What women's rights look like when the two sides come together as one.
What women's rights are when women are no longer manipulated by party rhetoric.


Tuesday, August 21, 2012

We Can't Let The History of 2008 Be Rewritten. We Mustn't Forget.

Cynthia Ruccia



It has been brought to my attention that some of the people I had teamed up with during the 2008 campaign have decided to go back to the Democrats to support Barack Obama in 2012. That of course is their right as Americans, and I won't argue that point. However, it just seems so incongruous to me to join back with the very same people who perpetuated the worst outbreak of sexism and misogyny of my adult life.  Are we just going to let that sexism be swept under the rug? Are we going to have it stand for the record that the party of women used the very tools that they say they support to run off the women who tried to make it to the top?

There is no question that the Democrats used whatever it took to win in 2008, and that included vicious sexist attacks against Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin, and they never used their bully pulpit to speak up against these attacks. You can view the two videos in the right column that illustrate a sampling of what went on in 2008.

I became a Democrat and married myself  to that party for 40 years. The only reason I chose that party is because I believed that they put women's advancement and interests front and center. When I saw what happened in 2008, I felt duped and betrayed. But you don't need to read my account of it. Anita Finlay wrote a book  that describes what went on better than I ever could. 4 million people left the Democratic party over this turn of events. Many of us found our way to each other, and there are tons of blogs and websites that have been writing about it ever since. But don't take my word for it. Go over to The Crawdad Hole or Peacocks and Lillies, just to mention a few, and check out their extensive blogrolls. We are a large community and we keep speaking up.

I understand that time has passed and that things have happened that have perhaps moved our attention away from the events of 2008. It has been hard taking the stand that many of us have taken. We have had to fight an ongoing war with our former compatriots on the Democratic side. Most of us have suffered hate mail, death threats, taunting, derision, we've been called every ugly thing in the book, and character assassination is the order of the day. Although it is a Republican meme to keep trotting out the Saul Alinsky school of doing politics and the Chicago Way, as far as I am concerned, there is some truth to that. I have come to believe that Alinsky spawned a Machiavellian mindset for the modern age.

I also understand that many of us were completely unprepared for such a fight. We were just standing up for the truth as we saw it. As one of the first out there publicly speaking up, the blowback was fierce. However, the door was opened for a large and mighty army of like-minded people to speak up as well. Although 2008 was an ugly year to stand up against the establishment, it was also a wonderful year to meet all of the amazing people. We were definitely not alone in this fight.

We were ridiculed because there were not enough of us to change the course of the election. That is a fact. But that doesn't mean that our concerns were ridiculous or irrelevant.  Our concerns have changed the national dialogue and have prompted a new and sometimes reluctant look at what the state of women is in the early 21st century in the U.S.

Many people are still deniers. They want to say that the sexism never happened. For these people, the mere existence of sexism muddies up their view of history, that 2008 was a year for all Americans to feel so proud of their country for electing their first African-American president. But for many of us, that accomplishment was tainted by the way that victory was achieved. It was achieved on the backs of women, and that piece of history must never be forgotten. And no Lily Ledbetter Act or female appointments to the Supreme Court or anything else can change what happened in 2008.

I suppose that we have to celebrate our victories even if they were won ugly. I am glad that we have a third of the Supreme Court as females. I guess it really doesn't matter how we got there as long as we got there. I am not naive-----politics is an ugly affair. You know, that whole sausage making thing. I mean we got the right to vote because Alice Paul almost starved herself to death and was tortured in prison along with other courageous souls. And we have three female justices on the Supreme Court because of a guilty conscience. These and the passage of the Lily Ledbetter Act were a form of hush money. That is to say, we'll do this for you if you shut up about the sexism.

I say NO DEAL to that.  I know it is difficult to move away from what we have been for many years. Many of us have been Democrats so long that it was just part of our existence like our families and our communities. It has been extremely disorienting to move away from what we've always known, but it has also been refreshing in many ways. Truthfully, some of the Democratic beliefs need to be questioned. And I and many many others have realized that we were so complacent and lazy in our belief that we never even bothered to question what the Democrats were doing.

