White Man’s Burden

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Did anyone else ever see that terrible movie from the 90′s? Well, Elizabeth Edwards is doing a remake on the campaign trail. Why? Because she thinks John Edwards is getting screwed in press coverage. So they’re turning to the internet to help get the message out about their campaign, reaching out directly to voters. Sounds like a smart strategy to me. But she also says:

“In some ways, it’s the way we have to go. We can’t make John black, we can’t make him a woman. Those things get you a lot of press, worth a certain amount of fundraising dollars.”

Uh, I’ve been a fan of hers for a while, but that’s fucked up. Perhaps some of the reasons Obama and Clinton are getting more attention in the mainstream media are their back and forth sniping, or the fact that they’re incredibly far ahead in polls and fundraising.
The point is folks, it’s hard out there for a white man. Maybe Edwards shold run as a Republican. They’re all white, that should make it easier on him.
As Kevin puts it,

“This is me calling bullshit on the wife of a potential Presidential candidate blatantly using existing prejudices against Blacks and women for her husband’s political gain.”

Update: Since some folks seem confused about what I think is the problem with Elizabeth Edwards’ comment, I’ll try to be more clear:
Her comment, and the Esquire cover are poor John, life is unfair complaining. Which is a classic political tactic for a 3rd-place candidate. But in this case they’re playing off of people’s fears, and boiling the popularity of these other candidates down to their gender and race. None of those are acceptable tactics for a “progressive” campaign to be using.

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46 Comments

  1. Emilka
    Posted August 8, 2007 at 9:12 am | Permalink

    Shame on Elizabeth Edwards. Comments like this make me lose so much respect for her despite some of the important positions she advocates. Nothing enrages me more than the mainstream assumption that there is no longer any shred of discrimination out there and that people who think otherwise need to wake up and get that big ol’ chip off their shoulders…. UGH.

  2. seriously_trying
    Posted August 8, 2007 at 9:18 am | Permalink

    I’ll probably be ridiculed for this, but I kind of see what she’s saying. Normally this kind of stuff really pisses me off, but you can’t deny that the media often focuses on Obama’s race and Clinton’s sex. I disagree with her, but I can understand. Its almost gotten to the point that if you support Edwards or another white male Democratic candidate, you are seen as racist or sexist. However, I think it is the responsibility of the candidates to take the media focus off of race and sex and to put it on the issues.

  3. Posted August 8, 2007 at 9:39 am | Permalink

    Wow. My intense love for Elizabeth Edward has just deflated.

  4. Posted August 8, 2007 at 9:40 am | Permalink

    If she’s so sure that being female is an asset to a candidate, why isn’t she running?

  5. Jen
    Posted August 8, 2007 at 9:42 am | Permalink

    I don’t think anyone is denying that the media is focusing (in part) on the fact that Obama is black and Clinton is a woman. But the implication that this focus is the only reason is inaccurate, and offensive. Obama and Clinton are miles ahead of Edwards in every measure of popularity in this campaign. Elizabeth Edwards’ sour grapes belong elsewhere.
    And never, anywhere have I heard anyone being called racist or sexist for backing anyone else in the race. Care to share a real example? Otherwise that comments strikes me as just as reactionary as the Edwards camp is being.

  6. Posted August 8, 2007 at 9:46 am | Permalink

    I really think we should lay off the spouses of the candidates a while. They’re not the people running.

  7. Pup, MD
    Posted August 8, 2007 at 9:49 am | Permalink

    Given that all three came from modest backgrounds, and all three have developed themselves in their professions, aren’t we really comparing the equally privileged to the equally privileged at this point? There’s a big difference talking about white male privilege on a population level, and a level of three particular human beings with reasonably transparent stories.
    I, and most of the folk on this board, would love to see a president who was non-white and/or non-male. That DOES bias us against Edwards, doesn’t it?
    I have plenty of reasons for not liking Edwards. As a physician, I’m legally not allowed to like an ambulance chaser. And as somebody who has cracked an economics textbook once or twice, I can’t buy a lot of his econonmic nuttery. But I admit, the third nail is that a vote for Edwards is a vote that doesn’t help a minority and/or a woman get in the white house.
    Leave EE alone. Her statement might be the first honest thing that’s come out of the Edwards campaign in a while.

