Friday, August 29, 2008

GOP to America: Ehh? Ehh? A Lady!

So, just to get it out of the way, the comparisons have been coming fast and furious for the new Republican VP candidate, Gov. Sarah Palin: Tina Fey. Nia Vardalos. But after watching her speak, the first thing that struck me was a resemblance to Mariska Hargitay. Mariska during a particularly dowdy day at the SVU, no doubt, but I'm sticking with the resemblance.

Anyway, lots to talk about here, because this woman seems like a total nightmare. She's been governor (of Alaska, not to get too snooty about it) for less than two years, which now makes the entire "experience is paramount" argument of McCain's look incredibly silly. So there goes their biggest gun. She's in favor of drilling in ANWR, which, as the governor of Alaska, seems particularly crazy to me. "Please! Rape the natural wonder of my home state!" Would she hand South Dakota over to the Saudis? I think she might. Of course, combine that with the fact that she's an anti-choice woman and also on the 100-More-Year ticket despite being the parent of a soldier in Iraq, and a trend starts to form.

There's more to her, of course: She loves her guns! Big fan of the moose burger! She's under state investigation for corruption! It's almost too easy to pick her apart. So much so that I got to wondering if McCain intentionally picked her as a punching bag, banking on the one reliable trend of this election season: perceived sexism. Like, is it unfair of me to hold it against Palin that she went back to work three days after her last child was born? There's a hint of "you'd never criticize a man for that" to it, but...three days? The business of running Alaska can't be THAT pressing. Not only does that run counter to the family values crowd that Palin's selection is supposed to assuage, but it also serves up a big fat opportunity to engage in the health care debate via revolving-door maternity wards.

As a cynical play for the votes of disgruntled Hillary supporters, which this selection clearly was (at least in part), I think it's a serious misfire. Not only because Palin's such a polar opposite of Hillary politically but also because it mischaracterizes the PUMA crowd as wanting to see a woman -- any woman -- in the White House. Not so. These people want Hillary. Nobody else is going to cut it. Not to mention, after the Convention this week, I can't imagine there are very many of that type left who haven't seen the light. On the other hand, it was hilarious to see a roomful of Republicans forced to collectively hold their noses and applaud the name-checking of Geraldine Ferraro and Hillary Clinton.

I'm tempted to chalk this up as a BIG advantage for the Obama camp, but if the politics of this young, dumb century have taught me anything, it's that voters will embrace even the dumbest of political maneuvers. Particularly when there are this many tiny American flags.


Anonymous said...

The thing is, it's such an obvious pander and hail mary that, after winning this single news cycle (and taking away attention from the historical importance of Obama's nomination and incredible speech), a whole lot of republicans are going to take a breath, sit back, and say "what the f*ck was he thinking" (they're already doing this actually).

He could have picked a Whitman, or a Hutchison, and it would still have been a pander, but they've at least got some experience to back up the choice.

Anonymous said...

1. Obama squandered a historic opportunity with that speech — nothing lofty. nothing memorable. jabs against McCain that while perhaps relevant at some level now, left nothing 'for the ages'. Oh yes... and a line from a T.V. sitcom "eight is enough"??!! Do you use a historic day for this? With nary a mention of MLK? He should not have followed Carville's advice on such a potentially momentous occasion as this.

2. Sarah Palin has better qualifications and more experience at actual governance than your "community organizer".

3. Would Obama have offered abortion as the preferred choice for her wanted pregnancy?

Listen. Think. Change. Having experienced and suffered under and because of communism as I have ... you do not want Obama et al in office. Really ... you don't.

Anonymous said...

Joe, I seriously hate to be the guy to suggest something which is probably vicious and untrue, but there have been rumours in Alaska for some time that Palin's last child is not her's, it's her daughter's.

Take this with a ginormous sack of salt, but the surprise pregnancy announcement, lack of a bump beforehand and her speedy return to work will no doubt be discussed in the coming weeks. Source:

Glark said...

Abortions for some, miniature flags for others!

patty said...

