Book Club: Dirty Words on Clean Skin


When Anita Finlay published her first book in 2012, Dirty Words on Clean Skin, I immediately ordered the hard copy  Because I was in the midst of my first semester teaching for a new college, I wasn’t able to give it the attention it deserved. I skimmed it pretty thoroughly, but in the heat of the 2012 election, I did not absorb it as much as I should have. Recently I acquired a Kindle version and I’ve been reading it slowly and carefully, giving it the full attention it deserves. Just over halfway through, I can report that it is an astoundingly thorough record of exactly what happened during the 2008 Democratic primary.

Many of us where there in the heat of that campaign, and many of us had new political identities forged in that fire. I had been a lifelong Democrat, giving my time to volunteer in every election from 1992, when I was first able to vote in national elections, until that campaign. I gave my first political donation to Hillary Clinton’s campaign as the spring unfolded and the campaign really got nasty. I got involved in active campaigning, making a few cold calls and participating in neighborhood visits in my small Indiana town as the Indiana primary approached. A four-year lurker on websites like Daily Kos and MyDD, I also began commenting in earnest. Since then life has not been the same.

Now I am a political independent. The Democratic party which Barack Obama helms bears very little resemblance to the Democratic party of which I was a constituent for some 20 years prior to the primary and election campaigns of 2008. But it wasn’t just Obama’s ascendancy that changed my mind about politics. While his name has become shorthand for so much that is wrong with the Democratic party and its adherents, he isn’t the sole reason I abandoned my political affiliation to forge a new one. And that is why reading Finlay’s book is all the more important.

In it she painstakingly documents the various rings in the circus that comprise Democratic party politics. With regard to the media, so much that has become legend in PUMA-aligned circles is documented, but so is so much else. Chris Matthews constant bleating of tingles and ex-wives is, of course, there, but so are lesser known quotes that ultimately shaped the national narrative around that campaign. But also represented are stories from everyday Democratic Party voters, from the low-information hipsters to urban DINKS, to the arrogance and disdain of Obama’s well-organized Boyz. It was, in fact, the combination of many of these threads within the Democratic party that turned me off it for good. Most are simply people not worth working with, and their ideas of progress are anything but progressive.

February was an important month in the primary, and just going by memory, it seemed until recently that the campaign was pretty much over by super-Tuesday. But that is a false narrative, as Finlay reminds us in Chapter 7. Obama may have won Iowa in the first contest, but Hillary took New York, California, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Tennessee, New Mexico, and Arizona on that fateful day. Five of those are Big Blue states. I was, quite frankly, shocked re-reading facts like these. I had to admit that the false narrative of the Obama campaign, aided and abetted by the press, had worked even on me, a true skeptic.

Little reminders like this aren’t the only reason for reading the book. Perhaps my favorite part is how Finlay deftly weaves her own story in the book, starting with her early life and the influences that shaped who she was. She is an extremely likeable person and her experiences, I suspect, are shared by many women in the nation today. Starting with her father and mother, she takes risks sharing personal information about what shaped her in life and how the campaigns of 2008 shook loose in her the desire to reach her full potential, to stop listening to the niggling doubts that are sewn into the framework of most women today.

In addition to the painful reminders of 2008 and all the horrid stuff that went down that year, stuff most of us would like to forget, is the heart of so many of us exposed in her personal story. The tension created by these two strains of narrative is, in a word, marvelous, and makes putting the book down at once both difficult and necessary.

This is not a book one can read in a sitting, no matter how fast one reads. Giving it short shrift will not allow it to serve its purpose in penetrating the mind or the psyche. If you were one who bought the book and didn’t carefully read it as I did, I would invite you to take it up again and take your time. Even if you did, it’s worth a refresher. Dirty Words on Clean Skin is well worth the effort either way. As I said at the beginning, I’m just over halfway through, so I hope you’ll join me in finishing the book this week. Next week we’ll have another post that will feature an interview with the author, Anita Finlay. So get out your copy and dust it off, or get it for your Kindle app on whatever device you use (see this link). We’ve got some talking–and remembering–to do.

About Woke Lola

Bitch, please.
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85 Responses to Book Club: Dirty Words on Clean Skin

  1. I am loving it so much, and being reminded about what happened all over again. Also learning quite a bit about the fascinating Anita Finlay. Did you know she was in several episodes of 24? I have watched the whole series, but I’m going back to watch those episodes. I’ll have to look up the episode number.

  2. DeniseVB says:

    I love book club! I don’t read the books, but love the discussions 😀

  3. myiq2xu says:

    The thing that shocked me the most about 2008 was the way I was viciously attacked by members of my own party that I had belonged to for over 20 years.

    That was even more shocking than the lying and cheating.

    • exactly. That’s what I’ve been coming around to over the last few months. As bad as Obama is–and he is every bit as bad as Geo. W. Bush–he’s only half the equation of what turned me away from the DP. The other half is how many batshit crazy insane, ugly-ass people there are in that party now.