  8. Pup, MD
    Posted August 8, 2007 at 9:56 am | Permalink

    econonmic? wow, need more coffee…

  9. Posted August 8, 2007 at 10:03 am | Permalink

    They’ve been on top for far too long! It’s about time white millionaires got their due, Presidentially speaking!
    I respectfully disagree with Elaine on this one: Elizabeth is basically the id of the Edwards campaign, making it so that they can have it both ways. Edwards can pander to the bigots on gay marriage while Elizabeth can say “of course I support it.”
    I appreciate that someone does, but let’s call theater for what it is.

  10. Rock Star
    Posted August 8, 2007 at 10:03 am | Permalink

    I’m glad she said it, tho…

  11. Posted August 8, 2007 at 10:05 am | Permalink

    At this disastrous point in our country’s history, I’d rather see a white man with a damn good universal healthcare plan which will largely help disadvantaged population than a minority or woman who won’t. I love Hil and Obama, but they got way more press coverage than Edwards at the beginning, and that was because of the race/gender thing. And now they’re ahead in the polls so they’re falling all over themselves to retreat to the center, while Edwards is left alone on the left. It’s frustrating.

  12. Pup, MD
    Posted August 8, 2007 at 10:23 am | Permalink

    I would say Kucinich is alone on the left, whereas Edwards just proposes disasters that might look like good leftist policy to the untrained eye.
    DK makes me believe that our liberal utopia is a possibility in our lifetimes. Edwards, not so much.

  13. jgr4
    Posted August 8, 2007 at 10:38 am | Permalink

    What Edwards said is the simple truth – race and gender are getting Obama and Clinton a lot of press. For the 90% of the population that doesn’t study the issues, just seeing those names in the paper every day is a huge influence on their votes, and consequentially a disadvantage to anyone not getting a similar amount of press – regardless of the reason.
    It seems we’re slamming Edwards for stating a fact, because that fact has something – anything – to do with race and gender. I just don’t understand how her statement is prejudicial.

  14. Posted August 8, 2007 at 10:39 am | Permalink

    Obama got more press coverage because he’s an exciting new face. The story of his winning the election to senator in Illinois is the stuff of legend — he was out-experienced, out-fundraised, out-everythinged, and he still won a landslide victory. The Illinois Republican party through, hell, the whole kitchen at him, and he still won. And his constituency LOVES him. That’s a pretty serious up-and-comer, and they ALWAYS get serious media attention.
    Hillary gets more press for big fat “duh” reasons. She’s a fucking Clinton. HELLO????? If she were Bill Clinton’s son instead of his wife she would have every ounce as much press.
    Elizabeth Edwards’ comments were sexist and racist, period. LOTS of presidential candidates, in ANY race, get disproportionately less coverage. That’s just the way politics works. Don’t like it, agitate for a change in the way we do business so that all the candidates — including Joe Crazy who wants to get elected so he can disband the executive branch — get equal airtime. Oh, you don’t want that? Because you’re rich and able to get more attention than virtually everyone else? Oh, hmmmm…
    As an aside, I really dislike the way the Edwards campaign is being run. Edwards is trying to talk out of both sides of his mouth by having his wife pander to the left of the left as he panders to the relative right of the left. It’s just gross. It really makes me lose respect for him as a candidate, and suspect that most of what either of them is saying is more or less a lie.

  15. Posted August 8, 2007 at 10:39 am | Permalink

    I find absolutely nothing wrong or incorrect with what she said, and this post is spinning shit like a DJ. Did she say, “It’s hard out there for a white man?” Fuck no, and the idea is preposterous. She saying that her husband is not as diverse as Clinton and Obama, and she’s right. John Edwards is having to pick up the slack because he looks like an old, boring white dude, and that’s something America, specifically young America, is getting tired of.
    So, she said what everyone else was thinking? Get over it.

  16. Ann
    Posted August 8, 2007 at 10:40 am | Permalink

    Dude, thank you for posting on this. I read this quote yesterday and had a big ol’ eye roll.

  17. Jane Minty
    Posted August 8, 2007 at 11:29 am | Permalink

    She saying that her husband is not as diverse as Clinton and Obama, and she’s right.
    True, and that in itself doesn’t make the statement racist or sexist. I guess she’s not allowed to point this out?
    Personally I’d be pleased to have either a woman or African American (or both) in the White House, because it would be a refreshing change. EE knows a lot of us feel that way, and simply stating the obvious shouldn’t put anyone’s panties or manties in a bunch.
    Giver her a break.