One of my friends says that you just can't question people for what are their basic fundamental beliefs. I understand what she is saying, and that is that you have to have some respect for where people are coming from. I agree with that  because you can't have a conversation with someone if you don't try to meet them on their turf a little bit.

But I have grown weary of the defense of the indefensible. Just because people don't think it happened doesn't mean it didn't happen . These people are sweeping the whole thing under the rug because it calls into question other beliefs and I consider that a sign of weakness, intellectual laziness, call it what you will. In my opinion, our whole politics needs to be reframed anyways, and doing what you've always done and expecting to get a different result is a symptom of fear of change.

I bring all of this up because I understand if some of our warriors are weary. I understand that it is tiring to constantly be told that if you don't support such and such a thing that women will be blasted back to the stone age. It's an exhausting argument to have. But who do we want to write the history of 2008? Do we want the history to be one of denying that the sexism of 2008 ever happened, or do we want it to be the history that WE experienced? What good does it do to the future of women to say that this piece of our history never happened??????

I'm not hunting votes for Romney/Ryan, although that is the ticket I am supporting. Actually, the Republicans in the ugliness of the moment, are actually doing the right things vis-a vis the akin garbage, even though it is only for politically expediency. I am just saying that it seems crazy to me to be upset about what the Obama team wrought in 2008 concerning women and then to go back and align yourself with that ticket in 2012. That is as good as saying that the misogyny of 2008 didn't matter. It is almost the same as going back to your abuser because they really didn't mean it, or you love them, or whatever. It is like an addiction you can't shake. It completely undermines your argument and negates what you stand for. And it rewrites the important history that must be recorded for future generations.

Why does the U.S. rank now #79 in the world in female representation in government? Why have we never had a female president or vice-president? Why do women hold only 12% of the governorships, 6% of the top 100 mayoralties in the U.S., 2.8% of the Fortune 1000 CEO positions, 24% of the state legislative positions? What did you do to help change it? Were you courageous like Alice Paul, or were you content to let others shoulder the heavy lifting? It is a long and winding road, to quote Paul McCartney. Let's not lose sight of what brought us together and what we are fighting for. Who is going to write the history?


35 comments:

  1. Cynthia,

    Thank you so much for writing this piece. I agree wholeheartedly with your message and try to spread the word whenever the opportunity presents itself. Why these women are going back to their abusers, I will NEVER understand...but it's up to those of us who won't to keep the truth alive and push for advancement of women in both parties as well general population. Thanks for being such an eloquent and effective spokesperson for our mission.

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    1. while most of the people who joined us in 2008 are still on the same page, it has shocked me who has left to go back to support the Democrats. I chalk it up to battle fatigue I guess. One of them lives in lefty country where there isn't much diversity of views. It can be hard to be the lone voice in the wilderness.

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  2. Every time I watch the video links on the right side of your page I am furious all over again. Great article!

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    1. BTW - Thank goodness for technology - what happened can never be erased no matter how hard they try. Bastards.

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    2. you're right Thia-----thumbs up to that!!!!

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  3. Among the outcomes of 2008 were groups of women who, re-aligned in their thoughts, have forged new friendships and activism efforts. Where do we see this? Among other places...right here on WW2. For this I am very grateful.

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    1. Thanks NewMexicoPeach----what a nice thing to say!!! I must confirm that the friendships I have made through the entire debacle have been the best!!!

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  4. Your sentiments ring strong with me. I have become very active in the Romney/Ryan campaign and believe me I cannot buy the anti-woman stance that Obama still sings against anyone who opposes him. Too many memories of what he allows to happen and what he actually believes rest in my personal experiences. The only difference now is that more people are beginning to realize that Obama is not what he seems! I remain a Democrat out of respect for Hillary Clinton and what was done to her, as a capable woman, but I vote in accordance to what I know--the combination of both experience and intelligence. Romney stands by Anne and is a great, caring husband in a close nit family filled with love. He puts her interests before his both exemplified by his devotion to her in her Cancer and MS. Ryan, who I just met, is a treasure of values that place women in a highly respectful place and you can see that genuinely in his relationship with his wife, mother and children. It is there in every statement and action on the trail.

