RACE AND POSE: How did Trump ever reach the Oval?


Nurse Ratched, attacked in Our Town: Early last night, Brian Williams fought back, as is his right, against our controversial claim that he had been striking a pose.

We claimed that he had been striking a pose with respect to Charles Blow's new book. Last night, right out of the gate, Williams implied that it just wasn't so.

More on his rebuttal below.

This morning, we watched the Morning Joe gang as they struck an array of poses. By 6:35 A.M., Joe had returned to his original stance. Once again, he said that, if the Capitol rioters had been black, they all "would have been shot in the face."

Somehow, this claim was meant to coexist with praise for the men and women of the Capitol Police. So it goes when the whole world is a pose here in the streets of Our Town.

It probably wasn't a good idea to plow ahead, this very week, with our exploration of the way we in Our Town pursue matters of gender and race. 

The whole world is running on impeachment this week; it might have made sense to defer. This morning, watching Morning Joe, we were struck by the thought that our whole culture, Over Here, has long a pose.

For today, let's keep it simple. Let's recall one of the ways Donald J. Trump, the former commander, actually got to the White House in the first place.

As you may recall, the commander's opponent in 2016 was Candidate Hillary Clinton. In our view, she wasn't a very good candidate that time around, but the nationwide popular vote turned out this way all the same:

Presidential election, 2016
Hillary Clinton (D): 65,853,514 (48.2%)
Donald J. Trump (R): 62,984,828 (46.1%)

She won by 2.9 million votes. Due to the oddities of our system, Trump ended up in the Oval.

Question: How did Trump manage to keep it close enough so that he could slither by? Given Trump's status as a nightmare candidate, what held Clinton's vote down?

There are quite a few answers to that question, several of which our cable stars chose to duck in real time. Today, we'll focus on the pose we may tend to adopt in Our Town concerning issues of gender—a pose which was massively AWOL, in recent decades, here in the streets of Our Town.

Let's consider the battering Clinton took, down through the years, on basic matters of gender. In the late Clinton-Gore years, then even into 2008, it had been Chris Matthews, the cable news star, who set the most gruesome example.

As the red-faced shouter ranted and raved, Clinton was routinely mocked as Evita Peron, as Cruella de Vil, as Madame Defarge and Nurse Ratched. Other male children would sometime chime in, saying the appalling lady reminded men of their first wives.

This went on and on and on, with barely a peep of protest from anyone here in Our Town. Matthews was much more influential in the earlier years of cable news, and career players in Our Town knew they mustn't notice his conduct and they certainly mustn't complain.

In early 2008, some women's group or other finally offered a peep of complaint. Matthews sidekick David Shuster was thrown overboard; Matthews himself motored on. 

Along the way, these endless gender-based denigrations had helped define the field of play surrounding the future candidate. There had been virtually no criticism of this gender-trashing from anyone here in Our Town. 

Then, in June 2008, someone did speak up. It was Clark Hoyt, then the New York Times public editor. 

In an amazing departure, Hoyt identified a new miscreant—the New York Times' Maureen Dowd. His column started like this:

HOYT (6/22/08): Some supporters of Hillary Clinton believe that sexism colored news coverage of her presidential campaign. The Times reported in a front-page article on June 13 that many are proposing boycotts of cable news networks and that a “Media Hall of Shame” has been created by the National Organization for Women.

The Times itself, however, was barely mentioned, even though two of its Op-Ed columnists, Maureen Dowd and William Kristol, were named in the Hall of Shame.

Peggy Aulisio of South Dartmouth, Mass., said, “A real review of your own stories and columns is warranted.” I think so too. And I think a fair reading suggests that The Times did a reasonably good job in its news articles. But Dowd’s columns about Clinton’s campaign were so loaded with language painting her as a 50-foot woman with a suffocating embrace, a conniving film noir dame and a victim dependent on her husband that they could easily have been listed in that Times article on sexism, right along with the comments of Chris Matthews, Mike Barnicle, Tucker Carlson or, for that matter, Kristol, who made the Hall of Shame for a comment on Fox News, not for his Times work.