  18. manathe
    Posted August 8, 2007 at 11:38 am | Permalink

    Thanks for posting this, and for the clarification. I think a lot of the time young feminists can see that something is wrong in a statement or event, but they’re not sure exactly what it is. Putting your finger on the heart of the problem is really helpful.

  19. Posted August 8, 2007 at 11:47 am | Permalink

    I’m really surprised that so many are willing to defend this statement. She is basically saying that being a white male is a liability, when in fact being a white (straight, middle or upper-class) male is one of the largest indicators of success in our society. To say that Edwards is getting less attention is fine. To say that sex and race is being unfairly focused on for Clinton and Obama respectively is fine. To say that Edwards is at a direct disadvantage because he is neither female nor black is not fine, and is in fact really insulting and completely blind to the privilege that our society automatically grants to white males.

  20. Jane Minty
    Posted August 8, 2007 at 11:58 am | Permalink

    She’s saying that more press will result in more fundraising dollars. Whether or not the press is focusing more attention because of the right reasons isn’t the issue; it’s still more press. The end result is still less campaign funds, if this is indeed how the formula works.
    Some of us can agree to disagree, but I get tired of everyone having to have the exact same opionion on every subject in order to be classified as a good feminist. Is the diversity within the feminist community only celabrated when we all agree on every point?

  21. mjk82
    Posted August 8, 2007 at 11:59 am | Permalink

    I don’t understand the problem here. She isn’t “boiling the popularity of these other candidates down to their gender and race”, but pointing out the reality that the media does precisely that. Due to the media’s superficial color/gender coded approach to presidential politics, it is a liability to be a white southern man. We have the media to thank for that, not Elizabeth Edwards. Does any one think for a second that if Edwards wins the nomination, the media won’t immediately attribute his victory to racism/sexism?

  22. Pup, MD
    Posted August 8, 2007 at 12:07 pm | Permalink

    To say that Edwards is at a direct disadvantage because he is neither female nor black is not fine, and is in fact really insulting and completely blind to the privilege that our society automatically grants to white males.
    John Edwards isn’t “white males.” John Edwards is an individual who is white and male, and that’s a world of difference. White male privilege is a systems effect. It doesn’t apply in a room with three people whose backgrounds suggest they have much more in common than they do not in common.
    The biggest real difference between the backgrounds of these three are that Obama and Clinton have Ivy degrees, and Edwards is the product of a respectable state school. They each came from modest middle class backgrounds, and made their way based largely on merit. Obama’s story might be a poster for how a little bit of affirmative action can do a lot of good for our society, if I interpret his first book correctly.
    When comparing three successful lawyers, invoking white male privilege against one of them seems a bit hollow. Pointing out the M.O. of the media is just three steps above common sense.

  23. Posted August 8, 2007 at 12:10 pm | Permalink

    I was so irritated by that Esquire cover. Does anyone know what the article said about John Edwards? I mean, did he know it was going to be spun that way? If you didn’t see it, it had him in what Racewire called a “superman” pose and asked if a white man could still be elected president…as if they forgot that ALL of our presidents have been white men. Because if he did, I’ll know not to support him, but if not, I’ll give him a chance. I assume he did though. ugh.

  24. Posted August 8, 2007 at 12:39 pm | Permalink

    you can find the full article here: http://www.esquire.com/features/edwardsgothic0807
    as i noted later in my comments on the racialicious article, it has little to do with the cover, so i remain disappointed in esquire for sinking to such a level to attract readers.
    i doubt, however, that edwards had a huge role in what the editors decided to run.

