In fact, from what I have seen in the workplace, being a USNA grad confers at least as much, if not more prestige as/than graduating with an Ivy-level degree…especially in fields such as politics, business, science, and engineering.

    Moreover, while his 5.5 years as a POW is a great draw, it could also be spun to express concern about strong anti-Asian prejudices to the point of publicly uttering racist slurs which along with his infamous uncontrollable temper may call into doubt his fitness as a President who is supposed to represent, in part, all Americans.

    Also, I am curious. How much of this “disdain” over youthful entitlement is a genuine concern over ageist concerns…..and how much of it is really the elder group telling us “young’uns” to sit down, shut up, and let the “grownups” handle the serious business of politics?? Trust me, McCain’s campaign will have no qualms about using this against Obama or Clinton…

  121. HollywoodFem
    HollywoodFem April 10, 2008 at 10:19 pm |

    Why can’t they both have experience? Why does it have to be an either/or?

    As a child Obama lived in the epicenter (Jakarta) during one of the greatest mass killings of the 20th century. Most Americans fled the country. I know staying wasn’t his choice, but I’d imagine an exposure to such extreme violence (only the military had guns, others used machetes) and the resulting stigmatization of Suharto’s dictatorship would be a life lesson. Not the same as growing up in Jersey. Just saying.

  122. HollywoodFem
    HollywoodFem April 10, 2008 at 10:28 pm |

    Can I edit my comment? I just checked his website and he moved to Indonesia in 1967.. so that would be 1 year after the mass killing ended. My bad. He still would have lived under an oppressive military regime…

  123. exholt
    exholt April 10, 2008 at 11:06 pm |

    I know staying wasn’t his choice, but I’d imagine an exposure to such extreme violence (only the military had guns, others used machetes) and the resulting stigmatization of Suharto’s dictatorship would be a life lesson. Not the same as growing up in Jersey.

    Assuming that living in Jakarta in that period was a negative experience due to Suharto’s rise to power a few years before…I am doubtful the massive killings that arose was solely an Indonesian responsibility/happenstance considering how the US military attempted to cultivate relationships with its military leaders…including Suharto….especially after the predecessor Sukarno rejected US aid and opted to get his support from the Soviets and the Chinese Communists.

    In short, it is a serious question as to how much responsibility the US had in initiating Suharto’s coup and the subsequent killings that resulted. Thus, it is a dumb strategy to use this against him as that would not only call into question the opponents’ possible anti-foreign/racist motives…..but also open up a can of worms regarding past American support for coup-based regimes…scrutiny that I doubt any of the candidates would want as it will do little but result in a game of passing the blame…..and if Obama’s campaign spins it right….make him smell like a rose compared to his opponents.

  124. tresome
    tresome April 11, 2008 at 2:49 pm |

    I am seeing an interesting new set of code words surrounding Obama, all of a sudden he is labeled as “arrogant,” or “elitist” for challenging his opponents on foriegn policy experience. It seems clear his only point in the text is to re-define what constitutes experience to match his life story. Of course he his belittling Clinton’s experience, much the same way she belittles the states he’s won an insignificant. It politics and I don’t think this particular statement is out of line. But the whole he’s arrogant line of attack smacks of “he’s uppity” or “he doesn’t know his place” to me and it doesn’t sit well.

  125. marie
    marie April 12, 2008 at 10:19 am |

    I am curious to know what people think about Obama’s elitist comments about small towns.

  126. exholt
    exholt April 12, 2008 at 1:41 pm |

    But Obama reminds me of my peers and me in our insular, high status academic orbit who often think rather prematurely that we know best, based on a combination of basic smarts, fancy educations and access, versus appropriate, proven experience.

    This is quite ironic as this criticism seems to me more appropriately applied to those who are privileging “Washingtonian diplomatic experience” over actually being immersed in a given local society where daily interaction with the local populace and society is required. It also privileges “top-down elite school of understanding foreign affairs and diplomacy” which in recent history…has been at best, a hit-or-miss affair for the US as the current problems in the Middle East and other parts of the world would show.

    Not only does this remind me of the uncritical elitist mentality among state department superiors and politicians decried by classmates who worked in the Foreign Service, but also the academic elitist mindset where solely gaining academic degrees, even PhDs in a field specializing in one society or region of the world is enough basis to claim expertise on that society or region and by some seemingly logical extension….the entire world. This academic elitist mentality is too common among many American grad students and some Profs and one which more clued in Profs and fellow grad students who realize the limitations of experience gained in academia do their best to head off by calling this BS out when it manifests itself.

    I don’t even see why Clinton’s supporters feel Clinton is vulnerable on this point as she strikes me as someone who takes her work seriously enough to go above and beyond most politicians to make the effort to learn about the foreign countries she’s visited beyond what most politicians would do….if they even bother to put on the facade of going through the motions.

    If anything, this whole issue should be reframed as “Who had the most meaningful foreign policy experience??!!”….as that would not only change the dynamic of this dispute…but also call into question McCain’s “extensive foreign travel in childhood, military, and political career”.

    I am curious to know what people think about Obama’s elitist comments about small towns.

    Which remarks of his are elitist and where should I look for them?

  127. wiggles
    wiggles April 13, 2008 at 6:24 pm |

    I think it’s kind of hilarious that whenever someone points out something stupid Obama said or some political weak poiint he has, the subsequent comment thread goes eight miles long with Obama Fans coming out in droves to explain what he really meant or how his weaknesses are actually strengths.

    Obama is probably going to be the first president since Roosevelt with significant cultural exposure to a non western culture, and I think this is a necessary antidote to the whole “My Oil Is Under Your Land” attitude that many people in high circles have.

    Right. If Obama wins the nomination and the general election, his experience in an Indonesian elementary school will magically neutralize the western world’s thirst for oil and money.

    Oh wow. I just don’t see it at all. I guess I should turn in my feminist card.

    Hillary’s foreign diplomacy experience was that of just a wife having tea parties. Obama’s childhood years in Indonesia is The New Way to cure the world of all evils. Get it now?

Comments are closed.