Over the course of the campaign, I received complaints that Times coverage of Clinton included too much emphasis on her appearance, too many stereotypical words that appeared to put her down and dismiss a woman’s potential for leadership and too many snide references to her as cold or unlikable. When I pressed for details, the subject often boiled down to Dowd.

The Times' reporting wasn't so awful, Hoyt said. But Maureen Dowd? Good God! In his final assessment, Hoyt said this: 

"By assailing Clinton in gender-heavy terms in column after column, [Dowd] went over the top this election season." 

Given Dowd's stature at the Times, Hoyt had written a very unusual column. Needless to say, it produced exactly zero discussion in the main streets of Our Town.

Eight years later, Donald J. Trump managed to stay close enough to Candidate Clinton to slip by into the Oval. The road to perdition had been paved by people like Matthews and Dowd, ably assisted, every step of the way, by the deafening silence observed in the streets of Our Town. 

(We haven't mention Keith Olbermann's obnoxious gender-trashing of Clinton and others. Or the way our leading lights discussed his "misogyny," but only did so in private.)

This is the way we played the game here in Our Town. Today, we may occasionally posture in the wake of MeToo, sometimes perhaps going overboard in our performance of virtue. As the poet once inquired:

And now the heart is filled with gold,
As if it was a purse.
But oh, what kind of love is this
Which goes from bad to worse?

This morning, we'd planned to discuss this recent New York Times report about the role of race in New York City schools. We may go there tomorrow.

We tend to regard the Times' treatment of this topic as The Greatest Pose on Earth. In the recent report in question, the paper's reporter sustains the paper's long-standing performative stance, but she also points to poses being maintained by a list of mayoral candidates.

This is the way we play in Our Town. In Their Towns, they hear all about it, often in embellished form.

The Crazy Train runs through their towns. We've played the game this way in ours. This unflattering fact helps explain how we got ourselves into the mess now being pursued in the Senate.

Tomorrow: Pose and school?

Concerning Williams: Last night, Williams pushed back hard, right out of the gate. We're sure he's a good and decent person, if perhaps a bit partial to script. Beyond that, go check the tape!


  1. "How did Trump ever reach the Oval?"

    Because, dear Bob, as you (once in a while) admit yourself, no one likes your liberal-hitlerian globalist cult. And for a very good reason, dear Bob: it's destroying the country.

    Simple as that.

    1. Yet Trump lost a landslide election to Marxist, Communist, do everything for the people, Joe Biden.
      I'd bet that HUGE Tax break for the Establishment, that you were so happy to have Trump sign into law, had something to do with it.

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  2. "In early 2008, some women's group or other finally offered a peep of complaint."

    First Somerby quotes the results of the 2016 election, then he brings up remarks aimed at Hillary in 2008, when she ran against Obama in the primaries. Then he uses the word "finally" to chastise women's groups for supposedly not defending her early enough. This is misleading, since women defended Hillary long before anyone else.

    This confusion of timeline is dishonest. First, women did support Hillary early on, earlier than Somerby ever did and earlier than Media Matters and others objected. Second, much of the misogyny was coming from Obama's campaign, just as it came from the Bernie Bros in the lead up to 2016. Yes, Hillary later became Secretary of State under Obama, but that doesn't change the sexism of his campaign surrogates and the mistreatment of her at the nominating convention. It was severe enough that there was a fight on the left, women broke away to form the Pumas, at Daily Kos a group of women walked out and formed their own group, chiefly led by Riverdaughter (at The Confluence).


    In the runup to 2016, Bernie's supporters joined forces with the right to revive all of the old attacks, adding their own venom so that the hate directed at Hillary and her supporters from the left was worse than in 2008. Bernie himself did nothing to defuse this sexist attack on Hillary.

    There remains bad feeling about how the left treated its own history-making female candidate (and then nominee). Somerby's inability to acknowledge Hillary's popular vote majority, his inability to say anything good about her, reflects this -- not that Somerby is a member of the left these days.