  25. Posted August 8, 2007 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

    John Edwards isn’t “white males.” John Edwards is an individual who is white and male, and that’s a world of difference. White male privilege is a systems effect. It doesn’t apply in a room with three people whose backgrounds suggest they have much more in common than they do not in common.
    See, this is a problematic attitude. This is PRECISELY what people say when they’re arguing against affirmative action. The problem is, you’re talking out of both sides of your mouth if you’re going to acknowledge that there’s systemic bias and prejudice on the one hand, but argue that it doesn’t affect some subset of individuals on the other. BY DEFINITION IT AFFECTS EVERYONE. PERIOD. End of discussion. If it doesn’t affect everyone, it’s not systemic.
    You yourself make a point about Edwards coming from lesser means and getting to where he is by working hard. Tell me, Pup, do you think that if Obama had gone to a state school he could have gotten to where he is today? Or do you think maybe he NEEDED that Ivy League degree for people to take him seriously? Perhaps because of the inherent systemic bias, a white man with a state school degree might get about the same degree of respect as a black man from Yale. I’m not saying this IS what happened; I’m suggesting that looking at where the candidates are NOW and completely discounting the possibility that Hillary and Barack have been disadvantaged by their sex and race, respectively, is disingenuous.
    I mean, this is RIDICULOUS. People FOR ONCE, FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER, FOR ONE FUCKING TIME IN OUR NATION’S ALMOST 250-YEAR HISTORY, are FINALLY paying attention to a black man and a white woman (and God I wish there were a woman of color up there too, but I’m still THRILLED with what we’ve got here) who have an ACTUAL SHOT at the presidency because they are AMAZING people and have WORKED THEIR ASSES OFF and have PROVEN THEMSELVES politically and professionally, and people start boo-hooing because a rich and famous white man, who also get TONS of press attention and TONS of campaign donations and TONS of support from the MSM, has a teensy bit less than a couple other people??????
    FUCKED UP BEYOND FUCKED UP. If anything, this PROVES that systemic bias affects EVERYONE at EVERY LEVEL — even at the top it’s still okay to question how popular Obama and Clinton are, i.e., SHOULD BE, because of their race and sex.
    Okay, the more I think about this, the more pissed off it makes me. LOOK PEOPLE: in every campaign, there are more popular candidates who get more screen time, and there are less popular candidates who get less screen time. That’s just plain how it is. Where was Elizabeth Edwards in 2000 when Alan Keyes was getting less press attention that W? Or did no one think anything of that, because OF COURSE a black presidential candidate will automatically get less press coverage, I mean, come on, it makes sense, it’s fair! If Edwards were getting more press coverage than Hil or Barack and feminists argued that this was due to their political minority status, we would be yelled down into silence because, well duh, Edwards is getting more attention because he’s a more popular candidate! You uppity feminazis!
    That, my friends, is sexism and racism. Blatant and bold.

  26. Posted August 8, 2007 at 1:24 pm | Permalink

    As offensive as her comments may be, she is speaking the truth. There are people who are going to vote for Hillary because she is a woman or Barack because he is Black. The fact that they are somewhat qualified is immaterial to a fair amount of people. The fact that they aren’t white men is a huge advantage that gains them clout with the press. The fact that they are good candidates is now the most important part. But, before they established their front-running positions, much of the press they received was about the fact that they were different from the standard White male archetype. To a certain degree, a lot of the coverage still tends to subtly reference their superficial differences from the rest of the candidates. The fact that Edwards had to make the comment is only a failure of the press who feel as if they have to pander to the basest of American instincts.

  27. Posted August 8, 2007 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

    Aww, poor little white man! How unfair to him that someone other than a white male is actually getting attention and a realistic shot at the presidency! I mean, what is the world coming to???

  28. kissmypineapple
    Posted August 8, 2007 at 1:35 pm | Permalink

    There are people who are going to vote for Hillary because she is a woman or Barack because he is Black.
    And there are people who will not vote for them, for those exact same reasons.
    Law Fairy, well said.

  29. Posted August 8, 2007 at 1:36 pm | Permalink

    John Edwards = all nasty, blood-sucking white men = perfect logic.
    Nice wish.

  30. RT
    Posted August 8, 2007 at 1:59 pm | Permalink

    No question that Elizabeth Edwards blew it on this one. The real question is, how important is it?
    Not very, IMHO, as long as she isn’t stupid enough to defend what she said. Given that, the main lesson here is that just like everyone else, Elizabeth Edwards occasionally screws up.
    Edwards’ real problem is that the WaPo and other MSM outlets have characterized this race from the beginning as Hillary v. Obama. (See the front of the WaPo Outlook section for the Sunday after the 2006 midterms.) That’s their story, and they’re sticking with it. It’s possible for all four main contenders on the GOP side to get coverage, but aside from gaffes (and Elizabeth’s cancer recurrence) it’s been hard for Edwards to get any coverage at all.

