Tag Archives: Sarah Palin

2008: The Unbroken Glass Ceiling

hillary_and_sarah1

by Diego Del Campo

Women in positions of power in the public sphere is still a relatively new, if slowly progressing sight. It’s become now conventional wisdom that 2008 was a year when women broke barriers in politics. Hillary Clinton was a serious contender to win her party’s nomination, and Sarah Palin became the first woman to be nominated as vice presidential candidate by the Republican Party. Yet, despite this progress, and the fact that Nancy Pelosi became the first female Speaker of the House in 2007, the percentage of female representation in Washington D.C continues to grow at a glacial pace—increasing just 1 percent over 2006, to a total of 17 percent. Washington isn’t the only place where equal representation is at a stalemate.

By the end of 2008, 12 women will have worked as CEOs of Fortune 500 companies. In Hollywood in 2007, women made up only 6 percent of directors and together “comprised 15 percent of all directors, executive producers, producers, writers, cinematographers, and editors working on the top 250 domestic grossing films” (Lauzen 1). Taking all this into consideration it is important to analyze the role the media plays in reinforcing prevalent prejudices against women, important to ask why women is find it difficult to break through to top spots in government and elsewhere, and to what extent do our biases, acquired by us by our socialization (like watching or reading the news), contribute to the problem.  In June 2008, after Hillary Clinton lost the nomination, Katie Couric of CBS News made the following statement at the end of one of her shows:

“But like her or not, one of the great lessons of that campaign is the continued and accepted role of sexism in American life, particularly in the media. Many women have made the point that if Senator Obama had to confront the racist equivalent of an ‘Iron my shirt’ poster at campaign rallies or a Hillary nutcracker sold at airports or mainstream pundits saying they instinctively cross their legs at the mention of her name, the outrage would not be a footnote, it would be front page news. It isn’t just Hillary Clinton who needs to learn a lesson from this primary season; it’s all the people who cross the line and all the women and men who let them get away with it.”

Soon after the general election ended, and Barack Obama was elected president, an article published in New York magazine argued that the past election had actually reinforced prevalent gender stereotypes: the proverbial dichotomy of the “bitch” and the “ditz”–a dichotomy arguably codified in the media’s coverage of these two women, is prime example of what Couric described as “acceptable” sexism in the media.

Note and disclosure

There are numerous caveats to my analysis. One, it would be impossible to separate Hillary Clinton’s gender from the fact that she’s one-half of the Clintons, a political family that’s been on the media’s radar for nearly two decades. Similarly, separating Sarah Palin’s gender from the fact that she’s a conservative Republican would be problematic and somewhat of a distortion. Rather, I will try to focus more on the media’s coverage of these two women candidates and how the way they were covered contributes to the problem. Nonetheless, I neither make no insinuation that the media is solely responsible for each woman’s failure to win their respective elections, or that ALL of their media coverage was sexist—but rather a contributing factor. The “media” is a collective term for cable-new channels who generate 24-hour news cycles, to respected newspapers and blogs that bounce narratives off each other. The fact that I only focus on Sarah Palin in the general election isn’t an implication that Barack Obama or John McCain didn’t encounter discrimination because of race or age respectively.
Finally, in the Democratic primaries, I was a supporter of Hillary Clinton.

Part one: Hillary Clinton

“That I am a national figure because I was the first person in 192 years to be at once a congressman, black and a woman proves, I think, that our society is not yet either just or free.” – Shirley Chisholm, first black woman elected to Congress in 1968

