Friday, February 08, 2008

Is Hillary a Pimp? No, Just a Mafioso!

By now, you may have heard about commentator David Shuster's repulsive comments about Chelsea Clinton on MSNBC. Speaking of Chelsea's phone calls to talk show hosts and superdelegates on behalf of her mom's campaign, Shuster remarked, "Doesn't it seem like Chelsea's sort of being pimped out in some weird sort of way?" The Clinton campaign protested vociferously, and MSNBC has temporarily suspended Shuster.

To me--despite some of the comments on the website I linked to above, which defend Shuster--his words were patently offensive, implying that Chelsea is being turned into a whore for the sake of votes. (And I am not impressed by the scholarly chops of some of Shuster's blogospheric defenders, who quote from The Urban Dictionary to claim other, non-offensive interpretations of the phrase. Since when do Emmy-winning white journalists who grew up in Bloomington, IN, and went to the University of Michigan get their vocabulary from the 'hood?)

On the other hand, I must say I am even more appalled by some of the postings at The XX Factor, Slate's weird right-leaning version of Salon's "women's forum," The Broadsheet. Here in its entirety is what Emily Yoffe had to say about this controversy (responding to an earlier posting by Emily Brazelton, which defended Shuster):
Emily B, I'm with you that I'm left feeling very uneasy about Chelsea's emergence on the campaign trail. She makes me think of Michael Corleone in Godfather III: "Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in!" How many times can one person be First Child? She's waved goodbye to her Secret Service agents and the press hordes, grown up, started a career, and now the poor thing has been pulled back in. All these months, as she's stood there silently behind her mother, I've wondered about their dynamic. Did Chelsea say, "Mom, I want to do anything to help you win, but please don't make me speak"? Or did Hillary say, "Baby, I need you out there to prove that I'm a human being. All you have to do is stand there and smile; you don't even have to speak"? Now Chelsea is calling talk-show hosts begging them to vote for her mother and forwarding unhinged rants about sexism. Yes, she's now an adult able to make her own decisions, but I feel sorry for her. What must it have been like to grow up in the Clinton White House?
So Chelsea Clinton is like Michael Corleone, repeatedly being "pulled back in" to the Clintons' criminal enterprise? (We've seen this Mafioso comparison before.) How horrific! And how many times has it now been that she has been "pulled back in" to a race for the White House? Er--once.

Notice how, typically of the anti-Clinton screeds popping up everywhere, there is absolutely no evidence offered to demonstrate anything asserted here--that Chelsea was reluctant to campaign for her mother; that her mother forced her to do so; that it is hell for Chelsea to have Bill and Hillary as her parents. It's like a Maureen Dowd column--a novelistic fantasy in which the writer imagines what might be going on in someone's mind (in this case, Chelsea) and puts that down as fact. The whole point, of course, being to reinforce the Chris Matthews meme, that Hillary is a bitch.

Sadly, this stuff is not atypical for The XX Factor. Pretty strange to find a web page set aside for women commentators being turned into a repository for subtle (and occasionally not-so-subtle) sexism.

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