Ill Communication: The GOP Explains Its ‘Female Candidate’ Problem

Republican National Committee Co-Chair Sharon Day speaks at press conference to launch 'Women on the Right Unite' - an RNC project to promote the recruitment of and support for Republican women and women candidates. (Photo/RNC, June 26, 2013)
Republican National Committee Co-Chair Sharon Day speaks at press conference to launch ‘Women on the Right Unite’ – an RNC project to promote the recruitment of and support for Republican women and women candidates. (Photo/RNC, June 26, 2013)

If the GOP wants to recruit female candidates and attract more female voters it needs to make sure their communications director doesn’t veer off its politically-correct-we-want-diversity’ message.

Sean Spicer, the Republican National Committee’s Communication Director was interviewed (among others) by Real Clear Politics for its article, ‘The GOP’s Female Candidate Problem.’ The article discusses how the RNC is “work[ing] to close the gap with female voters” given that “the majority of the 2012 [female electorate] supported President Obama over Mitt Romney by a 12-point margin.” The piece also mentions that “no viable Republican woman appears inclined to throw her hat in the 2016 ring” amidst the “likelihood of Hillary Clinton as the Democrats’ standard-bearer, potentially making history as the first female presidential nominee from either major party.”

With the above information in mind, Spicer was asked to address the “Republicans’ strategy for attracting more female voters” and the GOP’s concern of not “fielding a more diverse presidential field” while dealing with the possible “optics of Americans watching a host of Republican men fighting it out against one another as Clinton marches to the Democratic nomination . . . ”

Spicer’s initial response was appropriate in that he says all the right things; not raising any flags, while expressing interest in having a more inclusive party.

“Obviously, diversity would be great, but the race is not going to be defined by whether we have a woman; people are going to judge candidates based on their agenda,”

Then he went off the reservation with his next statement.

“This isn’t a beauty contest,” he said. “It’s about trying to put candidates forward who want to run for the presidency of the United States. We have extremely talented women. If they want to run, that’s awesome. If not, there’s no control over that.”

Real Clear Politics added that Spicer was “quick to point out that the RNC and the Republican campaign committees recently held a seminar promoting the recruitment and training of female candidates within party ranks.”

Let’s go back to the phrase “This isn’t a beauty contest.” Did he not realize that he just implied that republican female candidates don’t take the campaign or election process seriously – that they might view it as an easy “contest” based on looks rather than skills and experience? The latent sexism in the comment is not exactly PR-friendly given that the GOP wants to attract female candidates and more female voters to its party. Maybe he didn’t mean what he said or what it inferred, though as a communications director he should be more cognizant of contextual metaphors.

Pin Button sold on Republican National Committee website (Photo/GOP.com)
Pin Button sold on Republican National Committee website (Photo/GOP.com)

Spicer continued his communication stumble with his “If not, there’s no control over that” statement when it comes to finding republican female candidates to run for office. Isn’t recruiting and support viable candidates – male and female – a primary directive of the RNC? Does Spicer think female republican candidates should just fall into the GOP’s lap (to use another inappropriate metaphor) for them to mold and champion?

Near the end of his interview a light bulb must have went off in Spicer’s head that maybe his statements didn’t come off well, hence the ‘seminar promoting recruitment’ statement.

What’s odd is that he has basically shifted the blame to republican women for the GOP’s lack of female candidates on its roster. He might as well had raised his hands and said “Hey, the Republican Party has done the best it could to find these women, but they just don’t want to run. What are we supposed to do?!”

Luckily for him most of the articles’ readers probably didn’t catch the semi-dismissive tone of his comments, though Real Clear Politics placed them in the top half of its piece. By the time most people have read or skimmed the rest of the article Spicer’s comments will blithely be forgotten.

In the end, I doubt the RNC apparatus will be mad at Spicer for discounting potential republican women candidates. They might be a tad pissed that he said out loud what most of the male-dominated party truly thinks about its female members.

As they say, the truth hurts and this one continues to hurt the Republican Party.

Please, Enough With Sandra Fluke Already

Sandra Fluke at the 2012 Democratic National Convention (AP Photo, September 5, 2012)

A couple of days ago Sandra Fluke spoke in primetime at the 2012 Democratic National Convention. I made a point of not watching the Fluke in action. I admit it, I’m tired of seeing and hearing about her and from her.

I’ve taken to calling Fluke ‘Mary Magdalene‘ America’s latest reincarnation of special womanhood. She can do no wrong – she must be defended 24 hours of day, 7 days a week and 365 days of the year.

