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Pre-2008 Posts

Someone Explain to Me Why Bloggers are Meeting with Clinton

So, a week or so ago, a bunch of liberal bloggers met with Bill Clinton  at Clinton’s invitation and had their picture taken with him.  The blogosphere now buzzes over two elements of this meeting:  (1) all the bloggers who showed up were white; (2) a woman blogger criticized Jessica Valenti (of Feministing’s) appearance in the photo (too sexxee). 

I’ve been scratching my head over this whole thing. Someone explain something to me:  what feminist, pro-feminist, progressive , or, heck, liberal (!) wants to have his or her picture taken with Clinton? Either one? Who wants to meet with either one (other than to publicly debate them)? I’d like to have been invited so I could turn them down, after I told them how I really felt about their invitation!

All I could think looking at the crowd of bloggers who showed up all smiling is, come ON. Didn’t you have something better to do that day? It is surely no surprise that all the faces were white. Based on my cursory skim through the list, it looks like they were also all het. Did anybody see anyone who appeared to be poor or a spokesperson for the poor or homeless, a single mom, or differently abled?

I was recently invited to be interviewed on a feminist radio station about my Rape of the Hadji Girl posts, and I am excited about that. I would be worried if Clinton wanted in my good graces and would run like hell from anything like that. From my perspective, what we bloggers are, at our best, is media. Good journalism.  Good writers disseminating news the mainstream never reports, as it is happening.  The power of blogging is not so different from the power of any sort of journalism, reporting, writing; it lies in the writer’s freedom and commitment to the presentation of news and analysis which is as uncorrupted by party politics, deals with politicians or political power-brokers, or personal political ambition as it is possible to be. Do any of you see journalists you admire (admittedly, these days, if you’re like me, this is a short list!) posing for pictures with Bill Clinton or George Bush or any of the usual similar suspects? Neither do I. So why are bloggers doing it? My thinking is, in general, bloggers — as is usually true of people in any new grassroots movement — are often politically unsophisticated and so they are flattered by the attention. They wanna run with the big (and corrupt, and compromised) dogs. This is never, never a good thing! It is in this way that really thriving grassroots movements in large numbers have been and are co-opted, ultimately losing the energy, integrity and above all, freedom which make them a real force for change and good in the world.

We have an amazing, historic opportunity during this election to speak our minds freely in ways which might make a real difference.  We don’t have to worry about editors.  We don’t have to worry about advertisers or subscribers.  We are truly independent media, widely read, in an election year!  What the Clintons are is smart enough to recognize the power that we do have.  I hope we recognize it ourselves, and protect it, and use it.




8 thoughts on “Someone Explain to Me Why Bloggers are Meeting with Clinton

  1. Many of the “big” bloggers seem to want to be shills for the Democratic Party. That’s why they deserve attention and criticism. People go on and on about the weakness of the dems-why don’t they stand up to the awful neocons, why don’t they do the right thing? Well, look at their supporters-they do the exact same thing.

    Posted by spotted elephant | September 19, 2006, 8:09 pm
  2. Yes. Another great post. And good point, Spotted Elephant.

    Posted by Professor Zero | September 20, 2006, 12:34 am
  3. Both the lack of inclusiveness and especially the defenses of it offended me, but didn’t surprise me. It’s another reminder that even in progressive movements, racism, classism and sexism rear their heads. Even the movements that purport to fight against these institutions, mirror the societies that are built upon them. What bothers me is that there’s a chilling effect(to say the least) if anyone’s called on it.

    I had an interesting, if bizarre experience today. I think sometimes dealing with my adversaries(even some who’ve been shits) is easier than dealing with supposed allies. At least with adversaries there’s no trust issues because we don’t trust each other. OTOH, there’s sometimes more of a mutual understanding of what the other is saying and the boundaries set on rare occasions when you do find common ground. Allies, often are trickier because of what you wrote about wanting to be liked by those in power.

    Our city management has been screwing the city’s labor unions over and currently, it’s the police union’s turn. This, on the same day where Eminent Domain was voted to use against three blocks of local family-owned businesses seen as “blight” by the city. Most of these businesses are owned by Latino or Asian-American families. Some first generation immigrants. Their business taxes have paid for improvements in an area where businesses are predominantly owned by Whites(usually old money) and what’s happened is that the improved areas have made their areas look in contrast, “blighted” which faciliates backroom deals leading to one ridiculously low price–or else then Eminent Domain.