  31. Posted August 8, 2007 at 2:16 pm | Permalink

    I actually LIKED White Man’s Burden – I liked how it flipped the script on White American racism by envisioning an America run by racist African Americans who discriminated against Whites. I even liked John Travolta’s performance – and I usually HATE his movies!

  32. Pup, MD
    Posted August 8, 2007 at 5:29 pm | Permalink

    See, this is a problematic attitude. This is PRECISELY what people say when they’re arguing against affirmative action.
    Howdy TLF. I’m not quite sure I see the connection between what I was saying and an argument against AA. We’re talking about three very privileged people here. I would simply argue that the magnitude of privilege given to John Edwars by his race and gender are minimized in relation to the total privilege enjoyed by all three top dem candidates.
    We speak of privilege based on race and gender, as appropriate. We tend to not include class in that equation as well, and I think that’s inappropriate.
    As for your point that Obama would need the ivy education, I’m not sure that’s a simple question. In the South, it’s extremely common for state politicians to be graduates of the flagship state university. Obama and Edwards have both come through state politics, but I’m not sure how comparable those environments (NC vs Illinois) really would be. Obama has always been directed towards public service, while Edwards was an ambulance chaser before he found his soul. Could a black man make the transition from ambulance chaser to presidential candidate? Most assuredly, no.

  33. Pup, MD
    Posted August 8, 2007 at 5:31 pm | Permalink

    See, this is a problematic attitude. This is PRECISELY what people say when they’re arguing against affirmative action.
    Howdy TLF. I’m not quite sure I see the connection between what I was saying and an argument against AA. We’re talking about three very privileged people here. I would simply argue that the magnitude of privilege given to John Edwars by his race and gender are minimized in relation to the total privilege enjoyed by all three top dem candidates.
    We speak of privilege based on race and gender, as appropriate. We tend to not include class in that equation as well, and I think that’s inappropriate.
    As for your point that Obama would need the ivy education, I’m not sure that’s a simple question. In the South, it’s extremely common for state politicians to be graduates of the flagship state university. Obama and Edwards have both come through state politics, but I’m not sure how comparable those environments (NC vs Illinois) really would be. Obama has always been directed towards public service, while Edwards was an ambulance chaser before he found his soul. Could a black man make the transition from ambulance chaser to presidential candidate? Most assuredly, no.

  34. Posted August 8, 2007 at 5:38 pm | Permalink

    Elizabeth is a strategist. Perhaps it would have been more diplomatic to say “In politics, timing matters. This year, we run against a telegenic, charismatic Black man with certain merits. And we run against a powerful woman with a veteran campaign team with women voters in the majority and many eager to see that big glass ceiling broken that’s lasted for centuries. Both realities are helping to propel their campaigns as well as memories of the tech revolution that fuelled an economic boom under her husband unlike anything since the Roaring Twenties. John can’t tap into that so we continually have to review fresh ways to broaden his appeal and campaign more effectively.”
    Instead, she spoke in shorthand, clumsily, and it’s understandable why it sounds offensive. To many, it was.
    Still, I’d hesitate at accusing her of deliberately playing the race or sex card. So far, she’s seemed like a pretty genuine, caring person. I believe people should call her on it, directly via email or on their campaign blog.
    Sometimes a verbal gaffe reveals something insidious. Sometimes it reveals only a moment of careless speech. Because of her record to date, I’d grant her the chance to hear and respond before passing hard judgments.
    I’m still trying to weigh John, but Elizabeth has impressed me as the most likeable and real potential First Lady since Betty Ford (and before that, Eleanor). I think she erred, but not with malicious intent to play a race card, sex card or sympathy card.

  35. jennifer
    Posted August 8, 2007 at 6:38 pm | Permalink

    At the risk of repeating others’ comments, I agree with those who don’t think EE was trying to play any kind of “poor white male” card here. I do not think there is anything about her (albeit very clumsy) statement that says race and sex are the ONLY reason those two are getting the most attention. The media plays a huge role here – and has to a great degree boiled this down to a First Woman/First African American horse race. I’d put my money on both Elizabeth and John Edwards being among the first to acknowledge the role of white privilege in our society. Even I find myself struggling in my decision making because Edwards is the most compelling to me position/platform-wise (aside from his anti gay-marriage stance), but the thought of having a female or Black person as president is just so freaking exciting!

