Bruce Parker

The Obama Doctrine = Tea Parties

Filed By Bruce Parker | January 08, 2009 10:00 AM | comments

Filed in: Politics
Tags: Barack Obama, Hillary Rodham Clinton, Obama-Biden transition, Secretary of State, Sexism

I was elated when President-elect Obama named Hillary Clinton as his nominee for Secretary of State. I have made no secret of my deep affection, respect and obsession for all things Hillary Clinton related. She is brilliant, a savvy politician, charismatic, tough, and has enough name recognition to be extremely effective.

I become convinced that she would be an ardent support of Obama's administration during her passionate speech at the Democratic National Convention. It became clear beyond a shadow of a doubt that despite her personal disappointment she was happy to get to see the first black President of the United States be elected in her lifetime. I believe that she will work diligently to further American interests across the globe during the Obama administration.

I have grown increasingly convinced that Obama is sexist in potentially dangerous ways. He seemed genuinely unaware of the misogynist overtones of some of his statements during the primary such as referring to Hillary being overemotional or her "claws coming out." In a really peculiar way his selection of her as Secretary of State only confirmed my conviction that sexism played a substantial role in the campaign.

During the primary when Hillary attempted to emphasize her experiences in national security and diplomacy it was confronted with sexist perceptions of her work as First Lady. The dismissive tone that news pundits, other Democratic candidates, and President-elect Obama used in responding to her assertions of experience were terrifying. The culminating sexist comment in the primary would be "It's that experience, that understanding, not just of what world leaders I went and talked to in the ambassadors house I had tea with, but understanding the lives of the people like my grandmother who lives in a tiny hut in Africa." Spoken by President-elect Obama himself, of course.

So in spite of my enthusiastic support of her nomination I find myself a little confused and put off. What changed in the few short months for folks like Chris Dodd and Obama to suddenly decide that the secret to U.S. diplomacy in this complicated and dangerous time might be tea parties? Imagine it State Department sponsored tea parties in Gaza between Hamas and Israel - tea parties with Iran and Cuba - tea parties between India and Pakistan - Hillary's nomination represents an entirely new feminized tea drinking approach to diplomacy that will mark a solid break with Bush doctrine.

Lets be clear, that shit is sexist and fucked up. While some feminist blogs have discussed the complicated gendered dimensions of Hillary's nomination by a President-elect who belittled her experience in a dismissive sexist way a few months ago the mainstream media and blogosphere have paid little attention. I contend that Hillary's experience (and her gender) make her more acceptable to Obama and a lot of men in our country as chief diplomat than as Commander in Chief. Apparently you only need testicles to be Commander in Chief.

When Obama replaces Gates as Secretary of Defense a woman should be on the shortlist. If Hillary was not going to be busy throwing tea parties as Secretary of State, I would be rooting for her.

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Your last paragraph reveals the deep sexism of your attitude. It is not sexist to point out that an elected official and the wife of an elected official have different duties and concerns. It was not sexist to call Clinton on her bogus claims of experience. It would have been sexist not to.) And I know many will argue with me on this, but it is not sexist to say that men and women are different and that that difference might come into play in Clinton's role as diplomat.

You're totally busted when you write, "When Obama replaces Gates as Secretary of Defense a woman should be on the shortlist." Making the sex of the candidate more important than her qualifications is blatant sexism.

I disagree. Obviously, the sex of the people applying is one of the qualifications already, considering how overwhelmingly male that position has been (has there ever been a woman as Sec. of Defense?).

Yes, yes, pick the most qualified person. But it's funny how, by that logic, in the entire history of the US there has never been a woman qualified for that position.

Tea parties... Hmmmm, you might be on to something. Get world leaders to sit down with each other as human beings. How civilized, discussions over tea.

Marla R. Stevens Marla R. Stevens | January 9, 2009 8:20 PM

Golda Meir was fond of serving tea, as I recall -- of her own making, with cookies she'd baked. It disarmed more than one world leader.

You wrote, and quoted, "The culminating sexist comment in the primary would be 'It's that experience, that understanding, not just of what world leaders I went and talked to in the ambassadors house I had tea with, but understanding the lives of the people like my grandmother who lives in a tiny hut in Africa.' Spoken by President-elect Obama himself, of course." Obama says that he had tea with ambassadors. Or maybe it's a poorly constructed sentence?

I supported Clinton for the nomination, but when Obama won it, that was fine with me. I voted for him for president. I'm glad Clinton is on the team, in as important a position as Secretary of State (assuming she is confirmed).

I don't doubt that Obama has some sexist attitudes. Pretty much all men have some, even when they try not to. But is he especially sexist? Is he demonstrating systemic sexism? Or is there perhaps no real point to the post above?

Michael Crawford Michael Crawford | January 8, 2009 11:18 AM

So Bruce does that mean that you had no problem with the racially loaded language used by Clinton's campaign during the primaries or would you just consider that to be tough campaigning?

If Obama was so sexist, he would not have named Clinton as Secretary of State and four other women to cabinet posts.

The election is over. It is time to move forward.

C'mon now Michael;
The "Bro's not Ho's" t shirt was pretty much the most over the top thing indroduced by anyone into this campaign, and it came from neither Secretary Designate Clinton's nor Senator McCain's camps.

To be fair, it didn't come from the obama campaign either.

Michael Crawford Michael Crawford | January 8, 2009 2:52 PM

That t-shirt did not come from the Obama campaign and to try to pin that t-shirt on Obama is like trying to blame Clinton for some of her supporters saying that they would never for a nigger.

In either case it is not fair to assign blame to either candidate for something that others have done.

which is my point exactly, thank you

What's the issue with tea parties? I'm reading that as a metaphor (should I be?) for getting everyone together to talk, and for a lot of those conflicts, that wouldn't be a bad idea. It won't solve them, but it's definitely a part of a solution.

I can see some of your points, but, as Michael pointed out above, I really think that there's way too much baggage here to use Hillary as a poster child for sexism.

But why's Chris Dodd getting dragged into this?

As a staunch supporter of Hillary Clinton; then a staunch supporter of Barack Obama; and, a left wing good old fashioned liberal, let me just say that there is no point whatever for Bruce Parker's ramblings. I tried very hard to find the point, but I could not.

Without knowing the exact context of the quote, I'd automatically read it as Obama describing his own experience. When he went to Germany on his trip abroad, he had tea with Chancellor Merkel. He'd also had a trip abroad where he went to his grandmother's hut in Kenya. By describing those two vastly different experiences, he's able to say that he wouldn't just be able to connect with the tea party crowd, but also realized the need to help those in poverty.

It's so great to read other people see his sexist attitude. it's really sickening that so called feminist groups continue to hail him as the great almighty. *shudder*



this is an excellent column...thank you!


there was obama's repulsive reference to "sweetie" as he insulted a female reporter

droves of racist black feminists who became obama nazis and brutally attacked maya angelou/myself and many others who love hillary

chris matthews and keith olbermann becoming the antoine and blaine of msnbc/obama tv

the blatant favoritism most media showed as they slew hillary and flagrantly favored and coddled obama etc....

this entire election has proven that sexism is far more rabid in america than racism...

alicia banks