The New Agenda, a so-called “non-partisan group for women’s rights,” appears to be behind an Astroturf smear campaign aimed at National Organization for Women president Kim Gandy. Gandy is in the running to head up the Women’s Bureau of the Department of Labor.
What’s The New Agenda’s problem with Gandy? Well, I did some investigating, and although I got many answers, I still don’t know. The excuses The New Agenda offers are either outright falsehoods or weak dissembling. This long-ass post summarizes what I was able to find out.
PUMA-Lite: All the bile and only half the crazy!
For those who aren’t familiar with it, The New Agenda was started by Amy Siskind and other disgruntled Hillary supporters last year. Although she was definitely in the “Hillary or Fuck America in the Ass – Hard!!” coalition, Siskind bristles at the suggestion that she is a PUMA or that The New Agenda is animated by PUMA issues.
That’s smart, actually, since Siskind has achieved some level of media credibility as a generic “feminist,” appearing occasionally on CNN and other media outlets. Association with a group as floridly crazy as PUMA would undermine the credibility she hopes to build.
But as you can see from the original press release announcing The New Agenda’s founding (curiously gone from the site now), they weren’t always so coy about the “P” word:
Many of the women who attended The New Agenda’s first meeting got to know each other as a result working with pro-Hillary groups. Attendees included founding members of such groups as Together4US, Party Unity My Ass (PUMA), IOwnMyVote, Just Say No Deal and Vote Democracy ’08.
“This group is comprised of women who are “gravely concerned about the mistreatment of Hillary Clinton during the primary season, and the passion and emotion that resulted from Hillary’s mistreatment brought us together.,” says Siskind.
They’ll admit that they have PUMA members (always hastening to add that there are also Republicans, Greens, etc., on board), but if you bring up PUMA at The New Agenda, you’ll see how touchy they are about it, and it appears they have taken pains to scrub the PUMA cooties off their website, including their inaugural press release. Hmmm.
Anyway, so that’s The New Agenda’s background. I read some PUMA blogs occasionally as a kind of sick hobby, and I noticed over the weekend that all these screeds against Kim Gandy popped up.
I don’t know doodly-squat about Gandy, so I figured she must’ve done something to run afoul of the PUMAs. But then it became clear that Siskind — the alleged non-PUMA — was behind the anti-Gandy campaign. According to this site, Siskind sent the following email on the down-low to select “feminist bloggers” in order to sandbag Gandy:
From: Amy Siskind
Subject: CONFIDENTIAL – Kim Gandy seeks powerful position in DC in Obama Admin
Fellow Feminist Bloggers:
We learned yesterday that Kim Gandy has made public her intention to ask for one of the most powerful positions in federal gov’t for women – Director of the Women’s Bureau in the Department of Labor.
TNA has watched Gandy shift positions again and again to stand up for Obama and sell out women – for example, on Larry Summers:
Nov 5, 2008:
>NOW President Questions Larry Summers as Treasury Secretary
> Nov 24, 2008:
> http://www.iht.com/articles/2008/11/24/america/24rubin.php?page=2 Kim Gandy, president of the National Organization for Women, said her group’s research actually produced material that recommended him. “One good thing about Larry Summers,” she said, “is that he has written and spoken fairly extensively on the issue of women’s wage inequality and the impact that has on the country.”
Our view is that she has sold out the women of this country for some back room deal – well now we know what the back room deal is!!!
We are asking all feminist bloggers to post a story on their blogs on Sunday, February 8th at NOON EST in protest of Kim Gandy. Feel free to use whatever rationale you see fit – I know that we each have our own gripes.
But letting this woman be in a position of power, as reward for selling out her constituents (women) would be a crime.
Please forward this to all the feminist bloggers you know that are like-minded – with one caveat: WHEN YOU FORWARD IT – IT DID NOT COME FROM ME OR TNA – AND TAKE OUT THE FIRST FEW PARAGRAPHS HERE AND JUST PUT IN INTO YOUR OWN WORDS!!!
Remember, post your story on Sunday, Feb 8th at Noon.
And gosh, look at the rogue’s gallery of PUMAs who responded right on cue. The case against Gandy in that email is pretty weak and unsubstantiated, and of course, the PUMAs as usual failed to add anything of substance. So I wondered, what’s so terrible about Gandy that Siskind considers her worthy of a highly personal coordinated attack?
The only specific item in Siskind’s email — the Summers thing — seems kind of trumped up. 20 seconds of online research reveals that indeed Gandy hardly gave Summers a ringing endorsement — she cited one positive trait in a sea of criticism here, which Siskind artfully cut and pasted into her Astroturf email.
Lord knows Siskind and company gave people like Sarah Palin a pass for far more horrifying offenses, so what the hell was up with Gandy, I wondered? Had she done the unthinkable and — gasp! — endorsed Obama over Clinton in the primaries as some of the PUMA knuckleheads reported this weekend? Nope, actually, she endorsed Clinton — there’s a YouTube video and everything.