From the moment Hillary Clinton announced on her website that she was forming a committee to run for president, her prominent status among the other presidential contenders meant that in the media, she had a target painted on her back. Out of all the candidates that would eventually announce their respective campaigns, among them John Edwards who had been the vice presidential nominee the previous presidential election, Hillary was the one “dubbed” a front-runner based on the national polling the media conducted. The coverage Hillary Clinton received as “front-runner” in the year between making her candidacy official in January 2007 and the Iowa caucus on January 3, 2008 and the one she received once the primaries actually started was different outwardly in tone but nevertheless had the same effect of being dismissive at best, and seriously offensive at worst. In fact, by March 2007, barely two months into the campaign and with the first primary election still some nine months away, the bias in the media had reached a point where the National Organization for Women released an article detailing some of the instances they found offensive. Chris Matthews of MSNBC, who would become a repeat offender to the point of issuing an on-air apology, was a large part of the article:

“Chris Matthews, host of MSNBC’s talk show Hardball, has become notorious for his sexist remarks about Clinton. On Dec. 19, 2006, he charged that she was being coy about her political ambitions, comparing her to ‘a stripteaser saying she’s flattered by the attention,’ and on two separate occasions—Jan. 25 and 26, 2007, he referred to her as an ‘uppity woman.’ In the aftermath of the Congressional election on Nov. 8, 2006, he discussed her delivery of a ‘campaign barn burner speech,’ which, he suggested was ‘harder to give for a woman,’ because it can ‘grate on some men when they listen to it, [like] fingers on a blackboard.’ Not content to level his sexist criticism on Clinton alone, he continued his rant, wondering how newly elected Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi could ‘do the good fight against the president…without screaming? How does she do it without becoming grating?’ “

Other media narratives that stand out was coverage of Hillary’s appearance—namely a column by the Washington Post that reported on her showing cleavage in a speech she made in the Senate floor. Attention was also paid to Hillary’s laugh, or “cackle” as some of her detractors put it. But it was in the immediate run-up to and aftermath of the Iowa caucus (but before the New Hampshire primary), where Hillary finished in third place that some of the language became more nakedly biased to the point where it became a media frenzy when seemingly teared up when answering a New Hampshire voter’s question. Rebecca Traister of Salon opined “For many of these pundits, especially those who pander to a mostly white male audience, a nearly pornographic investment in Clinton’s demise is nothing new.”

By the time Hillary delivered her concession speech on June 7, 2008, some of the media’s coverage had turned from silly and sexist to borderline violent and misogynistic. Some cartoonists took to drawing Hillary as a slain beast or other variations. Worse, various commentators like NPR’s political editor Ken Rudin and even elected officials like Tennessee congressman Rep. Steve Cohen (D) likened her to the psychotic villain of the film Fatal Attraction. Though both men later issued apologies, the comparison was an especially stinging one since Fatal Attraction is considered by many feminists to be an explicitly anti-feminist film. The media’s tone had been so noxious that the Gloria Steinem-founded Women’s Media Center created a video (above) called “Sexism sells—but we’re not buying it” which compiled some of the highlights of sexism in the media coverage of Hillary Clinton. Steinem also appeared on CNN and echoed what she had said about women candidates at the beginning of the primary in a New York Times op-ed saying, “This country can no longer afford to choose our leaders from a talent pool limited by sex, race, money, powerful fathers and paper degrees. It’s time to take equal pride in breaking all the barriers.”

On CNN she pointed out:

“Clearly part of the problem is the misogyny in the culture at large and especially in the media. I mean, you know, no candidate in history has been asked to step down by the media. She was. The average time that it takes for a loser to endorse a winner in this situation is four months. Four months. She did it in four days, and look how she was criticized, you know, for not doing it the very same night. It’s outrageous.”

Steinem was referencing articles like Jonathan Alter’s of Newsweek, who in late February wrote a column arguing that it would be best for Hillary if she stepped out of the race then. (Hillary went on to win nine out of the next 16 contests.) Steinem also seemed to be referencing the uproar in the media when Hillary didn’t endorse Obama on June 3, the night most media organizations reported that Obama had amassed the amount of delegates needed to secure the nomination.