      • Lulu says:

        They took over the party structure. Anyone who wasn’t compliant was purged. Anyone who managed to hang on with switched loyalties was still punished. It was like Stalin. I think we are only beginning to understand just how vicious and thuggish they really are.

  4. elliesmom says:

    The book is wonderful. Worth a second, or a third read. It’s great fun seeing Anita pop up on TV as the mother of a serial killer. But unless you’re reading it multiple times as part of blueprint of where we go from here, it’s water over the bridge and under the dam. Everyone who is going to change their minds politically based on what happened in 2008 already has. If we want a different outcome in 2014 and 2016, we need to look forward not back. Lessons learned from 2008 can be valuable, but wallowing in the misery is not productive. Without a balanced and fair press, none of what happened in 2008 mattered to the voting public. It’s just not credible for the press not to have known. They were complicit. What the DNC did pales in comparison. The AP scandal and now the targeting of FOX people may change the workings of the press, but it hasn’t yet. Maybe if someone at MSNBC or WAPO has his emails and phone records seized.

    • Part of the benefit from “after action” reports, and that’s sorta how my limited-mental-capacity brain classifies the book, is identifying strategies and trends. That’s some of what I’m hearing from LaL. Yes, I know it’s more than that, but the political intelligence it discusses can be extremely valuable in future campaigns by more quickly identifying subterfuges, traitors and weaklings. Low information voters are the bane of all honest citizens, IMO, regardless of party or candidate support tendencies.

      • Thanks so much 49erDweet (D), (and to all of you for your comments). I wrote the book not only to document what happened — but because past is prologue. Uncovering the ways in which the media and the parties manipulate voters helps to make those who are now aware immune to it a second time.

        That, I pray, is the book’s lasting value and the reason it meant so much to me to write it.

        • I’m glad you did write it for all the reasons listed above and for one additional reason: All the details of that election were scattered across thousands of blogs and in random news articles. Now it is all collected in one place and preserved for posterity. It will be an invaluable tool not only for everyday voters who need to know the facts, but also for future female candidates who may want to run. This book serves MANY purposes.

        • Thanks, Lola, for your comment below – cannot make this nest!!

  5. DeniseVB says:

    OT: Update on the OK tornado….

    They’re reporting 24 third graders missing and presumed dead at Plaza Towers Elementary.

    via Fox relaying local news reports and hoping they’re wrong 😦 This breaking sh*t makes me crazyyyyyyyyy.

  6. swanspirit says:

    What shocked me most , was all of the people who “turned on Hillary ” to support a relatively inexperienced unknown . Ted and Caroline Kennedy , Oprah , so many . And then the infamous Saturday , in May. And of course the early but persistent intimidation of anyone who didn’t go along .
    It follows , given the history we saw, that we could expect many of the things that shock so many now . Things don’t happen in a vacuum , this history of Anita’s becomes more important with perspective .
    I just read some asinine article the other day , that Hillary will discard the people who ran her disastrous first campaign if she runs again ; so the myth that she lost that primary persists . It is as if the reality doesn’t have any relevance , just the story about duh one .
    At least Anita has preserved the truth .

  7. So many thanks to you, Lola, for writing this piece — and I look forward to live blogging with you all next week!

  8. swanspirit, on May 20, 2013 at 5:08 pm said

    This narrative is selfishly being pushed everywhere so that the guilty can walk away scott free. Until people sit down to read the facts, they actually believe that crap. The bad news is the media will pull it off again unless called out on it loud and proud.

    • swanspirit says:

      Absolutely ! But sometimes , like after reading that tweet from a person who is successful in that sphere of influence , I truly wonder about their mental health .

  9. myiq2xu says:
  10. insanelysane says:

    One of the most shocking things ( among many ) was hearing “democrats” use the right-wing talking points against Hillary and Bill . They used the recycled hate that came from the mid 90’s. I remember them sounding like hyenas. I was getting ready for them to burn Hillary at the stake.

    And the worst part, they didn’t seem to realize how they sounded!

    Anita’s book will serve as a reminder.
    I will never forget or forgive what was done to me as a voter in 2008. Never.

    • myiq2xu says:

      And the worst part, they didn’t seem to realize how they sounded!

      They didn’t care.

    • Just as frustrating with the current Benghazi scandal is that, the tragedy of 4 murdured Americans notwithstanding, most of these Repubs are just using this as a way to tarnish Hillary for 2016. Last year, when she more or less offered them her head by taking responsibility before the election, they would not take it. Now that Obama has been re-elected, that is another story.

      The bigger manipulation was that Romney et al were all praising the Clintons last year in an effort to attract the disenfranchised Dems who left the party in disgust — but none of their praise was sincere, clearly, because now they are back to calling her the anti-christ.

      • I haven’t seen where Romney has spoken out about Hillary in the wake of the election. Would be interested if you know if he has.

