Friday, October 15, 2010

Notes on Politics: 'The View' Walkout, Oprah Hearts Jon Stewart & Campaigning While Female

The View Walkout

Today I've found myself thinking about a famous quote from comedian Phyllis Diller: “Never go to bed mad. Stay up and fight.”

I feel the same way about political discourse which, on far too many occasions, devolves into mean-spirited name calling, especially in the internet era. What would improve matters? If someone doesn’t agree with what someone else is saying, responds by making a rational, strong counter-arguments bolstered by evidence. If there’s common ground onto which both sides can stand side-by-side, great, if not, the two people could agree to disagree. (Of course you need two rational people to do this, folks who aren’t calling one another names and who are willing to engage intellectually.)

So when I heard about the dust-up between Bill O’Reilly and some panelists from The View over the controversial proposed mosque near Ground Zero in Manhattan, I was greatly disappointed to learn that Whoopi Goldberg and Joy Behar stormed off the stage after becoming enraged by what O’Reilly had to say. It was heartening to see Barbara Walters respond by making the sage declaration, “We should be able to have discussions without washing our hands and screaming and walking off stage.”

People are taking sides on this, about whether Goldberg and Behar were right to leave the stage or whether their behavior was ridiculous. What say you?

Oprah Hearts Jon Stewart

Certainly you’ve all heard about the satirical rallies The Daily Show’s Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert are planning in Washington to mock the extremism that’s been permeating both ends of the political spectrum these days. Stewart’s “Rally to Restore Sanity” will face off against Colbert’s “March to Keep Fear Alive” and both were in the news this week after Oprah bestowed upon them her golden touch by offering Stewart’s studio audience transportation to the rally.

Colbert’s response to Oprah favoring Stewart? Not storming off the stage in a huff:

Campaigning While Female

Female candidates running for office this season continue to fend off attacks which appear to be directed at them because of their gender, not because of their stances on public policies.

Over in California, the candidates for governor debated the comments made by an associate of Jerry Brown’s in which said associate called opponent Meg Whitman a “whore.” Twice.

After moderator Tom Brokaw asked Brown about this, Brown gave a half-hearted apology to Whitman, the kind which goes like this: I’m sorry someone got caught calling you, specifically, a whore, but someone from your campaign said members of Congress are whores too, so there. Whenever one's apology is followed by the word “but,” that oftentimes negates the sincerity of the apology. Plus there’s a big difference between singling out one person and lobbing an insult at her -- like “liar,” “crook” or “whore” -- and making a general criticism of a large group of people, like members of Congress. That being said, it would’ve been prudent for Whitman to have at least said that no one should be tossing around words like “whore” in the context of a political campaign.

UPDATE: It was with disgust that I read that the president of the California chapter of NOW told the political blog Talking Points Memo: "Meg Whitman could be described as 'a political whore.' Yes, that's an accurate statement." And people wonder why many folks dismiss the likes of NOW as a liberal/Democratic organization that only supports fellow liberal/Democrats while feeding conservative and/or Republican women to the wolves. So much for the sisterhood.

Meanwhile, a female congressional candidate in Virginia is being haunted by racy photos taken of her at a costume party six years ago when she was 22 and a recent college graduate, which were posted online in an attempt to embarrass and discredit her.

The candidate, Krystal Ball, who cited Sarah Palin and Hillary Clinton as political inspirations, told Fox News:

“The tactic of painting successful women, successful politicians as a whore, it’s nothing new. Ask Sarah Palin, ask Meg Whitman, ask Nikki Haley, Christine O’Donnell. Lots of women face this same thing. And so I decided, although I wanted to just sort of hide in a corner and cry, that I couldn’t let these tactics succeed.”

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