It's fitting that this appears on the 160th anniversary commemoration in Seneca Falls of the First Woman's Rights conference in 1848 because one of the truisms expressed by Elizabeth Cady Stanton was "Women will always be dependent until she holds a purse of her own".
Most women now have that purse. Or they share it. Or they have both. And having that power is important because sometimes its the only power that makes people listen. And when women choose to use it things happen.
It may be time to use it now over what happened early in the primary campaign. Clinton supporters had not yet seen the extent of the sexist, underhanded bullying treatment of Clinton by Obama and his supporters, the DNC and the news media or what was to come. But it was a watershed moment in the campaign (one of two) and it changed the nature and tone of the primary season from that moment on. It was David Shuster's on air remarks where he referred to Senator Clinton and President Clinton as "pimping out their daughter" because Chelsea Clinton was making phone calls to super delegates on her mother's behalf.
The degree of outrage expressed at the time by the news media and Howard Dean and the DNC was nowhere to be found and the punishment meted out by MSNBC added insult to injury. We all remember Don Imus being fired for his tasteless remarks about the Rutgers women's basketball team. Shuster's remarks about Clinton were no less tasteless and just as offensive and came in the heat of a Presidential primary and were directed at the first woman candidate for President in history.
At the time Senator Clinton essentially had to come to her own defense, threatening MSNBC with pulling out of a debate if something wasn't done. The something that was done was tepid. The network's response to Shuster's' comment about the first woman candidate for President and her husband, a former President as "pimping out their daughter" was a two week suspension. It was almost reminiscent of that scene in the Godfather where the undertaker comes to Don Corelone complaining that two men who beat his daughter received nothing more than a suspended sentence. "They went free that very day. And those two bastards looked at me and smiled at me."
There was probably a lot of smiling going on in the ranks of the anti Clinton news media ( though I think Obama wiped that smile off their faces by now) and in the Obama campaign (though I think the smiles are gone there too and they are now scared to death of an open convention with Clinton's name in nomination). There were probably some smiles at the DNC also who, in their infinite stupidity thought they were going to "re-brand" the Democratic Party with Obama and that has backfired also now that Obama has been exposed for what more than half the party saw from the first. But at the time they probably thought Shuster was making their job easier.
Referring to Senator Clinton as "pimping out her daughter" also reduced Chelsea Clinton to some kind of political prostitute simply because she was helping out her mother, and there was also the inherent implication that they were abusing or even exploiting their daughter.
The way that moment was treated let Clinton's adversaries know early in the campaign that it was open season on Hillary Clinton. And there would be no public price to pay. Those remarks opened the door for the news media, Howard Dean and the DNC and Barack Obama to pile on knowing they could get away with it and for most the part they did -- but only so far -- because its not too late. The statute of limitations hasn't run out and with the kind of economic power women alone now have ( they make up about 60% of Clinton supporters) if they use that power they can get David Shuster fired.
This may be water under the bridge to some, or maybe to even more than some, but if there had been more outrage at the time and had there been some organized demand that Shuster be fired, MSNBC would have had no choice. And it would have changed the tone of the entire campaign.
The meager punishment handed down to Shuster trivialized what he said and created an atmosphere where bullying, condescension and a lot more would become par for the course. It was open season on Clinton. Nothing to worry about. Say what you want. There will be no consequences.
Had Shuster made the same comment about Obama and his wife, the uproar and demands that he be fired would have been so great that Shuster not only would have been fired within 24 hours, they wouldn't have so much as let him back into the building to get his belongings. And when Imus' suspension wasn't considered harsh enough, ironically it was Obama who was the first elected official to demand that Imus be fired.
All Shuster received, like the two men who "ruined" the undertakers daughter, was a two week suspension -- a leave of absence that allowed MSNBC and Shuster to save face and that shouldnt be good enough. Nothing short of firing him should have been acceptable. But that doesn't mean it's over.
GE is the parent of NBC. And GE and Microsoft are the parent of MSNBC. All it would take would be a boycott of Microsoft and GE products by Clinton supporters offended by Shuster's remarks and Shuster would be gone after some feeble attempts at face saving. And there is no reason why Clinton's supporters shouldn't demand the action now that should have been taken then.
If Clinton's supporters, especially women, let it go without taking specific action against Shuster, its going to be harder to get those kinds of complaints taken seriously the next time a woman gets steam rolled in the political arena. In fact its been almost impossible to get the media to admit to the sexism even now. A massive boycott of the products of the parent companies unless Shuster is fired would be a step towards making sure something like that never happens again. And it will let those in power know that the next time something like that happens, there are going to be a lot of Godmothers out there to contend with.
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