Sunday, October 26, 2008

Unfair Criticism of Sarah Palin: Sexism that should not be ignored

edited 2:40 p.m.

I think Sarah Palin has injected into this campaign a really ugly strain [Joe Six-Pack, real America, socialism, countries that are free, palling around with terrorists etc.].

However I also think she is being given an unfair shake when it comes to her clothing expenditures. She did not buy these clothes, the RNC did. [Those staffers have deaf ears... in short they should be fired.]

And let's face it, no one comments on Obama's clearly expensive suits [I would bet a whole lot higher than $1500] or McCain's Ferragamo shoes. Though they do comment on Cindy McCain's very expensive outfits.

[In case you had any doubts, I think spending this kind of money is obscene and politically brain dead. ]

Today McCain folks called Palin a "diva." If she were a man they would have said: "He has his own ideas on how things should be done. He shows read leadership. etc. etc."

When men are assertive, women are aggressive. And it does not matter if their politics are red or blue....

Brava to CNN's Campbell Brown and ABC/NPR's Cokie Roberts [this morning on ABC's This Week] for calling attention to this sexism. This morning Brown addressed the clothing issue.

There is lots to criticize her about. But not on these issues.

However women -- blue and red -- who remain silent about the sexism directed at her will lose their right to complain about sexism directed at candidates they support.

Fair is fair.


Toby said...

I think the criticism of the $150,000 was initially directed against the Republican National Committee for spending party funds on items which should have been picked up by the candidate. There were stories about donors demanding their money back etc.

Some of this turned into criticism directed against Sarah Palin herself for wearing expensive clothes. It is important to stress that the original point of the "$150,000" story was about the propriety of spending campaign funds on personal items.

My opinion is that it was always a minor story, part of the rough-and-tumble that will happen in an election campaign.

hockey hound said...

'Today McCain folks called Palin a "diva." If she were a man they would have said: "He has his own ideas on how things should be done. He shows read leadership. etc. etc."'

I agree, Prof. Lipstadt. Good point. "Nothing sharpens sight like envy." And not to sound sexist in saying this, but I really believe Sarah Palin was attacked in this manner simply because she is very attractive, which is no justification for the Democrat's excoriation of her character. That is a cheap shot, plain and simple.

Heaven forbid a women should appear beautiful while simultaneously running for public office. Men can dress to the nines in suites the average American male could never afford, but a women with political aspirations is excoriated for being fashionable. In Islamic adrocracies like Iran women are forced with threats of physical violence to cover their natural beauty, and the Dem's excoriation of Sarah Palin is shamefully similar, in my opinion. In excoriating her the Dem's just lost their argument against her affiliations with the Christian Right.

hockey hound said...

Thought you might be interested in reading this article, Prof. Lipstadt.

Imagine if a speechwriter for John McCain had switched sides and announced she was going to vote for Barack Obama. Would she not be featured bigtime in the mainstream media complete with new thrills running up Chris Matthews leg? Well, this did happen except that it was an Obama speechwriter, Wendy Button, who became disillusioned with The One and switched to supporting McCain. Here are the highlights of Wendy Button's explanation of why she made the switch:

Since I started writing speeches more than ten years ago, I have always believed in the Democratic Party. Not anymore. Not after the election of 2008. This transformation has been swift and complete and since I’m a woman writing in the election of 2008, “very emotional."

Young lady, only when the switch is made from Republican to Democrat will it be mentioned in the MSM. They search the country for "lifelong Republicans" who are going to vote for Obama but when an Obama speechwriter switches over to the "Dark Side," all you will hear from the MSM is the sound of crickets chirping.

When we first met, Obama and I had a nice conversation about speeches and writing, and at the end of the meeting I handed him a pocket-sized bottle of Grey Poupon mustard so he wouldn’t have to ask staff if it was okay to put it on his hamburger. At the bottom of the bottle was the logo for “The South Beach Diet” and he snapped, “Oh so you read People magazine.” He seemed to think that I was commenting on his bathing suit picture.