Part two: Sarah Palin

I say this with all due respect to Hillary Clinton…but when I hear a statement like that coming from a woman candidate with any kind of perceived whine about that excess criticism or you know maybe a sharper microscope put on her, I think you know that doesn’t do us any good—women in politics, women in general wanting to progress this country. -Governor Sarah Palin (R-Alaska) in March 2008

Seemingly out of nowhere, Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain picked Alaska Governor Sarah Palin to be his vice presidential nominee. Sarah Palin bursting onto the political scene was arguably a chance for the media to report fairly and accurately on virtually unknown candidate turned vice presidential nominee. Instead, like Steinem argued, sexist narratives seemed to spread virally from within the media. Within days of her announcement, liberal talk show host Ed Schutlz commented to his listeners that Palin had set off a “bimbo alert” and blogs like Daily Kos circulated rumors that Palin’s newborn son Trig, born with Down syndrome, was allegedly her daughter Bristol’s son, while blogs like the Huffington Post took to publicizing images of Palin (under the headline “Former Beauty Queen, Future VP?”) in a swim suit that alluded to her background as a participant in beauty pageants to make the suggestion that she wasn’t qualified to be vice president—a variation of Ed Schultz’s “bimbo alert” crack. Even people who were outwardly supportive of Palin, like CNBC’s Donny Deutsch, were so obssesive over her looks, that they came across as sexist, ignorant, and patronizing all at the same time:

Complicating matters, women organizations who had stood up for Hillary Clinton during the primaries, including Gloria Steinem herself, now for the most part disavowed Palin. The National Organization for Women (NOW) put out a statement that read in part, “Gov. Palin may be the second woman vice-presidential candidate on a major party ticket, but she is not the right woman. Sadly, she is a woman who opposes women’s rights, just like John McCain.” WomenCount was seemingly the only organization to defend Palin against the sexist media treatment Palin was receiving. WomenCount, a politcal organization formed by Hillary Clinton supporters in the waning days primaries to at first to advocate for Hillary Clinton’s candidacy and later to promote and support Democratic women candidates across the country, sent an email to supporters that questioned the media’s immediate criticism of Palin’s nomination, among them John Roberts of CNN who said, “Palin would not be able to focus on her job given her family distractions,” and columnist Sally Quinn of the Washington Post who wrote, “Of course, women can be good mothers and have careers at the same time. I’ve done both. Other women in public office have children…but…a mother’s role is different from a father’s,” which implies that unlike fathers, mothers ought to have more of a responsibility as a parent and by accepting the vice presidential nomination, Palin was being an irresponsible mother by placing her career ahead of her child.
WomenCount’s email statement read in part:

“The question came not just from members of the media but also from voters around the country who wrote in to news organizations and on blogs. The obvious retort is whether anyone would ask the same question of the father of a four-month-old with Down Syndrome and a pregnant teenager. We think not.”

Unlike Gloria Steinem, who would by and large sidestep the issue of the biased media coverage against Palin in a Los Angeles Times op-ed, WomenCount addressed the seeming paradox of progressive feminists standing up for Palin:

“Throughout the weekend, we have been asked about WomenCount’s views on Sarah Palin as the Republican nominee. It is important to distinguish between the broader issue of sexism and the ideology of an individual. WomenCount was born of the passion its founders had for Hillary Clinton’s clear view of social issues and progressive values. We cannot pretend that Governor Palin meets any standard of progressive politics or social values.
But regardless of the candidates’ ideology, we will work to stamp out sexism when we see it on the campaign trail. To paraphrase the words of one blogger who said it best over the weekend: We will defend Sarah Palin against misogynist smears not because we like her or support her, but because that’s how feminism works.”

