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Fair is fair

I blogged about Dick Cheney's inappropriate conduct, and so did many of you. However, this is the part where I walk a slightly different path from some of my blogging friends.

I know some of my newshound chums must have seen the story of would-be First Lady Teresa Heinz Kerry telling Pittsburgh Tribune-Review editor Colin McNickle to "shove it." Ironically, one report suggests this was shortly after she delivered a brief speech on civility, but I can't yet corroborate that.

Yet, although I'm sure that some of the more liberal bloggers have seen this, I'm noticing a silence about it. Now, hey, they're not journalists: they've no obligation to the public to be objective. Maybe it's better for them to stay quiet than for them to open themselves up to ridicule by trying to defend or rationalize her mistake. However, I try to maintain a certain amount of consistency in my opinion, and on this, I think she's been not only rude, but stupid.

Yes, I said stupid. How foolish do you have to be to, almost a month to the day after Cheney's appalling abusive language on the floor of the Senate, show that you're almost as tactless as your opposition?

The primary differences that I see between her gaffe and Cheney's are that

a) her language was not quite as foul, and
b) she hasn't officially been elected to anything yet.

However, Mrs. Kerry was caught on tape, while Cheney wasn't (though he was blatantly, offensively unapologetic about it), and that clip has already gotten plenty of air time.

Furthermore, unfair though it is, more civility is expected of women than of men, and this likely won't play well. There are those members of the voting public who have not forgotten the uproar over Hillary Clinton's 1992 remark about "not being the kind of woman who stays home baking cookies." Yes, the feminine expectation is wholly inequitable, but I know first hand that it exists. Of course, in this specific instance, we're not even asking her to act like a lady, just like someone capable of keeping her cool. Teresa Heinz Kerry just lost what little high ground of civility that the Democrats might have claimed. She might regain some points if she had the wit to apologize, but it remains to be seen whether or not she will do so.

My point is that both parties have members in immediate proximity to the president or would-be president who apparently have difficulty controlling their tempers, and nursery school name-calling is not the sort of behavior that makes the Oval Office look good. If these people want to be the leaders of the free world, I wish they'd start acting like it.

Comments

( 9 comments — Leave a comment )
streamweaver
Jul. 26th, 2004 11:48 am (UTC)
Wow where to even begin on this one. There really isn't a place so this is going to be somewhat disconnected, which is fair I think because I think your comparison is entirely disconnected.

To begin with, if I hear you correctly, you seem offended that public figures engaged in any kind of aggressive discourse bordering on vulgar? If this is your opinion then I don't think there is anything at all wrong with this, and if that is what you expect from public servants then I think that is great.

The rest of your post I really can’t agree with for so many reasons.

1. This is only being reported because she is a woman. Can you imagine the kind of deluge of news we would get if the press covered it every time a male politician told someone to 'shove it', even in the proximity of a camera.

2. I'm absolutely blown away that someone is actually trying to make the comparison to someone saying "shove it" at a reception to the Vice President saying "Go Fuck Yourself" on the floor of the senate, during a senate function. I'm so blow away in fact that I wont write much more in this because I think if this doesn't immediately make sense to you then I'm not sure what else to say.

3. The point of just about every post I've read on the topic has more to do with an atmosphere of bullying in the Bush Whitehouse, and their own claims to the moral high ground than it has to do statement itself. So I think you’re also headed in the wrong direction in isolating this one event outside the context of the greater issues most people are trying to write about.

Other issues about people who are in a position to make policy, verses those on the sideline really weaken the substance of your argument here as well. Simply wanting something to be an issue isn’t enough to make it one. I think you get father afield when you take the extra step and try to act as if something is amiss because other people aren’t making it an issue too.
pointedview
Jul. 26th, 2004 01:36 pm (UTC)
In my opinion, rude is rude: degree doesn't win too many points with me. Both sides have acted inappropriately, and it is only fair that those who called Cheney on the carpet give this its due measure of attention. I'm really tremendously proud of my friend Terrance, a true blue Democrat, for doing so.

