Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Couric Unplugged-Revealing on Obama vs Clinton

In today’s New York Times, David Brooks writes that, “Clinton and Obama have eagerly donned the mantle of identity politics. A Clinton victory wouldn’t just be a victory for one woman, it would be a victory for little girls everywhere. An Obama victory would be about completing the dream, keeping the dream alive, and so on..”

What no one has pointed out is that Clinton might have eagerly tried to don this mantle, to claim that her candidacy is historic, but the media has not allowed her to, whereas Obama is allowed to cast himself as the 21st century Martin Luther King and this goes uncritiqued. As a result, Clinton's campaign lacks the passion and fervor of Obama's.

The video of Katie Couric unplugged on the night of the New Hampshire videos, that circulated on the Internet yesterday, is so fascinating because unlike the usual anchor-speak; this is candid, and has her saying two revealing things. One, she says, “my sister really liked that segment last night of Bradley, saying “people feel good about how far we’ve come,” about Obama, and I was like, thanks for watching that segment.” In saying that, Couric showed her own bias, that she, too, feels good about Obama’s success. For Couric’s sister, like many Americans, seeing this man, born of a white mother and a Kenyan father, allows our politically correct nation, which is afraid to discuss real sensitive issues of race and how far we have not come as a nation, feel good. It’s an easy pat on the back, a way for us to tell ourselves, look how far we have come as a nation, but really, it’s a false sense of confidence. There are so many ways we haven’t gone far at all, but seeing Obama succeed gives us a free pass to say look far we have come, it’s way of assuaging white guilt.

Couric’s second revealing statement was her remark that McCain’s wife, “looks like a Huskie” with “those weird blue eyes,” “the most intense blue eyes, light ice blue, I couldn’t stop staring at her.” In these words we can see how mean women are to each other, how naturally competitive and back-stabbing we are, how slow and reticent we are about sisterhood. Couric knew she would get some laughs from the tech people running around by critiquing McCain’s appearance. Right after Couric says this, she starts worrying about she looks in one monitor.

The media couldn’t stop talking about how women made Clinton win in New Hampshire, switching their allegiance to her in the last few days before the primary. But remember that New York Times poll, which showed that college-educated women are less likely to support Hillary than non-colledge educated women? Women are each other’s worst critics. African-American unity in this country is stronger than any sisterhood.

That’s why Hillary is conflicted. She wants to mention the historic nature of her candidacy, and yet as she said in her Meet the Press interview and last night’s debate, she wants to move this race beyond discussions of gender and race, because if it’s mired in identity politics, Obama will surely will the nomination.

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