    The rights of women begin with a good economy... the pportunity to expand our capabilities....promote our creative power and work in an environment that appreciates the value of respect for people in general, not just women -- beyond targeted words on a teleprompter aimed at a purpose of personal gain.

    Going back to Obama is uncomprehensible to me as:

    I remember a man who wanted to alleviate poverty but yet bullied a Black woman for her Illinois Senate seat on signature fraud (which she later proved false) then let the projects she brought out of poverty go back to slums for many women and their children as his goal was the US Senate.

    I remember the man who preaches unity but only breeds division through hate, fear mongering and playing the race card to gain advantage. Remember this, "You ought to be ashamed, Barack"! as Hillay stated on one TV spot. Aren't you seeing it again only at an earlier stage of the campaign?

    I remember the family man who favors women but cannot speak against public degredation of women unless they are part of his self promotion-- Palin and others come to mind.

    I remember a man in the Illinois senate saying .... that a baby who survives an abortion does not have the right to medical help? His name is Barack Obama.

    I could go on and on but. . . .

    Being too involved in the Clinton campaign in many states I remain with the scars of an abused woman from a man who always stayed above the frey of hate, fear and division to promote himself. Why would anyone who remembers forget?

    Being conscious of choice allows one to become a creator of one's experiences rather than a victim.... Doing or not doing is a matter of choice....Nothing can be accomplished without intention... the action is in the hands of the actor... (Responsible Choice by Zukav & Francis).

    I remember and I choose to promote the Romney/Ryan ticket and then use my choices from healthcare to career moves in a better economic state based upon greatest of country and respect for a nation and its people to continue to promote the rights of women everywhere in an environment that will support it. There is where I will gain my greatest opportunity.

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    1. Thank you for this uplift There Is One More Road To Cross. You have inspired me!!!!

      Our message is true but difficult for others to grasp because they are stuck in a time warp. But I know we are right and we just need to break the current political frame. Fortunately there are many who want the same thing, perhaps for different reasons. In that we are definitely part of a growing cohort!!

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  5. endlessly frustrating and dissapointing to see peoples eyes glaze over at the mere mention that anyone in the D party or liberal media could possibly have done anything sexist. Especially annoying when the denial comes from the very people who have the gall to tell me i need to vote for Obama b/c hes "better for women". lol. Derp.

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  6. Hey Ctynthia I read that the head of The New Agenda amy siskind is supporting Obama. Is that true?

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    1. that's what I heard.

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  7. I read a Yahoo headline that Obama's campaign was going to challenge Ryan on "women's issues". Read the article and it is clear they meant abortion stance not "women's issues". Neither party values the women's vote. You couldn't pay me to vote for Obama after 2008 and the sexism carried out on Palin and Hillary by the Democrats. I will vote my local ballot but haven't decided if I will support Romney or write in Presidential Barbie. The anti reproductive rights and legitimate rape crap is a bit much for my pro woman sensibility so I have to conclude they don't really want my vote.

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    1. That is so unfair. The idiot who made the "legitimate rape" comments has been soundly denounced the Repub party, talk radio, and individual Pubs over and over. We are frantically trying to force him out of the race but we somehow all get tarnished by his stupid remarks? Very unfair :(

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    2. Bes----I'd consider writing in a woman's name just to vote for a woman, but I live in Ohio and my vote has a different weight to it. I just can't bear the thought of voting for O for all of the reasons mentioned above. If you vote for President Barbie, I'll be with you in spirit!!!!

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    3. Thia: Republicans are being tarnished by the fringe view of no exceptions for abortion even when the woman was raped because it is part of the Republican platform.

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    4. Bes this is a made up controversy. Check out this article.
      BTW I disagree with them on abortion it is just not even near the top of the list of issues I care about and therefore vote in mind of. But nothing has changed in the "official" Pub position, this is just the media helping the Obama campaign blow the "Pubs are coming after your uteruses" dog whistle and watch women come running.