I am not a fan of either the Democrats or the Republicans. It's simply objective truth to say that neither Mr. Cheney nor Mrs. Kerry has shown themselves capable of professional conduct of late.

I do indeed take offense when our elected leaders act without any polish or grace whatsoever. This is not merely about which knife to use: this is about both domestic and foreign diplomacy. Many cultures still consider it a sign of strength to appear gracious and unruffled, so it is surely in our best interest to do so. I'm also of the old-fashioned camp that still believes it is incumbent upon our public officials to be good role models to the citizenry as a whole. It may not be how it is, but I think it's how it ought to be. They're the ones who chose to live a life of public service, and nobody ever said it was easy.

Back in my day, whether a child called another schoolmate an ugly toad or whether they told that child to go f- off, both would have gotten a call to the parents from the teacher and, possibly, gotten that child's mouth washed out with soap. Why should we expect less from supposed adults?

I also agree with Tagplazen, below. This is not being reported just because she's a woman. It is being reported, and justifiably so, because her husband is seeking the highest political office in the land. She has chosen to live in the public eye, and must conduct herself with reserve if she wishes to help his campaign. Given the Democratic convention, her comment was particularly ill-timed.

On point #2, since when do two wrongs make a right? I reiterate my point above about degree. I acknowledged in my original post that her words were not as rude as Cheney's, but that does not make them any more appropriate for someone in her position. It was a tactical misstep, pure and simple.

I do not consider the position of the First Lady to be one of being on the sidelines. Although not elected, many have been very influential, from Eleanor Roosevelt to more recent successors. Indeed, we'll never know the answer as to whether Hillary Clinton would have been elected senator in New York had it not been for her previous visibility as First Lady.
streamweaver
Jul. 26th, 2004 02:13 pm (UTC)
The position you're defending here isn't one that needs to be defended. It's your opinion as to what you expect from officials behavior I you've every right to that. I wasn't taking issue with that.

You begin to go 'Off-road' with this one when you begin your comparison and then chide 'liberal' bloggers by saying "Yet, although I'm sure that some of the more liberal bloggers have seen this, I'm noticing a silence about it."

It begins by assuming that this is wrong not to take offense to this and post a blogrant. That people should share your view of different expectations between men and women as you claimed above. So you're already establishing your argument on shaky ground.

Your claims of this not being reported on are just unfounded since I found an article on this on every major news outlet I've looked on. I'm not sure if it's because you think it should replace real news about the convention, or the 9/11 report, but it is definitely being reported on.

On your "two wrongs don't make a right" statement, I absolutely agree. Nowhere here did I defend her saying what she said. Although I actually don't think she was wrong, still though that isn't the argument I'm making here. I'm simply refuting the attempt to draw a comparison between Cheney's statement and her statement as equals, which you may have inadvertently done but still did by bringing up the question as to why there wasn't a response in kind to this as there was to Cheney.

Also Tagplazen's claim below is Bullshit in and of itself. I watch CSPAN all the time and have seen Rumsfeld, Fleischer, and many other officials say things just like "shove-it" over and over again and it has NOT been reported at all. This is being reported because she's a woman. Now I believe she's fair game because she's a prospective first lady, and we have every right to expect a lot out of our leaders, but this does go on all the time and it is never commented on by the press.

The real problem with this is you didn't need most of it, you could have just said "Kerry's Wife did this and I don't like it" and you dont' even need to post a reason why if you didn't want to. When you step out to say how other people should have taken it, and what they should have done about it, I disagree and for the reasons I've stated.
pointedview
Jul. 26th, 2004 04:54 pm (UTC)
Just quick, because I need to go eat some din-din.

I'm saying that it is inconsistent and hypocritical for people like John Aravosis over at AMERICAblog to call Dick Cheney "trailer trash,", yet to praise Teresa Heinz Kerry when she was impolite. If the issue is civility, then one can't applaud rudeness when it suits one and decry it when it doesn't.

I have examined both of my previous posts, and nowhere can I find that I said it wasn't being reported on news outlets. At the time I was reading and writing that, I hadn't seen much blogging about it. Very different from major news outlets; I definitely do not confuse or mix the two.

