Notes from the Perimeter

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

PUMAs on Patrol


Yesterday as we were leaving our home-away-from-home (the Denver Sheraton where WiFi and cappuccinos are in abundance) we happened upon a small but vocal demonstration of women, brandishing “Hillary” signs and waving orange balloons declaring that they were “PUMAs.” Hhhmmmm, I think. Maybe PUMAs are like “cougars,” but more politically active. Or, considering the ferocity of their chants (“18 million! 18 million!”) maybe PUMA means “People for Upsetting Male Agendas.” I thought I’d chat with one of these women to find out what she believes and why she’s protesting so I culled one from the herd.

Me: Can I talk with you for a minute about what this is all about?
Her: Walk with me.

So I joined the march.

Me: What does PUMA stand for?
Her: “Party Unity My A$$.” We’re protesting the fact that Hillary had the nomination stolen from her! And now they want us to unify… the nerve!

Me: So what do you hope to gain by continuing to support Hillary?
Her: This isn’t about Hillary. It’s about the process.

Me: What do you mean?
Her: The process was corrupt from the start. How do you figure that the votes in Idaho counted for more than those in Pennsylvania? Huh? HUH?? And Barack Obama benefited from this unethical process!

Me: Okay. So, what you’re saying is that, in terms of the process, Obama was unethical but Clinton wasn’t?
Her: Well, not exactly. Nobody is claiming that Hillary is perfect!

Me: But, in terms of the process, you’re saying that Hillary ran her campaign in a morally responsible way but Barack didn’t?
Her: No. The process was corrupt from the start! I would have protested no matter who won the nomination.

Me: So, you started protesting at the beginning of the process.
Her: No, not exactly.

Me: So, you started protesting when it became clear that Hillary wasn’t going to win.
Her: Well, yes.

Me: It sounds like what you really object to is the fact that Obama is the nominee. So, it’s not really about the process.
Her: It IS about the process! He stole the nomination! Just like men have stolen from me MY WHOLE LIFE!! I had a puppy but my brother took him! I ran for high school president and I had the votes but then this guy stole the election right out from under me! Okay, so he was a merit scholar, a concert pianist and an AIDS volunteer – big deal! I quit grad school so my husband could finish his PhD and what happens – yeah, you guessed it. He gets his degree and a good job and then he leaves me for this ditsy scientist – eeeeeeoooooooooo, a planetary vulcanologist, how sexy. That should have been MY degree! Hillary was my payback and now Richard – I mean Obama -- has stolen it! I want Hillary! I’m entitled to Hillary!!

(Editorial note: up until, well, the last paragraph, this is a true recounting of a real interview with a PUMA. Don’t get me wrong: I think Hillary is wonderful and that women everywhere are indebted to her for her grace, strength, courage and leadership. However, I believe that she made some strategic errors and that Barack ran a smarter campaign, not a less ethical one. So, ladies, give it up! A foolish consistency starts to make one wonder what your agenda really is….)

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