Motley Moose – Archive

Since 2008 – Progress Through Politics

Is the National Organization for Women attacking President-Elect Obama?

I suppose it had to happen eventually. All the interest groups that think they had a hand in Obama’s win, no matter how significant, are lining up to get the post-election handouts- and aren’t going to be subtle about going after ’em. I mean, I expect it from people like Karl Rove, who today credited himself with Obama’s win. But NOW- the National Organization for Women?

“There’s definitely been a reaction to the few groups that have been named so far,” said Kim Gandy, president of the National Organization for Women. “I agree with those who are concerned that it would have been nice to see more women.”


“I have been struck by how few women have been mentioned for high-level positions,” said former Vermont Gov. Madeleine Kunin, who worked on the Clinton transition. “It’s still very early, so I don’t want to reach conclusions yet. But the rumors are a flashing yellow light.”

For God’s sake, there’ve been, what? Two appointments to cabinet positions in the Obama administration, and already we’re bellyaching and firing up the manufactured outrage machine?

It took me a whole thirty seconds to find out that, besides Hillary Clinton, Obama is also considering Susan Crawford, a well-known net neutrality advocate, to lead the Obama administration’s FCC review team. That’s ignoring the speculation around other Cabinet positions for people like Governor Janet Napolitano, FDIC Chair Shelia Blair, Senator Susan Collins, Penny Pritzker, Governor Kathleen Sebelius, Senator Olympia Snowe, Linda Darling, Linda Chavez-Thompson, Tammy Duckworth, Caroline, Kennedy, Susan Rice, Shirley Franklin, Mary Nichols… I guess I don’t get where NOW is coming from.

This is, of course, besides the fact I’d rather have President Obama pick people who can get the job done, regardless of what’s between their legs, what their skin color is, etc, etc. I thought that was the biggest thing we could take away from this election season, that it doesn’t matter who you are- if you’re good enough, you can get the job!

Maybe this grates on me more than it should; maybe I’m making a mountain out of a molehill. I used to respect NOW as an organization- but that was before they started railing against joint custody laws that would have, y’know, put the best interests of children in custody disputes before the narrow interests of either mother or father. And it seems like more and more they’ve been employing a “fire, ready, aim” approach to advocacy. I see that represented in this case- especially considering that

Manufactured outrage like this insults the validity of the issue that outrage is about. By using sexism as a tool to craft a narrative about Obama for political purposes, you’re dismissing the impact and relevance of actual sexism in all its forms. It’s like when Dick Morris suddenly became a feminist when Sarah Palin joined the McCain ticket, despite mocking Hillary Clinton’s “strident shrillness” and accusing her of “retreating behind the apron strings” throughout the primaries.

We’ve had a President for the last eight years that prided himself on the most egregious displays of nepotism and cronyism in staffing his administration, and at what cost to the country? I think our President-Elect said it right:


  1. …as a single interest pressure group

    But that’s why the democratic party has been out of power for so long: civil rights, abortion, environmentalism – a myriad of fractured single interest groups that could not cohere to a common interest.

    • Jjc2008

      there have been times when a blog made you cry or feel like crying.  This diary is having that effect on me.  I feel like we are back at square one…..and I am feeling that more than a few on this blog do in fact resent assertive women.

      • Jjc2008

        and we never had the power in the party, but we gave them the numbers.  However, we rarely were given positions of power.  I think that is why there was a lot of bitterness on the part of women toward Dean for his refusal to speak truth to power to the media about sexism.

      • ..from the black leadership, hispanics, labor etc.

        Though I can see that female representation is a benchmark for a lot of people on this diary, I think it’s only ONE benchmark.  

  2. NavyBlueWife

    I’m a woman with a small voice on this issue of “manufactured outrage”.  I cringed when I heard this too, and then tuned them out because it seems premature to judge him at this moment.  I can see that they need to do their jobs to promote women, but I will return to my broken record idea.  We have to be careful with debate framing, and sometimes we have to be patient for the facts and circumstances to come out before passing judgment.  Obama is acutely aware of women’s issues, and I’m sure that he will do his best to accommodate while assuring that the person appointed is qualified.  We may not have true 50/50 at the end of the day, but I don’t think it will be sexism that fails to achieve that gap.

    • NavyBlueWife

      I think that they are doing a good job pushing qualified women into positions in the government.  I don’t see them pushing just any woman, otherwise they would have endorsed Palin.

      I do think that everyone needs to chill out when it comes to the Obama administration.  Let’s see what turns out.  So far, so good.

      The problem gets with the generalizations again.  I don’t know if NOW is creating or pushing a meme that Obama isn’t going far enough.  I need more references.  I don’t see it from the president’s quotation.  I see it in the former governor’s statement, but who is she in relation to NOW?  Is she representing NOW?

    • ragekage

      I don’t think I’ve ever seen another case of politics being uncouth before… do you think you could point one out for me?

      • ragekage

        I know sexism is alive and well, I’ve seen it, and I was just responding to Louis’ comment on the primary wars. I don’t think you’re making anything up about sexism. It’s the problem with being young and naive, but maybe it’s a positive, too. I was never sullied by sexism in my formative years, so gender doesn’t matter to me on issues like this. And my daughter will hopefully grow up in a world where her gender truly won’t matter- Senator Clinton certainly helped make that a very vivid possibility. But we ignore the past at our own peril, of course.

        • NavyBlueWife

          And the turtle beat the hare.  I think we will get there, and you’re still young!  We may very well do it in our lifetime, so keep up the faith, sista.