Needless to say, even though Palin slammed the media in her acceptance speech at the GOP convention in Minneapolis-St. Paul, her subsequent stumbles in the media may have had the effect of silencing any or all allies she may have had across the aisle. Ironically, it was Palin’s interview with Katie Couric, who earlier in the year had criticized sexism in the media, that may have been the most damaging to Palin and her public image. Maybe because of the fact that she had spoken out against sexism in the media, Couric was the right person with the right sensibilities to interview Palin: Couric strayed from the superficial questions that plagued Hillary, like questions about her image or “likability,” instead Couric asked sensible questions like, “When it comes to establishing your worldview, I was curious, what newspapers and magazines did you regularly read before you were tapped for this to stay informed and to understand the world?“ or “What other Supreme Court decisions do you disagree with?”—Arguably easy questions that utterly stumped Palin as shown by her cringe-worthy responses and showed her to be, perhaps not the candidate best suited to be the next vice president. Unfortunately, like New York magazine’s Amanda Fortini said, Palin’s apparent lack of intellectual curiosity reinforced a stereotype as women as a “ditz.” Even in our own class, Palin was dismissed with terms such as “VPILF,” which reduced and belittled Palin to her looks.

The “Palin is a ditz” media narrative continued, unfortunately, all the way from shortly before the election, when news broke that the Republican National Committee had spent $150,000 on Palin’s make-up and wardrobe to after the election was over, when anonymous McCain staffers told the media that in her debate prep against Joe Biden, Palin had allegedly claimed to not know that Africa was a continent and not a country, and also that she reportedly didn’t know the signing members of NAFTA. Geraldine Ferraro, who was the first woman to be nominated for vice president in 1984, appeared on Fox News shortly before the election to talk about the similarities (and differences) between how she was treated and how Palin was being treated by the media:

Said and Done

In the end, I don’t think, like I said before, that the media was the only reason Hillary and Sarah lost in their elections. But, as some of the clips show, there is an accepted and pervasive bias against women that slows the progress of women everywhere. Even today, I’m still not sure why Sarah Palin’s preparedness was questioned from day one on the basis that she had barely served two years in her term as governor, in way that Barack Obama’s preparedness arguably wasn’t questioned when he announced his candidacy, since at that time he had also barely served two years in his term as senator. As it turned out, there was a mountain of difference between Obama and Palin’s preparedness, as shown by their respective bodies of knowledge, but still, I would have liked for the media to have made more of an issue of Obama’s experience, if indeed experience was a litmus test of sorts against which Palin did not measure up.


I would also hope that in the future, women candidates are respected more and held to the same standard that every other candidate is—a woman shouldn’t have to sound tougher just because she’s a woman. Additionally, we shouldn’t be too dismissive of women who point out the problems the media sometimes has in reporting about women. As the clip above shows, an observation Katie Couric made both in her CBS newscast and in her acceptance of an award at a journalist’s association, earned her the top spot on Keith Olbermann’s “Worst Persons in the World.” It troubles me that even within the ideological circles we sometimes wrap ourselves in, there’s still an outward prejudice against women—Olbermann’s show is praised by liberal blogs like Daily Kos, where he is a contributor, and Huffington Post. Even with all the progress Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin have made toward the acceptance in the public sphere of a woman running for the top positions in government, that “highest and hardest glass ceiling” remainsl unbroken. As we continue to progress, hopefully we’ll have learned lessons from what each woman’s campaign and not allow sexism to control–in any way–media coverage of other women candidates.

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Filed under American Electorate, Democratic Party, Media, Palin, Republican, Vice-President, Women Voters

I Told You So

By Stephen Noriega

I posted the blog on September 15th, 2008. It was right after the GOP convention, when everyone loved her. I said this was the worst pick for the John McCain campaign. Now I get to say, “I told you so” with pride, annoying volume and belligerent indignation.

sarahpalin21

Photo by The National Inquirer, distributed 2008

It came to pass quickly, Senator McCain, that your only path to winning an election was doing things that may damage you further than this campaign. Governor Palin took John McCain places that he will regret. In the heat of this contest, with veneers of anger shrouding the obvious, McCain fell into the Palin trap of off-message rants and poisonous speeches designed to illicit fear and xenophobia, not optimism or hope©.

