Monday, September 1, 2008


Depending on where you stand, McCain's VP pick is sheer madness or sheer genius. The sheer madness angle is easy to explain- Palin has less experience than the average high school student council President (and if you've seen 'Election' with Reese Witherspoon, high school politics can be much more grueling than anything Palin has been through). She has been a governer of Alaska for two years and before that was mayor of Wasilla, whose population is a little over 9000 people. Given that she is a heartbeat away from being President, and lets face it that's a not too far fetched in her case, her lack of experience is astounding. Which is important in an election where 'experience' is one of the key buzz words along with 'change', 'hope', 'judgement' and [insert empty signifier]. 

The sheer genius argument is much more simple. Sarah Palin is a woman. Women hate what happened to Hilary. So women will vote for Sarah Palin. Forget the other, more complex issues at stake- her supposed expertise on energy as the Governer of Alaska, her avid support of gun rights and willingness to let polar bears die....the main issue everyone is fixated on is her gender. 

Now, on the face of it this argument is overly simplistic, and as the dems have loudly proclaimed, insulting to women. Can we really assume that women will vote for a candidate just because she is a woman? Will liberal women who are pro-choice, pro-gay rights, anti-guns and pro universal health care and  really vote for someone that stands for exactly the opposite? Even if she is rabidly pro-life and ultra-conservative on everything else? Are women really that fickle, irrational, angry and [insert other sexist stereotype ]? 


It pains me to say it and I hope it's not true. Sarah Palin is quite simply unqualified for the job, her selection is pandering to the worst degree and I want to believe that it's not going to work at all. But you know what?

Maybe it will. 

Notwithstanding Hilary's great speech at the Democratic Convention, there are enough women out there that still truly believe that there was a massive male-wing conspiracy that robbed Hilary of her nomination. While I acknowledge the rampant sexism that was directed towards Hilary during the primaries, something about the way her extreme supporters react is just slightly out of touch with reality. After all, come on people, this is Hilary Clinton- she went to Yale, she became a high powered lawyer at an influential law firm, she was one of the most involved first ladies in recent times. THEN she became a Senator and ran a tough campaign for President of the United States. Does that really look like the glass ceiling to you? If so, I really don't know what success would look like. The fact remains that Hilary Clinton is a powerful, capable and enormously successful woman who lost to another very capable, intelligent candidate for a variety of reasons, not all of which have to do with the fact that she's a woman in a still sexist system. 

You wouldn't know that from the framing of Hilary's loss by her supporters. Which makes the injection of Sarah Palin into this election becomes a much bigger deal than it needs to be. If you hear the women (mostly) who still seriously talk about the 'trauma', 'hurt', 'pain' and 'closure' associated with Hilary's loss, you have to start worrying about the possibility that McCain's move is not as crazy it may look initially.

 Liberals who worry about what Palin  means for the election are right to worry. They are more clued in than liberals who are dismissive of the move or even worse, complacent about it. If there's one thing to emulate of conservatives, it is their zeal and willingness to take almost any threat very seriously. So it's time to counter-act the Palin effect- however banal it might be. 

And if it does happen that significant numbers of Hilary supporters do cross over to the McCain-Palin ticket, I can only say this- if they truly vote for someone just because they are a certain gender (or color, for that matter) turning their back on everything they are supposed to stand for, they deserve what they get. That's democracy for you. 

UPDATE; P.S. Just finished posting this to find the news that Palin's teen daughter is pregnant. Wonder how the media will spin this...


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