Not Only Women Are Subjected To Unfair Attacks

Peter Daou compares Palin-bashing to Hillary-bashing at Huffington Post. His message seems to be that both Palin and Hillary Clinton were treated unfairly as they were women. Both were subjected to some unfair criticism, and some of this was related to their gender, but both were also subjects of attack for reasons independent of this. While it is strange to lump both Sarah Palin and Hillary Clinton together because their views are so different, both of them have views which I (and many others) find objectionable, both have demonstrated a lack of integrity when pushing their agendas, and both tend to display poor judgment in matters of public policy.

If Peter simply wants to separate such differences of opinion on public policy from personal attacks I totally agree with this. While I would be reluctant to vote for a ticket containing either a Palin or a Clinton, there are many grounds to criticize them without resorting to many of the attacks which they have been subjected to. I not only agree with Peter in criticizing the comments claiming Hillary Clinton was pimping her daughter, I wrote a post defending Clinton on this while opposing her candidacy. When posting about the many lies of Sarah Palin I noted regret that personal issues were mixed in.

What bugs me about the way that Peter lumps together the attacks on both Palin and Clinton in such a manner is that it implies that only female politicians are treated this way. Gender differences do make it inevitable that there will be some differences in the nature of the attacks, but plenty of male politicians have also been treated quite unfairly. One example from each party in a presidential campaign quickly comes to mind–the attacks of the Swift Boat Liars on the honor of a war hero in their false claims about John Kerry in 2004 and the Daisy Ad used by Lyndon Johnson against Barry Goldwater in 1964.

Unfair treatment is a fact of life in politics. It would be great if it could be eliminated but it cannot. Most politicians take their lumps and continue. They do not run away and hide like Sarah Palin.

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  1. 1
    Nance Confer says:

    And when personal issues — like views on creationism or sex ed — are public issues, they are fair game, too.

  2. 2
    alinosof says:

    I agree 100% percent with Peter Daou, the attacks directed at both Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin are more gender oriented than policy oriented.  As for your example about the swift boat campaign against John Kerry, it was an attack on the veracity of Kerry’s service during the vietnam war, the attack had nothing to do with Kerry’s gender, the republicans and acolytes went after his his resume and by extension his character.

  3. 3
    Leslie Parsley says:

    Ron: I don’t know whether or not there’s much “bashing” in this book but it looks like a good read and I’m putting it on the top of my list. What I did read of Women Politicians and the Media on Google is well written, witty and absorbing. I have a feeling it addresses many of your concerns.

    Two of my favorite

  4. 4
    Leslie Parsley says:

    part 2 . . .

    Two of my favorites are Texans Ann Richardson and Barbara Jordan – my hero.

    I imagine it might play as a good backrop for SP.  The author quotes Anthony B. Anthony:
     “The press was as kind as it knew how to be. It meant well and did all for us it knew how to do. We couldn’t ask it to do more than it knew how>

  5. 5
    Ron Chusid says:


    Views on creationism and sex ed are definately matters of public policy and fair game. Besides impacting public policy with regards to the school, someone who believes in creationism shows a profound ignorance of science. I would not consider anyone who believes in creationism to be mentally fit for a position in government, or any position of authority, in the 21st century.

  6. 6
    Leslie Parsley says:

    There’s something bothering me about man vs woman when it comes to being badgered. Certainly the two examples you’ve cited are viable, but I would bet a lot of money I don’t have that women tip the scales when it comes to being bashed, or condescended to, or made fun of  simply because of their sex.

    When Hillary Clinton was First Lady, she drew headlines everytime she changed her hair style. I share your lack of enthusiasm for her, but come on – when was the last time you heard about a man changing his hair style. Maybe his bed partners but not his hair styles.

    I don’t think you can compare SP to HC. They might both be liars but they’re not both smart.

  7. 7
    Ron Chusid says:

    There are certainly some differences between some of the nonsense attacks on men and women but it happens to both. There might not have been talk about Bill Clinton’s hair styles, bu there was of John Edwards’.

    Agree Hillary Clinton is far smarter than Sarah Palin.

  8. 8
    Eclectic Radical says:

    “Views on creationism and sex ed are definately matters of public policy and fair game.”
    Of course they are, but they are some of the ‘personal views’ that many fans of Palin believe she is being ‘unfairly attacked’ for holding. In the discussion of religion and politics, there are plenty of people on the right who believe their ‘personal religious views’ should be immune from public criticism even when those views have direct public policy implications and, when those on the left criticize the positions to which those views lead public figures, dismiss all attempts to conduct a debate on the issue as ‘unfair attacks’ on religious people by ‘arrogant, bigoted athetists.’ Individuals holding such a view of the debate on public faith are very common and very outspoken among Sarah Palin’s supporters.
    When we criticize the policy positions of the religious right, they believe or claim to believe that we are criticizing the private faith of religious people rather than the public policy positions of political figures who wish to make sweeping changes to existing law based on that faith.

  9. 9
    Mike b.t.r.m. says:

    …would not consider anyone who believes in creationism to be mentally fit for a position in government, or any position of authority,..
    Ok, please define what you mean by position of authority. Is a police officer a position of authority or music teacher? Just wanting to check how small a box you want to put all non-atheists in.

  10. 10
    Ron Chusid says:


    I said absolutely nothing about non-atheists. Only a minority of non-atheists reject science and support creationism. I am referring to the creationist movement which actively denies evolution–not those who find ways to reconcile evolution with their religious beliefs as most non-atheists do. Few in politics hold the young earth creationist views which Palin holds, making such beliefs a valid matter of discussion and valid grounds to vote against her.

  11. 11
    Mike b.t.r.m. says:

    Ron- thanks for that clarification, so if I understand you correctly, if one where to believe both in Evolution or more specifically the science of evolution, but also believe in the non-scientific virgin birth of Jesus, they wouldn’t, merely on that point, be disqualified. But anyone, even someone who follows Islam, rejects evolution, they are mentally unfit for any position of authority? And back to the original question, those who disbelieve in the science of evolution, would you find them mentally unfit to be in the position of authority as a teacher of a music class or a police officer? Please note, in my example I am not precluding the possibility that someone may be a follower of Islam and still believe is science/evolution I’m only refering to a hypothetical case where someone falls into both Islam and evolution rejection.

  12. 12
    Ron Chusid says:

    Music teachers and police officers are not elected positions so there is not an issue of voting for or against the based upon their belief in creationism.

    It doesn’t matter what one’s religious beliefs are. There are both followers of Christianity and Islam who are fundamentalists who reject modern science and there are followers of both who one way or another separate their religious beliefs from views on science. I would not vote for a fundamentalist of any religion who rejects science, and such views (as with the case with Palin) are valid matters of discussion.

  13. 13
    Mike b.t.r.m. says:

    Ok 🙂

  14. 14
    Fritz says:

    Actually, these days I am more concerned about Catholics than members of more-fundamentalist but individualist Protestant religions.
    At this point, I hesitate to vote for a Catholic unless he is willing to publicly state that he will deal with a separation from the Communion if his votes contradict Vatican policy.

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