James Taranto Finds Sexism Hilarious

hillary-clintonI came across WSJ columnist James Taranto’s column from August 12th yesterday in doing research for my post about the Obama/Hitler posters and LaRouchePac. The column focused mostly on why Health Care reform was very very bad and why Barack Obama was insensitive/a hypocrite/shouldn’t joke about serious  things, while otherwise coining the term “Obamalignancy” and making a joke himself about typhoon victims in Taiwan. Ha, ha. Then, halfway down, I saw this:

‘Iron My Shirt!’

* “Clinton Presses India for Climate Change”–headline, United Press International, July 20
* “Clinton Presses NKorea on Denuclearisation, Myanmar Links”–headline, AFP, July 21
* “Clinton Presses Iran for Info on Detained U.S. Hikers”–headline, CNN.com, Aug. 3
* “Clinton Presses South Africa on Zimbabwean Crisis”–headline, Bloomberg, Aug. 7
* “Clinton Presses Angola to Sweeten Trade Ties”–headline, Associated Press, Aug. 9
* “Clinton Presses Congo on Minerals”–headline, New York Times, Aug. 11
* “Clinton Presses Nigeria on Corruption, Violence”–headline, Associated Press, Aug. 12

Oh ho-ho! Remember that? It was during the New Hampshire primary, and Clinton was speaking at a rally when two hi-larious dudes disrupted it by shouting out “Iron my shirt!” and holding up signs with the same charming slogan. Get it? Hillary Clinton shouldn’t have been running for president, she should have been ironing some dude’s shirt — you know, because that’s what chicks do. It’s funny, last week during Office Hours I went through the litany of carelessly sexist comments about Clinton that were tossed off (and largely dismissed) last year during the campaign — Hillary nutcrackers, “Bros Before Hos” shirts, comparisons to crazy bunny boiling stalkers, anti-Hillary groups with vulgar acronyms, The Cackle, or otherwise likening her to a witch, Mike Barnicle comparing her to a first wife outside a Probate court, Tucker Carlson crossing his legs when he heard her voice, Randi Rhodes calling her a whore, Penn Jillette calling her a bitch, Chris Matthews saying that she only had a career because her husband messed around — but I forgot this one! So thanks to James Taranto for reminding me.

I think Hillary Clinton’s response from a year and a half ago is just as apt today: “Ah, the remnants of sexism — alive and well.”

Related, Even Now:
Hillary Hate: Making Sexism Acceptable [Eat The Press]
Misogyny I Won’t Miss [WaPo]
And What’s Worse Than A Nagging Housewife? [Eat The Press]
“No one is making nutcracker icons of McCain or Obama” [Salon]
Hillary Sexism Watch: Part Eighty-Three [Shakespeare's Sister]

Related In “Really? Seemingly?”:
Clinton Responds to Seemingly Sexist Shouts [USA Today]

A Race Remembered: Obama Doc, By The People

katie-bakes-iiI can’t say I started crying during the opening credits of the upcoming HBO documentary By The People: The Election of Barack Obama, because I got to the theater five minutes late. But as I slid into my seat and arranged my concessions — at the Landmark Sunshine theater, where the movie just finished screening for a week, they have 12 kinds of flavored powder you can sprinkle on your popcorn, and it’s magical — the smiling faces of Sasha and Malia popped up on the screen and I lost all hope of keeping my composure.

I’m a total sap; your mileage may vary. (And, full disclosure, I’m friends with the movie’s assistant producer Elissa Brown.) But with the rich benefit of hindsight, viewing the early days of the Obama campaign is like walking a friend to her surprise birthday party: You’re secretly giddy about what’s in store. The film — which will air on November 3 on HBO — begins in Iowa in 2007, eight months before the caucuses and light years before today, and spends nearly half of its two-hours focusing on the state and the young supporters populating its campaign headquarters.

We meet Tommy Vietor, the baby-faced Iowa press secretary, and Ronnie Cho, the son of Korean immigrants who throughout the course of the film rivaled me in tears shed. We meet the people — David Axelrod, David Plouffe, Robert Gibbs — whose names flooded the news and our email inboxes. And we meet, in intimate, backstage detail, Senator Barack Obama.

