Letters To The Editor


May 21, 2008

Is sexism the cause of Clinton's woes?

Lynette Long sounds like an unabashed feminist. And I say more power to her ("Painful lessons," Commentary, May 18).

In fact, I would add two more points to her list of difficult hurdles women candidates face:

* When female candidates are critical of their opponent, they are described as "shrill" or some other derogatory term, while male candidates are given credit for holding opposing views.

* In Sen. Hilary Clinton's case, she is often called by her first name, while neither Sen. John McCain nor Sen. Barack Obama is often referred to as "John" or "Barack."

Ms. Long is correct that campaigning remains more difficult for women. But the only way to overcome that is for so many to run for office that female candidates become commonplace.

Bert Booth, Towson

Lynette Long's column "Painful lessons" notes that most young white voters voted for Mr. Obama, as did most young black voters.

She suggests that this is because young white voters are more open to voting for a black man than young black voters are open to voting for a white person.

Setting aside the racist implications of this assertion, Ms. Long fails to acknowledge a basic facet of this campaign - and this is odd, considering how widely remarked it has been that young voters in general seem to prefer Mr. Obama because he represents (or at least seems to represent) something other than the stale politics of the baby boomers that the Clintons represent.

My young peers and I are sick of the pandering to our nation's basest inclinations represented by Sen. Hillary Clinton, especially the increasingly racially tinged rhetoric from her camp.

Mr. Obama may or may not deliver on his themes of change and hope. But I, for one, am willing to give him the chance to do so.

Grant Hamming, College Park

Kudos to Lynette Long for her insightful column "Painful lessons."

As a man stunned by the disrespectful coverage of Sen. Hillary Clinton I have been seeing since January, I was glad to see my own sentiments about the very biased and unremittingly sexist media coverage of the Democratic race by some commentators at MSNBC and CNN in particular validated in Ms. Long's remarks.

Had they treated Sen. Barack Obama in a fashion that is half as racist as the sexism they have shown toward Mrs. Clinton, they would have been fired long ago, and in total disgrace.

Daniel C. Weiner, Brookline, Mass.

Lynette Long's column "Painful Lessons" was right on.

Many pundits wonder why Sen. Hillary Clinton's female supporters are so dedicated to her and are not particularly enthusiastic about Sen. Barack Obama. They should read Ms. Long's column.

Women throughout the U.S. recognize the truths detailed by Ms. Long - that sexism is alive and well and has been far more consequential to Mrs. Clinton's campaign than racism has been to Mr. Obama's campaign.

And her conclusions about media coverage are also right on.

We've come to the point where media pundits and other so-called journalists are affecting the outcomes of our elections.

What happened to objective journalism?

Norma McDonald, Bel Air

No doubt sexism and racism have played a role in this year's Democratic primary elections. But for Lynette Long to claim that one (sexism) has played a greater role than the other is simply untrue.

Is Ms. Long claiming that it's easier to be a black candidate than a female one? If so, then let's compare the number of female governors and senators to the number of black senators and governors.

She writes about sexist statements being made about Sen. Hillary Clinton. But she ignores the fact that Mr. Obama has been subjected to racist statements as well.

It is true that Mr. Obama has received a majority of the black vote. But it is also true that Mrs. Clinton has received a majority of the female vote, which has sustained her candidacy.

I would also note that Mrs. Clinton and her campaign have never bypassed a chance to play the gender card and have even sometimes used the race card (as in the case of her statement about winning the votes of "hardworking white voters").

If Mrs. Clinton thinks that Mr. Obama is having an easier time as a black candidate than she is as a woman, she needs to listen to the interviews the BBC did with West Virginia voters after that state's primary.

We have two outstanding candidates fighting for the nomination of the Democratic Party who share similar ideologies and policy positions.

I hope that after eight years of President Bush, their supporters realize that what's at stake in the general election is more important than having their preferred candidate as the Democratic nominee.

Nonso Umunna, Baltimore

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