        At any rate, I don’t think Hillary will run, and if she does, Rand Paul/Ted Cruz or Rubio will wipe the floor with her. All the prog trolls will go their way. That’s another reason to read the book. To be prepared. Not that it will do any good with all the sexist running around still spouting their mouths off with absolutely no penalty whatsoever.

        • myiq2xu says:

          Hillary’s record as SofS is fair game.

        • Agree, Myiq, but that will be just be the fertile ground the seeds of sexism will be sewn in, IMHO.

        • myiq — I can’t reply below (vomment won’t nest) but of course her record as SoS is fair game. The point is why they are using it.

          I watched the entirety of her testimony, and in congress in particular, these guys used their 5 minutes to try to shame her and did not give her a chance to answer, (see. Rep. Duncan), then when another Repub. from Ark. was kind enough to cede his time so she could answer Duncan’s question, literally 10 minutes later, the camera panned over and he had already left the hearing. So its okay for the SoS to postpone whatever high level meeting she had to stay an extra hour to continue testifying til everybody got their questions answered, but Duncan just wanted his face time and couldn’t be bothered to push back whatever he was doing (meeting, Etc.) for 10 minutes to get his all important questions answered? That speaks for itself.

          Whatever her faults are here, they are using this for political gain. If someone wants to tell me that a woman who worked as hard as Hillary did and ran an organization fo 70,000 people cannot even rely on her senior staff to take care of certain security decisions, that is ridiculous. She is not in this all by herself. Unfortunately, there is so much going on here that I fear we will never know about.

        • insanelysane says:

          As long as it isn’t cherry picked. The overall big picture of her time as SOS is a net positive.
          As to Benghazi, I am not sure we know what Hillary, as an employee of BO, had to zip up.
          Yes, hold her accountable. She already said she is responsible.
          I’m pretty sure Hillary feels the pain of losing a dear friend in the Ambassador. That is alot of punishment right there.
          I believe Hillary is sincere and more honest than most. That’s enough for me to not condemn her. I think her overall mark on the world is a good thing.

          Also, After what the “democrats” did to her in 2008, she’s have to be CRAZY to run in 2016.
          Hillary is not crazy.

        • swanspirit says:

          I think in the case of Libya, Hillary should not have depended on anyone to keep her informed . She bears a great deal of the responsibility for the USA being there, and she bears more for not ensuring there was sufficient security ,especially given that they were begging for increased security . For me , there is no getting past that .

        • IMO Hillary was doomed when she accepted DoS. Foggy Bottom marches to it’s own drumbeat, and male or female figureheads – no matter how strong willed or talented – have fared poorly at it’s hands for decades. I would have thought she would learn from Condi’s experiences, but hope springs eternal – and all that.
          Couldn’t watch the kabuki theater hearings. Idiots with big mouths and bigger hair bore me.
          I’ve always thought she missed her chance to completely recover by opting to second bronco’s passivity, instead of being forthright and saying “we blew it”, during the critical Benghazi decision-making stage, but I’ve been wrong before.

  11. votermom says:

  12. Agreed, insanely same.

  13. HELENK says:

    today’s democratic party makes me ashamed that I was ever a democrat. Looking in the mirror and having to ask myself, did my voting and donating and working for the democratic party put these people in a position to do so much harm to this country. I really do not like the feeling. waking up is very painful

  14. SHV says:

    “First FDR put her in an internment camp for looking wrong, then Barack Obama’s IRS went after her for thinking wrong ”
    I don’t know who Derek Hunter is but likely a political hack who doesn’t read or comprehend the story that he is citing. The lady that “FDR put into an internment camp” was a Dutch citizen living with her family in the Dutch East Indies (Indonesia) and after the Japanese invaded she was in a Japanese internment camp from age 12 to 16. How a teenage girl survived in that situation is amazing. But Derek Hunter is a fucking idiot.

    • HELENK says:

      go the the thrift stores in Palm Springs California and you will find all kinds of designer clothes. If I had a daughter going to a prom, you better believe I would have her over there in a heartbeat.
      Yes I still go there and buy clothes for my grown up kids and grand kids

      wish more parents were like this mom. she taught her kid a lesson that will last for life. walk in someone’s shoes for awhile.

    • HELENK says:

      when I used to work in Pomona, I stopped at a thrift store. walked in found a Versace hanging there with a price tag of $25. it was brand new still had the original tags. I grabbed that so fast and it is now living in NJ

  15. myiq2xu says:

    My sister here finally got through to our siblings in Okiehoma.

    Everybody is okay. As littlest sis put it “Why were you worried? If something happened we would call you.”

  16. HELENK says:

    these no class, low class SOBs are at it again. democrats play politics with Oklahoma tornados.

    • myiq2xu says:

      Like tornadoes never used to hit that area until a few years ago.

      • HELENK says:

        they are still searching for people and this scumbag brings politics into it. every day in every way they get worse. they have no heart or soul or humanity

  17. HELENK says:

    sheila jackson lee sent letter to holder’s dept of crime to investigate tea party and true the vote

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