    Somerby cannot write about what happened to Hillary because he has his own axe to grind, but he is distorting history and now pretending that women didn't support Hillary either, which is about as far from the truth as he can get.

  3. Hoyt wrote her column about Dowd because of reader complaints. The quote doesn't say, but I'll bet many of them were from women:

    "Over the course of the campaign, I received complaints that Times coverage of Clinton included too much emphasis on her appearance, too many stereotypical words that appeared to put her down and dismiss a woman’s potential for leadership and too many snide references to her as cold or unlikable. When I pressed for details, the subject often boiled down to Dowd."

    But Somerby pretends that women didn't defend Clinton, until "finally"...

    1. Correction: Clark Hoyt is male. Somerby can hear criticism when it comes from his gender, just not when it is Hillary herself complaining about Trump's behavior at a debate.

  4. "The road to perdition had been paved by people like Matthews and Dowd, ably assisted, every step of the way, by the deafening silence observed in the streets of Our Town. "

    Ably assisted by Bernie and Obama and the attacks on Palin and Al Franken's stupid fondling and the ongoing sexism that every woman has had to deal with, coming from the left and the right both.

    It should be obvious to everyone that Somerby's blindness to the fight within the left is another example of sexism coming from the supposed left. He says there was "not a peep" in Our Town, when women walked out and there was bitter in-fighting over Hillary's treatment by the left.

    Somerby apparently lives on a different planet. All the more reason why he can have nothing useful to say about sexism or racism.

  5. The problem with Clinton is she married into it. She would never had been a presidential candidate if she wasn't married to Bill Clinton.

    Clinton is simply a power-hungry, gold digging bitch who held on to a loveless marriage solely for personal political gain. She not great in any way.

    1. Would George W. Bush have been a serious contender for tha Presidency if his daddy hadn't been President?
      Hillary was eminently more qualified than all of them. Barack Obama said so at the 2016 convention.

    2. It may be that Hillary wasn't defended because people believed she needed no defense. Attacks were like this one, which is so obviously sexist that addressing it only dignifies it.

      Just as you cannot talk to Trump supporters, you cannot talk to someone who would say this shit either. It is a waste of words.

      Besides, based on the popular vote, it wasn't sexism that did Hillary in. It was third-party voting in WI and MI and PA, organized by appeals to disappointed Bernie voters, and Facebook campaigns to get Bernie and black voters to stay home. And it was Comey. The disinformation campaign on social media was funded by Russia with collusion from Trump's campaign. All the info about what happened will no doubt come out after investigation now that Trump is no longer in office.

      Hillary will be seen as another victim of Trump's corruption and treasonous collusion with Russia.

    3. The problem is that she married into it. Had it not been for the man she married who possessed world class political skills, she would have never been remotely close to a being a presidential candidate. We all know that. Probably not even a Senator. She doesn't have the political skills. Clearly. She is very unlikeable. She comes across as a totally empty, evil bitch. Her leadership skills are also very questionable. Her campaign of 2016 made a TON of huge, arrogant and stupid mistakes. Plus there were many issues with the Democratic party itself. They don't offer people much to get excited about. They don't do anything or have plans to do anything about healthcare prices, endless wars or the divide between the rich and the poor, etc. etc. And we all know about Hillary's disastrous tenure as Secretary of State and all dead and enslaved people that resulted from her evil and corrupt machinations.

      Why did Hillary lose in 2016 is easy. Just tell that bitch to look in the mirror.

      (Full disclosure: I voted for her.)

    4. You were doing fine until you said you voted for her.

      Al Gore's father was a Senator and Representative. I doubt Gore Jr. would have entered politics without that legacy.

      Give my regards to Mao.

    5. With Hillary, had it not been for the man she married who possessed world class political skills, she would have never been remotely close to a being a presidential candidate.

      There's simply no question about that.

      So maybe that was a turnoff for some potential voters. (Plus you have to add to that her unappealing personality and horrible record of achievements and you got a stew going. Know what I mean?)

    6. NBD. It's past history now and we thankfully will never have to deal with her again as a presidential candidate. Thank God!

