June 17, 2010

"Men who go there are branded pigs. Gals who do it are denounced as catty, bitchy perpetuators of a system that fixates, unjustly and insultingly, on..."

... on hairstyles and, generally, the way women look. Michelle Cottle is ruminating over what Carly Fiorina said about Barbara Boxer's hair and, more specifically, how Carly tried to save herself from opprobrium by playing the breast cancer card:
“My goodness, my hair has been talked about by a million people, you know. It sort of goes with the territory.... Especially when you don’t have any hair. As you remember, I started out with none.”
Fiorina also likes to say things like: “After chemotherapy, Barbara Boxer isn’t very scary anymore.”
While overcoming any serious disease can make for a compelling political narrative, beating breast cancer is a struggle that resonates with, and makes a candidate more relatable to, women in particular....
From a purely strategic perspective, the heroic cancer narrative is hard to counter. ...

Invoking a breast cancer battle as a kind of character testimony is one thing; brandishing it as a partisan weapon is more problematic....

This kind of naked exploitation is risky—as is Fiorina’s using her survivor status to deflect criticism when she makes a bush-league mistake like Hairgate. But if the candidate can avoid such heavy-handedness, her more subtle invocations of her cancer battle could prove devastating in her fight for California women in particular.
Should a candidate can talk about his or her diseases? I remember Paul Tsongas doing it well, many years ago. It made him look sympathetic and strong... at least until it turned out he was actually too ill:
If Mr. Tsongas had gone on to win, America would now [in 1992] have a President-elect stricken with a debilitating, conceivably life-threatening disease....

When Mr. Tsongas' health became an issue during the primaries, his doctors at first said he had been free of all traces of cancer ever since, suggesting that the radical procedure had cured him. Only after he dropped out of the campaign did they acknowledge that he had suffered a "localized relapse," suggesting that the cure may not have been complete.

Now a cancerous growth has been found in Mr. Tsongas' abdomen....
Tsongas died of his cancer in 1997.

Exploiting one's cancer is a self-limiting political enterprise.

53 comments:

Moose said...

Yes, but breast cancer in women is a badge of courage, whereas men with cancer are just... Sick.

kent said...

"Men who go there are branded pigs."

Oh, no! Not yet another Britney story!

former law student said...

“After chemotherapy, Barbara Boxer isn’t very scary anymore.”

Huh? Carly Fiorina is scary, in that she doesn't really care about "the small people." Barbara Boxer is like your mom. She would worry if you went out in the cold without being properly dressed.

Hoosier Daddy said...

Barbara Boxer is like your mom.

Uh no. She prefers to be called Senator.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Why shouldn't she talk about it?

As far as I have heard or seen, Fiorina didn't make cancer the centerpiece of her candidacy or even really talk about it very much at all.

In fact, when I first saw her and her very short hair style my first thought was that she might be lesbian or very heavily into sports and had a short hairstyle for those reasons.

I never gave her hair a second thought other than to think that some people can carry off that style.

chuck b. said...

She verges on talking about it too much. Did you know John Kerry served in Vietnam?

Instead, I wonder if she should try explaining her leadership at HP, which many regard as a failure, and which kept her name in the headlines in California (at least in the Bay Area) every night, for a year.

Aside from all that, Boxer seems so unpopular this year, none of that may matter and we may finally be rid of her. As I never get tired of pointing out, we only have Boxer because California Republicans couldn't be bothered to field a strong candidate against her for the last 18 years.

They still aren't happy with Fiorina (not conservative enough), but they can't get anyone better to win state-wide. It's like they think they'll convince everyone to go their way again. Guess what: It's never going to happen.

I would also like to take this opportunity to poke jabs at Southern California. Do you people have noone in political leadership left to contribute to California? What's wrong with you?

Damon said...

"Self-limiting" or is it really self-defining.

Reality is she made a comment off-air that was innocuous. The conversation about that comment has become puerile. Making something out of nothing is also catty. Get over it bitches.

PS - her exploitation was actually a deflection. Very different from naked exploitation where the subject of her exploitation would have no relation to the topic at hand. Topic was hair and cancer had taken her hair. Very related and very relevant.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Barbara Boxer is like your mom

I want some one who can understand business, economics, laws, will follow the wishes of his/her constituants and can run the Government.

I want the government to run efficiently and within its proper functions.

It is MY business if I want to go outside without my coat. I don't need a Nanny or a Mommy.

Sometimes running a business or government means making some tough and unpopular choices. Fiorina will do that.

kent said...