          The language that we use to move forward is important on this one because goddamnit, I am not going to let the Republicans (as they have been defined under Bush/Gingrich) win on this one.  They can’t have it in Palin form to try to steal our voices and continue to leave women out of the agenda…Dems have a ways to go, but right now, we are farther along than the others, so let’s find more ways to move forward.

  3. louisprandtl

    I mean two statements from two women and you’re asking NOW and others to chill the fuck out? BTW can you please provide some links because the official NOW website nor do their National Action Center have anything related.

    One of the main work of NOW is advocacy for women in powerful positions. And they’ll continue to do so whether you like it or there’ll be pressure on Obama Administration or for that matter anybody in his position…

    This is the last email I’ve from NOW’s National Action Center…And BTW the logic that best person should be given the job had been historically used and over-used to deny women, minority et al  higher…

    Congratulate Obama & Biden

    Tell Them Your Ideas for a Feminist Administration NOW!

    President-Elect Barack Obama wants to hear from you — share your vision.

    We did it! Women turned out in record numbers and we elected Barack Obama as the next president of the United States. Obama and his running mate Joe Biden have been entrusted with bringing change to this country during a time of crisis and Bush-induced cynicism.

    After all the dancing in the streets: What next?

    President-elect Obama wants you to share with him YOUR vision for where he should lead this nation. NOW is pleased that the Obama-Biden team is seeking input from everyone who stands to win or lose from the actions of this administration.

    So, Speak Up NOW. Send your message to the Obama-Biden team and tell them:

       * Congratulations! Way to go! I’m so proud of your history-making victory.

       * I support NOW’s call for an Obama cabinet and administration that reflects our country in all its diversity. Appointing only a few token women and people of color is not real change.

       * Here are the issues at the top of MY agenda for your administration (add your own).

    On NOW’s website we offer sample text to give you some ideas for your message. Just remember that your own thoughts, especially if you have a story or an example, will be more attention-grabbing and personal.

    Now is not the time to sit back and relax. President-elect Obama asks “Where should we start together?” Speak out and tell him! Make the 44th presidential administration your own, beginning Right NOW!

    Tell A Friend | NOW Home | Unsubscribe/Edit Profile | Subscribe | Support/Join NOW

  4. i think im with louis on this one, in that:

    As a women advocacy group, they have every right to put pressure on an incoming administration for more women representation…

    and unless there are additional quotes from NOW that aren’t included in this diary, i dont feel like its an attack on obama.  its a little uncouth, ill give you that – but isnt all politics?

    • NavyBlueWife

      but maybe the pool of qualified women for these particular positions is not large enough at this point?  Or perhaps because they are still vetting, looking, searching out?  I wouldn’t go so far as to say that women are being excluded at this point.  It is my last conclusion before I slap that judgment on someone.

  5. spacemanspiff

    I would hope that Obama staffs his administration based on merit, choosing the most qualified candidate regardless of skin color, sex, or sexuality.

    That’s my final answer Regis!

    • the last diary i wrote before taking my break from blogging was right after the palin pick was announced here

      im not sure i would be able to handle a whole thread on the failures of the feminist movement in relation to palin.

      • and the term feminazi is beyond gross.  but it goes back to the whole culture war thing.  as much as we would like to say it, its not one-sided.  i learned that from the primary.

        i guess what i am getting at is that feminism, equality for the sexes is NOT a partisan issue.

  6. louisprandtl

    if CNN exit polls are to be believed: 47% were male and 53% were females. 49% of 47% males voted for Obama, whereas 56% of the 53% females voted for Obama. Obama clearly got a majority of the votes because of the women vote and so did the Democratic party. To think that women advocacy groups wouldn’t be pushing for more women representation in powerful positions in the party, in Obama administration, in DNC et al, is foolish at best. There will be pressure, a lot of pressure…so folks, get used to it…

  7. NavyBlueWife

    The article is more measured in response.

    Gandy, the NOW president also said:

    “The transition team is going to take the time to look at and vet the people they don’t know,” she said. “Because frankly, the people who are already well-known in Washington tend to be men and tend to be white.”

    “I don’t think it’s any longer a question of are there qualified women out there, but a question of identifying them and recruiting them,” Kunin said. “I just hope there will be a serious effort to have not only token women but a significant number of women in the administration.”

    Personally, I don’t want any “token” women.  That would include Palin, imho.


    “It’s appropriate that Obama’s vetting Clinton, but she’s one women,” said Amy Siskind, co-founder of The New Agenda, a nonpartisan women’s rights group founded by former Clinton supporters. “We want to see parity in the representation of women in the Cabinet.”

    It would be nice to have parity because it represents the populace.  I don’t know if the pool of qualified women is large enough, and I’m not trying to be nasty about that.  I know the groups say they are, but they have to help find those women who may not be known to Washington.  I’m encouraged by their efforts to aid Obama and by Obama’s reaching out to them, like the following effort:

    Next week, the Women’s Campaign Forum will launch, a website focused on helping women campaign for government appointments.

    The article also has an unfortunate title and third paragraph.  They are worried, rightfully so, but the vast majority seem to be arguing caution before passing judgment here.  The first few picks may simply reflect candidates known to Washington, who also happen to be male for the reasons that Gandy said.

    I would back off from the word “attacking” and from the use of “outrage” just to be careful that we are not manufacturing outrage of our own.

    And hey, maybe they will appoint me!!!! 😉

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