Sunday, June 08, 2008

On the Feminist Caucus Endorsement

Bluewoman and I were watching the blogs while we were getting ready to head out to a wedding yesterday, we were both pretty surprised when the DFL Feminist Caucus endorsed Al Franken.

We were both disappointed.

I've known the former President of the DFL Feminist Caucus for several years now. Her resignation from the caucus was a surprise at first. Mari's work ethic for Democratic politics and candidates, integrity, selfless service, and instincts are beyond reproach. When I learned of how the Franken Endorsement came about, her resignation came as no surprise.

I saw this interesting comment over at MDE.
Mari is a stand-up character. Jackie Stevenson and the others went behind Mari’s back and endorsed him without Mari even being there and then circulated the petition right as she was going on stage.

They did that because they knew she would be opposed to endorsing a guy who didn’t even have the balls to give her a phone call to explain himself.

The feminist caucus is now a joke in my eyes. You guys really screwed up got used by the Franken campaign. He doesn’t give a shit about the caucus - you were damage control and he played you perfectly in time with his speech. Now you look stupid because you have publicly announced that you don’t care about feminism, and instead care only your preferential candidate.

Indeed. Al Franken, post Playboy scandal, couldn't sum up the courage to call the President of the DFL Feminist Caucus to discuss this matter with her?

From Franken's acceptance speech yesterday.
I am going to stand up to Norm Coleman in a way he's never been stood up to before. Because that's what I've done, and that's what I'm good at.

How will Franken stand up to Coleman when he didn't have the courage to disucss the Playboy issue with prominent DFLers who were genuinely hurt by his own actions?

At the wedding yesterday, I spoke to a lot of Democrats. There wasn't a single Democrat who was enthused by what happened in Rochester yesterday.

"Who's going to save us from Al Franken?" one lifelong DFLer asked a group of us last night. One came back with "Norm Coleman".

I also heard the line "I love Rachel Ray but I don't want her in the US Senate".

The behind the scenes actions of the DFL Feminist Caucus are disturbing to me. Franken got it right though. He ignored those who were truly disturbed by his obscene writings and talked to others at the caucus one on one. It's easier for Franken to smooth over one caucus member than to risk a meeting with several strong, proud, and upset caucus members.

Brilliantly played Mr Franken.

The DFL Feminist Caucus endorsement was key to Franken winning on the first ballot yesterday. However this endorsement does nothing for him in Greater Minnesota. In November, Franken will surely sweep the CD 4 and 5, the metro area. It does him no good in the 6th and other more conservative areas of the state.

Do we really think the biggest Franken scandals are out there now?

We should be uniting around candidates now. Most probably are. The happenings this weekend leave me disturbed. A great Democrat was thrown under a bus this weekend. Whether or not this was orchestrated by Team Franken, the endorsement is tainted.

Five months remain until the election. Franken has a lot of work to do in order to solidify support out here in Greater Minnesota. Throwing a respected member of our community is not a good start.

If more Democrats had the courage and integrity of Mari, we wouldn't be in the fix were in now.


Anonymous said...

For what it's worth --

As I was leaving the civic center, I walked past the Teamsters table and heard a gentleman in a Teamsters t-shirt say: "This race is so fucked up."

(Apologies for the language. It's a direct quote.)

eric zaetsch said...

Franken was endorsed, first ballot.

Ciresi dropped out.

Those loyal to Jack did not bail out on him, they stayed loyal, but he lacked the numbers.

Inner workings of the DFL are more of concern to DFL insiders, which I am not and have little drive to aim for as a life goal.

I look at Franken vs. Coleman. Franken's better.

Franken does not have the kind of baggabe Elwyn Tinklenberg has. I suggest that given the way Washington has worked and the yearning for change to that, Franken is beholden to no one and has shown no inclination to mix with the DC lobbyist crowd and efforts. Correct me if I am wrong about that.

The outpouring of a yearning for change is something that has been shown beyond dispute by the Obama campaign.

I suggest that the Tinklenberg business-as-usual deficiencies and problems are more serious than anything Franklen carries.

I suggest the worry might be turned the other way - will Tinklneberg being the chosen one adversely impact Franken's chances by impacting his vote count in the Sixth District.

I doubt there will be that. Many that might not have been your first choice or mine, or similar situations elsewhere in other states, will coattail wrongly on the popularity and constituency Obama has built, combined with a lack of will to split-ticket vote.

I expect there will be Dem majorities in both houses, and as when that's been the case in the past, the opportunity to really reform the system will be wasted away. I see a Dem landslide and coattailing making things better than the sorry Bush-Cheney-Coleman record, but that's an easy bar to clear. How much better?

Jack would have been interesting, had he won. He did not. Franken will do a fine job.

Why the handwringing? Down-ticket worries? Obama is the key there, not Al Franken. It's a presidential year. The very top of the ticket has always been key in such years.

dorkyteacher said...

