Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Palin and Sexism

It's RNC week, so here's another post on Sarah Palin.

Fortunately, we're beyond some of the most obvious racist and sexist attacks. This doesn't mean that racism and sexism are dead. It just means that we have to be a leeeetle more subtle with our verbal darts. (Note my post on Obama's supposed ego.)

But this applies to sexism, too, of course, and Sarah Palin. While I disagree with Palin on nearly every policy position, there's no ignoring that many of the attacks against her - like those on Hillary Rodham Clinton earlier in the campaign season - are both terribly sexist and often lobbed by "liberals."

Some of this falls on the McCain campaign. Legitimate questions about her positions and experience are often met with challenges of sexism by a campaign spokesman. That's disingenuous; you can't have it both ways. Women politicians are full equals, or they're delicately above reproach because of their gender. Also, Did you notice McCain standing very close to Governor Palin during her first speech as the nominee . . . apparently reading over her shoulder and mouthing the words along with her? Was this because McCain is a control freak? Or just lacking in confidence somehow in his running mate?

Regardless, there's plenty of blame for the left. Plenty of it. Some of it blatant. All of it inexcusable.

But what about the questions regarding her family? As a voter, family values and what sort of parent a candidate is do matter to me. One of the parts of Biden's story that touched me most was the part about how, after his wife and child died, he was conflicted about taking the oath of office. He eventually went ahead and did so, but never moved to Washington, commuting home to Delaware every night. Family has been a big part of Obama's campaign, too, with many press questions and interviews discussing what's going on with his kids while Senator and Mrs. Obama campaign. I think all that is important.

So to focus on the top of the Republican ticket, it bothers me a great deal that Senator McCain lived in Washington while his wife raised their children in Arizona. ("The McCains have a commuter marriage in which he stays in Washington, she stays in Phoenix, but they vacation together twice a year.") It also bothered me that she recovered alone after her stroke. And, of course, there's the stuff about his first marriage (ignore the post, it's the comments that matter).

Shouldn't these issues get as much attention as what Governor Palin is planning to do for childcare during this campaign and afterward, if elected?

It's fine with me if people have open marriages, long-distance marriages, or rarely see their own kids. (No, wait, that last one does bother me if it's a choice rather than a necessity.) But I'm also free to draw my own assumptions about a candidate, to some extent based on his or her personal life.

In the end, I'm left with this: I'm glad I never seriously considered a life in politics, or married a politician. That's not the life I want for myself, or my children. We do, of course, need good, qualified men and women to choose differently.


Did anybody else watch President Bush on NBC tonight? They used the audio directly from the satellite feed. Which, while crisp, clear, and synced with the video, didn't include crowd reactions. Wow, did that make the speech painful and awkward and devastated the speech's intended crowd-rousing effect for the TV audience. I'm thinking somebody at the network got fired for that switch-feed blooper. I thought that Thompson and Lieberman did a good job with their speeches, though I thought Lieberman had delivered his last line about 10 separate times.

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