As for Rumsfeld and Fleischer, they both could stand some serious time in detention for misconduct; Ari Fleischer, in particular, comes across as an abrasive boor. People are simply too acclimated to negative partisan politics and behavior so ugly that C-SPAN can almost be mistaken for the WWF at times. It's appalling.

I stand behind my statement that it is unfair for people to condemn Cheney for rudeness but commend (or pretend to ignore) Teresa Heinz Kerry for it. The degree may differ, but the faux pas was the same, and it is only just to treat the offense accordingly.
tagplazen
Jul. 26th, 2004 12:28 pm (UTC)
Hey, thanks for that one, usually weekends are my busiest times of the week so I slack off on following the news those days.

On your earlier post, I already stated my disgust for the Democratic party and their choice of the Kerry/Edwards ticket, so I can't say I'm surprised.

This is only being reported because she's a woman? Bullshit. She's a woman connected to a very public campaign, and what's more, she's a veteran in this type of political arena. Kerry/Edwards have consistently shown themselves to be just as arrogant regarding the press as the Bush administration. Like I stated before, these two merely show the contempt the Democratic party has for it's constituents.

The main crux of this arguement, and the failure of the people to comment on it, follows the same mistakes that plague the republicans. All of us know, in fact should have learned it from childhood, that if you fuck up, you apologize for it and move on. You don't try to mitigate the problem by pointing out extenuating circumstances (it was on the senate floor, it was in a press conference, the gender of the person making the statement, how socially loaded the choice of words to express the sentiment was), that just feeds into the situation. You apologize and move on. That's it, there is no other way. Trying to mitigate it didn't work with your parents, and it's not going to work with the public at large. Do I feel it was inappropiate? Hell no, I think there should be more swearing in public, I actually like this type of discourse, I find the hiding of feelings behind a mask of 'civility' to be pandering, but lets face facts, political campaigns revolve around that type of pandering. You cannot even attempt to pretend that you are allowed to talk like a human being in these things, everything is up for public scrutiny and makes fine ammuntion for the other side. So if you do fuck up and let loose, apologize and move on.

Everyone makes mistakes, that's a fact of life. It's how you handle those mistakes that really shows what type of person you are.
pointedview
Jul. 26th, 2004 01:47 pm (UTC)
Not to sound boring because we agree so frequently, but yes, agreed. And you're quite right, it's not being reported because she's a woman, it's being reported because she's the spouse of the person who is seeking the highest elected office in the land and is in the limelight of the biggest Democratic party event that occurs during election years! Sheesh, she'd have had to work hard to pick a less opportune time to goof.

And yes, all she'd have to do is apologize. I was so amused by Terrance's comment, about "Not to sound too much like a parent, but I don't care who started it." Hee. :)


"Everyone makes mistakes, that's a fact of life. It's how you handle those mistakes that really shows what type of person you are."

Beautifully said. *nods*

twr
Jul. 26th, 2004 01:10 pm (UTC)
All good points, BUT . . .
Man, she can say whatever the hell she wants to the editor of the Trib. It's an AWFUL paper. Seriously, the writing is so bad that I can't bring myself to read the damn thing. Hell, the Baltimore Sun is even a better paper than the Trib, and it (the Sun) is pretty bad.

Now, the Post Gazette, on the other hand, is a much better paper. Good writing, and while I don't always agree with the opinions expressed in it, at least it's intelligible enough that I can make sense of it enough to be able to agree or disagree with the opinions expressed in it.

pointedview
Jul. 26th, 2004 01:53 pm (UTC)
Re: All good points, BUT . . .
*laughs* Does she get extra points if she says it in l33t speak, TWR? Something along the lines of a letter to the editor that says "J00 and your paper 5U><><0R5," or a comparable sentiment? ;)
twr
Jul. 26th, 2004 09:28 pm (UTC)
Re: All good points, BUT . . .
No, really--the Trib is BAD. Painful to read bad, sometimes. BUT, it is good that it's there, because otherwise the Post Gazette wouldn't have any competition, and it would probably sink to the level of the Trib (well, maybe not that low, but probably at least to the level of the Baltimore Sun).
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