Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The Penn Is Mightier Than The Sword

A Flawed Feminist Test
Published: February 13, 2008

Links have been going around the blogosphere to a clip of Penn Jilette, the heavy loquacious half of magic act Penn and Teller, telling an offensive joke about Hillary:

Maureen Dowd proves she knows her way around the web and puts the joke in this context:
In a webcast, prestidigitator Penn Jillette talks about a joke he has begun telling in his show. He thinks the thunderous reaction it gets from audiences shows that Hillary no longer has a shot.

The joke goes: “Obama is just creaming Hillary. You know, all these primaries, you know. And Hillary says it’s not fair, because they’re being held in February, and February is Black History Month. And unfortunately for Hillary, there’s no White Bitch Month.”

Of course, jokes like that — even Jillette admits it’s offensive — are exactly what may give Hillary a shot. When the usually invulnerable Hillary seems vulnerable, many women, even ones who don’t want her to win, cringe at the idea of seeing her publicly humiliated — again.

Dowd shares some empathy with Hillary:

I know that the attacks against powerful women can be harsh and personal and unfair, enough to make anyone cry.
And then pulls the rug out:
But Hillary is not the best test case for women. We’ll never know how much of the backlash is because she’s a woman or because she’s this woman or because of the ick factor of returning to the old Clinton dysfunction.
Maureen rehashes the basis for several other tasteless jokes with this rather concise summary of what many are thinking but only a few say out loud:
It’s not yet clear which prejudice will infect the presidential contest more — misogyny or racism.
We do get one sports metaphor in the column.
Those close to Hillary say she’s feeling blue. It’s an unbearable twist of fate to spend all those years in the shadow of one Secretariat, only to have another gallop past while you’re plodding toward the finish line.
And only the most churlish would suggest any subliminal racism in comparing Obama to a stallion.

Preemptively, Maureen is washing her hands of any culpability in the failure of the Clinton Restoration, using a rather broad royal "we."
If Hillary fails, it will be her failure, not ours.
But maybe the Clintons will pull it out like they have done so many times before. After all, they are The Aristocrats!

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