Governor Palin made it quite clear that she wished to be an active, policy-making Vice President. This is simply a continuation of a modern trend. Starting with Richard Nixon and his ambassadorial skills, the Vice President has slowly become more important. Al Gore was often criticized for taking an excessive role in helping Clinton with policy issues. Dick Cheney took the office to a whole new level, holding secret meetings, being in charge of entire policy realms and showing a true disdain for Congress and even the voters.

Did McCain really want a powerful vice president with whom he could barely get along? Sarah Palin did not answer the third grader’s question incorrectly. She meant that she wanted to have power and influence over the Senate. Perhaps Sarah Palin is not ignorant about constitutional issues, at least compared to most other people. Sarah Palin has been an executive of larger and larger offices and she saw this as a path to even more political clout. She will certainly not be another Thomas R. Marshall (considered the laziest Vice President under Woodrow Wilson). She wanted to be another Dick Cheney. Perhaps she knows painfully little about the Constitution. This is even more frightening than a politician’s ambition. With the clothing scandal, she may end up being another Spiro Agnew, constantly messing with McCain’s authority like Agnew did with Nixon until being pulled asunder by a petty transgression. (http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/la-oew-edwards-lichtman5-2008sep05,0,5935217.story)

It is not just Palin’s eye on power that had McCain in a bad way because of her. Palin is a politician, and politicians seek power. That is what they do. But Palin couldn’t even follow the talking points of the campaign. McCain must have developed serious reservations about how she will follow policy talking points once comfortably in Washington, D.C. When the issue of Palin’s clothes emerged as a thorn in the campaign, everyone tried to stifle the nano-scandal and move on. Not Governor Palin. She continued to defend the $150,000.00+ makeover.

Even people in the McCain campaign revolted. Anonymous rats, stinging with bitterness of being in the wrong campaign, started to take shots at the candidate with the anxious ears of the press wide open.

“She is a diva. She takes no advice from anyone… She does not have any relationships of trust with any of us, her family or anyone else. Also she is playing for her own future and sees herself as the next leader of the party. Remember: divas trust only unto themselves as they see themselves as the beginning and end of all wisdom.” (CNN – 10/2008)

Palin has shown sides of this in the media view. Instead acting humble, especially after some disastrous interviews with infamous soft-ball-throwers like Katie Couric, Palin went on the offense. She spewed venom at rallies that incited the lunatic fringe of her party with never a speck of clarification or apology. When McCain saw the potential destructive nature of this, he voiced his disapproval of the personal hatred campaign, something an honorable person does. Palin apparently never got the memo.

With each bumble, misunderstanding of history, petty scandal and word of aggression, Governor Sarah Palin demonstrated how she was the worst pick the McCain campaign could have made. This is not about gender. This is not about politics or political agendas. This is about a person who did not deserve, because of a lack of competence, any consideration of such an importance office.

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Filed under American Electorate, McCain, Palin, Republican, Vice-President

“That one”… (you know, the black one)

A Polemical Essay by: That Girl

I’ll say this: I don’t think John McCain is racist. But he sure knows how to hang with the worst of them.

With a Bear Market currently mauling a little china shop known as the Global Financial System and McCain’s less than spectacular performance in demonstrating the urgency of the economic meltdown (outside of suspending his campaign for a few hours while negotiating alternative debate dates -> a stunt that smelled more like a steaming pile of politics than the cool breeze of “Maverick” it was intended to ostentate), it seems the McCain campaign feels it has little choice but to pander to the lowest common denominator of their party by resorting to tar-slinging tactics (read: mud-slinging with a racist adhesive).

The past few days have seen a noticeable shift in political maneuvering from the McCain camp with concerted attempts to not only link Obama with domestic terrorists:

… but allude to foreign terrorist alliances by virtue of his middle name:

… which has been conspicuously added to both Palin’s:

… and McCain’s introductions of late:

Add to this tack a solid Southern Dixiecrat base still smarting over that whole Civil War thing:

Comparative Analysis -> These maps demonstrate correlate divisions between Red/Blue states of the 2004 Election Cycle and the Secessionist/Unionist states of the Civil War...