Early takes have already compared the film to the celebrated 1993 documentary The War Room, but as the Chicago Sun Times‘ Lynn Sweet (who appears often in By The People) points out: “The War Room did not have Clinton.” Filmmakers Amy Rice and Alicia Sams began following Obama on his trip to Kenya in 2006, and their acess to him and his staff, particularly early in the film, is stunning. The cameras literally trail behind as he gladhands through Iowa crowds (and, out of their earshot, admits to feeling like he’s been through a wrestling match) and strategizes with his advisors. The filmmakers even secure an honest and moving interview with Obama’s sister in Hawaii — one of the great moments in By The People — and catch her young daughter playing with an Obama bobblehead doll and chirping about “Uncle Rocky.” It’s not until a later moment, when a weary Obama finally asks from a barbershop chair for some “quiet time” with the cameras off, that you realize just how up-close and personal you’ve been all along.

The pitfall of this proximity is an air of adulation that hangs over By The People. (One cameraman questioning Obama about a poll showing Hillary Clinton widening her lead to 34 points is quite literally apologetic: “I’m sorry, but I have to ask”.) Producer Ed Norton noted in an interview that the film was not designed to be an exposé but rather “a document of what the internal reality of the movement was.” In other words, those hoping for any gotcha moments should look elsewhere. A snippy review — in my opinion, overly so — in Variety finds this to be the movie’s biggest flaw, maintaining that the filmmakers “apparent emotional investment is reflected in the cheerleading tone that informs so much of the film” and complaining about the film’s rapid sprint in the final 30 minutes through the highlights (and, in the case of a few disturbing shots of rabid Republicans, lowlights) of the general election.

The pacing didn’t bother me; I’ve had enough Sarah Palin in my life, thank you very much, and at this point we all know the details of the Jeremiah Wright flap by heart. And I found the older footage illuminating. In a touching Christmas Eve call to the Iowa headquarters, David Axelrod pep-talks about winning the nomination and going on to defeat “Mitt or Rudy or Huckabee, or whoever those assholes nominate” with nary a mention of the ultimate Republican nominee. How quickly things change! And allocating more time to the details of September and October would mean cutting back on perfectly understated moments from February and March, like David Alexrod human-pretzeled over a hotel chair – legs akimbo, cell phone to ear, index finger barely reaching the trackpad of an adjacent laptop on the floor – or Jon Favreau watching TV with his mouth hanging skeptically open, rolling his eyes as Hillary Clinton intones “You know what they say: As goes Ohio, so goes the nation!”

I was told that the filmmakers had to tread lightly in their coverage of Clinton in the editing process, given her current position in Obama’s cabinet, but to me the Hillary-related moments are devastating enough. At the Iowa County Fair we watch Obama playing carnival games with his daughters and disarming a nearby crowd with some goofy chants; the movie then cuts to our first glimpse of Hillary — awkwardly flipping burgers, her face quivering in concentration, surrounded by fusty middle aged supporters struggling to operate their digital cameras. I winced. The juxtaposition is meant to be funny, but it felt a little mean: less a smile than a smirk.

While Obama’s opponents are hastily constructed, the film takes tremendous care to develop the personalities of those within the Obama camp. Speechwriter Favreau, so brilliant with his prose, occasionally slips and acts his age. “Blah blah blah, hope change… yeah” is his answer when asked about the text of one upcoming speech. The ongoing dynamic, particularly on Election Day, between the feisty (and at times, black leather jacket–clad) Axelrod and the laser-focused Plouffe is a joy to watch, as are the scenes featuring Gibbs and his young towheaded son. “This is like listening to the pregame show before the Super Bowl,” mutters Gibbs nervously in the hours before the Iowa caucus results as he stares at the TV. “None of it matters. Just kick-off the damn ball.” (No clearer an indictment has been made, really, about the state of the media today.)

But while the documentary avoids getting sucked into that dangerous meta-trap of focusing on the 24-hour news cycles du jour, media nerds will nevertheless delight at all the cameos in the film. Milling around in the theater lobby afterwards, I confessed to a friend that one of my favorite moments was scoping out Ryan Lizza’s office at the New Yorker while he was being interviewed on screen. Overhearing, a random girl rushed over and grabbed my arm. “Oh my god,” she said. “I was doing that too!” (The film, unsurprisingly, made no mention of Lizza’s later being denied a seat on the Obama plane late in the campaign in what some felt to be retribution for controversial New Yorker cover art.) The wonderful Candy Crowley crops up often, as does Newsweek’s Richard Wolffe. I chuckled to myself during a classic clip of Chris Matthews — “What was once inevitable for Hillary is now barely a possibility,” he says gravely, practically licking his chops — and felt a pang of nostalgia when I saw that his two guests were David Gregory and Chuck Todd. And when Tim Russert’s mug appeared, I cried. Again.