Hal, you know me well, and you know that I'm a strong advocate for feminist issues. I do not have an issue with the Playboy comments. Why? Because it's satire. From satire is defined as:
1. the use of irony, sarcasm, ridicule, or the like, in exposing, denouncing, or deriding vice, folly, etc.
2. a literary composition, in verse or prose, in which human folly and vice are held up to scorn, derision, or ridicule.
Franken's writings have always been derisive, yes, and that's what I like about him. Through the use of his voice as a writer and comedian, Al was able to make fun of those things which we may think of as "disgusting" (as I heard another delegate refer to the piece of writing Saturday on the floor), and to point out the ills of society. His tone, however, was that of a satirist, not a politician; that much is true. However, his tone has changed now that he's running. His apology was downright genuine - enough so for me to go and get myself a Team Franken t-shirt before the vote, get ribbed by the Jack supporter in my delegation, and then...I talked the other 5 members in my delegation into supporting Al for a number of reasons which I won't bore you with here.

Hal, you and I have not disagreed on much over the 4 or so years we've known each other, and I guess this is one of those times. However, right now, we need to come together to support Franken because he and Klobuchar will without a doubt make a strong and upstanding team for Minnesotans. I talked to a lot of Jack supporters and I'm not getting that Becky Lourey animosity from 2 years ago, which I really appreciate.

MNObserver said...

How tone deaf does a commenter have to be to use the absence of male genitalia as a negative thing when discussing an alleged slight to the former President of the DFL Feminist Caucus?

BlueWoman said...

I'm a JNP fan - from almost the start of this senate endorsement race. That being said, I'll vote for endorsed candidate. Can I point out, though, that if a white man wrote about a black man and called it satire, he would always be labeled as a racist - endorsement for any public office would be out of the question. Why is different when speaking about women?

eric zaetsch said...

Last two comments: First, something internal to the DFL feminist caucus is limited news, mainly of interest to insiders. It does not change the issue base of that caucus, it does not change its number of supporters, it might be a power struggle where the insiders know the personalities and outsiders only read names. Second, I have heard women joke about "the testosterone level" etc., and there is give and take at that level. The notion of job discrimination, sexual harassment, or relative strength - caveman style by cliche - is entirely different. Not to be tolerated, and that message is being sent by litigation recoveries if nothing else. However, you get to small firms, a boss and three employees, and a promotion is given a single parent woman over a younger single man on the notion that they are equally qualified but one is more dependent on the paycheck and less likely to shop the job market and leave or less mobile given school change and other factors, what's the dynamics of that decision making, fair or unfair? Say the single man is white, and slightly more qualified in the subjective judgment of the boss - there's no IQ testing so that's the measure? Then is it fair? If such a decision is based on extraneous factors beyond merit based on competence alone, or on competence and personality dimensions impinging on competence for the job, is it fair? Is the DFL's internal rule system requiring gender balancing in sending on delegates "fair" and if so why not have an entailment of quotas of all kinds, to be more balanced and "fair?" I perceive that young newcomers suffer a bias in the DFL caucus process. I may be wrong but it looks as if there are entrenched people, perhaps thinking about "paid dues" or something, but it is stodgy that way. But it's a private operation, and can run itself its way, can't it? Even though there are only two parties, and they dominate all politics and government and spending and pork - and is that fair?

Bluewoman's point - I think percentages are relevant. Minorities are called that for a reason. If Hispanic jokes, jokes about blacks, or Jews are viewed as "correct" it can lead to demonization of a minority. Numerically, women are a majority of the population. Glass ceiling expressions on the Clinton withdrawal are legitimate, but was Clinton good enough, gender aaide, for the job? Many viewed the two Dem front runners that way, including some white women I know. If you had taboos against every nonconforming voice or expression what have you achieved? In terms of degree, what Franken's past work had was raw. Excessive. I do not think anyone defended it that way. Jokes about lynching would be comparable, with the minority factor at play to make them more dangerous. European immigrant populations, historically in the course of "Americanizing" have formed their cliques and us-them views, and Asians and gays have suffered minority status. The military consciously aims in training to depersonalize the enemy, to lessen the barriers from civilian life that might interfere with combat effectiveness.

Bluewoman's point again: Robert Byrd has a Klan membership in his background. But he is not that now. He is not a Strom Thurmond, he is in the right party where he is just as Thrumond was once he changed. Surely that was further back in time than eight years, but it fits the analogy, and the forgiveness is there - a cynic might say the forgiveness goes with seniority and Byrd's power to get even with party critics - but since I am no cynic I would not say that.

The dynamics are complex. But the response, "This is an insider thing," is fair. Party gossip. If some of the women in the women's caucus offended the "boss" it was a status thing, etc., not a gender thing at all. And not relevant to Franken or his campaign.

Finally, on the Franken is not biased in fact thing, what's the gender of his campaign boss? That was reported about a month ago when he put someone new in charge, her name and background were published, but I do not recall any mention of the ousted former chief, including gender. But how does that choice of top level campaign direction fit the two GOP state legislative individuals making a charge Franken is a mysoginist? Not too well, is my feeling.

I go back to my original position - this post is about a DFL internal situation, just as if there had been some putsch against Bill McCarthy's position in the relative union pecking order in the DFL insider group. It is important to party insiders, Hal blogs to them in large measure and is one, but, so what, in general? I am not suggesting anyone but Hal should say what news he wants to blog, but much of what he's posted is information the general electorate should be aware of to vote smart, but this item is not in that category. That's all.