Comparative Analysis -> These maps demonstrate correlate divisions between Red/Blue states of the 2004 Election Cycle and the Secessionist/Unionist states of the Civil War. Coincidence?

… and it’s not exactly surprising that hatred toward a black presidential candidate would rear its head so ugly and quick in America…

**********

By now, we’re all more than likely aware of the incendiary campaign rhetoric and subsequent malicious comments produced by angry Republican mob participants over the course of the previous few days…

(Listen for “treason” @ 0:31 seconds):

(… and “kill him” @ 0:13 seconds):

… and McCain’s lukewarm attempt at backpedaling:

“[Senator Obama] is a decent person and a person that you do not have to be scared about as President of the United States,” he said, before adding: “If I didn’t think I would be one heck of a better president I wouldn’t be running.”

… as the McCain camp signaled its refusal to alter its strategy by actually defending these bigots:

“Barack Obama’s assault on our supporters is insulting and unsurprising.

[snip]

“It is clear that [he] just doesn’t understand regular people and the issues they care about. He dismisses hardworking middle class Americans as clinging to guns and religion, while at the same time attacking average Americans at McCain rallies who are angry at Washington, Wall Street and the status quo.” (emphasis mine)

What.

This seeming lack of concern on the part of the Republican campaign for the historically proven consequences of such rhetoric and obtuse approval is nothing short of inexcusable and frankly, boggles the mind.

These supporters aren’t “regular people”. They are the most unhinged elements of our society. They can’t be “angry at… the status quo”. They are the status quo: white, bible thumping social conservatives spoiled on eight long years of flaunting moral superiority like an American badge of entitlement, pointing to “traitors of the war” while requiring the greatest restriction of civil rights since that guy McCarthy invented his own “ism” -> all in the name of waging a righteous Crusade to “democratize” “terrorist” nations.

So, while these particular Republican supporters may also be frustrated by “business as usual” in Washington and on Wall Street, make no mistake: if they’re pissed, at the end of the day, it’s because their brass-balled, hegemonic endorsements are shriveling like so many raisins in the sun.

The problem with the Republican ticket is this: the position of the Presidentcy of the United States, at all times, (but especially times like these) requires a greater moral compass than those currently demonstrated by either the Republican presidential or vice presidential nominees in practicing their “Win at all costs” campaign philosophy. Worse, by activating, harboring, and comforting the most unacceptably radical elements of our society by political means, the Republican Party has effectively condemned all social progress made since the Civil War in advancing Equality, Opportunity and all those other novel concepts given lip service by the GOP when speaking of the Constitution.

Is John McCain racist? I don’t believe so. But he walks a perilous line:

John McCain and Sarah Palin, you are playing with fire, and you know it. You are unleashing the monster of American hatred and prejudice, to the peril of all of us. You are doing this in wartime. You are doing this as our economy collapses. You are doing this in a country with a history of assassinations.

… when [your supporters] scream out “Terrorist” or “Kill him,” history will hold you responsible for all that follows.

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Filed under Democratic Party, McCain, Media, Negative Campaigning, Obama, Palin, Republican, Uncategorized, Vice-President

Palin Is Your Worst Pick

By Stephen Noriega

I have given myself pause after the convention, after the initial excitement and after the first interview to give my humble opinion on the Sarah Palin pick for Vice President. I must admit that when I first heard of the pick, I thought to myself, “What in the heck we’re you thinking?” After long deliberation and after looking at all the possible future permutations of your campaign, Senator McCain, I have just one thing to say.

What in the heck we’re you thinking?

