Friday, February 19, 2016

Omarosa and Bra Sizes; Killer Mike and Uteri

In the early days of Donald Trump's reality show The Apprentice, one of the more unpleasant contestants was one Omarosa Manigault. She was combative, sarcastic, dishonest and above all, snide. Of course, being a jerk can make for good television. Omarosa took pains to point out that she was there to win the contest (she didn't win), and that behavior which might otherwise be considered within the normal modes of competition was considered underhanded and nasty when practiced by a woman, especially a black woman. Maybe so. Omarosa has said that the television shows edited depictions to show storylines which producers felt were more entertaining. Probably so. If you're watching reality tv and thinking it is real, you might need help tying your shoes every morning. On the other hand sometimes when there is smoke there is fire. Fast forward 12 years and after a number of other reality shows, Omarosa has resurfaced as a Trump media surrogate. Recently she was on Fox Business Channel defending her preferred candidate against questions about his seriousness from Fox contributor Tamara Holder. But perhaps unintentionally reflecting both the insult happy nature of Donald Trump and the foolishness of all thing Fox related while revealing her own bile, Omarosa decided to engage in some ad hominem (ad feminem?) attacks on Holder. These attacks were centered around Holder's chest size. Okay then. I guess Omarosa felt threatened in some regard? Or maybe she was just saying what she thought Trump might say in a similar position. Or perhaps she really is just an unpleasant individual. I am not seeing what someone's physical attributes have to do with pronouncing their name correctly but such logic is not necessarily shared by everyone on this planet. I was always taught that in a professional environment that you do not comment on anyone's body parts. I'm trying (and failing) to imagine saying something similar to anyone at work. That wouldn't and couldn't happen. But if it did take place I suspect I would need to look for other employment. And I wouldn't even have to wait two weeks to start searching.

But Omarosa wasn't the only campaign surrogate to raise some eyebrows by impassioned defense of her preferred choice for President.
As we discussed earlier Hillary Clinton has suggested, via surrogates and less frequently via her own statements, that people, especially women, should vote for her in part because she is a woman. It is true that in that aspect Mrs. Clinton would be different from all previous Presidents. It's not clear though that just being a woman necessarily means that you would bring about the sort of change that most US voters, even most US women, would find of value. The backlash and resentment against a woman President might be greater than the realistic change in economic, political and social standards that she could create. And of course women differ on all sorts of things just as any other arbitrary group of people would. In the media there have been plenty of recent news and opinion pieces quoting women of various ages and races explaining that for a variety of reasons that Clinton doesn't have or deserve a lock on the women's vote, or their vote. Shared chromosomes don't imply lockstep voting. Bernie Sanders' surrogate, the rapper/activist Killer Mike, who does not share chromosomes with Clinton or any other woman, recently took to a stage at Morehouse to explain that your gender should not determine your vote or your morality. However he was accused by some Clinton surrogates of being sexist. Now Killer Mike was quoting the noted anti-racism activist and feminist Jane Elliot. Perhaps the words sting less coming from a woman than from a man. But no matter what gender speaks those words, I don't see them as being sexist. To be sexist would mean stating that being a woman is all by itself a disqualification for being President of the United States. And that's not what Killer Mike said. While it's inaccurate and unfair to suggest that Clinton or her supporters have said that Clinton's only qualification is being a woman, certainly Clinton is appealing to what she hopes is a desire among women voters to put "one of their own" in the big chair. That's understandable I guess. But there are other candidates who evidently want the job just as badly as Clinton does. It is unrealistic and unfair to expect them to stand down or not try to challenge Clinton's qualifications, intentions or abilities. Compared to the Republican battles so far the Democratic scrum for the nomination has been relatively collegial. I'm not saying whether that's good or bad. There are benefits and costs to each approach. Certainly the more the candidates poke, push, and prod each other the more prepared they will be for what is sure to be a very nasty general election. On the other hand there are some things which once said can't be unsaid. And these statements often are noticed by the opposition party and used in a general election fight. As the race between Sanders and Clinton tightens up look for much less politesse.

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