Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Scaife attack

Further proof that media attacks women regularly as mentioned in my previous post, on Sunday the Scaife-owned Pittsburgh Tribune-Review used a Shakespearean analogy to assault Hillary and her Weird Sisters:

Macbeth reveals the tragedy of a woman's lust for power and betrayal of friends; Lady Macbeth is aided in her purpose by three aged creatures, the Weird Sisters. These three hags -- witches -- call up "snakes, newts and the toes of frogs" to conjure a "hell's broth" of "furies" to plague man as they hobble and prance around a steaming cauldron on a wind-swept heath.

Off we speed to the gender war camp where evil "furies" concoct man's downfall. With Hillary assigned as the Lady Macbeth in this Scaife publication hit job, the anonymous author, Dateline D.C., "a Washington-based British journalist and political observer," continues with--should I say "his"--rambling un-bard by introducing us to Sen. Clinton's sister hags: Geraldine Ferraro, Madeleine Albright, and Billy Jean King. First, Geraldine's bewitchery:

...She says that her backing of Hillary is not "because she's a woman, but isn't it wonderful that she is a woman?"

This former three-term New York congresswoman of Queens remains the mistress of the tart retort. Asked recently if she would want to re-enter national politics, she quipped, "No way. For one, I'm 71 years old -- a full 12 months older than John McCain -- and my health is not the best."

Tart? Does the writer's choice of adjective imply he meant whorish? Attacking Clinton and her "hags" in a Scaife newsprint pimp begs a gaze into the mirror, Mr. Anonymous. Unlike the column, Ferraro scored a valuable point for voters to consider, an issue the Arizona Republic raised about its home-state senator: McCain ain't no spring chicken having overcome one bout with a "potentially fatal form of skin cancer."

My congratulations go to any one who beats cancer. However, at his age and the weight of a close encounter with death, could McCain's drive cause him to urgently lust for power afflicting him with the madness of King George? He hawked the Iraq surge strategy as stubbornly as Bush did in his cushy bubble when the Joint Chiefs warned of an even bigger failure -- with no backup options. How out of touch has McCain grown to claim "proof that Baghdad was getting safer" once he strolled through the Shorja market as if, in the words of his fellow traveler Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN), 'twas "like a normal outdoor market in Indiana in the summer time"? Who knew Indiana markets required the protection of 100+ soldiers in steel-plated Humvees, snipers on rooftops, and attack helicopters hovering above just to shop! Oh, pshaw. McCain's a manly man. He doesn't have to explain his irrational behavior or politically-staged histrionics. "Ms. Ferraro," on the other hand:

...brings to her role as Hillary's champion her own family's male-created problems. These included allegations of financial misdeeds against her husband, John Zaccaro, a real estate magnate when she was running for office, that endangered her campaign.

At the time, Zaccaro was targeted by Rudy Giuliani, then the U.S. federal prosecutor, of whom Geraldine says, "Without 9/11, Giuliani would be an asterisk, a footnote, in New York's history."

Evil witch! How dare she speak the truth! Ms. Ferraro had the audacity to diminish America's mayor to his previous accomplishments, which included ridding the pee smell from NYC subways. This same Rudy capitalized on 9/11 despite his stupid decision to locate the emergency preparedness office in the World Trade Center--the very target that terrorists bombed in 1993 and later toppled in 2001--and who errantly recommended Bernard Kerik to head Homeland Security. What a presidential contender, another Decider in training. Yet, Geraldine rated vilification as a hag. Ha! Methinks the D.C. hack doth protest too much. The rest of the Scaife writer's op/ed:

...Madeleine Albright, another septuagenarian on the response team, is known for her wonderful ability to juggle friends and business interests with politics. Bill Clinton made her secretary of State because she had won power and friends in the Democratic Party by advising losers.

She counseled Ed Muskie, Ferraro, Michael Dukakis and the Carter and Clinton administrations. Her weird decisions at the State Department resulted in thousands of deaths, ranging from Somalia through the deadly Bosnian-Serbian conflict and Kosovo killings to the Rwanda massacres and the bombing of the U.S. Embassies in Africa. She fully earned the honorific "Madeleine Halfbright."

The third acknowledged member of the Hillary "truth squad" is the world tennis professional Billie Jean King. She is remembered by many for her wonderful net play and her saying, "Victory is fleeting. Losing is forever!" She also is known for winning the Battle of the Sexes in 1973 against male tennis pro Bobby Riggs, the high point of her (if not his) career.

Putting Shakespeare and his snakes, newts and caldrons aside, Hillary's ladies, unlike Macbeth's witches, have "fear" as a vital ingredient to add to their 2007 mix. By telling her detractors that Hillary, and she alone, can save America from the disasters prophesied hourly on television, they hope to make Bill "the first gentleman."