I so hope you're right that the pandering won't work, Joe, but the last 4 years have made me something of a pessimist about the electorate. A twice-elected Bush + disappointed Hillary supporters pushing the "McCain in 2008 --> Clinton in 2012" = scary bad juju.

patty said...

PS - A coworker of mine would agree with you about the miniature flags (and the suits of those wearing them). He's convinced that the Democrats will lose this election because the people in the crowd at the convention (at least, those shown in the reaction shots and interviews) looked too far outside the "middle America mainstream." How scary is that?!

Anonymous said...

... didn't Obama wear a 'miniature flag'?

Joe Reid said...

Anonymous commenters, I promise you: I am not going to look you up and track you down. Honest. Make up an alias, I totally won't know. Anonymous posting is beneath all of us.

"Would Obama have offered abortion as the preferred choice for her wanted pregnancy?"

Obama would have offered a choice, period. That's the important part. Though I think it's telling that I didn't even bring up this already-mythologized non-abortion, but already the talking point makers are in full force. The using of a Downs Syndrome infant as a political football might be the GOP's most cynical tactic yet.

bstewart: I actually really hope that's not true, because...yikes.

glark: I am furious with myself for not coming up with that one first.

Rachel said...

Joe, that's actually a Simpsons paraphrase, but it's totally appropriate for this latest round of hilarity.

And I really really really hope the 'kid is not my son' angle isn't true. Egad.

T-Square said...

Is it mean, in a post-"gay American" world, requesting that Palin be not referred to as a "lady," but instead as a "vaginaed American"? Because "lady" just doesn't... roll off the tongue in her case.

As for baby=>3 days=>work (provided that it actually is hers and not her daughters - even in Wisconsin, I'm not 100% up on my Alaska rumours)... that's easily comparable to a guy getting a non-essential organ out (gall bladder, spleen), and even if Bush came back 3 days after having his gall bladder removed, people would still be like, "uh? dude? healing process?"

And not to dig on Alaska - in fact, I'd love to live there, or further North - but how much down-and-dirty governance is happening there? I mean, an Illinois senator... you got some paper shuffling around the desk, at worst.

Rube Goldberg said...

So I didn't get to see the video of the announcement until I watched it on The McLaughlin Group (which I only watch for the crazy -- and because there is less than nothing on 8pm on a Friday). Anyway, I was honestly expecting there to be a record scratch sound effect and the crowd going "whaaaaa?"

This reminds me of the Harriet Myers debacle three years ago. Too bad for McCain that he's pretty much locked in with this choice in this situation.

Anonymous said...

Please stop pretending you know anything about politics. This comes from an Obama supporter. Your infantile analysis only sullies the playing field that adults are trying to work on. We're already trying to escape the kool-aid drinking hunchbacks of both parties.

Stick to slasher flicks and pop culture from now on.

Anonymous said...

well if nothing else this election is certianly a historic event, the fact that the DNC nominee is black, and was running against a woman was cool, but then to have such a right wing bush clone pick a woman as his veep! OMG , i wonder how long it would take to get residency in canada, and if the air fare from gas prices isnt too steep to move there yet!

this is just a frickin joke right?? this woman cannot actually be considered a lady until she stops playing with guns and condoning people who want to take away womans rights,,,,I think Johnny had a night mare ,,,,and changed his mind about wanting to be president, and chose the one who would for sure get him a loss in November!

Beefy Muchacho said...

The nominating of Palin, on the heels of Obama's speech immediately put Godwin's Law in my head. I learned of this originally from the illustrious Sars, so you're probably aware of it as well, but it states:

"As a Usenet discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches one."

Goes on to at least imply that the party doing the comparing to Hitler is essentially admitting defeat due to the hyperbolic connotations.

I realize this isn't apples to apples, but doesn't naming Palin just stink of such desperation and cynicism that McCain is almost just admitting defeat?

Joe Reid said...

