Sunday, January 13, 2008

Race vs. Gender on the Obama-Clinton election battle?

Images of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Frederick Douglass are set against each other in this week's NY Times Week in Review Section, in an essay with the unfortunate title: Rights vs. Rights: An Improbable Collision Course. Mark Liebovich sets the Obama-Clinton Democratic primary battle in the context of historic tension between the women's and civil rights movements. Along the way, he draws from the seminal works of Sara Evans, James Patterson and Joan Scott. "The core challenge of both Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton," Liebovich writes, "is the degree to which each can transcend the first-ness of their candidacies. 'The question is, How do you become a universal figure when you represent movements that have claimed the right of equality for you in your difference?' said Joan Scott, a professor of social science at the Institute for Advanced Study."
While Liebovich works within a predictable frame, more interesting is Tenured Radical's critique of the essay, suggesting that instead we've "hit the limits of identity politics in this election," and urging that we get "back to ideas -- rather than inane debates about whose political rights matter most." Here, here.