Obama himself becomes understandably more distant from the cameras as the election wears on and his profile rises, but there remains plenty of behind-the-scenes footage late in the film, most notably in a scene showing his preparation for a debate with McCain in which Obama worries about appearing “whiny.” And when he delivers an election eve speech in the rain just hours after the death of his grandmother (who is interviewed early on in the movie and talks charmingly about her grandson and his friends playing basketball and “raiding the fridge”) the documentary cameras captured what the cable news crews did not: tears in his eyes, and even on his cheeks.

My sniffles, by that point, were no longer the only ones in the theater.

Katie Baker has contributed to Gawker, the Yale Daily News, Young Manhattanite, and US College Hockey Online. Her blog can be found here. She also has a day job.

At Dylan Ratigan’s Meetings, You Can Say “Bitch”

ratigan_8-13Dylan Ratigan’s Morning Meeting on MSNBC doesn’t refrain from addressing pertinent topics in, well, unique ways.

Spud from Inside Cable News noticed Ratigan discussing the various points of view to Sec. of State Hillary Clinton’s angry response to a question she didn’t like during her Africa tour. And Ratigan drops a B-bomb.

Ratigan was talking about the way women are viewed by some:

When she feels vulnerable then you can be sympathetic, but when she’s powerful, she’s a bitch.

Asked Chris Jansing, “Are you allowed to say that?” Ratigan: “I just did.”

Here’s the comment, and his explanation later in the show (when he says “bitch” again):


New York Times Comes To Hillary’s Defense

Picture 1The plot thickens! The New York Times has done some digging regarding Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s debacle in the Congo earlier this week and smells a rat. The story that was initially picked up by everyone in the media, including us, was that during a Q&A a male student’s question had been mis-translated making it sound as though he were asking “what does Mr. Clinton think, through the mouth of Mrs. Clinton.” Later the student told Mrs. Clinton that he had been mis-quoted. The NYT says not so fast! They say the translation of the question from French was quite accurate.

By the time this video made its way to the attention of most viewers in the United States, though, it was packaged in reports, like one from Kirit Radia of ABC News, stating that “apparently the translator made a mistake.” On Tuesday Mr. Radio reported: “A State Department official tells ABC News the student went up to Clinton after the event and told her he was misquoted.”

It always seemed unlikely to The Lede that a translator working for Mrs. Clinton would make such a large error with a question asked in French, and my colleague Jeffrey Gettleman reports in Thursday’s New York Times that “further inspection of the audio recording of the event indicated that the translation was fine; the student had indeed said ‘Mr. Clinton.’ ” A second reporter traveling with Mrs. Clinton, a friend of your Lede blogger’s who is a magazine journalist, said the same thing in an e-mail exchange on Wednesday night, that the student “did ask the question that way: ‘the mind of Mr. From the lips of Mrs.’ ”

Change things? The Times suggests that in this new light, and considering Clinton is in a middle of an important trip to Africa the main purpose of which is to highlight the plight of women on the continent, the reaction is more understandable and Clinton may have got a “raw deal” from commentators in the West. I still don’t think so. In fact I think this new version of the events only further highlights the opportunity Clinton missed by snapping back, and turning what could have been — in the phrase du jour — a “teachable moment” into a cable news highlight. In the meantime, via The Lede, here is a link to the Secretary of State’s travel diary; video from her remarks regarding attacks on women in the Congo, also from during Monday’s forum, is below.


Hillary ‘Snaps’ Back Into Headlines

Picture 3

Maureen Dowd is going to have a field day with this. The New York tabloids are having a field day. Drudge’s headline says Hillary snapped (and truthfully, she sort of did). Without a doubt this is going to be on continuous cable loop throughout the day, if not longer, because after the ‘Obama has made Hillary invisible’ meme was followed by Bill Clinton’s heroic trip to North Korea last week, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton looks to have confirmed, during a confused Congolese Q&A yesterday, everyone’s worst suspicion of what she is really thinking: She is the boss, not Bill, dammit!

At a Q&A in the Congo yesterday Clinton was asked a question by a college student, via a translator, about a Chinese trade deal with the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Except the way the question was phrased by the translator made it sound like the student was asking what “Mr. Clinton” thought (apparently the student actually wanted to know President Obama’s thoughts). Hillary was not pleased to be asked to be her husband’s her husband’s spokesperson and reacted sharply (too sharply really, considering the circumstances — how frequently do things get mis-translated in forums like this? Probably fairly frequently). “My husband is not secretary of state, I am.” Yep, snap. No matter which way you slice it, not the most diplomatic response. And the video, which may be viral by the end of the day, actually makes it worse.