Personally, I'm okay with my brand of infantile analysis. At the very least, I'm going to wait for people to step out from behind the cowardly veil of anonymous posting before I reassess.

JS said...

Joe, would you like a "Mary Cherry" icon in response to anonymous fighting with anonymous?

Joe Reid said...

What, like this?

Bo said...

My reaction was one of annoyance that the McCain campaign managed to justify the assertions of the far left (a blog of which I keep touch with just to know what's up out there) that Republicans see women as interchangeable vaginas. The idea that this particular women was a good choice, when women of substance were available, makes me believe that those folks are probably right. The Republicans, or at least the ones making this decision, really don't see the difference between one woman and another.

My sister, the PUMA, is unlikely to be fooled even a little bit.

Linda said...

I don't think it's as much a pure sap to Hillary supporters as it first seemed. I mean, it is, but REALLY, it is a sap to the extremely socially conservative evangelicals he has been having difficulty whipping up. The fact that she's a woman is supposed to offer a whiff of something "progressive" that will blunt the fact that she's very, very, very, very conservative, and that what McCain really did here is abandon the idea of presenting himself as a more experienced uniter of the country than Obama, and embrace the idea of bringing back the hoariest old "they will raise your taxes and hold gay pride parades in your child's elementary school" bullshit.

It's cynical, yes, but mostly, McCain just stepped his campaign hugely to the right. I think originally, he wanted to win on a sort of dignified "I have experience and am a POW" platform that wouldn't require him to fully sell his soul, but after the convention, I think his team of Rove-ites realized that the old way is the safest way, and that compared to trying to make actual policy arguments and arguing your qualifications, selling out choice and civil rights is a lot easier.

Joe Reid said...

I think that's probably all too true, Linda. Same old shit, I guess.

dan mac said...

Hey, remember that time McCain called his own wife a cunt? And then when asked about it at a town hall meeting by a Baptist minister, he avoided the question and had the minister removed by the Secret Service?

It's hard to take this as anything but flagrant cynicism and pandering from McCain, as has already been noted. That makes me sad(der), because I should feel glad that there's a woman on the ticket, even (perhaps especially) on the Republican one. But it just doesn't feel at all progressive, or a step forward for women, when McCain and this lady are essentially anti-woman (pro-life).

Anonymous said...

I agree about the anonymous identification. I = anonymous 1 and 7.

Okay ... about offering "choice". Here's the deal: a black fetus has its own fingerprints, the possibility of its own blood type—different than mom's, its own brainwaves and an ever increasing chance of viability outside of the womb.

Where's the love when you would rather see a black fetus die without medical attention ("brother's keeper"???? please) and you cover this with a platitude about decreasing unwanted pregnancies?

Wake up to the truth about life.

-Runaway Child, Running wild

Anonymous said...

Oh yes, Dan Mac,

What about unborn women who will never get a chance to run for Vice President much less vote because somebody wants to kill them before they get a chance?

Don't you see that abortion = big money for the so called doctors? It denigrates women of all colors.

Runaway child, running wild

dan mac said...

I'm not a callous babykiller, thank you. Abortion's not a choice with which I'm personally comfortable, but the fact is, criminalizing it isn't going to make everyone suddenly respect the sanctity of life and agree that it begins at the fetal stage. To me pro-life/pro-choice isn't an issue of morality or religion, or even of choice really; it's a public safety issue.

The day abortion is illegal is the day women start dying. Desperate women will be forced to take desperate measures. They'll seek out "back alley" abortionists, they'll poison themselves, they'll insert implements into their own bodies, and in many cases they'll die trying to abort pregnancies without appropriate medical care. I'd like to respect the pro-life viewpoint, that life should be protected, but we don't even have to go back more than a view decades into our own history to see the dangers of criminalizing abortion.

I feel this could quickly become more contentious and involved than is appropriate, and has already strayed off topic. I felt compelled to reply since I was challenged by name, but frankly I'm not equipped to explore and argue this issue fully, even if this was an appropriate venue to do so.

Joe Reid said...

