November 2nd, 2007

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Good in today's Washpost

Two good pieces in today's Washington Post bear examination. The first is the front page article on public interest carriers.

As the article points out, we have a glut of extremely talented and well qualified young people who would love to work for non-profits that change the world for the better, even though the pay is crap. And we still turn away nine out of ten applicants. Even though we don't advertise, I routinely have to turn away law students and recent graduates with fine resumes because we cannot afford to hire them. And believe me, the need is great. When I think of what we could do with one or two more lawyers, not to mention a staff economist and staff engineer, I tear my hair in frustration. And it reminds me how lucky I am to be able to do the work I love (mostly) at a very decent wage (only 1/5 what I'd make at my old firm).

The other piece is an op ed by Ruth Marcus, who says pretty much what I want to say but nicer.

For those still watching (or just tuning in) to the Presidential debate, we had another one last Monday. As Clinton was anointed the front runner by the MSM (even declaring that she was already shifting out of "primary mode" into "general election" mode), Clinton was the focus of attacks from the other candidates and received a generous share of pointed questions from Tim Russert, the moderator. Clinton had a number of stumbles. In particular, she was flustered when asked if she supported NY Governor Eliot Spitzer's plan to provide drivers licenses to illegal immigrants (on a theory that better they should get licensed then just drive around without licenses). Despite the fact that Clinton is the Senator from NY and immigration is this year's hot issue nationally (although generally avoided where possible by Democrats), Clinton seemed unprepared and gave a fumbling answer. Then broke in two minutes later to clarify her answer in a way that appeared contradictory. Unsurprisingly, the other candidates pounced.

Should have been a minor shrug. Such things happen in debates, and as no one in the Ds wants to make immigration an issue, it would have faded rather quickly. But the Clinton campaign struck back by circulating a fundraising video called "the politics of piling on," which portrayed this as and I quote "Six men against Hilary." This theme of nasty brutish men abusing the helpless Hilary -- and statements from Clinton campaign strategists that they are looking for a "backlash" among their female base, certainly triggered my bogousity meter.

Marcus says it more nicely than I would:
Please. The Philadelphia debate was not exactly a mob moment to trigger the Violence Against Women Act; if anything, this has been an overly (pardon the phrase) gentlemanly campaign to date. Those other guys were beating up on Clinton, if you can call that beating up, because she is the strong front-runner, not because she is a weak woman.

And a candidate as strong as Clinton doesn't need to play the woman-as-victim card, not even in "the all-boys club of presidential politics," as Clinton called it in a speech yesterday at her all-women alma mater, Wellesley College. I have a pretty good nose for sexism, and what I detected in the air from Philadelphia was not sexism but the desperation of candidates confronting a front-runner who happens to be a woman.

Clinton and her staff have played this tactic before. Coming on tough and demanding no special treatment, but then playing the woman-as-victim card. Those of us with long memories will recall the famous "Pink Sweater" interview, in which Hilary Clinton held a press conference to defend herself from various accusations of corruption around Whitewater. Rather than the White House press room, Hilary held the conference in one of the White House, dressed in a fuzzy pink sweater and looking all the world like a gracious hostess surrounded by angry baying hyenas. More recently, the flap generated by her staff about people using "Hilary" as dimunitive and disrespectful when people refer to the male candidates by their last names. Of course, when she again chose to rebrand as "Hilary," it became OK again.

But while Clinton's staff may hope for backlash against the rest of the Dem field among women registered Dems, they should be more concerned with alienating everyone who isn't a livberal woman between the ages of 35 and 65. Because if some aggressive questions in a debate and a few pointed attacks from rivals is too much "piling on," what do you think being President is like?