Finally, over much ado about Bill, herein lies the rub. I'll table the debate over the culpability of Albright's killer "weird decisions," a lot to fact-check, although the author never proves the magic of his "Halfbright" tale en route to the main event. As any male chauvinist can tell you, manly shame depends on never being subservient to a woman or beaten at a sport by a jockette. I can almost smell the misogynistic fear in the realization that the first husband ever...Gasp!--bonus points for having been a POTUS--would assume the First Lady's role if Hillary were elected.

The unusual complaint that Hillary promotes fear (aka female hysteria) as her agenda...

Danger flags have risen to full staff because of climate change, pandemics, cyber attacks and retirements. In turn, these horrors bring floods, hurricanes, earthquakes, fires, tornados and droughts. The threat of war and of losing war is omnipresent as are economic fears generated by job losses, rising prices and immigrants swamping our society.... ...We are becoming a fear-ridden society!

...cemented in my mind the columnist's intellectual dishonesty not that much highway remained ahead. Into the boiling cauldron of the past six years of Bush swirls the specter of nukular mushroom cloud, the ad nauseum mantra of "the attacks of 9/11," election run-up terror alerts, and the president's toadie argument that troop withdrawals from Iraq would lead to a "disaster" (Lead to?! It has been the biggest blunder ever!). Remove the newt from your eye, pilgrim, to see the flecks of Republican froth.

Right-wing politics has preyed on fear and hate. Equality for gays and lesbians will destroy marriage! There's a war on Christmas! The Mexicans are coming! "The British Government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa." Fear-mongering split Americans asunder with a thump from the Divider, "You're either with us or against us," who later donned his CinC codpiece with the axis of evil. The conservative movement has dealt the fear card since the "evil empire" days of Reagan-Bush shenanigans. Try turning on conservative talk radio. Knees shake and pulses race when the screaming banshees of wingnut media warn, as Michael Savage did, that "homosexuals" are "everywhere, anyway, trying to tell me what to say and what not to say and what to think." Oddly, no one including gays and lesbians has yet unearthed a copy of the "agenda." Still, in conservative circles and on media air waves, the urban legend looms as large as a galloping headless horseman.

Oh. But. Hillary. As. President? Oooogly-booogly boo! Babies cry; conservatives shudder. Scribed in wingnut mythology, machismo must rule because women are fearsome creatures. Pffft. Pfffffft. See no evil in the atrocities that male stupidos perpetrate in the world. Even on liberal blogs, Hillary bashing in the comment sections typically bemoan, "She's tooooo divisive." How sad to see liberals sucked into the Republican noise vortex by adopting con-apparatchik propaganda.

To his credit (I love it when men speak with Sophia), the esteemed Glenn Greenwald diagnosed a symptom of why Princess Wingnut Coulter announced that John Edwards was a "faggot." Glenn explained the right-wing cult of contrived masculinity:

...[Michelle] Malkin expressly acknowledged: "[Ann is] very popular among conservatives." The focus of these stories should not be Coulter, but instead, should be the conservative movement in which Ann Coulter -- precisely because of (not "despite") her history of making such comments -- is "very popular."


Coulter plays a vital and irreplaceable role in this movement. The reason I linked to that Bob Somerby post on Maureen Dowd yesterday is because he makes the critical point -- one which Digby, among others, has been making for a long time, including in a great post last night -- concerning how the right-wing movement conducts itself and the rhetorical tool they use not only to keep themselves in power, but more importantly, to keep their needy, confused, and scared base feeling strong and protected. As Digby put it [augmented to add more of the quote than Glenn snipped]:

Here's just a small sampling of how this has played out in just the last six years:

Al Gore needed to be taught how to be an "alpha male." He doesn't "know who he is."
John Kerry "flip-flops" like a flaccid penis.
John Edwards is "the Breck girl."
Howard Dean was "hysterical."
Barack Obama is "Obambi."
Bill Clinton was "a pervert."
Hillary Clinton is a lesbian.

The underlying premise of the modern conservative movement is that the entire Democratic party consists of a bunch of fags and dykes who are both too effeminate and too masculine to properly lead the nation. Coulter says it out loud. [Maureen] Dowd hints at it broadly. And the entire press corps giggles and swoons at this shallow, sophomoric concept like a bunch of junior high pom pom girls.

Coulter insisted last night that she did not intend the remark as an anti-gay slur -- that she did not intend to suggest that John Edwards, husband and father, was gay -- but instead only used the word as a "schoolyard taunt," to call him a sissy. And that is true. Her aim was not to suggest that Edwards is actually gay, but simply to feminize him like they do with all male Democratic or liberal political leaders.


