PUMAs: Acknowledge the sexism in the party, media

Hillary Clinton supporters have more or less come to terms with the reality that she will not be Barack Obama’s running mate, and they have adjusted their demands for their loyalty accordingly.  Now they want the party platform to reflect Hillary’s policy positions, and they want an explicit acknowledgment of what they deemed sexism from the media as well as the silence about it from the Obama campaign.  However, word of a potential female running mate other than Hillary has them fuming.

The PUMAs want more than just talk, too:

As her chances of becoming vice president recede, some of Hillary Rodham Clinton’s supporters are pushing for the Democratic Party’s new platform to state that the primary elections “exposed pervasive gender bias in the media” and to call on party leaders to take “immediate and public steps” to condemn future perceived instances of bias.

The push for the plank in the party’s statement of principles reflects a lingering unhappiness over Clinton’s treatment during the Democratic primary, and over what her supporters say was an inadequate response from party leaders.

Some Clinton supporters have complained of jibes against the New York senator by TV talk show hosts, off-color novelty items and incidents such as the time when hecklers yelled “Iron my shirt!” at a Clinton rally. … “There were so many examples in the media of sexist comments where we never heard from the party leadership or Barack Obama,” said Stacy Mason, executive director of a political action committee called WomenCount, which claims thousands of members. The group ran newspaper ads in the spring urging Clinton to stay in the contest.

That actually may be more mild than a month ago.  When the primaries ground to a halt in June, Hillary’s supporters complained bitterly not just about sexism from the media, but also from Obama’s campaign.  The Sweetiegate story provided a glimpse of it, but Obama did a lot more damage after Hillary suspended her campaign by suggesting that women needed to “get over it” and that he didn’t have time to pander to them. The dress suggestions for women in his media entourage probably didn’t help much, either.

At this point, Hillary’s supporters probably want to bury those issues and get Obama to issue a statement that doesn’t admit to his own sexism but make some sort of generic commitment to fight sexism elsewhere.  That’s what makes the pushback against another Democratic potential running mate seem so odd.  Jake Tapper reported yesterday that the idea of picking Kathleen Sebelius for VP has angered one important Hillary booster all over again:

“The selection of either one of those instead of Sen. Clinton I would find completely incomprehensible,” said Lanny Davis of rumored Obama vice-presidential contenders Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius and Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill.

Davis is a former special counsel to President Bill Clinton and a longtime friend of Sen. Hillary Clinton’s dating back to their time at Yale Law School.

“If anyone thinks that picking a woman will simply placate Hillary Clinton’s female supporters, I think that’s very patronizing to women and i don’t think that that either Gov. Sebelius or Sen. McCaskill would disagree,” said Davis, who penned an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal Thursday titled “Why Obama Should Pick Hillary.”

Davis said he hasn’t met either Sebelius or McCaskill and said he admires them, but Clinton is more qualified.

Senator Claire McCaskill certainly isn’t as qualified as either Clinton or Sibelius. She has as much time in the Senate as Hillary Clinton [see update below], but no other political experience at all. McCaskill has no executive, military, or foreign-affairs experience, which puts her at the same level as the nominee.

However, Sebelius does have executive experience and might make a good pick for Obama.  She could help him in the Midwest, where his comments about “bitter” voters “clinging” to guns and religion will get replayed many times between now and November.  She may not carry her state of Kansas in a general election, but she may help with women across the board — or, if Davis has this correct, perhaps not.

It would be rather ironic if the same people who complain about sexism holding down Hillary wound up pushing Obama to pick a man for his running mate in part not to anger women.  Such are the contradictions inherent in identity politics.  Perhaps the entire Democratic Party should “get over it”.

Update: I confused McCaskill’s election with that of Jean Carnahan.  McCaskill has less time in the Senate than Obama, having been elected in 2006.