John: Shut it.

January 26, 2008 at 4:26 pm (movies/video/clips, politics, racism, sexism, stupidity) ()

“But, but… I’ve never had to work or struggle at all to get exactly what I want! Waah! Forget anything resembling reality, this must mean I’m an oppressed minority!”

For the love of all that’s good, dude.

Anyone who so severely lacks even a basic understanding of history, the past and present development of social relations, the nature of institutionalized hierarchical order, or comprises the will to exploit that ignorance in others, is not fit to hold presidential office.

Via The Curvature.

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3 Comments

  1. ballgame said,

    I feel like you’re making an unfair characterization of Edwards’ response here. The “you’re a minority because you’re a white male” framing was set by Tyra Banks, not by Edwards. He did say, “Yeah, right” in response to her setup, which could mean either that he agreed with the premise, or just that he understood her premise/question. He certainly didn’t claim or imply that “white males” in general are an oppressed minority.

    The only concrete thing Edwards said was that his opponents had a lot more money, which is true, and that he struggles to get heard (i.e. get as much media as his opponents), which also is true, and which is both a cause and consequence of the former.

    I also think it’s true that Clinton and Obama have received significantly more coverage than Edwards, partially due to their not being white males, but mainly IMHO because they are much less progressive than Edwards and represent much less of a real threat to make significant change to our corporate-dominated political culture than Edwards does. In the case of Clinton, the extra coverage she’s received due to being female appears to have been both positive and negative, but the net impact seems to have been more negative. The extra coverage that Obama has received due to being black seems to have been positive. (This is admittedly a purely impressionistic assessment.) AFAICT, Obama also represents the weakest of the three candidates, both in terms of the likelihood of his losing should he get the nomination, and in terms of the actual threat he poses to the current corrupt corporate culture should he actually win the Oval Office (if his penchant for adopting Republican memes is any guide). I don’t think this correlation is a coincidence. There seems to be a historic pattern of the MSM giving positive coverage to the Dems’ weakest viable candidate during the nomination process, and then focusing on their flaws after they’ve been nominated.

    (FTR, I also think Obama — like Bill Cinton — is an extremely charismatic and intelligent individual, and I think the historic symbolic achievement of having a black president isn’t a trivial one, and I won’t hesitate to vote for him — or Hillary for that matter — over whichever clusterfuck the Republicans nominate. However, FWIW I think black Americans as a whole would fare far better under a truly progressive administration than they would under Obama’s.)

    I see nothing to warrant your vituperative conclusion about Edwards not being fit to hold office. It’s true that he did not fight the framing set up by Banks, but as noted Banks’s framing is not entirely imaginary, and there is very little to be gained in arguing with the media when you’re a candidate with a limited warchest. I also think Edwards was in a bit of a double-bind here … I’m not sure how it would have come across for a white male to rebuke a black female on race & gender in an exchange of soundbites. I suppose it could have been done, though I’m not sure there would have been any political payoff if he had.

    (I’m basing my response solely on what I see on this clip, BTW, so if he said other things during the interview I might have to re-evaluate.)

  2. Emily said,

    It may have been Tyra Banks that provided the framing, but I sensed no hesitation on Edward’s part to play into it, which I think is just as big a problem. Though he very well may have meant only that he has to work for media attention because of issues of funding or the skewed intentions of mass mainstream media itself (both undeniably valid problems owing to some of the reasons you cited), he didn’t at all refute Tyra’s implications that he is being actually oppressed because of his skin color and/or anatomy. And even though he didn’t claim oppressed minority status for all white males, his answer to Tyra’s second question “but what does that feel like, to be a minority, and to be a white male?”, could’ve ( I think) been answered in a more helpful way, if an imperfect one. You may be right that he was in a double-bind at this point, but I can’t help but think that an answer about the nature of modern media celebrity sound-bite elections or his position as a more progressive democratic candidate would have made for a much better answer, if not a great one. Instead of “yeah, it sucks being treated like that, Tyra”…ya know?

    As for the last statement about him not being fit to hold office…that’s something I tend to spit out after every disappointment, small or large, by all the democratic candidates and at this point is probably pretty irresponsible. So I apologize for that, and vow to continue to work through that pessimism to a more productive phase. Undoubtedly, I will of course vote for one of the candidates I’ve said that about (since really, I think it has been all of them by now).

  3. Infra said,

    I don’t know… I first saw this clip on CNN, and having watched it several times since then, I’m inclined to think that there are two ways of interpreting it: as irony, and as Edwards recognizing a point. What I mean by that is that Edwards was talking about being in a position where his experiences were more like those of minorities, even though he is a white male: he had to talk more, and talk louder, in order to be heard; his opponents were getting more press, had a great deal of money, etc.

    Giving Edwards the benefit of the doubt, we could say that this gave him some insight into what it is like being a member of a minority group, in politics at least, even though he isn’t; and that he was trying (in his way) to express this insight. The question is how much this might influence his empathy with minority positions, if at all. (I’m sightly inclined toward this view due to the fact that, toward the end, his affect was somewhat reduced. That usually signals a degree of introspection during one’s speech.)

    If we don’t give him that benefit, we could rightly say that he had an opportunity for that insight, and squandered it.

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