Yet, there is something strangely patronizing about the Fluke bandwagon. She’s treated like a young girl who requires knights (male and female) to protect her from the mean, bad men. Seriously, this woman is over 30 years and just graduated with a Georgetown University law degree! I’m sure that she is able to defend herself without her unofficial squires running to her assistance.

Fluke’s  infamous, remote dust-up via talk radio with that idiot RushLimbaugh (he called her a ‘slut’) galvanized American women in regards to their healthcare and the upcoming presidential election, which was a boon for the Democratic Party. Probably one of the few times a woman being called a “slut” is/was a good thing.

Margaret Sanger, Founder of Planned Parenthood and women’s reproductive rights activist (Photo, 1957, The Mike Wallace Interview)

However, the happenstance of her celebrity combined with her limited work as a “women’s activist” (as she’s been described) makes for a strange combination that I find bothersome.

It’s kind of like a reality television star with little to no acting experience who wants to be viewed as a serious actor or actress.

I’m not saying that she doesn’t care about women’s issues/reproductive rights, but let’s wait a bit before we call her the next Margaret Sanger, Gloria Steinem or Rosa Parks.

Also, let’s be honest about the real issue surrounding Fluke’s celebrity. If Fluke was Black, blonde, had acne or big tits or looked like a cheerleader (god-forbid) we wouldn’t know who the hell she is. Limbaugh could’ve called her a host of names (feminazi anyone?) and that would’ve been it. The public and the media are very fickle over the types of women whom they hand out the ‘deserve to be defended’ crown.

Rosa Parks, civil rights activist (AP Photo, 2005)

I’m sure Fluke’s flunkies (as I sometimes call them) would say that I’m being mean, jealous or hateful towards such a ‘strong, dedicated woman.’ But the fact is women are viewed and treated differently based on their looks and ethnicity.

We can’t be ugly or no one wants you. Can’t be too attractive or no one will take you seriously. Fluke falls right in the middle, which has made for a perfect media and political confluence. Mary Magdalene indeed.

I just wish the media, politicians and others would keep in mind that Fluke is just one woman and that she doesn’t represent ALL women – though my cynical, pessimistic side sarcastically tells me “Good luck with that!”

Sigh – I guess we’re stuck with Fluke. Thanks a lot Limbaugh.

If Barack Obama decided to change his vice president in the run-up to the 2012 election, who would make a good VP choice?

My response to question posted on Quora . . .

The only way Obama would dump Biden if Biden got caught in some salacious scandal or Biden was suffering from a major medical illness that would impede his ability to do his job or the job of the president if something happened to Obama.

Joseph Biden, Vice President of the United States (Photo/Wikimedia Commons)

The ramifications for Obama dumping Biden for some other reason(s) than the above would be serious. Obama would constantly face questions such as “Did you dump Biden because you were afraid that you would lose the upcoming 2012 election?” or “Did you replace Biden because it was politically expedient to do so?” Obama would end up spending so much time defending his VP switcheroo that it would be even harder to stick to his campaign agenda while fighting off the GOP presidential ticket. Replacing his VP would be a sign of weakness, no matter how Obama and his campaign team would try to spin it.

Also, Biden seems to still have pull with traditional/long-standing democrats (whites, blacks, etc.), independents, progressives, women, the 50+ crowd and those who appreciate that he’s not a slick-looking, smooth-acting politician (the under 40 crowd). That’s a lot to give up (replacing your VP) for one who might be able to attract the Latino vote and/or those small, iffy pockets of conservative democrats and moderate republicans.

Link to more answers to Quora question: If Barack Obama decides to change his vice president in the run-up to the 2012 election, who would make a good VP choice?

Super Committee, Super Bullshit

U.S. Capitol Building (Source/Wikimedia Commons)

Now that the White House and U.S. Congress have signed-off on the debt ceiling bill they’ve moved onto setting up the so-called super committee. The super committee, a requirement of the debt ceiling bill, will be responsible for finding $1.5 billion in cuts over the next decade.

President Barack Obama did his usual bipartisan spin on how he hopes the congressional super committee will work together, find common ground, etc. House Speaker John Boehner (R), House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D), Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R) and Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D) will each nominate three persons to sit on the committee. Names of potential committee members have been tossed around, but nothing official has been announced as of yet though the August 16 committee commencement deadline is fast approaching. Plus Standard & Poor’s downgrade of the United States credit rating may help speed along the membership selection process.

I don’t understand the need for a super committee. The National Committee on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform (‘debt commission’ ‘Bowles-Simpson commission’) in December 2010 had already laid out for the U.S. via a 66-page report the state of the economy and what needs to be done to make us solvent.  The report recommended $4 trillion in savings through increased revenue and entitlement cuts. Of course, their suggestions were voted down, which was too expected. Those in government know that committees and committee reports are places where good ideas and suggestions–especially those that are not liked–die a quiet death.