Barbara Boxer is like your mom

... provided, of course, your mother suffers from one of the more profoundly debilitating forms of cranial trauma.

holdfast said...

My Mom is an intelligent, caring and creative woman. Boxer is a stuck-up scrunt who got promoted way beyond her abilities.

I do think that Fiorina talks about the cancer too much, though I have no doubt it was a life-changing event. John Edwards campaigned on his "dying" wife's cancer, except that, just like the Lockerbie bomber, she's not dead yet.

traditionalguy said...

Michelle Cottle has that special talent that finds a way, any way, to condemn an opposition figure for being alive and behaving decently. She is brilliant at creating the appearance of a scandal which can then forever be referred to as one of many dirty deeds associated with Fiorina. Cottle's skill is why politics, always called Hardball, has been taken to absurdity levels.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

oh....and....Barbara Boxer's hair does look like crap.

Messy and old fashioned. For all the money that she is getting for representing the State of California, she could get her hair if not colored at least styled. It looks like she combed it with a rake.

Meow.

Joan said...

"It is described very much in terms of fighting a battle, and women who have gone through this successfully are described as survivors, and what it means to be a survivor goes beyond just a medical term.”

As a cancer survivor, I am bothered by something about the word choice here."Described in terms of fighting a battle," "described as survivors" -- as if to imply that people who had cancer and are still alive are not survivors and they did not fight against the disease to remain that way. "Survivor" is exactly the right word, it doesn't need any framing around it, and it's obnoxious that Cottle pulls this quote from Ann Kornblut as if it's some kind of revelation.

Surviving (there's that word again) cancer takes physical stamina and mental toughness, and both of those qualities are relevant in an election. I think Cottle is disturbed by how well Fiorina is doing, and for some bizarre reason chose to attack her on "playing the cancer card" instead of her tenure at HP. It's hard to tell from the article how much Fiorina actually talks about her cancer experience. The way she brings it up seems subtle to me -- re the hair, "especially when you don't have any," re Boxer, "not scary after chemo." Does she say stuff like this everyday? Then yes, that's probably too often, but frankly I don't trust Cottle's reporting here. It's not as if Fiorina is going on and on about her cancer battle -- except that one time when she was addressing ObamaCare, when it made sense to do so.

Maybe I'm overly sensitive to the kind of accusation that Cottle is making against Fiorina because I've been accused of playing the cancer card myself. I know many cancer survivors and we don't bring it up lightly -- one of the great things about support groups is that they put you in an environment where if you want to bitch about your ongoing problems, you can do so without feeling as if you're burdening your friends and family. We know it's a downer to constantly remind people we are or have been very sick. People don't like that, it reminds them of their own mortality too much. Fiorina is walking a fine line here, and IMO she is doing it well; Cottle comes off as a bit of a jerk.

c3 said...

Breast cancer IS a badge of courage.

Breast cancer, as best as I can tell, is the MOST IMPORTANT CANCER.

This study is one of many that suggests a problem with breast cancer being THE cancer. As we've gotten better at detecting earlier stages of cancer, we have the "opportunity" to identify more and more women as "cancer survivors". And the catch:

This suggests that approximately 50% of low grade DCIS detected at screening will represent overdiagnosis

PS to guys: DO NOT DISCUSS THIS IN MIXED COMPANY UNLESS YOU ARE PREPARED TO RECEIVE THE WRATH OF ...

victoria said...

These "malaprops" are Fiorina's signature move. Say something nasty about someone and then back off and use just about anything as an excuse. No wonder women don't like working for other women. I had 2 female bosses in 25 years with the same company and they were the worst bosses ever. The first tried to fire me because I was younger and better educated than she was(I was 22 and it was my first job) and the second, 10 years later, was so insecure about herself that she lashed out at all her female employees. No thanks, not anymore. Fiorina reminds me of both and I will not vote for her, even if she were the only candidate. Not to mention the fact that I pretty much despise her views on choice, the death penalty and gay marriage.


Vicki from Pasadena

victoria said...

Dust Bunny, you obviously don't live in California. If you do, you choose not to see what is staring you in the face.

Vicki from Pasadena

Damon said...

"I do think that Fiorina talks about the cancer too much"

It is so easy to say that (aka judge) sitting back on your couch. The cancer was a very recent occurrence and if she didn't make it a part of her conversation then other people would. Smart play, if she let others drive the conversation it would not be sympathetic to her at all.

She is savvy and shows she is willing to take on adversity directly.

PatCA said...