    7. Yes, much better to worry about Trump running again...it's been such a pleasure. Have you been watching the hearings? Did you drool much watching the officer get crushed? Were you sad that you weren't on TV too?

      It must have irritated the heck out of you that Hillary kept running despite your hatred of her, almost like she didn't care about your opinion of her! Don't you hate it when a woman does that?

    8. I was supposed to think Hillary would base her actions on an evaluation of my opinion of her?

      To state the obvious, that makes no sense.

      The point is Hillary's position as a presidential candidate came in total from her marriage. It's not like she's the first ambitious wife of a successful man to try to follow the wake of her man's success. Yoko Ono and Linda McCartney come to mind. At least Melania knew her place. But what's done is done. We will never have to deal with Hillary again, thank God in Heaven! Thank you!!!!! (Just because she's so average and divisive.)

    9. Hillary ain't the first broad to sleep her way to the top. (In her case almost the top.)

    10. Look what Somerby has attracted with today's tripe!

    11. Clinton wasn't a great candidate or inspiring. It was a bad choice for a candidate in 2016. She ran a bad campaign as is well documented and the buck stops with her. It's her fault and her fault only. They don't give that job away.

    12. How on Earth did Hillary manipulate Comey, a Republican, into releasing that statement right before the voting? Surely that showed some diplomatic skill! And how did she trick Russia into attacking her on social media, busy as they were helping Trump? That must have taken a lot of convincing. And wasn't it kind of clumsy of her to get all those popular votes if she was trying to lose?

      Do you even think about what you write? Why are misogynists always so stupid? Maybe because smarter men don't have to blame women for the way their lives turn out.

    13. I don't know but she wasn't a great candidate or inspiring and the only reason she was ever there was because she married into it. It doesn't take a misogynist to see that. The popular votes were because the only other option was Trump.

      If you like her and want to passionately advocate for her political strengths, it's your business. It puts everything else you say in context.

    14. "The popular votes were because the only other option was Trump."

      This is true in every election. Just change the name Trump to the name of whichever candidate you like least.

      How many of Trump's votes were because the opponent was a Democrat and they've been taught to hate Dems?

      How can a female candidate gain the benefit of the doubt if a man considering her qualifications will consider her to be "sleeping to the top" if she is married to anyone with accomplishments (and who else would an accomplished woman marry)? That's a double bind. If she isn't married, then she will appear to be a failure as a woman. Damned if you do, damned if you don't.

      I find myself wondering how you can know that she is an evil bitch. Did she once borrow $5 from you and not pay it back?

    15. Not "anyone with accomplishments". She is married to Bill Clinton. That is the only reason she was where she was ... a presidential candidate. She could have married a lot of people with accomplishments in other fields. But without Bill she has absolutely no shot whatsoever at being president. Never in a million years, not by a long shot. That is super obvious. I know she's an evil bitch because of all the people she's killed and their families. We all know that. She's the queen of all warmongers. No one likes someone like that.

    16. If you knew anything about Hillary Clinton, you wouldn't say this stuff. She always had political aspirations, it was part of what drew Hillary and Bill to each other in school.

      You don't seem to think she has any positive qualities, so you aren't perhaps the right person to assess whether she might have been president under other circumstances.

      I'm not going to debate whether she is a warmonger when so many actual warmongers who are male have had no trouble becoming president. That doesn't seem to be a dealbreaker for them.

      That's why you are coming across as a major sexist.

      I came across an interesting debate about whether Marjorie Taylor Greene would be a likely nominee for President in 2024. The consensus was no because all those redpill assholes who believe in conspiracy theories like she does would never vote for a woman.

      No one likes someone who dislikes women as much as you apparently do.

    17. I think she has some good qualities. All I am saying is she wasn't a great candidate or inspiring and the only reason she was ever there was because of her proximity to her husband. It's not complicated. It's your business if you disagree.

    18. And yet she won the popular vote by nearly 3 million.

      Who votes for or against a female candidate because of her husband? Only a sexist idiot. Everyone else thinks of a woman as a person, not an appendage of some man. And yes, I disagree.

