About Those PUMAs

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PUMAs are Democrats who supported Clinton but oppose Obama’s candidacy and wish to see him defeated. I have no idea how many true PUMAs there are. Certainly Republicans may be distorting or manipulating the online PUMA presence for their own ends. But I suspect there are a fair number, and I don’t think writing them off as nuts or cranks is very productive or helpful. If you want to learn more from a PUMA go here. It’s a blog I generally like a lot, even though I disagree with the PUMA approach, as I noted in comments here and here. And I profoundly disagree with some of the things written there about Obama. But I also feel like Dr. Socks and many of her commenters make a lot of legitimate points when they discuss the incredible sexism of so many of the Supposedly Liberal Doods running or supporting the Democratic Party. So go over and read Reclusive Leftist if you are interested. Below is a short excerpt from this post:

Most of us are lifelong Democrats, seasoned veterans of the political game. We know exactly what we’re doing. We’re making a high-stakes strategic bid to salvage the Democratic Party : or, failing that, to build a new coalition that will take up the mantle that the DNC seems determined to shed.

So why are we dismissed as hysterical angry women, so bitter at the defeat of Hillary that we’re ready to lash out in blind, confused rage and vote against our interests? Because of sexism. That’s how sexism works: it is the systematic devaluing of women and their actions. No matter that not all PUMAs are women; the movement is female-identified. And so we’re dismissed as hysterical old bats who can’t think straight.

I sympathize with the men in the PUMA movement who are experiencing this for the first time. It’s frustrating, isn’t it? Read this fine post by myiq2xu, a mixed-chromosome PUMA. There’s a subtext in that essay, an unspoken air of frustration along the lines of,”why aren’t people taking me seriously?”Welcome to the world of women, myiq2xu. You could have the political intelligence of Bismarck and you’d still be dismissed as a hormone-addled cow on the rag.

At the other extreme, Amanda Marcotte has a post at Pandagon that is very critical of PUMAs. Amanda seems convinced that the PUMA movement is something phony that is being driven by Republicans. I think she’s probably mostly wrong about this, but this view is based on my own observations and intuitions, not on anything concrete.

One thing I am very sure of is that if Obama wants votes and donations from Clinton supporters, he needs to win them over in a positive, productive way. Insulting them will not lure them into the fold. Why would it? And if some Obama supporters would ramp down the creepy cultish behavior, many of us would be greatly relieved. For one example, read this article noting Obama’s disagreement with the Supreme Court’s decision in Patrick Kennedy v. Louisiana. It quotes Obama as saying:

“I think that the rape of small child, 6 or 8 years old, is a heinous crime,” the Illinois senator said. “And if a state makes a decision that under narrow, limited, well-defined circumstances the death penalty is at least potentially applicable, that does not violate our Constitution.”

I was very disappointed by this, because I oppose the death penalty under any circumstances. Obama surely knows that the criminal justice system is far from perfect, meaning innocent people could be erroneously killed, and that the death penalty is applied in a racially discriminatory manner. I think he’s pandering on this issue, and I don’t like that very much. But it is nothing new for me to disagree with a fellow Democrat, and this will not dissuade me from voting for him. Yet I was seriously alarmed by the content and tone of the reader comments appended to this article, endorsing Obama’s words as if he was a deity, above all disagreement and criticism. Pretending any human being is perfection personified is weird, and it is very off putting.

–Ann Bartow

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0 Responses to About Those PUMAs

  1. I deeply disagree with Obama on a few issues including the death penalty and the current FISA bill that includes telecom immunity. I also think that the large majority of people who support Obama don’t see him as the embodiment of perfection, but instead as a politician who will ultimately do a lot of things we disagree with. There is a lot of angst by progressives at the moment over Obama, but the choice is crystal clear between McCain and Obama. That is why I am so disappointed in the PUMAs. On Reclusive Left they claim that Obama is a cancer (they use the word “metasticize”) in the Democratic Party. This is from a group who supported Hillary Clinton, whose policy positions were virtually identical to Obama except she was to the right of him on the Iraq war. How is he a cancer and she is their ideal candidate? When I read posts like on Reclusive Left I have a hard time believing that any loyal Democrat would not vote for Obama despite his many and various flaws. We are the same party who embraced John Kerry! It is difficult for me to take the PUMAs at face value–I wonder what is really going on underneath a lot of their visceral distrust and rejection of Obama as leader of the Democratic Party.

  2. Ann Bartow says:

    The cancer quote in this post
    http://www.reclusiveleftist.com/2008/07/01/comment-of-the-day-with-additional-remarks-by-violet/
    is:
    “Obama represents the metastasization of the Republican cancer to the Democratic Party. That’s why we’re fighting him. How many Republican parties do we need in this country, anyway?”
    Violet is arguing, and has been arguing all along, that Obama is very conservative, and far less progressive than Clinton. He does seem to be moving to the right, but I think Clinton would be doing the same thing right now if she was the presumptive candidate. Also, if I understand correctly, the way that Clinton was treated by the DNC leadership is driving a lot of the PUMA organizing, and this is why PUMA folks who supported Kerry refuse to do the same for Obama. I continue to believe this rift can be healed, but it would take real effort by Obama and maybe he just isn’t inclined to do it. I don’t know.