She just got out of treatment, so she can't ignore it, but so many people have experiences with cancer nowadays, I don't think referencing it is a big deal anymore. I agree with Joan, and I'm a survivor too, it's a fine line and Fiorina has not crossed it. She hasn't made herself into a saint, she just acknowledges that it's part of her life.

And she has another 5-15 years before she's "beaten" it. Give her a break, MSM, even if she's running against a Dem.

edutcher said...

chuck b. said...

She verges on talking about it too much. Did you know John Kerry served in Vietnam?

Interesting point, but Kerry's depiction of his Vietnam service didn't quite match the actual record.

Ms. Fiorina's illness is for real.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

oh....and....Barbara Boxer's hair does look like crap.

Messy and old fashioned. For all the money that she is getting for representing the State of California, she could get her hair if not colored at least styled. It looks like she combed it with a rake.


It's the 'I'm too busy working hard for the people of California to worry about my hair' look.

I expect The Zero to do something similar any day now.

Old Dad said...

We expect candidates to talk about themselves to a certain extent, especially if they have a compelling personal story. The President go elected on the strength of his story. God knows it wasn't on the strength of his resume. Can a candidate overe do it? Yeah sure. It takes experience and a good political ear. I'm not sure Ms. Fiorina has that good ear yet. "Hair-gate" was an unforced error. I doubt it will hurt her too much. Everyone knows that women talking to women about women get catty, but it's a bad idea over an open mic. I'd be a little worried if I were running her campaign.

c3 said...

And to be "fair" to both sexes, we have this

kent said...

... and, speaking of "self-limiting political enterprise(s)":

Will SC Dems run afoul of the Civil Rights Commission?

Heh.

former law student said...

Sometimes running a business or government means making some tough and unpopular choices. Fiorina will do that.

Carly is all about Carly, first and foremost. Cutting the deal with Deutsche Bank to vote their customers' shares her way shows the lengths she will go to to survive. Note, however, that the Delaware Court rejected the circumstantial evidence of her vote-buying deal.

In contrast, to my knowledge, Barbara Boxer has never been taken to court for alleged unethical conduct.

Chase said...

Exploiting one's cancer is a self-limiting political enterprise.

As is, daily more evident, exploiting:

- "Yes We Can" (Hopey and Changey)

- "It's the previous administration's fault"

- "I am a distinguished Law Professor at a Prestigious University"@22

AJ Lynch said...

I am reminded of VP candidate John Edwards campaign promise "when John Kerry is president, Christopher Reeves will walk again". [I am paraphrasing somewhat] But no politico could stoop lower than that IMO.

So my answer is no, Fiorina's mention of her own cancer is A-OK. It is a standard tool for candidates anymore.

chuck b. said...

"Sometimes running a business or government means making some tough and unpopular choices. Fiorina will do that."

That's another thing. She's not running for an executive position. As a senator she won't be "running" anything. The old question about whether legislators make good executives goes in the other direction too. But that's something that people only talk about on blogs.

"Interesting point, but Kerry's depiction of his Vietnam service didn't quite match the actual record."

Quite true and that cost him some support (although frankly, I was not paying much attention). But even before those revelations, people mocked his incessant declarations about Vietnam. People will naturally wonder what's going on with Fiorina besides her breast cancer if she constantly brings it up.

AJ Lynch said...

NEWS FLASH THIS JUST IN:

Vicky from Pasadena will not vote for a Republican and DBQ knows nothing about Caleeeeforrrnia!

[regular readers will know which of these news tidbits is inaccurate heh].

chuck b. said...

"People will naturally wonder what's going on with Fiorina besides her breast cancer if she constantly brings it up."

And they already are. But perhaps the breast cancer is what lures people in to hearing the rest of her story. It could be very shrewd.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Dust Bunny, you obviously don't live in California. If you do, you choose not to see what is staring you in the face.


Au contraire victoria.

I live in California and have for probably longer than you have been alive.

In no particular order:

I see a State run into the ground by liberal progressives.

evironmental wack jobs ruining agriculture, businesses and people's lives

welfare gone wild

illegal aliens over running the state, stressing the social systems of hospitals, schools, welfare and driving down wages for legal citizens: working men and women.

lack of ANY fiscal control by government at all levels

pension plans that are bankrupting the tax payers

high corporate and personal income taxes driving businesses out of the state

high sales taxes

over regulated business environment

over reaching nanny statism.

crumbling infrastructure

an education system that is a joke and controled by unions that protect crappy teachers.

pork barrel projects that make no sense

I could go on.

Frankly I wish that the area of California where YOU live would just drop off into the ocean and that people like you would just be satisfied to live your own lives and leave the rest of us alone.