In the instance of the super committee ideas won’t make it to the conference room because the Committee will be stacked with budget hawks (Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis.) and program protectors (Sen. Benjamin Cardin, D-Md.) from each party. Moderates will not be welcome at this dinner party. It will be a committee that won’t budge and won’t accommodate while pretending to behave in a bipartisan manner.

Tax revenues will be tabled due to the never-ending election cycle. Tax cuts will continue to be given to top tier income earners. Government programs will continue to be slashed under the auspices of doing more with less. Entitlements will find their way back in while the suggested cuts are bandied about by the committee as if they’re playing Monopoly instead of with the lives of millions of Americans. The report will be completed before its November 23 deadline because the committee members will want to go home for the Thanksgiving holiday.

Eventually the report will be released around the Christmas holiday or during an off-news cycle in December so that the media and the general public won’t take the time to read it and notice that only short-term, financially-miniscule decisions had been made. Obama will thank the super committee for doing a super job. Then the report will be tossed aside just like previous reports on the U.S. economy.

I can smell the bullshit already.

In Defense of Michele Bachmann Against Newsweek


8/8/2011

I never thought that I would see the day that I would be defending GOP Presidential Candidate Michele Bachmann.

The above photo is on the cover of the latest issue of Newsweek magazine. To be blunt, she looks manic and a tad deranged. There really is no excuse for this photo by Newsweek. I doubt that this is best picture they had of Bachmann, though past photos of her haven’t exactly been the most flattering­.

Maybe Newsweek wanted a photo that made Bachmann look somewhat mentally off-kilter to tie in with their “Queen of Rage’ headline. What might be even scarier is that Bachmann may have had final photo approval and thought this was the best photo of the bunch. Not exactly a shining example of a basic judgement call.

Bachmann’s politics, rhetoric and behavior are considered extreme by many, including myself. Furthermor­e, I do not believe that she has the intellectu­al stamina and/or temperamen­t to be the President of the United States. All that being said, isn’t up to the public to decide whether her candidacy should be taken seriously, not for Newsweek to infer something about Bachmann via a crazy-look­ing photograph­?

You might recall during the 2008 presidenti­al campaign Newsweek got in hot water over a cover photo pic of then GOP VP candidate Sarah Palin in running shorts. They don’t seem to have the greatest mag cover track record with showing female GOPers in the best light.

With all the brouhaha surrounding the Bachmann photo I can’t help but smell a whiff of manufactur­ed PR by Newsweek who isn’t exactly high-up on the news media radar.

Hey Newsweek – if you don’t like a candidate or a candidate’s politics then say so. There is no need to place inappropri­ate and/or unflatteri­ng photos about certain candidates as some sort of subliminal/editorial message.

The defense of Michele Bachmann by a Democrat (albeit a semi-crank­y one) rests.

Racist Remarks: It’s All About the Context

The Internet is all abuzz over Pat Buchanan referring to President Obama as “your boy” during his August 2nd appearance on MSNBC’s ‘The Al Sharpton Show.’ Sharpton and Buchanan were discussing the debt ceiling bill when the following exchange occurred:

Buchanan: And let me tell you, your boy, Barack Obama, caved in on it in 2010 and he’ll cave in on it again.

Sharpton: My what? My president Barack Obama? What did you say?

Buchanan: He’s your boy in the ring, he’s your fighter.

Sharpton: He’s nobody’s boy. He’s your president and he’s our president. And that’s what y’all have got to get through your head.

The next morning on MSNBC’s ‘Morning Joe’ Buchanan was forced to clarify his controversial remarks. He said the following:

I was asked who was the big losers in these battles and the big winners, and I said one of the big losers, using boxing terminology, was ‘your boy,’ and I meant the president of the United States,” he said. “Rev. Sharpton said my boy is the president of the United States and he’s doing a rope-a-dope in the Ali fashion and he’s going to finish off your crowd. Now this was taken, some folks took what I said as some kind of slur. None was meant, none was intended, none was delivered, for the record.

Buchanan has walked the almost racist/racist fine line many times throughout his career. He has yet to step over it, but he has come very close.

Crossing the Line

It’s that coming close part which makes it hard to concretely decide whether someone’s comments have been misinterpreted; is a sign of cultural cluelessness or just simply racist.

Maybe Buchanan used “your boy” in reference to Sharpton’s support for Obama. It is a phrase that is used mostly by guys when they’re talking about someone’s friend or someone they respect. It is also an expression used to show dislike for that person or that they’re not a close friend. Others have chimed in that its just a phrase – that since Buchanan said “your boy” not “boy” therefore he was not implying anything. It was just words.