    19. The Anonymous male chauvinist is just saying the public are a bunch of morons.
      Anyone remember the "Trump is a smart businessman" voters?

    20. All I am saying is she wasn't a great candidate or inspiring, she ran a bad campaign and the only reason she was ever there in the first place was because of who her husband was.

    21. 11:06,
      She was too much of a politician to call all Republicans "deplorables", so she tried to finesse it, by wrongly claiming only "half" were.

    22. I'm just saying she ran a bad campaign and wasn't a great candidate and her marriage to Bill was the only reason she was ever there in the first place. The deplorables comment is a good example. Bill never would have said something so truly, massively stupid. That was a great example of how she ran a bad campaign and wasn't a great candidate.

      You idiots probable think Russia made her say it lol ;).

  6. "Nurse Ratched, attacked in Our Town"

    Hillary Clinton's name is not "Nurse Ratched". That is one of the attacks on her, not her name. Somerby here writes as if she WERE Nurse Ratched, repeating the slur.

    Ugly to the teeth, Somerby cannot talk about sexism that he himself exemplifies.

    "In our view, she wasn't a very good candidate that time around, but the nationwide popular vote turned out this way all the same:"

    He doesn't state any reason why she wasn't a very good candidate -- he never does. Clearly, the majority of voters disagreed. It took Russia and Comey to swing the handful of votes to win in the electoral college. History will probably tell us how Trunp/Russia did it. But to claim that Our Town didn't defend her, when Bernie was doing everything he could to undermine her, and women were doing everything they could to bring victory, is ridiculous. The left cared -- in different ways, and sexism was clearly a factor in her loss, just as support for her was the main factor in her popular vote win.

    Somerby is using Hillary to attack liberals. That is dirty and adding insult to injury following her heartbreaking loss. People are dead all over the US because Somerby was merely pretending to be liberal. He should be ashamed of himself.

  7. “This went on and on and on, with barely a peep of protest from anyone here in Our Town.”

    Proving a negative is often difficult, if not impossible. If I were to ask Somerby to prove that barely a peep of protest arose in Our Town, he couldn’t do it.

    The job of “proving” that there was protest falls on his readers. But it is difficult to sift through the historical record to find such proof. So, Somerby’s wild accusation remains more or less unchallenged. And that is convenient for his narrative.

    Somerby is more than willing to admit sexism exists when he can find media types doing it in blatant ways against a prominent woman. But most of the time, he is busy debunking sexism, deriding liberals for their “S bombs”.

    He also seems not to understand his own criticism. Where is Chris Matthews now? Why is he gone? The answer involves the willingness of the media during the reign of Matthews to overlook sexism in its ranks. Does Somerby not see that that was a media problem? That has changed. Too late for Hillary, I guess. Sexism, like racism, is hard to dislodge.

    But Somerby likes to attack liberals for not making headway against sexism earlier. In other words, he derides all progress liberals make as “too late” and ”liberals were hypocrites for putting up with sexism until they didn’t.” It’s another example of his gaslighting.

    1. At least liberals have jumped on the MeToo bandwagon (which was started by women, not liberals). Conservatives are still missing the boat.

      Somerby has that deep streak of paranoia about women's intentions that Bill Maher and other misogynists exhibit. He thinks women who claim to have been assaulted are lying (changed their minds about consensual sex, despite their bruises or drug effects), women who express affection are only after their money, women who complain about their behavior are trying to run their lives, and so on. They like lines about Samson having his hair cut because they illustrate the evil manipulation lurking behind every woman's charms.

      Somerby should have seen a shrink before his mother problems turned him into a crusty old bachelor.

  8. Favorite recent TDH metaphor:

    The crazy train runs through their town, and clown cars circle around in ours.

  9. "Today, we may occasionally posture in the wake of MeToo, sometimes perhaps going overboard in our performance of virtue."

    Every time Somerby says something like this, I find myself wondering about the difference between virtue and the performance of virtue. Does it matter why someone does something virtuous? Shouldn't we be happy they are doing it?