That's okay, dan mac. I don't think you'd abort a future Vice-President.

(And yeah, I'd appreciate it if we could nip the aborting-black-fetuses line of discussion in the bud. Thanks!)

Anonymous said...

What do you consider contentious?

Abortion right on topic. It will = the litmus test by which many will refuse to vote for Palin.

By the way, female fetuses do die — every day by the thousands. And, all kinds of girls and women get talked into an abortion with nary an explanation of who lives inside of them, the personal consequences they will face later, and alternatives like adoption.

Never called you a 'callous baby killer' As you know, just because people render something 'legal' does not make it moral.

One last thought, one of the last times I tried to compassionately engage a "pro choice" person in sincere dialogue — in a quiet, open manner— the person did not even have the courtesy to answer. It happened in an appropriate venue —after a talk show taping on the subject. Both of us sat in the audience. I asked one question: If a human life does not reside inside the mother, in your opinion, what does? Silence. No response. Why? I don't know.

A former professor of mine reasoned somewhat like this, If you hear a noise in the bushes outside of your house at night — and do not know if its the wind, or the neighbor's cat ... or the neighbor ... you don't shoot at it and attempt to kill it not knowing what or who you will hit. If they don't know for sure ... why shoot?

Thank you for the discussion. Really.

Runaway child, running wild

Linda said...


I think the other interesting point is Palin's gigantic lingering scandal, which seriously looks very ugly and severely undercuts her "reformer" position. It pretty much washes out your talk of ethics in government when you send your underlings to get your sister's husband fired during their custody dispute. I'm not sure she's going to sell the story that her staffer did that all on his own.

Joe Reid said...

I'm a particularly big fan of the idea that she'd promise not to succeed McCain if he dies.

deirdre said...

Sooooo many things I want to argue about here ...but I won't. Wrong venue. I'll just say this: Good luck to y'all. And there's room on my living room floor should any of you want to move to Canada!

Anonymous said...

At 11-12 weeks:

• Heart beats at 18-25 days
• Brain waves at 40 days
• Squinting, swallowing, make a fist
• Has fingerprints and can kick
• Sensitive to heat, touch, light and noise
• He/she sucks his/her thumb
• All body systems work
• Weighs about 1 ounce — 21/2 to 3 inches long

— "Red, Yellow, Black, White, and Brown" fetuses

JS said...

Joe Reid said...
"I'm a particularly big fan of the idea that she'd promise not to succeed McCain if he dies."

Sarah Palin to Geena Davis: Can you teach me how to give a performance that can get me a better reward than a Golden Globe?

Linda said...

I think he's particularly vulnerable, given that they've chosen "Country First" as the slogan. There is no way you can straight-facedly claim that she's the person most qualified to be president if you die, that she can offer the most to the administration, or anything else like that. There isn't anybody who doesn't see this as sucking up -- even the people who are being sucked up to. Even the extreme right wing who loves her knows that it's a signal to them that they're going to get their way more than they were afraid they might.

All you have to do is ask him, "Do you believe that in the event something happens to you, she is the most qualified person in the country to be president?" Because honestly, you can straight-facedly say that about Biden. You cannot say it of Palin. There isn't anybody who doesn't know that's a political pick, including the people pleased by it.

Anonymous said...

Juan tres dieciseis

pat said...

The problem with the "you can't say with a straight face that she is ready, expereinced,or qualified to run the country" argument is that the exact same could be said of Obama. He has fairly little experience in the national least she has been an exeuctive for a little time.

Bo said...

Meaningful executive experience? If McCain wanted that on his ticket he could have had Ridge or Romney, not Palin.

So I'll take the smartest guy in the room and his also smart running mate. I'll take the guy who didn't worry that people wouldn't see him as patriotic but voted not to go to war without the support of our long-term close allies and as his running mate I'll take the guy who acted presidential on 9/11 on the Capitol steps with the guards telling him he really had to leave, while the actual president was being shuttled about the South willy nilly.