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    5. Thanks for the input Thia.It is just so tired a tactic, this hysteria. If the Republican platform has had that language for the past 35 years through both Republican and Democratic presidents, why is it that I can still get an abortion (except that I'm past that age, so technically I can't get an abortion---LOL!!!)? The Dems are fast to shout that all non Dems are being dog whistled except when it is THEY who respond to this kind of dog whistle. Poor dog whistles----they'll never be the same after this election year.

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  8. Quite a dilemma, Cynthia. Let's also NEVER FORGET that the Republican Party bullied, smeared, loathed, detested and were hate-mongers with every fiber of their being towards Hillary when she was First Lady; inclusive of, but not limited to: accusing her of murder and causing the biggest disruption known in American history--Monica Lewinsky and the Impeachment of Bill Clinton. The Repubs' policies are REGRESSIVE, REPRESSIVE and many are downright sexist and racist. I live in the South, I know their tactics all too well -- THAT is no political "meme"!
    What happened in 2008 with HRC and the Dems pales in comparison. Said it before, said it again, HRC is a big girl, and knows exactly what she's doing, so if it's not bothering her, then if it is continuining to grate on you for 4 long years, than this is more about YOU than about Hillary or the Dems.
    I, for one, will continue to support the Party whose policies are more closely aligned WITH mine -- Hillary and Obama will come and go, but the POLICIES that we support will have long-lasting effects on our future and those of future generations. i am more of local activist, and as a Latina I must say... Repubs in Texas have been DEVASTATING to our communities--cuts in education, local services and now the closing of Planned Parenthood is having incredibly adverse effect on us -- that is all the direct result of the machinations of the Repub Party -- nationally and statewide with the crazies who join in with Rick Perry!

    IMHO... what really needs to happen, here, is that you must reconcile 2008 with 2012 and then 2016 if Hillary runs for President as a Dem. It's going to be incredibly difficult for you to support her, her Party and the policies that you loathe and detest today; that clearly will be problemmatic for you in the future.
    Before everyone descends upon this post, as usual, please know, I am saying this with the utmost respect. I was a Delegate in 2008, I was on numerous phone calls with you, Cynthia, so just trying to keep it respectful but REAL.
    Best regards.

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    1. Removing public funding is not the same as closing Planned Parenthood locations. I do not want my tax money going to PP simply because they are a partisan hit squad for the Democrats. I would absolutely donate money VOLUNTARILY to a truly non-political non-partisan group that provided contraceptive assistance. But I am not interested in my tax dollars helping Dems. That makes me a crazy?

      BTW I am from Texas and live in the South as well and I don't see that people here are any more likely to be sexist or racist than any other part of the country - and I have lived and done business all over it. You can find them anywhere. It borders on bigoted to make those kinds of statements about an entire region of the country. If the people in your circle are like that maybe you just need a better group of friends?

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    2. Ginger: Because the Democrat party won the election for Obama, the chosen one, using misogyny and sexism they made the tactic legitimate (in their eyes) and the tactic will be used over and over again whenever a woman stands up to run for office. Because the Democrat party refuses to acknowledge their sexism problem it is clear they will not do anything about it. Parity of representation in government for women is what I consider the most important women's issue. Democrats set women back 50 years in 2008 when they told Hillary to sit down and shut up before the convention and took her votes and gave them to Obama. So I too will vote for the party whose policies are most closely aligned with mine. I know that won't be the Democrats.

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    3. Hey Bes----why do you think that so many Democrats, and especially women, want to a) deny that the sexism of 2008 coming from their own party actually happened and b)insist that female parity doesn't matter? It constantly amazes me how blatantly inconsistent it is to support abortion for women as the ONLY litmus test for being pro-women and yet withdraw all support for the idea of women achieving parity. My opinion is that these people are too afraid to try on a new idea for fear of alienating their friends. Alot of them are very smart, but that stance makes them appear to be extremely insecure individuals, unwilling to stand up for something different and outside the tribal norm.What say you Bes?

