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Obama, Clinton, Palin

Obama, Clinton, Palin: Making History in Election 2008

Kathryn Kish Sklar
Tiffany Ruby Patterson
Mitch Kachun
Glenda E. Gilmore
Tera W. Hunter
Susan M. Hartmann
Melanie Gustafson
Ronald Formisano
Paula Baker
Catherine E. Rymph
Elisabeth I. Perry
Copyright Date: 2011
Pages: 192
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  • Book Info
    Obama, Clinton, Palin
    Book Description:

    Election 2008 made American history, but it was also the product of American history. Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and Sarah Palin smashed through some of the most enduring barriers to high political office, but their exceptional candidacies did not come out of nowhere. In these timely and accessible essays, a distinguished group of historians explores how the candidates both challenged and reinforced historic stereotypes of race and sex while echoing familiar themes in American politics and exploiting new digital technologies._x000B__x000B_Contributors include Kathryn Kish Sklar on Clintons gender masquerade; Tiffany Ruby Patterson on the politics of black anger; Mitch Kachun on Michelle Obama and stereotypes about black womens bodies; Glenda E. Gilmore on black womens century of effort to expand political opportunities for African Americans; Tera W. Hunter on the lost legacy of Shirley Chisholm; Susan M. Hartmann on why the U.S. has not yet followed western democracies in electing a female head of state; Melanie Gustafson on Palin and the political traditions of the American West; Ronald Formisano on the populist resurgence in 2008; Paula Baker on how digital technologies threaten the secret ballot; Catherine E. Rymph on Palins distinctive brand of political feminism; and Elisabeth I. Perry on the new look of American leadership.

    eISBN: 978-0-252-09365-4
    Subjects: History, Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. INTRODUCTION: Taking the Long View of Election 2008
    (pp. 1-16)
    Liette Gidlow

    It was an awkward situation. In their first side-by-side appearance as rivals for the Democratic presidential nomination, Senators Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton gathered in March 2007 in Selma, Alabama, with crowds of supporters and well-wishers. Forty-two years earlier, some six hundred activists, most of them black, had tried to march from Selma to Montgomery to press President Lyndon Johnson and Congress to enact a law to remedy decades of disfranchisement. In the bloody clash that erupted on the Edmund Pettus Bridge, state and local police attacked the marchers with batons, horsewhips, and tear gas, injuring seventy-eight people. Now, commemorating...


    • CHAPTER 1 Hillary Rodham Clinton, the Race Question, and the “Masculine Mystique”
      (pp. 19-25)
      Kathryn Kish Sklar

      How can we best place Hillary Clinton’s primary campaign in historical perspective—what were its precedents, and what might unfold from it?¹ Of course, it’s impossible to speak about her candidacy without also thinking about Barack Obama’s—and once you start thinking about gender and race, can class be far behind?

      Future historians might agree that Clinton’s campaign revolved around three questions.

      First, on the “woman question” Clinton’s candidacy built on the gradual change that took place over two generations since 1930; she consolidated those changes into a permanent base for women presidential candidates in the future.

      Second, on the...

    • CHAPTER 2 Barack Obama and the Politics of Anger
      (pp. 26-38)
      Tiffany Ruby Patterson

      “God damn America!” blared from YouTube videos, CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, and many other media outlets in early 2008, in the heat of the presidential primary season. Black rage was making a frontal assault on America’s consciousness. The sermons of a Chicago minister, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, exploded onto the nightly news and Internet blogs and remained there round the clock for months, pushing network ratings over the top as Americans pondered his particular understanding of God and the nation.

      Wright, the former pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ, was no ordinary minister: he was the pastor of Barack Obama’s...

    • CHAPTER 3 Michelle Obama, the Media Circus, and America’s Racial Obsession
      (pp. 39-50)
      Mitch Kachun

      As momentous as it was for Americans to realize that a man of African descent had been elected president, for some it was just as meaningful that Barack Obama’s wife, Michelle LaVaughn Robinson Obama, would become the first African American First Lady. In fact, in an important sense, her move to the White House might be even more historically meaningful than her husband’s—for unlike her husband, Michelle Obama is a descendant of American slaves.

      The Washington Post hardly can be said to have “broken” the story, since common sense alone was sufficient for most people to draw that conclusion,...


    • CHAPTER 4 The 2008 Election, Black Women’s Politics, and the Long Civil Rights Movement
      (pp. 53-65)
      Glenda Elizabeth Gilmore

      In May 2009, the New York Times ran a story under this headline: “no racial gap seen in ’08 vote turnout” (Figure 1). Now, this would have been news, if only it had been true. It wasn’t. The longstanding racial electoral gap in presidential elections, in which whites turn out to vote in higher percentages than other groups, narrowed to .9 percent but did not disappear. Black voter turnout was 65.2 percent, and white turnout was 66.1 percent. Thus, even though fewer blacks voted than whites, the Times reported that the gap “evaporated.”¹

      The article continued: “black women turned out...