The converse of this is equally true. As critical as it is to them to feminize Democratic and liberal males (and to masculinize the women), even more important is to create false images of masculine power and strength around their authority figures. The reality of this masculine power is almost always non-existent. The imagery is what counts.


...It is a cult of contrived masculinity whereby people dress up as male archtypes like cowboys, ranchers, and tough guys even though they are nothing of the kind -- or prance around as Churchillian warriors because they write from a safe and protected distance about how great war is -- and in the process become triumphant heroes and masculine powerful icons and strong leaders. They and their followers triumph over the weak, effete, humiliated Enemy, and thereby become powerful and exceptional and safe.


John Dean and Bob Altemeyer have both documented this dynamic as clearly and convincingly as can be. People who feel weak and vulnerable crave strong leaders to protect them and to enable them to feel powerful. And those same people crave being part of a political movement that gives them those sensations of power, strength, triumph and bravery -- and they need a strong, powerful, masculine Leader to enable those feelings. And they will devote absolute loyalty to any political movement which can provide them with that.


...The only real complaint from Bush followers about the Commander-in-Chief is that he has not given them enough Guantanamos and wars and aggression and barbaric slaughter and liberty infringement. Their hunger for those things is literally insatiable because they need fresh pretexts for feeling strong.

And that is where Ann Coulter comes in and plays such a vital -- really indispensible -- role. As a woman who purposely exudes the most exaggerated American feminine stereotypes (the long blond hair, the make-up, the emaciated body), her obsession with emasculating Democratic males -- which, at bottom, is really what she does more than anything else -- energizes and stimulates the right-wing "base" like nothing else can....

With rigid gender stereotypes from the 1950s in motion, the needy denigrate Hillary, the potential feminine Leader of the world's super power. They cry for their idealized Manzilla to protect them, to destroy and humiliate the Enemy. They do not hesitate to sacrifice damsels on the altar or their knaves in battle to appease the dragon for his aegis. Confronted with the possibility of a shredded hyper-masculine, hyper-feminine cardboard cutout, the Right compulsively rips the authentic feminine wherever it lurks in women and in men lest their heads explode with terror. Fear propels the character assassination of powerful women as much as it ascribes effeminate quirks to distinguished men. And the authentic masculine? Oh, don't even let a women express an integrated animus or the gnashing of teeth escalates to a dizzying ear-bleed. To please Manzilla and ensure their strength through Him, the Clinton woman must die by a million tongue lashings.

In Sun Myung Moon's Washington Times, conservative Tony Blankley recited a passage from Edward Klein's 2005 Hillary gossip book of an alleged Nixon quote about the former First Lady. Why a reader would trust an observation from Tricky Dick Nixon--the Watergate president who did virtually nothing without calculated political advantage--tempts tomfoolery. More egregious, the book has been proven to contain misleading fabrications and poorly sourced material. Nonetheless, the chosen cite by Blankley revealed the pathos of the paranoid Right:

'Hillary inspires fear.' Nixon explained that a few minutes after the meeting started Chelsea Clinton joined the group. The kid ran right to Clinton and never once looked at her mother. I could see that she had a warm relationship with him, but was almost afraid of her mother. Hillary is ice-cold. You can see it in her eyes. She is a piece of work — 'Hillary inspires fear.'

Blankley echoes, "I fear, [Hillary will be] the next president of the United States." The anxiety over female ascendancy--guilt from years of attacking Hillary and Bill plus the threat of Oval Office retribution from a scorned woman who could with executive powers unmask the tribe of "contrived masculinity"--was conjured up in this latest Scaife-produced op/ed from the anonymous D.C. author.

Media Matters exposed Scaife's relationship to the present attack on Hillary with the return of Lady Macbeth. Salon identified Scaife "as a key funder of the $2.4 million Arkansas Project, a four-year effort organized through the American Spectator magazine to discredit [Bill Clinton]." In August 1992, the American Spectator christened Hillary "the Lady Macbeth of Little Rock" in a feature written by Daniel Wattenberg, famous as a speechwriter for Iran-Contra felon Elliott Abrams and notorious for disparaging the Clintons. He's no Brit but Scaife money has succeeded in attracting aspiring drivelers past and present. What's lacking in the Lady Macbeth metaphor fitting Hillary today the author more than compensates with unsubstantiated bombast. He earned his keep and Lord Scaife must have smiled approvingly.

If Shakespeare were alive these days and to depict Richard Mellon Scaife in a play, what character would the bard fashion of the right-wing media financier and "the ultimate patron" of the Clinton haters? So many ruthless choices to consider. One I can easily imagine, a Shakespearean line retrofitted for the role: "A horse's ass! a horse's ass! my kingdom for a horse's ass!"

Answered by the anonymous D.C. observer, Scaife finds a lackey.

(Related links: Digby, Bob Somerby, ThinkProgress.)