In the 2008 presidential campaign, in what had to be a stroke of political genius, Barack Obama pulled off one of the greatest feats since the Great Oz fooled the people of the Emerald City. His campaign brilliantly played the race card while Obama himself stayed above the fray. Instead, that role was left to a cadre of supporters and a complicit media. They created an atmosphere of hair trigger sensitivity regarding anything that could remotely be considered a racial reference to Obama. There was the well-documented comments by Bill Clinton regarding Jesse Jackson which simply recounted historical fact that was parlayed into about three weeks of controversy and accusations that Hillary was making a derogatory racial reference towards Obama. And there were numerous other examples that became so silly that at one point Clinton was accused of racism for bringing up Martin Luther King, Jr.’s name.
This time around, Hillary does not have the advantage of being the alleged recipient of anyone playing the race card. She does not have the advantage of being black, but she certainly has the advantage of being a female. And just as Obama’s surrogates clearly played the race card in 2008 while Barack Obama stayed above the fray reaping the benefits, rest assured a similar dynamic will emerge in 2016 regarding charges of sexism against the GOP when it comes to Hillary Clinton. And Clinton will laugh it off with that shrill laugh and stay above the fray. But like 2008, the same atmosphere of hair trigger sensitivity will surround the campaign.
And that is where long-time supporter Stephanie Schriock enters the scene. Ms. Schriock is the President of EMILY’s List having achieved that status in 2010 when that organization’s founder, Ellen Malcolm, stepped down. As one member put it, that was like Schriock replacing Moses. Established in 1985, EMILY’s List has grown into a political powerhouse of late. The name is an acronym for “early money is like yeast.” The group’s goal is to recruit and fund potential female candidates at all levels of government. Over the years, they have provided early support to eleven female Governors, 19 female Senators, 110 Representatives and over 700 state level candidates. In the 2014 election cycle, they doled out over $4.6 million to candidates (all female and all Democratic) and spent another $8 million in outside spending ranking them in the top 20 of such contributors.
Before endorsing a candidate, they must basically pass a litmus test- is the candidate pro-choice? If so, then they are likely to receive the organization’s support. In 1997, after Mary Landrieu voted against partial birth abortions, she lost the support of EMILY’s List. Under the leadership of Schriock, their membership has increased from 400,000 to over 2 million. EMILY’s List is also a close associate of America Coming Together, a George Soros-Harold Ickes backed Left wing organization. Schriock had to resign a position from the Democratic super-Pac Priorities USA in order to help the Clinton campaign more closely. In a future entry in this series, Sean Sweeney was a founder of Priorities USA and will be profiled, but one can see the emerging web of incestuous relationships surrounding the Clinton campaign.
In March at the 30th anniversary of EMILY’s List founding gala, Hillary Clinton was the guest of honor. During that gala, lest there be any doubt of how EMILY’s List hopes to act in this campaign, Schriock made these comments:
Make no mistake…this is your father’s Republican Party. This is the exact same trans-vaginal ultrasound, all white guy committee chair, aspirin between your knees Republican Party we have been fighting for thirty years now.
Nothing could be more clear than those words. Schriock, as President of an organization dedicated to placing pro-choice women in positions of political power, has a very real interest in placing Hillary Clinton into the ultimate position of political power in the United States. She has been an early and avid Clinton supporter and was alleged to be on the short list of potential Clinton campaign leaders. However, in a more independent role she can play a more important role by being more forceful in the messaging and more incendiary while Hillary could remain above the fray.
EMILY’s List has evolved into a serious power player in American politics in terms of influence, membership and financial support. They and Schriock will be the architects behind the sexism subtext to the 2016 campaign. They will portray this not as a Republican campaign against Hillary Clinton, the Democratic Party candidate, but as against Hillary Clinton the woman. It is best that any GOP candidate not underestimate this dynamic and be prepared for the inevitable onslaught.