    • CHAPTER 5 The Forgotten Legacy of Shirley Chisholm: Race versus Gender in the 2008 Democratic Primaries
      (pp. 66-85)
      Tera W. Hunter

      President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton owe a debt to a trailblazing presidential contender.¹ In 1972, Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm became the first African American to run for president on a major party ticket. Congresswoman Chisholm knew that she had no real chance of winning, but she ran to pave the way for others and to garner attention for issues that other candidates had failed to adequately address. She was antiracist, antisexist, pro-choice, pro-labor, antiwar, fiercely independent, and, above all, principled.

      Imagine a primary campaign in 2008 among the Democratic candidates in which Chisholm’s legacy served as a...

    • CHAPTER 6 Hillary Clinton’s Candidacy in Historical and Global Context
      (pp. 86-93)
      Susan M. Hartmann

      In an election trumpeted as marking an important break with the past, Hillary Clinton’s candidacy represented both the old and the new in American politics. In an election celebrated as the moment when women broke the ultimate glass ceiling in politics, Clinton’s candidacy showed how far women have come, as well as the obstacles that they continue to face. And in an election that promised a new relationship between the United States and the rest of the world, Clinton’s candidacy reminds us that American women have still not caught up to the political advancement of women in other nations.


    • CHAPTER 7 Defining a Maverick: Putting Palin in the Context of Western Women’s Political History
      (pp. 94-104)
      Melanie Gustafson

      Republican presidential candidate John McCain spoke with great grace when he conceded the election to the Democratic candidate Barack Obama on the evening of November 4, 2008.¹ He readily acknowledged that, though he had been bested, this was a “historic election” that left “no reason” for “any American to fail to cherish their citizenship in this, the greatest nation on Earth.” After thanking his wife, who was on his left, and other family members for all their support, Senator McCain turned to his running mate, standing to his right. “I am also . . . very thankful to Governor Sarah...

    • CHAPTER 8 Populist Currents in the 2008 Presidential Campaign
      (pp. 105-122)
      Ronald P. Formisano

      The 2008 presidential campaign, notably the primary contests for the Democratic presidential nomination, attracted unprecedented attention to issues of race and gender because of the candidacies of Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. At the same time, from the early stages of the nominating process for both the Democratic and Republican parties, to the months following the nominations of Obama and Senator John McCain, populist appeals shaped the campaign strategies of both parties’ candidates.

      Populism as style and rhetoric has long dominated American political campaigns. Its roots reach back deeply into the nation’s history to the American Revolution and the...


    • CHAPTER 9 Obama 2.0: Farewell to the Federal Campaign Finance System and the Secret Ballot?
      (pp. 125-136)
      Paula Baker

      The massive cost of the presidential campaign and the way that candidates raised such astonishing amounts are among the less-celebrated “firsts” recorded in the 2008 elections. It was the most expensive presidential campaign ever: together, candidates John McCain and Barack Obama spent more than $1 billion. Include all of the candidates who fell away before the conventions and the figure rises to $2.4 billion. Everyone helped, but Obama’s campaign really propelled the great leap forward. He was the first candidate to finance his own general-election race since the system came online in 1974, therefore bypassing both the $84 million in...

    • CHAPTER 10 Political Feminism and the Problem of Sarah Palin
      (pp. 137-148)
      Catherine E. Rymph

      As recently as August 2008, how many would have anticipated that by the end of the year, many Americans would be referring to a woman as current standard-bearer of the Republican Party? Sarah Palin’s status as a leading contender for the 2012 Republican nomination seems remarkable, given common (if exaggerated) perceptions of the Republican Party as an anti-woman bastion of white male supremacy. That there are women—and men—in the Republican Party who were genuinely energized in 2008 by a tough female candidate unapologetic about her political ambitions suggests that the position of women in the party and in...

  8. CONCLUSION: The Difference that “Difference” Makes
    (pp. 149-166)
    Elisabeth Israels Perry

    “Do I think a woman’ll ever be President? How do I know?” exclaimed Dr. Malvina Wormser, one of Sinclair Lewis’s more sympathetic feminist characters in his 1933 novel Ann Vickers. If only I’d been as evasive when students and colleagues asked me that question. Instead, starting around the mid-1990s, I’d answer: “2008.”

    Here’s how I arrived at that date. The night Bill Clinton won the presidency in 1992, he and his running mate, Al Gore, came out on a stage in Little Rock, Arkansas, and promised us a government that would “look like America.” These words thrilled me. After previous...

    (pp. 167-168)
    (pp. 169-170)
  11. INDEX
    (pp. 171-175)
  12. Back Matter
    (pp. 176-181)