    Then, we discovered the city manager has reingaged on promises made to continue monitoring of our police department, and tried to paint the monitor who was supposed to be doing it as the bad guy. So I see this as all related, the shabby treatment of the unions(even one led by people who made my life miserable for years), the small business owners, the communities when it comes to the police departments. So I tied it together in my speech to the council, said that if they were screwing over the police union in their negotiations(they’re suing), then the community is going to be treated worse. All the “community leaders”(well to be fair, most of them are self-appointed without “communities” that are gearing for political office) were silent. I hear a huge gasp, then applause from the back of the room and it’s the police union board. Then there was the tears. No one has defended them, not their cheerleaders, not the “officer, right or wrong” crowd and not the politically minded people who use “I support officers” to get ahead in this town. Just their most vocal critic, who most of them despise. But it was the right thing to do, because what the city manager is doing across the board is wrong. And though it was hard for me to say what I did, I know much harder it was for them to respond.

    I waited until they left b/c I don’t trust them, but when I left, encountered several in the parking lot and we discussed the hiring issues and how a lockout was going to impact hiring officers. I know if we don’t hire better officers, we’re screwed. History has shown us that in ways that can’t afford to be repeated. Diversifying the department requires a better pay scale and benefits because right now, Latinos(particularly bilingual)and Black candidates are actually the subject of aggressive recruitment by many local agencies.

    It was very strange and hard to explain but interesting and we’ll be butting heads again soon enough anyway.

    Posted by Radfem | September 20, 2006, 5:55 am
  4. “Someone explain to me why bloggers are meeting with Clinton.”

    The same reason bloggers went to Amsterdam.

    Posted by Pony | September 20, 2006, 12:35 pm
  5. “Do any of you see journalists you admire (admittedly, these days, if you’re like me, this is a short list!) posing for pictures with Bill Clinton or George Bush or any of the usual similar suspects? Neither do I. So why are bloggers doing it?”

    You sure know the right buttons to press in me, Heart.

    I think one of Amy Goodman’s finest moments was on election day 2000 when Bill Clinton was calling radio stations asking people to vote and called Democracy Now!. Goodman didn’t miss a beat and took the feel-good pr spotlight away from him by launching into tough questions about corporate corruption in politics, Leonard Peltier, the death penalty, etc. If she had dropped the ball on that opportunity to speak truth to power by letting Clinton do his drive-by get out the vote phone call without bringing up these important I wouldn’t have as much respect for her.

    Here’s the interview if anyone wants to read a living homage to the phrase “Well behaved women rarely make history”

    Posted by Sam | September 20, 2006, 4:05 pm
  6. I was bothered by the all white nature of the meeting too, but it was hard to level any further criticism against someone who already got a major beat down from all the patriarchy supporters for daring to be female and clothed. The overlapping nature of oppressions makes it difficult when to know what to say or do. I wish the whole discussion hadn’t been hijacked by assholes into whether or not her clothing or smile or breasts were appropriate – I think there were more important things to talk about here – but they were drowned out in the tide of recrimination over her clothing/defense of her clothing.

    Posted by Amananta | September 20, 2006, 5:26 pm
  7. Thank you for this post, Heart, I was wondering the same things and I’m so glad to see it spelt out so eloquently. x

    Posted by Laurelin | September 21, 2006, 6:49 pm
  8. While I don’t disgaree with most of what has been said here, there is something to be said for building bridges with powerful people.

    I am occasionally asked to consult with policy makers on legislation within my areas of expertise, and although I haven’t had much impact on anything important, I’ve wielded a tiny bit of useful influence here and there. So I go to lunches and dinners with somewhat powerful people once in a while, so that I am known to them. And I always bring my breasts! And I speak my mind. And once in a blue moon I get someone else invited along who otherwise might not have been included, and that person gets a chance to speak and become known as well. I undertsand that this may sound like collaboration, but to me it is infiltration!

    Posted by Ann Bartow | September 24, 2006, 6:48 pm

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