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    4. Cynthia: I am baffled by the behavior of women Democrats who turn a blind eye to sexism in their party. It could be they have a need to display blind faith in something but have zero religious beliefs so they divert the energy most people put into religion to their politics. It could be they desperately want to belong to the tribe. It could be they have an extreme need to feel taken care of and need to believe their party cares for them in spite of how party leaders behave. When feminists choose abortion policy as a principle that women MUST unify behind or else, they are choosing the most divisive issue around and so they are insuring there will not be a women's voting block and will not be progress on the many other issues of women. So these could simply be women who benefit more from the stagnation of feminism than from women moving forward. Maybe they fear if real progress is made for women there will be zero jobs for feminist leaders. Abortion and reproductive rights affects women for one third of their life and then only if they are sexually active with men. Women face so many problems in life that the pro woman movement needs to first focus on problems that affect all women. Equal pay for equal work, equal access to education and jobs, parity in political representation, media images of women and girls and access to equal and relevant healthcare are issues that affect all women throughout their whole life.

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    5. I am baffled as well. Desperation to belong to the tribe-----yep. Hard to believe that all of those clever educated Democratic women can't see how stagnant their thinking has become. I think its even harder for those who don't live around a diversity of views. For all of the erudition of the Ivy educated, they really are more like a little, provincial village when it comes to women's issues.

      I've always said that it is the religiously committed Dems will be the last ones to change when it comes to advancing women. That's not to say that the subject of reproductive rights doesn't matter. It does. But as you said, it is NOT the be all and end all. Far from it.....

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    6. As far as Ivy educated goes I think the term Ivy indoctrinated is probably more accurate. For me an intelligent or educated person is a person who is capable of original ideas or of understanding multiple perspectives. The Ivy educated I've noticed just memorize and regurgitate dogma. They also have contempt and fear of anyone who isn't part of their club.

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    7. as a recovering Ivy indoctrinated person (LOL!!!), you couldn't be more right when it comes to the arrogance. there's a Dr. Seuss book called "The Sneetches" that I used to read to my sons about how the Sneetches with stars on their bellies thought they were better than anyone else and what ensued when someone came along and gave everyone stars on their bellies.

      I am very very happy to see the conservative ivy league prof Niall Ferguson take on the lefty ivy leaguers. It is a fight of epic proportions over very very little IMHO.They are fighting over how much ACA is going to cost. From where I sit, it's going to cost----alot, and no matter how rosy a picture you paint, things almost always cost more than you expect. But they are screaming that Ferguson should have his Harvard tenure taken away because of his conservative intellectual treachery. Fortunately Ferguson can give as good as he gets-----

      http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/21/niall-ferguson-paul-krugman_n_1818082.html?ncid=wsc-huffpost-cards-headline

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  9. This just in: "Republicans approved platform language on Tuesday calling for a constitutional amendment outlawing abortion with no explicit exceptions for cases of rape or incest."

    It's hard to understand how any woman who cares one whit about any other women could actually vote for this party. Yes- both parties are sexist. Yes - men are sexist, and many women are sexist too. But that does not justify voting for a party that would vote for a law outlawing abortion as stated above.

    I am sad to see revenge and hatred rather than a productive approach that moves women forward coming to dominate this blog. Those are understandable feelings, but they aren't going to help women and they aren't going to attract women to the cause. They are going to drive women away in droves. I hope you will re-think your positions and get back to the important issues. Hillary got over it - you should too. There is too much to be done to continue in this irrational vein. Yes - I get it - you are mad at your former party. That's not a good enough reason to justify these irrational positions.

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    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    2. Anonymous: I am not voting for the people who corrupted the primary system in 2008 by giving Hillary's votes to Obama and by telling Hillary to sit down and shut up before the convention because I believe in Democracy and in the right of women to run for office. So I can't vote for people (the Democrats)who make a mockery of Democracy and of women who run for office. You are totally off base to label my principled decision as "revenge and hatred". For me the most important "women's issue" is parity in government representation for women. Democrats set that possibility back 50 years in 2008.