So how does this play out? Will we see the old lines of coverage come to the fore? MSNBC in particular was criticized for its coverage of Hillary during the campaign, whereas Rupert Murdoch made waves for backing Hillary. Of course, that was during the democratic primary race where there were clear opponents. This go round Hillary appears to be her own worst enemy. Not only that, her behavior is not really leaving a lot of room for interpretation. She is really pissed off! So get ready to drown in Boss Hillary coverage, because after 15 years plus of coverage it appears she has finally just validated a lot of people’s suspicions that she feels overshadowed by her husband. And there are very few things the media does better than gloat.

Tweets On A Plane! The Very Best From My Tweetdeck, Perused from 30,000 Feet

The plane the plane bossHere’s a trick, for those of you flying on those quaint old-fashioned airlines that still don’t have wifi: Make sure your Tweetdeck is locked and loaded with all sorts of juice before you get on a plane, and then spend the next hour or so catching up with the 140-character brilliance of those you follow. That’s what I did this morning as I flew back home from Toronto (and boy are my arms tired! Wa-wa) – and as I found myself making mental notes to retweet a few when on the ground, I thought, why not a group retweet? Otherwise known as randomly collected and curated series of tweets that’ll do nicely for a blog post, thanks. You’ll never get at all the good stuff in your (or my!) Twitter feed, but at least I can give these gems a second chance. What is John Carney’s brilliant idea to save journalism? Where can you ogle a young Johnny Depp? What TV does Jenny 8. Lee recommend? Why do Ford Models think Bill Clinton is Bubba-licious? How can you learn more about the NASA’s new ION space engine? The answer to those questions and many you didn’t know you had lie below, in this first installment of The Best Of My Tweetdeck, which just became a recurring feature. You’re welcome.

@NPRpolitics: Can Former Comedian Be Senate’s Straight Man? http://bit.ly/424ZoV

@NYT_JenPreston: Fascinating look at Harvard’s efforts to map news and info on the Web http://bit.ly/KVuZm

@Tlrd (Towleroad): New York City Gay Men’s Chorus in Financial Trouble /-Towleroad News- [#gay]/ – The New York City Gay Men’s … http://tinyurl.com/l34tkx

@Romenesko: LAT’s James Rainey: “NYT has a bad habit of letting a few well-connected journalists run amok.” http://is.gd/23DiL

@Carney: My newest idea on how to save print: publish on edible paper, so you can buy lunch and the newspaper at the same time. “News You Can Chew.”

@MarkEvans: Strange, I’ve noticed several people within my Twitter stream recently who I definitely know I haven’t followed. How’d they sneak in?

@Jenny8Lee: if you missed the frost nixon interviews on nyc’s PBS last night, they are on again 8/10 at 8 pm: http://bit.ly/1hsLp1

@Yelvington: The Clinton picture w/ Kim is fascinating in its omission of any other Koreans. Avoids analysis of pecking order.

@niche: Season 1 of ‘21 Jump Street’ is now on Hulu.com  Gotta watch it to see a very young Johnny Depp.

@Weblens: Rehab staff ‘killed web addict’ (BBC News): A Chinese teenager sent to an internet addiction rehabilitation camp.. http://bit.ly/yashq

@SarahW: Prepare for Agatha Christie Week, running from September 13-20: http://is.gd/23BWP

@IanShapira: Awful story out of Congo in today’s NYT. Male rape victims. http://bit.ly/10vMDT

@BorowitzReport: Clinton to Travel World, Filling Plane With Women

@FordModels: I like it when a man takes matters into his own hands: Clinton gets the girls http://bit.ly/9SRMl GG

@TodayShow: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks out about the release of Laura Ling and Euna Lee. Video: http://tr.im/vyI3

@TheStalwart: Actual dream last night: I wrote a Tweet with the word ‘webinar’ in it, and instantly got 5 new marketing people following me.

@Jason_Pontin: NASA’s new ION space engine, which might be ready for launch by 2013: http://www.technologyreview.com/computing/23120/

Take Us to Your Leader! Clinton Meets Kim Jong-il

04korea-600-1

This is the picture that is currently running on the homepage of the New York Times. I think it’s safe to say, considering the U.S.’s relationship with North Korea, Barack Obama’s relationship with Hillary Clinton, Hillary’s relationship with her husband, and Bill Clinton’s relationship with just about everyone (oh yes, and Al Gore!) that this picture is worth about 10,000 words. Which is probably approximately how many are going to be devoted to this story in the next 24 hours. Wow. You could pretty much write a history of modern (and recent!) American politics based on this shot. Or just wait for Maureen Dowd to distill it down to short series of bon mots this Sunday. The maneuvering of egos it must have taken to organize this trip boggles the mind.