  36. Posted August 8, 2007 at 7:08 pm | Permalink

    We tend to not include class in that equation as well, and I think that’s inappropriate.
    You mean class background (presumably you don’t mean current economic class, since they’re all upper class, and Edwards might even be richer than, well, Obama at least)? *Possibly*, but unlike race and sex, class is not an immutable characteristic. Yes, it can affect how you view the world, how you talk, how you act, etc., even when you move into a different class — but then again, there’s just as much of an argument that Edwards is using his poor background to his “advantage” at least as much as Hillary and Barack use their sex and race to their “advantage,” because bringing it up obviously makes him look better — he *had* to work hard to get where he was, he knows what real, blue-collar, middle Americans are like because he’s one of them at heart, etc. In fact, there’s kind of no downside to this because it’s not considered socially acceptable to question whether an accomplished, successful politician “can be” president because of his blue-collar upbringing. On the other hand, it IS socially acceptable to ask these question based on sex (hell, we just watched an unembarrassed dude say this shit on youtube), and even race a little bit, by playing the inflammatory “he’s only there because of affirmative action” rhetoric.
    If Elizabeth had said something along the lines of, well, it’s just unfortunate that he’s getting less press attention and less fundraising, kind of like the blue-collar folks he grew up with are often swept under the rug in national discussions, or something like that… yeah, it’s still a cheap political potshot, but at least it’s pointing out that an ACTUALLY privileged class is potentially being unfairly privileged, rather than pretending that disadvantaged classes are being unfairly “privileged.” Her decision to use the inflammatory rhetoric she did was a cheap, lazy shot, and intellectually dishonest to boot.
    I mean, if Edwards REALLY thought being a political minority was such a benefit, why not promise to seek out a woman and/or minority as a running mate? Perhaps because he realizes that the risk of racism or sexism causing his decision to backfire is higher than the value of the additional press that would get him?? Hmmm?

  37. Posted August 8, 2007 at 8:19 pm | Permalink

    While I do agree that Elizabeth Edwards’ comment was offensive, I think it’s a big mistake to assume that the media attention given to Obama and Clinton is because of their frontrunner status. Given that they were receiving disproportionate amounts of attention from the very start, long before any substantial polls or fundraising, it seems much more likely to be the other way around. These are the two candidates who are approved by the mainstream Democratic leadership and the corporate media. The rest of us are told that we must choose between them, but it’s really an illusion of choice (I wonder if that’s why so many unmarried women aren’t voting).

  38. Posted August 8, 2007 at 8:44 pm | Permalink

    ekswitaj, I’ll concede that. So what? Every race has frontrunners. Usually they’re white men, because virtually ALL candidates are white men. Why should our evaluation of the frontrunners be any different because these two happen NOT to be white men? Why is it suddenly unfair BECAUSE they’re not white men? Why are people unwilling to accept the possibility that maybe these two weren’t given all the extra attention because they’re not white men; but rather maybe it’s because one of them is a member of a prominent and beloved (by Democrats) political family, and the other is one of the most popular junior senators who’s ever lived? Why can’t THAT be the reason they’re the frontrunners? Why does Elizabeth Edwards have to cut them down and pretend their accomplishments ALONE do not merit them the attention they’re getting? Why, in other words, do political minorities have to do everything twice as well as white men to “deserve” as much attention and credit?

  39. Pup, MD
    Posted August 8, 2007 at 9:03 pm | Permalink

    Howdy TLF, great points, and I think we’re on a very similar page.
    I actually WAS referring to current class. I figure there’s privilege you’re born into, and privilege you earn. That’s probably not what most people mean when they use the term, so I should qualify that. My thesis would then be that the privilege these three have earned (and wield through personal wealth) is much greater than the privilege they have from being white (2/3), male (2/3), or both (1/3).
    Agreed, class is not immutable. But it’s pretty darn close. These three are nice stories because they didn’t come from a Bush-like dynasty.
    Have I been out of the humanities so long that the Holy Trinity is no longer race, class, and gender? :0)
    EE’s comment was flippant, and I’m sure if someone else made it, I would not be so defensive of it. The above comment, Kevin Hayden’s, demonstrates pretty well what I “hear” when I read EE’s statement. The media knows that a good number of left-leaning voters are desperately rooting for a non-white or non-male to become president. They play to that, and give us only those choices. (btw, I’m THRILLED they even CAN give us those choices!)
    Anyway, thanks for the civil responses. Hope I’ve replied in kind.