Nevertheless, when Buchanan uttered that phrase it took on another tone for many people. The tone of white men who for centuries treated and viewed adult black men as children. Maybe that’s not what Buchanan meant, but given his past oratorical miscues and racial tone-deafness over the decades he has been been called a bigot, a racist and an anti-semite.

Some will say Buchanan is not a racist because he’s never called anyone a n*gger. That may be true, but there are other words that may not be as incendiary, but they still do harm or cause anger.

Dealing With the Filter

As an African-American I have lost count on how many times a  white person has said that I was ‘articulate’ or ‘well-spoken’ in a surprising tone, even after they know I went to college. How the hell am I supposed to sound?! Whenever I hear those descriptions my eyes squint and I gnash my teeth. I never acknowledge the so-called compliment because I find it insulting. Yet, when I have tried to explain my thoughts on the matter to white people most simply don’t get it. I’m sure they thought I was being overly sensitive.

Racism can still be overt, but is is mostly subtle now; sometimes almost opaque. Throwing down the so-called race card on someone truly depends on the context and the individual(s) involved. Once you have determined that you were the victim of a racist remark you have other filters you have to go through.  Has this person said questionable things to you or others before? How does he/she react around other non-whites? Will he/she realize that what they said upset you? Should you let this person know that they’ve offended you? Will they care? Should you even bother?

This type of filtering has led to reclassification of some formerly racist remarks to be viewed as misinterpretations and the person who made the remark to simply be seen as culturally clueless in a Pollyanna sort of way.

So – basically as long as you don’t say the n-word your borderline racist comment(s) will get a pass. Just ask Pat Buchanan, he is the master (pun intended) of such things.

Are we too tired to holler? The Debt Ceiling and American Politics

President Obama and Congress finally came to a compromise about the U.S. debt ceiling. Our country’s financial crisis was avoided by the raising the nation’s $14.3 trillion debt ceiling through 2012; cutting $2.4 trillion in expenses and establishing a special congressional committee to recommend long-term fiscal reforms

Excuse me for not doing cartwheels. Where the hell is the tax revenue? What about the damn Bush tax cuts that got us into this mess? Why the fuck do we need a super Congressional committee to discuss what has already been discussed and published last December by the White House’s National Commission On Fiscal Responsibility and Reform?

After all the political threats, PR tantrums and ‘my dick is bigger than yours’ action going on amongst the Democrats and Republicans – this is what they give us? I have the suspicion that this compromise had probably been mentioned before earlier, but was tossed aside as each party try to out-dude the other at the expense of the American public.

Now that the debt crisis is over (really?) the White House tells us that they will now concentrate on how to create more jobs. This should have been Obama’s number one priority after the 2008 election – not healthcare, but I digress.

How the hell are they going to create jobs when they have no additional revenue coming in? As we all know by now (except for the GOP) trickle down/supply-side economics (aka voodoo economics) does not work, so the Obama Administration can forget about the majority of the haves sharing their wealth. Those pesky Bush tax cuts keeps rearing its ugly head.

As for cutting expenses, it just means that the U.S. government will spend less money. Reducing expenses does not generate revenue, you simply spend less while trying to maintain the status quo. I guess this is America’s version of an austerity plan, though countries who have gone this route include significant tax increases. Most politicians see tax increases as political kryptonite to be avoided as much as possible.

I don’t have positive feelings about how well this is going to work out, but the U.S. will do its best. Unfortunately, this is no longer good enough anymore. I am so sick and tired of this bullshit. I am sick and tired of a lot of things.

I’m tired of politicians making decisions about our social programs as if they’re playing a game of chess instead of people’s well-being.

I’m tired of hearing faulty unemployment statistics which don’t truly report the number of people who are unemployed but no longer receive unemployment benefits or those who are underemployed or making significantly less due to cutbacks and lay-offs.

I’m tired of seeing seeing foreclosure signs and people getting kicked out of their homes while banks are reporting rosy quarterly profits.

I’m tired of the increasing cost of higher education because state and federal grants have been slashed forcing students to take out more loans while job opportunities are fewer and fewer.

I’m tired of wondering how much I will owe whenever I have a new prescription filled because my health insurance seems to cover less while I pay more.

I’m tired of seeing of wounded veterans with loss limbs due to never-ending wars in countries where our reasons for being there are still unclear.

Sometimes I feel that Americans have been run-down by the U.S. government. We’ve become cynical in that we mostly don’t expect government to do the right thing. Battling for change, to have your voice heard can be exhilarating, but it can also be exhausting.

Lately, I feel that’s what our government has been counting on so that it can go about its day.

It’s kind of hard to holler when you’re just too damn tired.