This piece is not a hatchet job on Sarah Palin. Sarah Palin is a politician that has risen to a high office and deserves the respect of that accomplishment. This obviously will not be a worship piece on her either. Once the ether wears off and people begin to study her, they will rally to her less. Becoming the governor of Alaska is no small task. For this, Palin should be commended. As a flash of interest and short-term strategy, Governor Palin was a brilliant pick by the Republicans. However, the time of her brilliance and her reality had better be more than fifty-some days if the Republicans don’t want to be embarrassed this November.

It is silly to attack Governor Palin for being a mother and future grandmother. I couldn’t care less about that stuff. If I ever cared about anyone’s family obligations and their ability to serve, I would advocate for candidates to only have one child (in college or older) before they could run for a higher office. That just doesn’t compute. Nancy Pelosi has five children and seven grandchildren. She does just fine. This may sound harsh but I could care less (except for historical curiosity) that she is female. We have been taught that men and women should have equal chances in all avenues of life. Thus, I have no reason to like or dislike the pick based solely on gender.

There are three reasons why Palin is a horrible choice.

First, she will only solidify part the base in the end.

I know that she has induced a spike in likely female voters. This looks promising but I believe that women voters are the most educated, issue-aware segment of the voting population. When some of her stances on choice, education and health care become evident, that spike will disappear. Palin has energized the far-right base right now. However, even fellow conservative have knocked the choice. David Frum said about Palin’s experience, “Ms. Palin’s experience in government makes Barack Obama look like George C. Marshall.” Of course, Frum’s statements, the first time Obama has been compared with the author of the Marshall Plan, could be dismissed as conservative chauvinism. Not this one. Dr. Laura Schlessinger sharply criticized the Palin pick from a conservative viewpoint of female roles and the family. I could not disagree more with her position but I think it might erode at some conservative voters when they really start thinking about Palin’s situation. McCain might think he can strip away some PUMA voters. This group is like any typical protest voting block. Andrew Dice Clay could be McCain’s pick and the PUMA’s would still vote for him because of how Obama treated Hillary. Thus, Palin does not do much to pick up votes there.

Some of Governor Palin’s conservative credentials will simply not pan out. She claims to be an enemy of earmarks, rebuking the Bridge to Nowhere and bragging about Alaskans building things for themselves. The truth, well-known now, is that Palin initially supported the Bridge to Nowhere.

News.Spreadit.org, 9/2008

The truth about earmarks and Alaska is simple. Alaska receives more earmark dollars per capita than any other state in the union. According to Mark Murray of MSNBC, Palin as Governor requested hundreds of millions in earmarks every year. Fiscal conservatives would not be happy to know this. Social conservatives may not be super happy to know that she smoked marijuana when it was legal in Alaska (Anchorage Daily News, 8/6/2006 – http://dwb.adn.com/news/politics/elections/governor06/story/8049298p-7942233c.html). Of course she said she didn’t really like it and certainly does not currently use it because it would be a bad influence on her kids. Religious conservatives might be in love with Palin now. However, when some of her church stuff gets out there, some might hesitate. Some clips from the Assemblies of God Church in Wasilla seem to imply that Alaska has a special role to play in evangelizing the world. The evangelists in Missouri that believe the rapture will begin in Jefferson City might have a real problem with that! But seriously, she might be put in a position to renounce something her church says and then the Right might start to peel away from her. Some of Palin’s political stances will totally line up with the far-right of the Republican Party. However, the Political Middle and the GDI (God Dang (another word) Independents) will not eventually be comfortable with her stances. She has an absolute stance on abortion. She believes it should not be legal in cases of incest or rape. Governor Palin also believes that intelligent design should be taught along side evolution in schools. According to On The Issues (http://www.ontheissues.org/Sarah_Palin.htm ), Governor Palin strongly favors teacher-led prayer in school. I’m sure that is under the assumption that the teacher will lead the students in a Christian prayer! The independents will become less and less likely to follow her. America is often characterized as center-right. The center will not subscribe to these beliefs in the end.

