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Enough With The “Affinity Voters”

And here we go again. Tim Dickinson, editor of Rollingstone.com’s National Affairs Daily:

There’s only one thing that makes sense of the Clinton campaign’s clumsy and classless injection of race into her primary battle with Barack Obama. And that is that her victory in New Hampshire — impressive though it was — threatened to transform her into a special-interest candidate.

Hillary would not have won that battle without exaggerated support from women. Despite having campaigned vigorously as a candidate who just-so-happened to be a woman, her lifeline came from affinity voters.

Hello, ladies! You may make up 57% of the Democratic voters in Iowa and New Hampshire, but you’re "affinity voters." Congratulations.

And so, while Obama is being forced to clarify that he is not, indeed, a Nation-of-Islam sympathizing closet anti-Semite, no one is looking much at Clinton’s very real troubles winning over the hearts and minds of male voters.

That’s a good question. In yesterday’s Michigan primary, Hillary Clinton did indeed lose the "single men" vote to "uncommitted" but won every other group (single and married women, married men). Does that mean single men have some special insight into the political debate that women just don’t have? That they are able to look past their own narrow view and be wise, magnanimous and judicious in a way that female "affinity voters" just can’t? Are women being short-sighted and selfish in deciding to cast a vote for Hillary Clinton? I suppose that means married men are just henpecked. Well, that’s just certain to get everyone’s blood boiling on all sides of the debate, isn’t it?

Woo hoo! Let’s have a bonfire.

In the midst of all of it, Dickinson has a valid gripe — Richard Cohen’s specious and irresponsible concern-trolling from the pages of the Washington Post, where he attempts to mainstream right-wing hate mail claims tying Obama to Louis Farrakhan. It’s right up there with Joe Lieberman meeting with Jewish groups to tell them they should worry because Ned Lamont was tight with the African-American community — absolutely reprehensible. There are also legitimate concerns about race baiting invading the campaign dialog.

That tends to get buried the minute you dismiss the majority of people within the Democratic party for voting with their vaginas.

Both of the candidates have indicated they want this spat to stop. In last night’s debate they refused to play the moderators’ race and gender baiting and "gotcha" games. If journalists like Brian Williams, Tim Russert and Tim Dickinson continue to inflame situation, it’s a good indication that they’re the ones who find it advantageous to egg it on — not the campaigns or the public. Both Clinton and Obama looked exhausted last night. But the "affinity voters" aren’t the ones perpetuating this narrow and divisive frame.

There are legitimate reasons to oppose Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama as candidates. But there are a lot of people just use these issues to cover up their own misogyny and/or racism, and polarizing articles like these that attempt to reduce the dynamic to a "chicks and blacks" debate, while media-friendly and aimed at the lowest common denominator (the ideal Chris Matthews frame), give them plenty of opportunity for refuge.

It may get you on Hardball, but it’s not "journalism" and it’s not helpful.

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Jane Hamsher

Jane Hamsher

Jane is the founder of Firedoglake.com. 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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