Thursday, December 3, 2009

Real Garbage, Vennochi-Style

With her column in today's Globe, Joan Vennochi has my head spinning this morning. She writes about the gender split among endorsees of either Capuano or Coakley among the Massachusetts congressional delegation, but without addressing any single issue or any reason OTHER than gender why anyone should support either candidate.

She ends on some note about how the state can either make history (i.e. move forward) or just allow history to repeat itself (i.e. move backward).

Not once is there a mention of how politics may have influenced the endorsement decisions [Correction: As Kad Barma just pointed out in a comment, the political pressure from House Leadership is mentioned in the column], or why seven members of the delegation may have buckled to pressure from the House Speaker (who, by the way, happens to be female).

I'm not particularly gung ho about either Coakley OR Capuano, but I'd like to think I can make that choice based on things like policy stances, voting records, and personal biographies. I don't need the decision framed as some type of good-versus-evil moral referendum that only allows me some stark, cartoon character-style decision between what's right and what's wrong.

When identity politics goes this far overboard, the otherwise-rational and level-headed become alienated.

6 comments:

kad barma said...

I don't disagree with your general point, but, actually, there IS mention of how politics is influencing the endorsement decisions, ("Dukakis probably felt as much pressure from the speaker of his house - his wife, Kitty, a Capuano backer - as the Massachusetts delegation felt from Nancy Pelosi, the speaker of their House and also a Capuano supporter"), and I'm not sure why you'd think it necessary for the writer to dig up any further explanation as to why Kitty and Nancy are pro-Capuano, beyond the fact that they are, and that this is a significant fact correlating to the endorsements. (The story is about the endorsements, after all, and not Kitty and Nancy's politics).

I think the point that disproves Vinnochi's entire premise is contained in her line: "It’s not surprising that Capuano’s colleagues would stick with him in this contest".

She starts out by claiming "foul" on gender, but then points out that it's pretty clearly an insider vs. outsider thing, and, well, the coincidence is that there aren't enough women on the inside to swing the balance.

Your point, that choosing gender as a basis for who ought to be in power, is about as useless to us voters as incumbency, is a good one. I'd say they both make lousy bases for choice.

The New Englander said...

Kad, good catch on the Pelosi thing. Should've read that a little more closely before posting...and you're right about the insider vs. outsider dynamic, and it's too bad Vennochi didn't frame it that way more explicitly in the column.

Still, like you said, gender is one of several lousy ways to decide how one should vote. I know I've happily filled in ovals next to the names Marge Roukema, Anna Eshoo, and Shannon O'Brien, among others...so I guess what I resented most about the column was the idea that if I don't vote for Coakley, I must be some type of reactionary who will move the state backwards. (and the irony of THAT is that I still might vote for her, next week and/or in January!)

FLLA2007 said...

If I'd just been reading the Globe, I could easily think that Coakley was the only logical choice and that women who vote otherwise are betraying the sisterhood! But I had a friend who dragged me to a Capuano event, and I'm glad. He's really intelligent, and he's genuine - he doesn't believe in telling someone what they want to hear if it's not the truth. That rubs some people the wrong way, but I like that he doesn't coddle. He IS always respectful and compassionate, which I also appreciate. Then there's the experience argument. Some people think Coakley has relevant experience. I think she may, but an AG's job is to uphold existing law, not figure out what new law should exist and partner with people to create it. She's good, I just don't think she's the best for this job.

C R Krieger said...

Greg and Kad

I am very disappointed in Columnist Joan Vennochi.  Look at her concluding paragraph.

"Caokley is an imperfect female candidate running against three imperfect men.  Now, it's up to the voters to decide whose imperfections they want to overlook—and in the process, whether they want to make history.  The men of the Massachusetts delegation are happy to repeat it."

It is that same old smug "there is no party politics here in the Commonwealth, we are all Democrats together" approach.  I, for one, won't be voting for any of those four.

And that leads me to my lesser disappointment.  Given that Greg and Kad are not registered as Democrats or Republicans, why should they even care?  The vote on Tuesday, 8 December, should be for the members of the clubs, those who have put sweat and money into their party.  They are the ones who should get to pick who runs in the election in January, where everyone, I repeat, everyone, should vote.  In writing those words I know that there are those who will not agree with me, but in a way they do, since they advocate the abolish of political parties, or at least making the political parties pay for the cost of the primaries.  That second option might not be all bad.

With the utmost in good humor,
   I remain,
      Your friend  —  Cliff

And, hi to FLLA2007!

The New Englander said...

Okay, now I've got to admit to another perspective shift, because the fact that the general election is being treated as an afterthought in this column blew right past me.

Agreed that one-party rule is smug and obnoxious...every day, I talk to Dems and Unenrolleds about Sam Meas. I try to explain to them what it meant for someone who escaped one-party rule, and then came to the World's Leading Democracy only to see one party on the ballot when he finally got a chance to vote.

With primaries, I would think being Unenrolled is sort of an advantage because we get to choose which ballot to pull.

Will talk to you more about my political homelessness in person, but the basic dilemma comes from being pro-gay rights, anti-death penalty, reluctantly pro-choice, pro-some forms of gun control yet ALSO opposed to one-party rule, hackery, and many of the Democrats' stances on things like foreign policy and identity politics.

In this state, I keep tilting 'R,' especially now that I'm working for one, but I think that would make me a RINO at best..

Renee said...

Just looking it at a commercial perspective, Coakley's commercials while trying to appeal to the 'female/mommy demographic' are condescending. One moment she's talking about growing up in North Adams, then somehow her Pleasantville childhood experience could help her fight Wall Street?

Capuano's commercials which currently are just him speaking with nothing else then an American flag are more effective. Didn't care for the others. While I don't agree with Capuano, he has a natural interest of what's going on.

Just tell me what you want to do. A candidate doesn't need to be sitting at a picnic table with a bunch of older ladies or sitting at a diner drinking a cup of coffee.

Coakley doesn't seem to have a genuine interest in the subject matter. Yeah, she wants to be U.S. Senator. Who doesn't though? Should I say this? Coakley is more of the characterization of Palin, then Palin. Coakley is nothing more then an EMILY List drone.