San Diego's Mayor Filner and Democratic Strategy
The abusive behavior of Mayor Filner of San Diego toward women has provoked an interesting situation: while Democrats profess to be the party of women, so far no prominent male Democratic politician has condemned Filner's actions. The only condemnations have come from women, such as Senator Boxer and others.
The most common response to this insensitivity toward women's rights is to portray it as a manifestation of "hypocrisy": that Democrats and the media are quick to attack Republican men for bad behavior toward women but carefully avoid condemning Democratic politicians for the same behavior.
This observation is accurate but incomplete. There is much more going on here than just a double standard. Everyone knows the media circled the wagons to protect Bill Clinton's campaign when he first ran in 1992, and that Hillary Clinton, while stating, "I'm not some Tammy Wynette sitting by my man," apparently felt that it was okay to defend him.
And the media continued to defend Clinton while excoriating Republicans for what was far less abusive behavior toward women. While the double standard has been going on as long as anyone can remember, the real question is why there is a double standard -- and why Democrats and their media enablers are maintaining it.
Understanding why Democrats and the media have a double standard requires an understanding of the strategy Democrats use to get elected. The rhetoric Democrats use is founded on one basic, overwhelming idea: that Republicans are immoral and are incapable of ruling the nation. Only Democrats, voters are told, have the moral fiber necessary to stand up to Republicans and defend the elderly, weak, sick, and poor. And only they, we are told, have the courage to stand up to the wealthy and demand more money to pay for the people-programs needed by the disadvantaged.
The reason they defend Democratic male politicians who abuse women, then, is not that they feel that Democrats are entitled to treat women in the traditionally abusive way of seeing women as playthings, but rather that criticizing Democrats on moral grounds could threaten the perception they have carefully groomed among the electorate that Democrats are the party of morality, not the Republicans.
The reluctance of women's organizations such as NOW to immediately condemn Bill Clinton was not due to a double standard, but rather because they seek the policy changes that they feel Democrats will make. The actual treatment of women by Bill Clinton on a personal level is irrelevant to the major goal: policy changes and the establishment of federal programs that promote their agenda.
So in all cases, the reluctance to criticize Democrats, while appearing to be a manifestation of a confused double standard, is nothing but a political strategy designed to keep Democrats in power. Female voters can decide for themselves if they feel that those in government should be examples of how all men should behave toward women -- if they should vote for men who abuse women and get away with it.
In effect, the media use personal sexual behavior as a means of attacking Republicans, and since they wish to promote Democrats in office, ignoring their abuse of women is best understood as a manifestation of their desire to keep Democrats in power. As I have written here before, the media protect Democrats because Democrats control most of the big cities, which are also the largest media markets.
So the media, by protecting Democrats who abuse women, are also guilty of going along with the abuse of women. And what's worse, this is not done out of moral hypocrisy but simply to protect Democrats in power. Everyone involved knows that Democrats use their "moral superiority card" to get elected. They will voice every type of denial, practice every kind of hypocrisy, and construct every double standard necessary not just to protect the individual involved, such as Mayor Filner, but to protect the moral image of the Democratic Party.
Since this position excuses and enables the abuse of women, it is in reality far worse, and a far greater moral infraction, than the abusive act itself. This is because it subjects all women to this double standard. And this reminds one of how feminists always pointed out that men have a double standard with regard to extramarital affairs: that men feel it is okay for them to do it, but it is not okay for women. This double standard was harmful to all women and disrespectful of them. Now the double standard used to protect political figures has the same effect.
The "moral extortion card" I have discussed here both enables Democrats to get elected and is used to raise taxes and start new programs. It also empowers Democrats to segregate minorities in big cities and use them to achieve electoral security. All of this would be threatened if Democrats were seen to have major moral deficits. This cannot be allowed to happen, and Mayor Filner is being given soft treatment only because he cannot be allowed to threaten the national party's moral stature.
So by allowing Mayor Filner, Elliot Spitzer, and others to unashamedly hold public office after questionable behavior with women, the Democratic Party makes a decision that they would rather allow women to be abused by their party members than lose their perceived moral superiority rhetoric.