Thursday, October 24, 2019

Is Elizabeth Warren electable? And Other Complications.

The NPR has a story today about What Democrats Do Wrong.  Now those what-is-the-matter-with-the-Democrats stories are extremely common in the US media.  In fact, they are an almost-obligatory response to everything in American political writing.  Even if the Democratic Party gains some major victory, it's really really bad for the Democrats in some oblique way, and that way must be spelled out.

It's weird.  The stories about What Republicans Do Wrong are loads less common. 

This asymmetry in the treatment of the two parties may be linked to that other asymmetry of treatment, the one where Democratic politicians are expected to be milquetoast and Republican politicians are expected to be fire-breathing dragons, and where the Democrats are punished for even the slightest raising of their voices while the Republicans are lauded for not actually biting anyone's head off in public.

But I digress.  I wanted to talk about the meat in that NPR article which is about how electable the various Democratic presidential contenders are.  Or to talk about one bit of gristle in that meat, the way the article covers Elizabeth Warren's odds of winning the presidency:

Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren is seen as too liberal by some, especially because of her support for Medicare for All as a replacement to private insurance. And there's the complication of no woman ever having been president of the United States.
My bolds.

Yeah, there's the complication of no woman ever having been president of the United States*...

I love the fuzziness of that sentence and the way it uses "complication."   You wouldn't be able to tell from it that women used to be legally barred from voting for a president, never mind running to become one, that part of the "complication" is very much rooted in sexist beliefs about women's inner inferiority when it comes to leadership roles, and that Hillary Clinton, a woman, actually won more votes in the 2016 presidential election than Donald Trump, though the latter had the very powerful Russian votes.

But the best way of reading that sentence is to note that the complication would have been removed if the US already had had a female president! 

Why?  Because then we would know that if one woman did well in that job then all women can do well in it?  Or that if one woman bombed in it, then all women would bomb in it?

That's utter rubbish, of course. 

So what the word "complication" really means here is that enough voters could be sexists** and refuse to vote for someone with a uterus because those might wander about and cause hysteria*** and we all know that male presidents never lose their calm when carrying out delicate foreign policy operations in wartime conditions and therefore all presidents must be male. just to avoid the risk of an irrational president...

It sounds a lot nastier, put that way, than when it's called "complication."


*  When I saw that sentence, my Bayesian probability that the writer is a guy rose to somewhere around 0.97.  Then I checked and found that to be the case.

** Or believe that other voters are sexist in that way.  This causes the same final outcome. 

I have often come across the argument that Biden must be the Democratic candidate because he is male, white and old, just like Trump, and this would neutralize the sexist, ageist and racists beliefs of many or some voters. 

***  The wandering womb was once assumed to cause hysteria, which was not assumed to affect men at all, because of the absence of the uterus.

The wondering womb, of course, is the one the authorities really want to calm down and silence.

Meanwhile, in Syria, Russia And Turkey Mop Up And Divvy Up the Loot

This is the outcome of Trump's lunatic decision to withdraw US troops from northern Syria:

During a six-hour meeting at the Black Sea resort of Sochi on Tuesday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Russian President Vladimir Putin effectively carved up northeastern Syria between themselves, after the abrupt withdrawal of U.S. troops paved the way for a bloody Turkish incursion across the border. The United States was not present at the meeting.
What a birthday present Vlad The Impaler got from our supreme leader!  It was, after all, his birthday when Trump decided to abandon the Syrian Kurds (who had not abandoned the US troops).

And what is the present the Syrian Kurds in that area might be getting, other than oppression and violence and other such usual stocking stuffers?  This:

Analysts say the agreement is death knell for Kurdish autonomy in northeastern Syria. Buoyed by U.S. military backing, the Syrian Kurds had built a fragile democracy comprising self-governing subregions, called Rojava, which up until two weeks ago accounted for about a third of Syria.

Rojava ran on many egalitarian and democratic principles.  Those included equal rights for women.  But such things cannot stand when the heavyweight dictators are performing their power-dance.