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The Ladies of TBA

Digby’s coming out party was certainly the signature moment of the confrence so far for us gals (how wonderful that everyone can now know that the most trenchant and insightful voice in the blogosphere belongs to a woman), but it certainly wasn’t the only interesting one. Over the next few days I’ll be digesting and discussing much about the failure of female House candidates to win elections in 2007 and the role (or lack thereof) that the Democratic establishment/interest groups played in those races. There is a very big vacuum here that the blogosphere I think can effectively step into. We’ll also be focusing on the very exciting things that WVWV is doing to engage single women in the electoral process.

Hillary Clinton’s speech from this morning is already causing a significant flap. Byron York sat through the same speech as the rest of us but was viewing it through his typical lens of such partisan distortion that his perceptions once again appear to be the product of bizarroworld. Hillary was in no way booed for saying “the American military has done its job,” the boos came when she claimed that the Iraqi government was somehow to blame. Right wing mythology regularly demands that one believe their recklessly constructed fantasies over your own eyes and ears, but for those who still ascribe to some sort of consensus reality you can view the YouTube above. Fox News and Drudge are already running with bold-faced lie (which Bob Geiger deconstructs second-by-second here). The only thing that exceeds the audacity of their lies is the speed at which they propagate them.

Those who want to maintain that Hillary is cold and doesn’t connect with an audience clearly haven’t heard her speak recently because she was anything but. She was actually very winning and warm and people really liked her. She was introduced by Emily’s List’s Ellen Meagher, and initially won the audience over in that Mark Penn/Soccer Mom kind of way that no doubt works well for her (though attempts to push other female candidates into such a mold when it just won’t work might explain some of the 2007 House defeats). She came prepared for the “boos” and when she initially got them she was very impressive in not losing her composure and acknowledging their presence without getting distracted or put off her game.

I don’t think she was prepared for the booing that greeted her “blame the Iraqis” talking point (which has evidently been a feature of her stump speech for quite a while). That she did not realize it was going to be the response she would get from a progressive audience was kind of surprising, but I think she’s probably repeated it as a kind of middle-of-the road, “support the troops” pseudo-centrist palliative so many times that nobody in her retinue anticipated that this was an audience who knew what a lame position it was and would respond accordingly.

As Digby says (oh, why not):

I assume the Democrats have focus grouped this line and find that it appeals on some level — and I think you can all imagine what level that might be. (It could be argued that it’s a tactic to force the Iraqi government to make some moves before the election if they feel that the Democrats are going to be harder on them…) But the fact is that horrible cock-up in Iraq is the result of a foolish and cynical US invasion invasion of Iraq and a complete lack of any intelligent planning for the aftermath. To blame the Iraqi government for the intractable sectarian differences that most respectable experts and historians predicted would make this deluded neocon project a failure is pretty cheap.

It’s pretty shocking that the people who voted to go into Iraq, pound it into the ground and destroy what scarce infrastructure it already had can then turn around and pretend to be “reasonable” when they blame the Iraqi government for not being able to rise above the sectarian violence and civil war even a monkey could have figured out the occupation would trigger and provide strong governance that would solve all the problems their poor judgment created in the first ploace. It really is the ultimate “blame your victim” cop-out.

It may fall under the category of “But other than that Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play,” but as a sidenote it was interesting to me that when Hillary got booed she actually managed to use it to kick up the energy level of her speech and bring the room along with her. It was not something that many speakers could have pulled off and by the end of it, despite the negative response to her Iraq comments, the crowd was with her.

I think it was Duncan who said that people who underestimate Hillary do so at their own peril. I concur.

(Thanks to scarce for isolating the Hillary clip)

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Jane Hamsher

Jane Hamsher

Jane is the founder of Her work has also appeared on the Huffington Post, Alternet and The American Prospect. She’s the author of the best selling book Killer Instinct and has produced such films Natural Born Killers and Permanent Midnight. She lives in Washington DC.
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