I helped with his announcement speech and others. I worked in the Senate when he was in D.C. One day after a hearing on Darfur, we were walking back to the office. I was still hobbling from a very bad ankle injury and in a very kind and gentle way he offered his arm when we approached the stairs. But later in debate preps and phone conversations and meetings, I realized that I had made a mistake. I didn’t belong. No matter how hard I tried, my heart wasn’t in it anymore.

...The final straw came the other week when Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher (a.k.a Joe the Plumber) asked a question about higher taxes for small businesses. Instead of celebrating his aspirations, they were mocked. He wasn’t “a real plumber,” and “They’re fighting for Joe the Hedge-Fund manager,” and the patronizing, “I’ve got nothing but love for Joe the Plumber.”

Having worked in politics, I know that absolutely none of this is on the level. This back and forth is posturing, a charade, and a political game. These lines are what I refer to as “hooker lines”—a sure thing to get applause and the press to scribble as if they’re reporting meaningful news.

As the nation slouches toward disaster, the level of political discourse is unworthy of this moment in history. We have Republicans raising Ayers and Democrats fostering ageism with “erratic” and jokes about Depends. Sexism. Racism. Ageism and maybe some Socialism have all made their ugly cameos in election 2008. It’s not inspiring. Perhaps this is why I found the initial mocking of Joe so offensive and I realized an old line applied: “I didn’t leave the Democratic Party; the Democratic Party left me.”

The party I believed in wouldn’t look down on working people under any circumstance. And Joe the Plumber is right. This is the absolutely worst time to raise taxes on anyone: the rich, the middle class, the poor, small businesses and corporations.

...Not only has this party belittled working people in this campaign from Joe the Plumber to the bitter comments, it has also been part of tearing down two female candidates. At first, certain Democrats and the press called Senator Clinton “dishonest.” They went after her cleavage. They said her experience as First Lady consisted of having tea parties. There was no outrage over “Bros before Hoes” or “Iron My Shirt.” Did Senator Clinton make mistakes? Of course. She’s human.

But here we are about a week out and it’s déjà vu all over again. Really, front-page news is how the Republican National Committee paid for Governor Sarah Palin’s wardrobe? Where’s the op-ed about how Obama tucks in his shirt when he plays basketball or how Senator Biden buttons the top button on his golf shirt?

...Governor Palin and I don’t agree on a lot of things, mostly social issues. But I have grown to appreciate the Governor. I was one of those initial skeptics and would laugh at the pictures. Not anymore. When someone takes on a corrupt political machine and a sitting governor, that is not done by someone with a low I.Q. or a moral core made of tissue paper. When someone fights her way to get scholarships and work her way through college even in a jagged line, that shows determination and humility you can’t learn from reading Reinhold Niebuhr. When a mother brings her son with special needs onto the national stage with love, honesty, and pride, that gives hope to families like mine as my older brother lives with a mental disability. And when someone can sit on a stage during the Sarah Palin rap on Saturday Night Live, put her hands in the air and watch someone in a moose costume get shot—that’s a sign of both humor and humanity.

Has she made mistakes? Of course, she’s human too. But the attention paid to her mistakes has been unprecedented compared to Senator Obama’s “57 states” remarks or Senator Biden using a version of the Samuel Johnson quote, “There’s nothing like a hanging in the morning to focus a man’s thoughts.”

...I was dead wrong about the surge and thought it would be a disaster. Senator John McCain led when many of us were ready to quit. Yet we march on as if nothing has changed, wedded to an old plan, and that too is a long way from the Democratic Party.

I can no longer justify what this party has done and can’t dismiss the treatment of women and working people as just part of the new kind of politics. It’s wrong and someone has to say that. And also say that the Democratic Party’s talking points—that Senator John McCain is just four more years of the same and that he’s President Bush—are now just hooker lines that fit a very effective and perhaps wave-winning political argument…doesn’t mean they’re true. After all, he is the only one who’s worked in a bipartisan way on big challenges.