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The Hysterical Bitch Offensive

By Jesse Taylor
Thursday, July 31, 2008 14:25 EDT
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It says something about misogyny and presidential politics that one of the most sexist attacks thus far has been launched against the male Democratic candidate…and that it’s considered just a “tough” ad that, through watching cable news seems to be mainly about whether or not Britney Spears should be involved in politics. (Apparently, all those post-primary investigations of sexism against Hillary Clinton got stuck the same place all the fact checkers did.) McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds:

“This is a typically superfluous response from Barack Obama. Like most celebrities, he reacts to fair criticism with a mix of fussiness and hysteria,” says McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds, before trying to link the attack back to offshore drilling.

The Hysterical Bitch spot:

Let me start by rolling back to this Richard Cohen article from a couple of days ago, and the surrounding coverage it got. There are Very Simple Rules when it comes to covering presidential candidates. Republicans are always good people who happen to wander away from their mores because of the icky demands of campaigning, Democrats are always probably weirdos who are just trying to hide it long enough to get to the White House. It’s an instinct that comes from the internalization of being the Librul Media and the externalization of Oh Shit, We Can’t Be The Liberal Media. The easiest way to do it is to show that you have a Republican friend, that you can look past your alleged ideology and partisan ties and find something good and honorable in the other side. In the same vein, you find them all practicing the exact same brand of “Even The” Liberalism, where their main method of addressing Democrats is looking for flaws and failures so as not to seem biased. Of course, it produces the exact opposite result – a media that constantly focuses on the failures and flaws of Democrats and continually excuses Republican failures and lies because, hey, that’s not really who they are.

John McCain gave a speech this morning attacking Obama – when there’s video up I’ll link to it, but the most telling part of it is that McCain was reading straight off of a sheet of paper. He wasn’t speaking extemporaneously, he was literally reading off of a report like a seventh grader asked to evaluate The Outsiders who knocked off the report last night based off of Cliffs Notes. There are two ways of evaluating this:

1.) The Sane Person’s Way: McCain is so hungry to attack and tear down Obama that he’s willing to read a stream of nonsensical bullshit that he can’t even remember or deliver competently, and embarrassing himself in the process.

2.) The Richard Cohen Way: John Mccain’s irrepressible maverickness lets him understand that this isn’t really who he is, but it’s something he’s doing to try to win, so we can’t really judge him on it. When will we see the real, honorable John McCain again? And when do I get on the new Straight Talk Express? Where this leaves us is with a constant series of excuses for John McCain and a constant series of challenges for Barack Obama. Republican “toughness” is a given, so Democratic toughness must be tested and questioned. A Republican attack is a question for the Democrat, a Democratic attack is a question…for the Democrat. Case in point: MSNBC’s First Read covering dueling Obama and McCain ads. When McCain started with the Hysterical Bitch spot, these are the headlines First Read gave their coverage:

OBAMA = BRITNEY AND PARIS?

OBAMA, ‘BIGGEST CELEBRITY IN THE WORLD’?

When Obama responded:

OBAMA CAMP GOES UP WITH RESPONSE AD

imageNote that McCain’s ads become questions to Obama, and Obama’s ad is a description of his campaign’s action. The basic framing of this always lays responsibility, blame and attachment on the Democrat, leaving the Republican free and clear to keep driving their narrative. Obama’s Hysterical Bitchiness is a question through and through for Obama and his supporters, and the only real question for John McCain is when it’ll be okay to give him donuts again.

One last comment on this: for a campaign accusing Obama of being a Spears/Hilton-like celebrity, it would probably fucking help if John McCain’s daughter wasn’t dining with Heidi Montag. It would also be nice if someone with a chair and a mic on cable news pointed out the McCain’s relentless starfucking. Again, I ask too much.

Jesse Taylor
Jesse Taylor
Jesse Taylor is an attorney and blogger from the great state of Ohio. He founded Pandagon in July, 2002, and has also served on the campaign and in the administration of former Ohio Governor Ted Strickland. He focuses on politics, race, law and pop culture, as well as the odd personal digression when the mood strikes.
 
 
 
 
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