I have heard supporters of Hillary Clinton (HRC) complaining about how she was mistreated and insisting that they could not support Obama since, clearly, he could not have vanquished their hero without having pandered to gender bias. (And besides he’s African-American and nobody in these politically correct times can get away with racism, dontcha know, just sexism.)

The most hard-core of these folks state that they either definitely will or may vote for McCain–or they won’t vote at all which is effectively a vote for McCain.  They are not worried about his retrograde positions on most issues, including those dear to feminists. (On the topic of reproductive rights, for one, you might want to go to the NARAL website and check out both candidates views on family planning.) After all, so the reasoning goes, there will surely be strong Democratic majorities in the Congress and they will be able to hold McCain in check until HRC can ride in on her white horse and wipe him out in 2012.

As a matter of fact, some argue, a McCain presidency may help HRC to eventual victory since folks will be so disgusted by the desperate state of the country at the end of his McBush presidency that they will vote for her in droves.  (I guess nobody told them that opportunity usually only knocks once–and if the Democrats don’t answer the door while opportunity is beating it down right now, it will probably be a long time before they get such a good chance again.)   On the other hand, an Obama presidency, which they assume will probably be followed by a second term in 2012, may assure that this specially anointed woman may never realize her ambition.

There has also been a lot of talk floating around about how Obama has moved to the center, and is taking the progressive left for granted, and how we have to disabuse him of that perception poste haste or risk irrelevance in the future–an attitude that I admit I flirted with for a few days after the FISA vote.  And of course, many smugly note that HRC, now that the nomination is a done-deal and she has nothing to loose, has begun to correct her previous list to the right, as demonstrated by her FISA vote–so aren’t we all sorry we went with Obama now when we could have had this sterling progressive?

In spite of my impatience with these arguments, I don’t really mean to denigrate efforts to rationalize what may be a legitimate distaste for Obama, or disappointment about the primary results. However, this bitterness really leaves me uneasy, and not only because it bothers me that anyone is willing to base our future on possibly very shaky assumptions.  It also seems to me to reflect an unfortunate preoccupation with personality that is allowed to trump the political realities that we all need to keep uppermost if we are ever, in the near or far term, to change the direction in which our country is headed–if you will forgive me for being so grandiose.

As a result of this uneasiness, I started to keep a list of things that the president can control regardless of the makeup of the congress.  Things like Supreme Court nominations, environmental rules issued by agencies controlled by the executive, or maybe Jane Mayer’s recent disclosures about how we got into the torture business. (Remember who reversed his position on torture recently when he realized it was popular with 24 fans?)

But today I just heard the real topper.  Take a look at this article from the New York Times about new Health and Human Services regulations.  You want to see contraceptives defined as an abortificants?   No?  Then tell me which of the candidates you trust to turn back this type of meddling in our reproductive life.  Is it really the one trying to claim the rightwing pro-lifers as his base?    According to NARAL:

The regulation would allow health-care corporations or individuals to consider birth control “abortion” and therefore to refuse to provide contraception to women who need it. The proposal has the potential to undermine hard-fought laws that ensure women’s access to birth control.  In addition, the proposed regulation could affect Medicaid and the Title X family-planning program. For instance, staff at clinics or health-care plans that contract for Medicaid services could refuse to provide contraception services.

Note again that these regulations do not need to be approved by congress.  And then go ahead and vote for McCain (or sit at home on election day) all in the cause of feminism.