Dover Bitch

Friday, May 04, 2007

Debates: On Women and Race

Overall notes: Ten middle-aged, White men talking about things that concern middle-aged, White men. Nothing significant about women's issues (other than near unanimity in overturning Roe), nothing about AIDS, nothing about Katrina.

On race: Practically nothing.

MR. VANDEHEI: Governor Thompson, is racism still a problem in our society? And can a president do anything about it?

MR. THOMPSON: A president can do a lot of things. A president can -- can set a vision that's going to abrogate as much as possible racism in our society. A president's got to be able to get out and speak and be able to unite. And the great thing about Ronald Reagan was he was a uniter, and that's exactly what I tried to do as governor of the state of Wisconsin. I tried to bring people together. And if you do that, you can reduce and abrogate racism to a very great degree, and the president of the United States has got to be the number-one person in doing that.

Uh, so is racism still a problem? Answer: Ronald Reagan was terrific.

There was also this unreal exchange:

MR. VANDEHEI: Mayor Giuliani, Bradley Winters of New York would like to know if there's anything you learned or regret during your time as mayor in your dealings with the African-American community.

MR. GIULIANI: There's a great deal that I learned and a great deal that I regret during the time I was mayor, and a great deal I was very, very satisfied with.

I tried very, very hard to treat everyone in New York City the same. We reduced crime by 67 percent. Some of the biggest beneficiaries of that would have been in the poorer neighborhoods of New York City, not necessarily the African-American community, but a lot of the communities of New York City. And I worked very, very hard to try to move hundreds of thousands of people out of welfare. I think -- we actually followed Tommy Thompson's program, and we had the most successful welfare-to-work program in the country. We moved 600 and -- 60,000 people off welfare. And I think one of the reasons that crime is still down in New York today --

Good job, Rudy. You were asked about the African-American community and all you could think to talk about was crime and welfare.

On women: Practically nothing (other than the fact that they are practically unanimous in opposing abortion). There were two questions about women's issues. Beyond that and abortion, John McCain mentioned "women" three times, as in "young men and women in Iraq." That was it.

Here's how the candidates dealt with the two questions relating to women. First, Jim Gilmore:

MR. VANDEHEI: Governor Gilmore, this question comes from Malika in Washington, DC. Women are the fastest growing prison population. Most are mothers who are non-violent, first-time offenders. What will you do to address the issue of mothers behind bars and the children left behind?

MR. GILMORE: You know, when I was governor of Virginia I had to deal with a great number of these issues, and I think that we have to insist upon the obedience to the law. And that means that we have to let the courts and the juries make decisions based upon all of those matters.

When I was a prosecutor, I was an elected prosecutor, I had to address these issues all the time, and the fact is that we just simply have to have the law apply in an appropriate way.

Shorter Gilmore: What will I do? Nothing.

Next up, Tom Tancredo, courting the ladies:

MR. VANDEHEI: Congressman Tancredo, this reader requests a yes or no answer. Will you work to protect women's rights, as in fair wages and reproductive choice?

REP. TANCREDO: I will work to product -- to protect women's rights. The reproductive choice part of that, if I heard you correctly, is a reference to abortion. The right to kill another person is not a right that I would agree with and support.

Shorter Tancredo (if that's possible): Women's rights? Uh, yeah... no.

Every other mention of women had to do with abortion and the fact that everybody would be glad to see Roe overturned. Gilmore and Giuliani support limited abortion rights. Brownback said the end of Roe would be "glorious."

But I suppose I should be "reassured" by this display. Or, at least, I "need to understand" that it is "reassuring."

HOWARD FINEMAN: Keith, if you look at that picture and took away all of the writing and all of the words, and just had the image, could the American people tell that those were Republicans? I think the answer is yes. There is a hierarchical, there is, dare I say it, male, there is an old-line quality to them that some voters, indeed a lot of voters, find reassuring. And this is something that the Democrats need to understand. The Democrats are the “we are family” party, which is great, but this is the other side of the conversation and this is their home here. We really are in Reagan country.

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