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    3. BTW brave courageous anonymous, although I am totally prochoice, your reaction is a bit, ummm, hysterical???? Sorry to use that heinous word. HOWEVER, if you check out Thia's comment above, there is a link to an article that patiently explains that the Republican Platform language is exactly the same language that has been used since 1984. Now think about that for a minute. We've had both Republican and Democratic presidents since then, and I don't believe that that language has been anything more than, well, words. Why would you only NOW, almost 35 years later, get yourself into an uproar over yesterday"s news?

      Now admittedly, I'm not in favor of what that language is proposing. However, it is still a principled stance. I don't have anything against the people who support that. It's there right. But I have an ENORMOUS problem with people who can be dog whistled into producing the desired reaction when such, well, sorry again, hysterical claims are made.

      You, anon, and I wish I knew your name so we could have a reasonable discussion here, are being used. And it is THIS kid of behavior that is preventing women from making advances in their professions and in terms of reaching any kind of economic or power parity.

      Next time you're here and wish to comment, why not come out of the closet and let us know who you are? It's much easier addressing a human instead of a brick wall. Unless your desire is to just throw bombs and disappear-----a cowardly act.

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  10. Ginger and Anonymous (I am always puzzled why people like to make anonymous comments and don't identify themselves).

    My frame is entirely different than the frame you choose to use. I write over and over again that both parties suck. I can't understand why you haven't let that fact sink in. If I say anything pro or con about either party, you jump on it from the Republicans are bad and Democrats are good frame. If Hillary is nominated in 2016, I will support her. I am an INDEPENDENT. That means I can pick and choose and not have to hew to any party line. And I don't intend to.

    To the brave anonymous who chooses to call me hateful and revengeful, sigh. There is no getting through to people like you. You clearly don't read anything that has been written here and you yourself are filled with the rancor and bitterness of yesterday's politics. As long as "women coming together" means only supporting abortion to folks like you, then I guess you can call me any name you want. I have abandoned that position for very practical reasons. I am prochoice, but someone else can fight that battle. That battle has become one of the primary reasons women haven't progressed.

    And the sexism of the 2008 campaign from the party that supports women is excused and swept under the rug for the sake of arguing about abortion? I'm not buying that one any more.

    I'm happy to have a discussion with you Ginger and even the eponymous anonymous, but I'm just not into the name calling. If you want to discuss the issues great. If you want to name call, you can take your arguments somewhere else.

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  11. I agree completely. We should not accept "the crumbs" and talk and is cheap.
    How could you forget how many democratic women went down to defeat in 2010 -- because Obama was so into his own ego, and threw women and the Blue Dog Dems under the bus.

    I'm looking forward to 2016 and hope that Hillary will run. People will want real change from either of the current candidates and I hope that a real Democratic Candidate and WOMAN will win.

    Every time Biden puts his foot in his mouth I am reminded that in 2008 Hillary was not even good enough for consideration for VP -- Obama shunned 19 million democratic primary voters. Note how the democrats praise and make excuses for Biden.

    Obama keeps telling women that signing the Lillie Ledbetter Act (sp?) was so ground-breaking, however, it only increased the Statute of Limitation for filing a discrimination lawsuit, and in 3 years no one has benefitted from the Act -- no one. Look again -- Obama did nothing for women for years -- and will do nothing for the next four years. Talk is cheap.

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  12. Still, no way could Obama have picked Hillary for VP as she would have been a constant reminder of what could have been and of his lack of experience and ability. As it is she outshines him often in her role as Secretary of State. He should have dumped Biden and picked a political woman other than Hillary for VP this time. But as you say he has done nothing for women and he doesn't intend to do anything for women.

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    1. sigh-----I keep thinking of what the world will look like to us women who care about such things when we finally get our female president. I'm sure that there will be those on one side or another caterwauling about her views. But it is instructive how much good Obama has done for the AA community. Hope that the impact of the first woman will not require that woman to not help women.

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  13. BTW the legislation Ryan co-sponsored with the dreaded turd Akin was about using tax dollars for FUNDING of abortions and had NOTHING to do with changing the legal status of abortion in any way. Considering that Ryan has asked Akin to get lost - I am not tarnishing Romney/Ryan with this moron's stupid blather.

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