You represent everything that is wrong with California.

Clear enough for you?

k*thy said...

Joan, I would add that anyone in any kind of recovery sees those not having to go through what we are going through, as simply 'not getting it'. I wouldn't go so far as to call someone a 'jerk' in that case. I like to take the posture, that they 'just don't know', they can't know, they're not walking in our shoes...and just leave it at that.

kent said...

(Mental note to self: "Never, ever, EVER get all up in DBQ's grill.")

Trooper York said...

"former law student.....
Barbara Boxer is like your mom."

That's only true if you are Tony Perkins.

Trooper York said...

I deal with many woman every day and there is one thing I always tell them.

"I know you are worried about one spot or problem area that you think everybody is looking at and judging you. Well as a straight guy let me tell you something...guys aren't looking there...trust me...they don't care about your arms or you back or whatever...you are dressing for other woman....and I know .....they're bitches."

Trooper York said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
former law student said...

Speaking of dbq's California, Obama's Justice Department recently decided not to prosecute former Congressman John Doolittle for his role in the Abramoff affair. So that's one more California Republican who can breathe a sigh of relief.

Joan said...

k*thy, while I agree that Cottle probably "just doesn't get it", I did not go so far as to call her a jerk outright. Part of Cottle's problem is that she doesn't want to "get it" where Fiorina is concerned.

chuck b. said...

"Frankly I wish that the area of California where YOU live would just drop off into the ocean and that people like you would just be satisfied to live your own lives and leave the rest of us alone."

Without regard to my own feelings, the general feeling is certainly mutual. Rather than dropping off into the ocean, maybe your area could fall off a mountain.

Alex said...

Dust Bunny, you obviously don't live in California. If you do, you choose not to see what is staring you in the face.

Vicki from Pasadena


Which means electing Democrats is the only answer in a state that is falling off the proverbial cliff. Because nothing is more important then being anti-Republican.

Irene said...

I agree with Joan. It's a fine line to walk. I also still think Fiorina may have been dipping into some cancer hair humor.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Rather than dropping off into the ocean, maybe your area could fall off a mountain.

Certainly! And we will take our timber, minerals, agrigultural production, hydro electric geothermal, wind and natural gas energy production AND our water with us. No more diverting it to Southern California.

Hope you don't want to water your lawn or have a swimming pool.

You can keep Angelena Jolie and Susan Sarandon and their ilk. Oh...and you can also keep Al Gore too while you are at it.

Cedarford said...

John Edwards campaigned on his "dying" wife's cancer, except that, just like the Lockerbie bomber, she's not dead yet.

Poor Saint Elizabeth. Still "suffering from John's infidelities", still lying with her book and TV fodder, still dying away..

===================
It is one thing to have a Senator dying of a disease, or otherwise dehabilitated. It hurts their State and the nation to some extent, but not like a Scotus Justice too old or sick to work, or a President.

Moose said...

I don't have the cojones to do Trooper's job...

wv: gromster - really ugly hamster

Trooper York said...

It's not hard Moose. You just have to realize it is not all about you.

Plus you get to hang around with some really voluptuous woman all day.

Not to shabby.

victoria said...

Dust bunny, I am not going to argue with you about who has been here the longest, that is pretty immaterial to anything we are discussing. As for all the stuff you say is wrong with California, I totally agree, but Fiorina will have no impact on that at all. Now, if you want to discuss candidates for governor, I think that there is no better candidate than Meg Whitman, this coming from a confirmed Democrat. She is just what I want in a Republican, fiscally conservative and socially liberal. I will vote for her in a heartbeat. So there, AJ. I actually voted for Schwarzeneger both times. So there, AJ. But, but I will not vote for Fiorina. When I saw first hand and heard of the despicable things she did to the employees at HP for her own personal gain I was disgusted. As the former Law Student says, Carly has always been for Carly, first and foremost.

Her positions on social issues such as a woman's right to choose, capital punishment and gay marriage make me gag. She is a shill for whoever will give her money. Gag me.

Dust bunny, you are a good example of the whiny self centered "old" Californians that we would be well rid of. I bet you live in Orange County, too. I went to college here, 40 years ago and still think this is the best place to live in the US. Except for narrow minded, whiny sots like you, living in the past and not willing to do anything to ensure the future of the state. It's people like you who encourage the hate speak of right wing nuts like Dave Drier and his ilk.


Vicki from Pasadena

William said...