There's something to be said for the guys who learn from mistakes, their own and those of others. Who've studied history and believe it has lessons for us. Who examine things with their own eyes and think through to solutions for the general good. And who know that leadership and inspiration are necessary for true change to be even remotely possible.

Mollie said...

She's in favor of drilling in ANWR, which, as the governor of Alaska, seems particularly crazy to me. "Please! Rape the natural wonder of my home state!"

But from another angle, it's totally logical. I think it depends on what you assume her main priority is -- the long-term well-being of the state, or the short-term well-being of the people she governs. And she's a Republican, which answers that question. Drilling in Alaska means money and jobs in Alaska... What else could possibly be of concern?

Rbelle said...

I don't know. I know it seems far too stupid and cynical to work, but I was on the phone to a friend the other day who was a big Hillary fan. When I remarked, offhand, that McCain had picked a female running mate, she said "I know - doesn't it make you kind of want to vote for him?"

I don't consider my friend stupid, but she clearly finds the very fact that McCain would willingly put a woman on his ticket when Barack Obama didn't to be something of a draw. Also, I think she's part of the "Enough about Obama" backlash crowd - I doubt she'd vote Republican, but she very well might stay home, or write in Clinton on her ballot.

And I agree with Mollie re: drilling in Alaska. I remember being shocked some years ago to realize that Alaska was a red state, but they seem to elect politicians who bring in money and jobs (no matter what kind of pork that money is attached to). There's not a lot of money or jobs in just leaving the wilderness to itself already.

Joe Reid said...

I don't quite get that. "Enough about Obama." I'm not sure what that means. Like, he shouldn't be campaigning so much? We shouldn't be talking about him? I'm confused.

jessica said...

Wow, a lot going on here.

My initial reaction to McCain's announcement was that this wouldn't really help him at all. Like many have said, it's clearly pandering and not in a way that's going to fool anyone their targeting (ie, Hilary supporters). But on another level, I don't really think it helps him in his own camp either. I mean, sexism is such a socially acceptable thing with conservatives, and it's so easily disguised or assumed to be chivalry or piousness that it's not even called out as sexism. But how many of the religious right think a woman shouldn't work at all? How many will look down on Palin for "abandoning" her family, allowing her daughter to get pregnant out of wedlock (possibly twice??)? How many will flat out think a woman is too "emotional" to be the second-in-command? It's not like these people will up and vote for Obama in many cases, but they might stay home. At least, that's what it feels like to me.

jessica said...

Ugh, I hate it when I don't edit. I don't think the pandering will fool the people they're (they are!) targeting.

Rbelle said...

Oh, I don't get it either. But I remember there was a poll a few weeks ago that said a certain number of people felt they were hearing too much about Obama, like he's been overhyped or something. I just view my friend as the exact sort of person who would take that stance - like, anything "too popular" suddenly becomes worthy of her irrational hate. Which is fine, I guess, if you're talking about Harry Potter or the new Batman movie. But yeah, I don't really understand it when it comes to the people running for, you know - President of the United States.

And I don't think my friend is representative of a huge portion of former Hillary supporters or anything. I just thought it was kind of funny and a little bit alarming that her initial reaction to the Sarah Pallin news was not "ew, do they really think they can suck up that way?" but "A woman! Whee!"

jessica said...

My de facto mother-in-law was pretty pleased by the news too, insofar as she thought it was a smart choice to get those staunch feminists to vote for him, but I think it only looks that way for the briefest of seconds.

I feel like I'm channeling Inigo Montoya: "I do not think it means what you think it means."

Sandman said...

Having watched Palin's speech last night, I can only wonder where the GOP would be without fear and name-calling. I guess that only leaves the exploitation of natural resources.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Sandman.

When Mr. Obama draws a not so veiled analogy between a pig and Sarah Palin — that epitomizes namecalling! As for fear ... let's see ... you're the one fearing.

Mr. Beach

Joe Reid said...

Wow, hilarious. The speed with which the McCain campaign is able to mobilize a talking point is something else.