The second reason Governor Palin is a poor choice is her inexperience. I concede that experience is not the main characteristic necessary for getting elected and even being a successful president or vice president. However, sometimes inexperience has a dreadful outcome. For every John F. Kennedy there is a Jimmy Carter. As far as inexperienced Vice Presidential candidates, for every Harry S. Truman there is a James Stockdale.

Dan Quayle was questioned on his apparent inexperience even tough he had been elected twice to the U.S. House and twice to the U.S. Senate. Dan Quayle ended up serving as a perfect Vice President, at least for Saturday Night Live and the pototo(e) industry. Barack Obama is getting shelled constantly on the experience question. This is a valid argument. It is an argument of strength for McCain. However, he turns around and selects an inexperienced running mate. The campaign hid this inexperience through rehearsed speeches and catch-phrases. However, in her first, edited, fairly easy interview, Palin showed her inexperience through rote answers and she showed her ignorance by simply not knowing what the Bush Doctrine was. The legitimate press will tear at her experience like the tabloids will feast on her daughter’s pregnancy. She will either have to avoid shows like Hardball, Meet the Press and Face the Nation or hope that she is an incredibly fast study on matters she has never had to worry about.

There were other, more experienced women from whom to pick. Senators Olympia Snowe and Kay Bailey Hutchinson are respected Republicans. I know, I know, John McCain needs a non-senator. How about Elaine Chao, the Secretary of Labor? She has great experience and has helped with overtime reform. Perhaps McCain feels he needs a true executive. How about Governor Jodi Rell from Connecticut or Governor Linda Lingle from Hawaii? Lingle is a Republican Governor in an extremely Democratic state, with an approval rating of 71%! All of these women have more experience than Palin.

The third reason this is a bad choice is that Palin totally outshines McCain. One of the funnier lines on Saturday Night Live was, “The race is tightening up. McCain now finds himself only six points behind Sarah Palin.” (SNL – 9/13/2008)

Palin is on the cover of TIME, Us Magazine, People, The National Enquirer, etc. She is everywhere. Aliens, foreigners and those who spend most of their lives in caves know Palin but not McCain, the twenty-six year veteran of the Senate. Sarah Palin is a huge media phenomenon right now. Pictures of them together look Palin look even better, and McCain even older.

Newsbusters.com, 2008

However, if her star fades, McCain will have no comparable light to keep the attention on him. If Palin had accomplished something outside Alaska, her brilliance would be less vulnerable to a press that likes watching heroes fall even more than falsely giving rise to them.

Now I know that everyone is currently in love with Sarah Palin. She is looking like the smartest V.P. pick since Thomas Jefferson. I know that the polls have bumped in her and McCain’s favor. Reality and Saturday Night Live will have something to say about Palin and McCain. The reality is that home foreclosures are still destroying the housing market. The Dow Jones just sank 500 points in one day. Hurricane Ike might result in gas going up from the imagined affordable level of four dollars a gallon. Lehman Brothers declared bankruptcy. All three American auto makers are teetering on the verge of oblivion. Unemployment is at a five year high. Inflation is rising while relative income is shrinking. These are not Democrat talking points. These are economic facts that could become Teflon coated spears for the shiny object – Palin and her older sidekick McCain.

If reality doesn’t work, and it doesn’t always for voters, the LIBERAL MEDIA might. The LIBERAL MEDIA might start asking Governor Palin about things beyond her personal story in an attempt to discover if she is truly qualified to be president just in case a 72 year-old man doesn’t make it through a rigorous presidency. Ever see how fast presidents age? Tina Fey will do her best to satirize Governor Palin. This may seem small but I remember how Chevy Chase ‘framed’ Gerald Ford. People may not listen much to CBS and the New York Times but many do listen to SNL, Colbert and Stewart.

John McCain, you once said about Iraq that you would rather lose an election than see our country lose a war. Are you now ready to lose an election in order to win an election? We’ll see if your pick was insane genius or desperate politics soon enough.

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