[Dickerson] Shame on You, Hillary | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

[Dickerson] Shame on You, Hillary

The weekend after the Texas debate, I saw Hillary Clinton on television losing her cool over Barack Obama's criticism of her health-care plan. I don't think that I will ever recover from the image of her looking a bit like a crazed televangelist, as she scolded, "Shame on you, Barack Obama!"

I don't know, maybe that scolding attitude is some kind of secret bonding process for women voters. Whatever its intent, I can tell you with confidence that it cost her the support of every male voter in the country who has ever encountered a scolding female teacher, wife, girlfriend, mother, sister, aunt or grandmother.

In response I can only monotone, "Shame on you, Hillary!"

I first met Bill Clinton 25 years ago, shortly after he was elected to his second term as governor of Arkansas. At the time, I was on the editorial board of The Commercial Appeal in Memphis, and I met Clinton when he traveled to Memphis to solicit support for his legislative initiatives. I wrote all the newspaper's editorials about Mississippi and probably half of the editorials about Arkansas, with the other half written by Jeff Katz, who is now with NPR. I wrote many editorials supporting Clinton's legislative initiatives, some of which tipped the balance in his favor, by virtue of the newspaper's considerable influence in Arkansas.

Oddly, as much as I wrote about Bill Clinton, I was never even aware of Hillary's existence until later in the 1980s, when one day I opened the newspaper and saw a striking photo of her sitting in the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, alone in the reconstructed bus that Rosa Parks had immortalized. I realized then that I shared something with Hillary: a passion for the history of the Civil Rights Movement.

As historic as this year's election is in its willingness to give a woman and an African American male a serious, first-ever shot at the presidency, its importance pales when compared with two looming challenges.

The first is whether, after decades of professing support of civil rights, Hillary will put her principles above her personal ambitions, and gracefully step aside to allow an African American to obtain the support of a united Democratic Party. It is a dilemma that every Boomer who supports equal rights for minorities has had to face at sometime or another. Are principles just words? Or are they actions?

The second is whether Boomers will allow Vietnam War vet John McCain a fair shot at the presidency. Now I'm going to say something that everyone knows in their heart, but no one seems willing to acknowledge. If they can help it, Boomers will never allow a pro-Vietnam Boomer to be elected president. George Bush received Boomer votes, but only because he hid out in the Texas National Guard during the war. Bill Clinton received Boomer votes precisely because he was against the Vietnam War. John Kerry, a Vietnam War hero, was defeated by Bush not because Boomers were out-voted or because he was "Swift boated," but because Boomers were uncomfortable with Kerry's service in Vietnam and sat out the election.

Neither of these challenges is fair. Up against any other primary candidate, Hillary Clinton would make history as the first female president. It is just her bad luck that Obama entered the race. However, by scolding Obama, long after it is obvious that she cannot win the nomination, she is betraying principles that have defined her life until this point, and she is revealing herself to be a slave to her ambitions. It is not a very attractive image, any more than her televised scold was an attractive image.

It would be unfair for Boomers to dismiss McCain simply because of his Vietnam service. If Boomers reject him, it should be because of current issues, not because of Vietnam.

About a decade ago, I wrote a book titled "Last Suppers." It was a collection of recipes and menus from famous people who were asked to share what they would choose for their "last supper." Bill Clinton was the first person I approached, and the first to respond—with a recipe for chicken enchiladas. Ironically, the president took the time to send the recipe at the apex of the Monica Lewinsky scandal. Another person who gave me a recipe was McCain, who sent in his recipe for Arizona baked beans. Unlike Clinton, McCain generously offered to help me promote the book, knowing full well that I was on the other side of the Vietnam debate. I've liked him ever since.

Truthfully, this year's presidential election is the most exciting since Abraham Lincoln threw his rather large hat into the ring.

Faced with choosing between Hillary and Obama, I will put principle above ambition and pick Obama. Faced with choosing between Obama and McCain, I will put principle above all else.

Previous Comments

ID
76259
Comment

This column about made me spit my toast out this morning. For instance: The first is whether, after decades of professing support of civil rights, Hillary will put her principles above her personal ambitions, and gracefully step aside to allow an African American to obtain the support of a united Democratic Party. The hell?!?!? Why should the WOMAN step aside for the MAN in this equation?!?!?!? Why doesn't Obama put his principles above his personal ambition, and gracefully step aside to allow WOMAN to obtain the support of a united Democratic Pary?!?!?!? As to this gem: Whatever its intent, I can tell you with confidence that it cost her the support of every male voter in the country who has ever encountered a scolding female teacher, wife, girlfriend, mother, sister, aunt or grandmother. All I can say is that those men in Ohio and Texas must not have any teachers, wives, girlfriends mothers, sisters, aunts or grandmothers, becuase I really don't think that Clinton won those primaries on a purely female vote count. Worst. Column. Ever.