Okay then, maybe she’s just not qualified for the post? Well, no. Even bovine-pattern clothing enthusiast Heidi Li Feldman, JD, PhD (henceforth to be known as “Cow Patty”) admitted in her hit piece that Gandy is a knowledgeable and tireless champion of women’s issues:
“Kim Gandy has clearly spent the better part of her life working on issues important to women; she’s probably quite knowledgeable about working conditions for women and in a position to hire high quality staff.”
So why do The New Agenda people and Cow Patty despise Gandy so much? Cow Patty claims it’s because Gandy sold women down the river like so much chattel (more on Cow Patty in a moment). But none of Siskind’s ostensible reasons hold water upon further examination.
I figured I’d go straight to the horse’s mouth and ask Siskind at her site. I wasn’t the only one. And when asked, Siskind dissembled and made easily disprovable statements about Gandy being silent about the sexism directed toward Clinton (she wasn’t) and failing to defend Palin against the misogyny directed at her (also demonstrably false).
When confronted with copious evidence that her statements about Gandy were flat-out false on Monday, Siskind promised a more complete accounting of the case against Gandy Tuesday. She said she knew Gandy actually opposed Clinton during the primary (despite video evidence to the contrary) and would include an account of that in her clarification. This is what she delivered — a completely fact-free and pathetic “parable.”
And to stave off dissent, she’s censoring or deleting comments from polite though persistent questioners like this woman and me, and she scrubbed her own comment promising a more substantive critique. In other words, Siskind has got nothing, and she doesn’t want anyone pointing it out.
Cow Patty’s POUTpourri
As for Cow Patty, when we last left her, she was attempting to shake down the morons at The Confluence by leveraging her tenuous connection to the ailing Justice Ginsburg:
Heidi Li, on February 5th, 2009 at 9:44 pm Said:
I know Ruth Bader Ginsburg slightly, and her husband, Marty Ginsburg, who is my colleague on the Georgetown faculty rather better. They are wonderful people, and of course my heart and thoughts are with them. A humble suggestion: If you care to send 51 Percent any amount (including .51 cents, with a message of support for Justice Ginsburg, not only will that be noted on the website, but I will make sure that all results and messages reach Justice Ginsburg).
So how does this paragon of integrity and good taste assess the Gandy situation? Here’s an excerpt from the essay she obediently produced in response to Siskind’s request:
I think she used that power to have N.O.W. sell women down the river when N.O.W. broke with its usual practice and made a general election presidential endorsement, picking Barack Obama, somebody who used and tolerated sexism and misogyny to gain the Democratic Party’s nomination. I use the expression “sold women down the river” with all its metaphorical baggage: the image of humans being treated like chattel sold down to the Delta to be auctioned off. I think N.O.W. had very little evidence of Barack Obama’s commitment to women’s empowerment, little evidence of even his commitment to women’s reproductive rights (the usual excuse used by mainstream women’s groups to go out of their way to support his candidacy). And still, under the leadership of Gandy, N.O.W. went out of its way to auction off women’s votes, encouraging them to turn out and make sure this man, who never once denounced the nutcrackers and the media comments and the misogynistic rappers singing him into office, became President of the United States of America.
Oh sweet weeping Jesus, is she fucking serious? Did Hillary denounce the racist goons who depicted Obama on a fake welfare dollar eating fried chicken and watermelon? Did she apologize for the musical abomination that was Hillary in the House — a far worse auditory offense than ten thousand misogynistic rappers? Did she call out the Fox News asshole who termed Barack and Michelle’s fist bump a “terrorist fist jab?” No she didn’t, and no sane person expected her to be responsible for every loon who took up her cause. And it’s a good thing too, or God knows the PUMAs would’ve driven poor Hillary to die of shame.
The bottom line
I don’t know Kim Gandy from Adam’s house cat. Maybe Gandy isn’t the right person for the job. But nothing The New Agenda or Heidi Li Feldman said makes that case. They seem intent on smearing a true advocate for women’s issues on the basis of — what? Some bullshit sense that she didn’t support Hillary enthusiastically enough? Or perhaps due to some petty jealousy because Gandy is an actual high profile advocate for women’s rights while these goofballs are still somewhat fringy wannabes? I don’t know, and they aren’t giving straight answers.
It’s one thing for the brain-dead nitwits at PUMA PAC or The Confluence to issue hysterical screeds smearing people they know nothing about. They’re just internet crazies, and nobody gives a shit what they say except for the entertainment value it contains.
But Feldman and Siskind purport to speak for women in general, Feldman from her perch on the Georgetown Law School faculty and her crappy 51% organization and Siskind via The New Agenda and from her status as a go-to “feminist” for our stupid media. Therefore, the standard of proof is higher. I say they either produce evidence of the offenses they’ve accused Gandy of or retract the scurrilous attacks which they’ve thus far failed to substantiate.
[Cross-posted at Betty Cracker]
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