Friday, March 2, 2012

The Democrats' reaction to the "slut" comments

In my first post about the comments I talked about how Boehner's statement was about politics. I think the actions of Nancy Pelosi and Obama are about politics as well. Not that I don't think they share my distaste for the comments and really want to support the woman they were aimed at. But I think they are being as public and forceful with their reaction because they see political gain.

Basically, Pelosi came out against the radio host and said the House GOP should do the same. Obama doubled down and actually called the woman to offer his support. Pelosi knows that she is a big national figure. Both Republican and Democratic voters know who she is because she gets a lot of press, at least for a Congressperson. So her comments were meant to draw more attention to this issue. And she does so because she thinks it's a winner for Democrats. Every Democrat will agree with her. And even a lot of reasonable Republicans and conservatives will agree that the comment was out of line.

Obama knows that everything he does is given at least double the attention Pelosi's actions are. And normally he doesn't comment on these types of controversies that aren't directly tied to policy. He doesn't do it because he would draw attention to the issue and invite criticism of himself. But I think he chose to address this issue because like Pelosi, he sees it as a political winner. Women are a big group of the Democratic constituency. So calling the woman shows that Obama is in tune with women's issues and won't stand to have them degraded. He also gets the media's attention and forces them to get reaction from Boehner and other Republicans in response to Obama. So he forces them to keep addressing the issue beyond a weak statement given by his press secretary.

This is the aggressive Obama and Democratic party that people like me always want to see. We think every issue is a winning issue for our side. So we push our leaders to talk about them. But this issue isn't like abortion or the individual mandate where public opinion is divided and it's not clear whether it will help if our leaders push the issue. This one is pretty clearly a winner on the merits and it serves to make the opposition look bad. One argument against it is that Obama is elevating the radio host to a place in the public conversation that he has no business being in. I think that is a very good point. I often struggle with the question of whether or not to address the vile that they constantly spew.

But in this case it was so ridiculous and so public before Obama jumped in that I don't think he risks the usual criticism of rolling the proverbial mud. The fact that there is a face that can be put on the issue instead of just relying on a soundbite will keep the attention on the woman and the comments instead of Obama and the politics of it. And frankly, women and their right's have been getting hammered politically by Republicans so much that I think it's beyond time to be forceful about speaking out against their opponents and fighting for our policy preferences.

No comments:

Post a Comment