Author
kate
Date
2008-03-06T11:25:05-06:00
ID
76260
Comment

There's another level of power struggle to this that I never hear the media discuss, for good reason. The Bushes, John Kerry and the Clintons are all Yale. Obama is Harvard Law. He's supported by the Kennedy's, who are Harvard. The current Governor of Massachusetts, Deval Patrick, is also (African-American and) Harvard Law and is an ally of Obama. The Harvard-Yale rivalry has been going on for a while. Running a black presidential candidate against a white female presidential candidate keeps the public focused on divisive issues of race and gender. The real power people who operate at that level have other agendas.

Author
willdufauve
Date
2008-03-06T12:04:11-06:00
ID
76261
Comment

Since when do "Boomers" vote against war Vietnam veterans in favor of those who pull strings to stay out of service? That is the silliest thing I have heard in ages. I also recall that Kerry was strongly criticized for his stance against Vietnam. So now McCain will lose with "Boomers" because he was a POW? Ditto Kate's comments about the rest of this column...

Author
pjiv
Date
2008-03-07T10:59:06-06:00
ID
76262
Comment

"Whatever its intent, I can tell you with confidence that it cost her the support of every male voter in the country who has ever encountered a scolding female teacher, wife, girlfriend, mother, sister, aunt or grandmother." This is the most incredibly and depressingly sexist comment I've read in many years. For what it's worth, I'm an Obama supporter, but my difficult choice of which candidate to vote for Tuesday is NOT based on race or gender. To suggest that one should vote for Obama on principle because of his race strikes me as, well, rather racist.

Author
Oldster
Date
2008-03-07T11:40:51-06:00
ID
76263
Comment

I will agree that I'm not supporting Obama because Clinton "scolds." She is not a great speech-giver, though. I listened to her speech last night online, and it seems really forced. It definitely was not inspiring to me. And the kinds of attacks she and her husband have lodged against Obama have just fallen flat for the most part. She should stay positive, and give us more detail about why she'll be a good president. I don't mean details of her health plan, but details about why her particular choices as a senator will make her a great leader. I'm not seeing it. What's wonderful is to have choices beyond old white men. Occasionally, an old white guy will be the best choice for president, and I will vote for him over a woman or non-white. But not this year.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2008-03-07T11:45:56-06:00
ID
76264
Comment

And no, Oldster, that wouldn't be "racist," as it wouldn't be supporting a systemic "racist" policy. You could argue that voting for Obama due to his race is "bigoted," but probably not with much authority. The truth is that it is possible to believe that a non-white president would be very good for the country right now for reasons that have little to do with bigotry and certainly not racism. Quite the opposite, in fact. That said, I'm not supporting him solely because he's half-black. I sure am glad he is, though, as I believe that will be very good for this country and our ability to forge relationships in the world.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2008-03-07T11:48:47-06:00
ID
76265
Comment

I agree that Obama is a better speaker than Clinton, though that is not really relevant to the point being discussed. I thought her speech last night was good. It didn't seem "forced" to me. But I expect to find his speech Monday even better. I was impressed by Clinton's warmth and friendliness last night, especially when being jammed by autograph-seekers before she spoke. Not being an autograph collector, I didn't actually talk to her, but I was within a few feet, taking pictures of her as she chatted with people and signed autographs. I was maybe eight or ten yards away while she was delivering her speech. None of that, however, made me change my mind on how to vote Tuesday. If Clinton gets the nomination, I will replace my Obama bumper sticker with a sticker for her and will campaign enthusiastically for her, but I am at this point still for Obama. I have various reasons for being for him, from the practical matter of his being (imho) more likely than Clinton to win in November to the numerous reasons I think he would be an outstanding President. Among other things, I think the upbeat feelings he is creating in the country, especially among young people, are important. Like you, I am very happy that he's half African American. I agree that that is good for the country in various ways. But I believe Dickerson's comments about supporting him for that reason belittle Obama's accomplishments and abilities, and the idea that Clinton should withdraw from the race because Obama is half African American strikes me as ridiculous. (Whether one considers such an attitude "racist" depends on which of the many definitions of "racism" is applied.)

Author
Oldster
Date
2008-03-07T13:26:27-06:00
ID
76266
Comment

Don't get me wrong, Oldster, I'm not a fan of this Dickerson column, either. But it's his opinion. Yes, there are different definitions of "racism," although a vague one that is interchangeable with "bigotry" is not very helpful in conversation, or society for that matter. But even then, I'm not sure how one could argue that voting for Obama because he is black is "bigoted" even. I think that's a confused view. That said, I can see how that would belittle his other qualities, of which there are many. By the same token, one should not vote for someone just because they give good speeches (B. Clinton?) But being inspired by a great orator is an amazing thing, and after the idiocy of Bush, a welcome one. I would vote for Clinton over McCain, too, with a slight less amount of nose-holding as when I've had to vote case protest votes in the past. But many potential Democratic votes would stay home if it's Clinton because it feels like more of the same Clintonian doublespeak.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2008-03-07T13:42:29-06:00

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