Saturday, November 8, 2008

Sexism and Sarah Palin

For once, I agree with Sarah Palin; Palin has already been turned into a scapegoat in regards to John McCain's loss in such quarters as Fox News, and that isn't much of a surprise. Instead, it was one of those things I feared when Palin was picked as the VP nominee. Just like Geraldine Ferraro's nomination, Sarah Palin's pick was meant to energize a faltering campaign, granting it an immediate injection of progressiveness and excitement. Unfortunately for women in politics, in both situations the candidates were fighting an uphill battle before the choice for VP, and that battle only loomed larger after the pick. Which makes the VP pick a wonderful and myopic reason for failure. Mondale lost every state in the union but one (Massachusetts). John McCain has lost by 173 electoral college votes to 365, and was defeated in such Republican strongholds as Virginia and North Carolina. And it is easy to lay the blame at the feet of a woman who, frankly, will probably go down as one of the worst picks for vice-president - even ahead of Dan Quale, the guy who couldn't spell "potato" correctly. But more than Palin, it is McCain who is at fault for picking a woman with at best rudimentary knowledge of the world outside of Alaska. It is McCain and his campaign's fault for not better preparing her, for not compensating for that lack of knowledge base. And Palin is incredibly correct when she says that those within the McCain campaign who are criticizing her anonymously are "cruel. It's mean-spirited. It's immature. It's unprofessional and those guys are jerks if they came away with it, taking things out of context, and then tried to spread something on national news. It's not fair and it's not right". She's right. Those guys are jerks. And it is not fair, and it is not right.

I'm all for criticizing Palin. I don't like the woman one iota. But criticizing her anonymously, calling her a diva, diminishing her intelligence when they worked for the man who picked her, and saying she was going rogue is ridiculous. If Palin's lack of knowledge base was such a detriment, the focus should be on John McCain, the man who plucked her from obscurity and made her his vice-presidential running mate. If Palin was not prepared for or able to do the job she was selected for, the reporting should be less about her and more about McCain. Sarah Palin didn't pull a Jesse Jackson and put her own name in consideration for VP nomination. That was John McCain's choice, and if she was so unprepared as to do the job he chose her for, at the end of the day the buck stops with him. But McCain aides, as anonymous as they are, want someone not their boss to blame for losing. And instead of acknowledging that McCain the Nominee was not McCain the Maverick, instead of acknowledging that McCain's handling of several situations lacked a certain deftness and/or wisdom, and instead of acknowledging that Obama is in all probability one of the best politicians to have run for president ever (and I'm speaking of his abilities on the campaign trail, as we obviously don't know if he is going to be one of the best actual presidents), they take the easy way out and blame Palin.

And with the media still going insane over Palin's clothing, something Campbell Brown ranted about weeks ago at this point, it seems obvious to me why Palin is the prominent target. It is because she was a phenomenally bad candidate, yes. But it also seems to me that some of the critique of her, even if it were rooted in fact such as the idea that she was a superficial and lame addition to an already weakened ticket, comes out in sexist terms. It reverberates in obsession with her clothing as much as it does with the rush to report what she didn't know, without nary a shred of "What was that man thinking?" rebounding on McCain. This is all highlighted by the fact that we are still talking about this woman, and that this crazy lady is the one to say, "This is Barack Obama's time right now, and this is an historic moment in our nation and this can be a shining moment for America and our history, and look what we're talking about. Again, we're talking about my shoes and belts and skirts. It's ridiculous." It is ridiculous. It is revolting. It is the same crap that kept us focused on Hillary Clinton's array of pantsuits and what has caused more attention to be granted to Michelle Obama's dress on the night of Obama's historic win. So please, media and McCain hounds, stop making me think about and agree with Sarah Palin. Because I don't like either of those things. They're enough to put me in the padded room they reserved for Keith Olbermann in the event of a McCain victory. 

1 comment:

John said...

I can't help but laugh every time I hear about Palin "going rogue." Who would have ever thought that a candidate with a reputation as a "maverick" (someone who goes their own way and doesn't follow the herd) would have the audacity to go her own way and not follow the herd? If they'd actually said "Palin's gone maverick" I would have respected the use of the term slightly more. As it is, I'll be happy when things cool down and the only "mavericks" I encounter are the evil robots in the Mega Man X video games.