I myself am a survivor of basal cell skin carcinoma. Every day is another day and a blessing. I try with whatever courage and dignity I can muster to set an example to all afflicted with this dread disease. In my experience nothing does more to cheer up a cancer survivor than an unsolicited bj....The double standard is the most pervasive and transcendent of all human values. I don't think it's even possible for the writer of this article to factor in the Edwards example in her calculus of the morality of playing the cancer card.....To hard work and poverty, add bad health to that long list of things that are supposed to burnish and exalt the human spirit, but really don't. Harlan County coal miners with black lung disease are not fonts of wisdom and santliness. It is better to be young, beautiful, and rich than old, ugly, and poor.

Alex said...

Dust bunny, you are a good example of the whiny self centered "old" Californians that we would be well rid of.

yes, continue to drive out all the actual TAXPAYERS and be left with the criminals and illegals. Wonderful state you've got there.

Alex said...

It is better to be young, beautiful, and rich than old, ugly, and poor.

But YBR doesn't last forever you know.

victoria said...

Alex, it is obvious to me that you don't know @#$% about California. Why, because you say the same old crap that people who don't live here say. I know that you are jealous that you don't live here so, temper your jealousy. We'll let you visit, maybe.

Vicki

Methadras said...

former law student said...

Huh? Carly Fiorina is scary, in that she doesn't really care about "the small people." Barbara Boxer is like your mom. She would worry if you went out in the cold without being properly dressed.


I don't want a sitting senator to be my mom. What the fuck is wrong with you people and your infantile analogies?

Methadras said...

victoria said...

Alex, it is obvious to me that you don't know @#$% about California. Why, because you say the same old crap that people who don't live here say. I know that you are jealous that you don't live here so, temper your jealousy. We'll let you visit, maybe.

Vicki


Hey Vicki, I live in California. I'm a native San Diegan who still lives there and works and lives in Northern California. East Bay, Pleasant Hill infact. I've traveled this state for most of my life. I've seen what this state was and what it now is. Why don't you tell me that I don't know shit about California?

You make a pretense of not wanting to engage DBQ on the immaterialness of who has been here the longest, but oh, you sure will try to slime her with the audacity of assuming she lives in Orange County? Lady, if I can even call you that, I don't know where you're from and I don't give two shits about it either, but if you've been in California for any modicum of time, you've seen this state go from the golden state, to the gold plated state. The massive rise of the DNC controlled legislature, to the sanctuary city status' that have allowed unwelcomed, undesirable, non-citizens to infiltrate, saturate, and attach themselves to the public tit. If you've been here as long as you say, you've seen the rise of the CTA turn into a force of incompetency and evil that has only itself in mind and not that of our children or common sense. If you've been here as long as you say, you've seen a once good city like San Fransisco turn into a hedonistic shit hole that hosts every nuance of depravity and debauchery you can fathom within its confines. If you've been here long enough as you say you have, you've seen this once good state become a tax sink that has driven away business and seen a giant burgeoning middle-class leave it for greener pastures elsewhere.

You are the type of California we don't need frankly. The one that is complacent and ignorant of a state government that is ignorant of its fiduciary, fiscal, and financial responsibilities, while it grows, spends, and taxes to such a behemoth size that it has rendered itself unsustainable. Once the worlds 5th largest economy reduced in scale and power by the leftist ideological screed of social experimentation at the cost of good will and common sense in governance and stewardship to its citizens. I suggest you be the one to evaporate into that cool California wind. You and your ideas are not wanted here.

former law student said...

What the fuck is wrong with you people and your infantile analogies?

1. Carly Fiorina said that Barbara Boxer was "scary."

2. Barbara Boxer is as scary as your mom bringing a tray of home-baked cookies and mild.

3. WTF is Carly Fiorina's problem?

former law student said...

milk, dammit.

Methadras said...

former law student said...

What the fuck is wrong with you people and your infantile analogies?

1. Carly Fiorina said that Barbara Boxer was "scary."


She is if her the mountain she is going to politically die on is claiming that AGW is the single greatest threat to mankind and that we should spend untold billions to prevent it.

2. Barbara Boxer is as scary as your mom bringing a tray of home-baked cookies and mild.

Well she is either scary enough as I've illustrated above or she is completely scary in the characterization you've provided which would only serve to prove that she has completely wasted our time, tax payer money, and has used her office as a means personal purposes and has done little to nothing to show for it outside of puff-ball policy and legislation. Then I'd say yeah, she is about as scary as a mom who bakes milk and cookies.

3. WTF is Carly Fiorina's problem?

Fiorina's problem is that she hasn't defeated the milquetoast mother you support for senator.