DNC Speculation Centers on Clinton 'Catharsis'

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As the Democratic National Convention approaches, growing news of confirmed speakers and anticipated highlights continues to dominate headlines, and the blogosphere is no exception. Bloggers Darragh Murphy and Pamela Merritt describe the Internet buzz and how some are reacting to what could be Sen. Hillary Clinton's last stand in the race for the White House.

ALEX CHADWICK, host:

Politics. The Democratic Convention is next week, Tuesday night. Senator Hillary Clinton will be giving the keynote address. It remains a major challenge for Senator Obama to woo the support of her approximately 18 million voters.

COHEN: And some of those voters are still angry. Slate.com senior editor Dahlia Lithwick has been writing about that anger. Dahlia, you call this the disturbing rise of the Hillary harridan. Great scrabble word. Remind us what it means and what's so disturbing about it?

Ms. DAHLIA LITHWICK (Senior Editor, Slate.com): Well, I just think this is archetype - an age-old archetype that goes back to Lady Macbeth Macbeth and Cruella de Vil and Miss Havisham. And you know, all the old, angry, deranged women in history and literature, who will act against their own best interest because they're mad and they want revenge. And what worries me about the way some of these Hillary groups are marketing themselves, is that they're playing directly into that sort of stereotype of shrewish, angry, vengeful women who will topple everything in order to make their point.

CHADWICK: Dahlia, you note that a lot of these is in the blogosphere, it's home to the pro-Hillary group, PUMA - I won't go into that acronym - but the founder is Darragh Murphy. Here she is recently, she was interviewed on NPR's Tell Me More.

Ms. DARRAGH MURPHY (Founder, PUMA): This isn't about emotionalism. This is isn't about catharsis or anger. This is about the party rules and the processes of our party that reflect the larger Democratic processes that underpin our elections. This is a chance for elected delegates to vote for their candidate and for the candidate of the people they represent.

CHADWICK: You know, this is the argument about whether or not Hillary's name should actually be put forward at the convention. It will be now. But Dahlia, I think she's saying that you are misstating this. It's not bitterness, it's not hysteria, it's commitment.

Ms. LITHWICK: Well, for one thing, Alex, if you'd been willing to spell out what that acronym PUMA stands for, I think it would go a long way towards the spelling the notion that there is not anger here.

CHADWICK: OK, it's Party, Unity, My "Butt".

Ms. LITHWICK: Thank you. And I think that speaks volumes. But look, if the real political object here is changing the system. Whatever you want to do to the DNC to make the rules fairer - changing stereotypes about women in the media, that's a legitimate project.

The notion that they're fighting to get someone elected, who's withdrawn her name from the nomination, who has neither organization nor funds to finance a race, and who herself supports Barack Obama, goes, I think, to the point that this is just not an achievable goal. It seems to me that there are so many small manageable political goals, if you're frustrated about how the primaries went.

But writing angry letters to super delegates and threatening to topple them if they don't vote for Hillary, or threatening to destroy the convention in Denver, just does not strike me as achievable political goals. It strikes me as petulance.

BRAND: Dahlia, I think we need to point out here that a number of these angry Clinton supporters are men. So doesn't that kind of poke a hole in your argument? Or can guys be the Lady Macbeth types too?

Ms. LITHWICK: Well, that's a really good point. And certainly, I think that one of the things we've done in the media is really focus on the women who are, you know, the leadership of some of these groups. And certainly there are a lot of Hillary supporters who are angry and aggrieved who are also men and there are young women and all sorts of other folks. But I think part of the problem is that it's focused on this typical 60 year old angry white woman, and that angry white woman has been really willing to play the type in the media.

BRAND: Slate.com's senior editor, Dahlia Lithwick. Thank you.

Ms LITHWICK: It's always a pleasure.

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