  40. Posted August 8, 2007 at 10:57 pm | Permalink

    In case anyone was wondering, the Esquire article is six pages of little tiny details about Edwards’ life that have very little to do with this issue, unless you want to weigh for yourself how poor he used to be and how rich he is now and that kind of thing. Just trying to save people some time.

  41. raginfem
    Posted August 9, 2007 at 12:01 am | Permalink

    Wow, I just lost every ounce of respect I used to have for Elizabeth Edwards. I’ve NEVER been a big fan of her husband, but after reading about her incredible battle with & attitude toward breast cancer I thought she as an individual was amazing. That comment was just obnoxious though, and totally wrong. It’s so easy to claim Hillary gets all this attention becrause she’s a woman, but in fact I’d argue that if she were a man she’d probably already have been president by now! And as for Obama, well, he’s incredibly eloquent and sparks a certain hope in some people that gets them motivated to help him run. It’s called the gift of gab. Bill Clinton had it – and he was a WHITE MAN.
    Okay, I think I’m done now.

  42. UCLAbodyimage
    Posted August 9, 2007 at 1:06 am | Permalink

    Wow, people are really coming down hard on EE! What she said seems pretty straight-forward, if clumsy.
    1) PRO-EE Comment: OBVIOUSLY, one of the reasons that Obama and Clinton get so much press is because of their race and gender. It’s extremely rare that a woman or minority has been taken seriously as a presidential candidate. They are unique and different from the 100s of white males who have run. This makes them newsworthy. This makes them controversial. This gets them extra press, extra vilification from some, and extra interest and praise from others.
    If Obama was a white male junior senator from Illinois, no one would care about him at all. Clinton’s a different story – if she were a male relative of Bill, then there would still be lots of press coverage – just like the Kennedys.
    2) Anti-EE: The thing that seems out of place with Elizabeth’s comments is that obviously John Edwards is where he is today, in part, because he had numerous opportunities in his life as a virtue of being an attractive white male.

  43. Posted August 9, 2007 at 2:21 am | Permalink

    Had White Man’s Burden been done just a little differently, it could have been great, even a classic. But it did stink.
    As for Elizabeth Edwards, I think she dealt this card from the bottom of the deck. She is not new to this game and she knew what she was doing. While some of the coverage about Obama is that he’s black and Clinton ditto being female, there’s more talk about them screwing up. Edwards is getting the “Glengarry” fear – second place is a set of steak knives, i.e. maybe VP – and third place is “your fired.” So E. Edwards dogwhistled to redneck males – “another female/black getting a free pass.” It’s from the bottom of the deck but should be effective. Frankly, it may be his best possible weapon; he should roll with it and choke the Republican with it, from an amoral cynical “let’s get us won now!” point of view.

  44. Caro
    Posted August 9, 2007 at 3:42 am | Permalink

    I think it’s fair to say that a lot of the attention that Clinton and Obama are getting is because of the novelty – they are (to my knowledge) the first serious female and black candidates, respectively. And while (in my opinion) neither of them have said anything groundbreaking or even really laid out many policy positions, they’re getting far more attention than the other candidates who have. I might be inclined to agree with you, if the news media who are creating the buzz around them weren’t doing so with constant discussion of their respective femaleness and blackness.
    Also, I still love Elizabeth Edwards.

  45. ghostorchid
    Posted August 11, 2007 at 10:21 pm | Permalink

    I agree 100% with Kevin Hayden’s comment – she should have worded it better, but I don’t she was necessarily playing any race, gender, or sympathy-for-the-white man cards. I think her intention was to say that the other two candidates get novelty points because of being potential huge landmarks for American history – first Black president, first female president / another Clinton. Edwards has to drum up interest by being “cutting edge” with the Internet.

  46. tomby
    Posted August 17, 2007 at 4:00 pm | Permalink

    The Esquire article you mentioned asked: “Can a white man still be elected president?”
    My guess is (sadly) yes.

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