    Somerby instead seems to mean that people are only pretending to be virtuous. I don't find that true of liberals. I know too many people who I consider to be genuinely virtuous to consider them posers, the way Somerby implies. I don't think their motive for doing good is to appear to do good. I think they would prefer that no one thank them or make a fuss about it.

    It seems to me conservatives invented this concept because they have trouble doing genuine good without personal gain. I think they believe others are faking good, because they would be faking if they themselves did good deeds. They would want their name on the new hospital wing or need a tax deduction to give to charity, whereas people who are more virtuous do good because others need help, and that is enough reason for them. So conservatives cannot imagine unselfish virtue because they do not feel it themselves. And so too, Somerby. His heart is perhaps filled with gold, not compassion, so he pretends that others are faking it, especially Democrats, who he seems to despise for their virtue. To quote another poet, poor poor pitiful guy.

  10. Maybe it's not that people should have attacked Hillary less but that they should have attacked men more.

  11. "More on his rebuttal below."

    So, you read through his column and Somerby never gets around to talking about Williams again, until the very end, where he repeats what he said at the beginning.

    Typical. Is he lying or forgetting what he came here to say? Promising to address a rebuttal isn't the same as doing it. I think Somerby is being performative today, going through the motions of responsible blogging but without the follow through.

    1. I watched the first half of the show on 2/9 and Williams said nothing about rebutting the claim that he had been performative toward Blow. Somerby's idea of "early in the show" is just plain wrong. The first 3rd is spent describing the 1st day of the impeachment trial. Then a segment on something else. Nothing about Blow.

      I would call that a link to nowhere. Is Somerby pretending that anything he said had an impact on Williams? I'm not going to listen to the whole Williams show just to find out what Somerby is talking about. I just think he is full of shit.

  12. And having reached that bold conclusion, you will now move on to spend your time in better ways, right? I mean how crazy would you have to be to read and rattle on about the ramblings of a man who is full of shit, over, and over, and over again?

    1. Kevin Drum, now retired from Mother Jones, has returned to personal blogging. Right there in the right-hand column is his blogroll. And alphabetically, there is Bob Somerby. As long as Somerby is being linked to by liberal bloggers, it remains necessary to point out that Somerby is no longer liberal. Those with little historical sense will not care, but those who have been around to see what has happened over the years, still do care.

    2. He also links to The Corner, a blog of the conservative National Review.

    3. The point remains. Someone has to tell people that when Somerby says he is liberal, he is lying. That wouldn't be necessary if Somerby were not himself saying that he is liberal. The Corner does not pretend to be something it is not. Neither does Kevin Drum.

  13. Although Bob had written a lot of sad nonsense by then, I was actually a little disappointed that around 2015, he stopped setting the record straight on The Clintons. Bill Maher, Micheal Moore, Michelle Goldberg (who this week is going all rerevisionist on us) and many others had stupidly rewritten the Clinton Scandals demonizing Bill and on a gruesome "Morning Joe", making a hero out of Starr. How would Hillary had done had the likes of Goldberg tied Bill around her neck like an anvil. Anyone else been checking out four sheets to the wind psycho Jaunita Broaddrick in the Trump years? For a woman who was raped She sure does like to deride other woman who claim to be victims of sexual assault. Did Vanity Fair bring back the still arid Monica Lewinsky for any reason but to humiliate Hillary? Bob gave up on questions like this too.

  14. Does Bob not know that use of force is different based on race? Why is he denying scientific literature on this?

  15. "Meanwhile, the watchdog group OpenSecrets reported finding "more than $3.5 million in direct payments from Trump's 2020 campaign, along with its joint fundraising committees, to people and firms involved in the Washington, D.C. demonstration before a violent mob stormed the U.S. Capitol."

    And Somerby, like Hawley, pretends there is no impeachment trial going on, just as he has had no comment on the violence of Jan 6.

    1. Do you really expect Bob to discuss January 6th. The day a bunch of snowflakes tried to overthrow the U.S. government because black people's votes were counted?
      You obviously don't know of Bob's blindspot toward racism.

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