‘Kay, this election cycle was already out of the ordinary a year ago. In the Red Corner, tailor-made for Boring Old White Guys, we had the Mormon, the Cross-dressing Catholic, the Actor, the Crazy Libertarian OB-GYN, and the Preacher. Meanwhile, in the Blue Corner, we had the Lady, the Black Guy, the Hispanic Guy, several Boring Old White Guys, and a token Slightly Less Old, Slightly Less Boring White Guy. In the center of the ring, trying to clone himself for both sides, was the Comedian.
Needless to say, this led to some awesomely hilarious media narratives: “Lady cries for votes, gets them” “What exactly is a Mormon, anyway?” “Does this video show a man making rude gestures? You decide!” “Crazy Preacher Bonanza!” “Will Hispanic voters vote for the Black Guy?” “Will ‘Blue Collar’ Americans vote for the Black Guy?” “Fairytales” “Will the Jewish Billionaire run too?” “Will women vote for any of these mere men?” Given the opportunity to cover race and gender in ways typically off-limits to the politically correct, the press went nuts, and I can’t really blame them. Political reporters are generally stuck listening to nearly the same speech over and over as candidates move through the country day after day. But you’d think things would calm down a bit as the field thinned out, and we got down to the issues – Nope!
Somehow, as the campaigns have thinned out, the race has gotten weirder and weirder – and somehow, the issues are getting more and more convoluted. The Republican National Convention is making about as much sense as Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim. Prank pizza deliveries are making national news. The Crazy Libertarian OB-GYN is having his own convention (Red Corner Squared?) across town. Does anyone else have a headache trying to keep up? It’s enough to drive a girl to drink. This might be due to more coverage of how many Americans bought a tactic or ad than how appropriate or true it was in the first place. It might be due to the parade of former executives from large dysfunctional companies being used as surrogates. It could have something to do with the Red Corner’s vetting process. Maybe the people going on and on about topics they insist aren’t fair for the press to cover (thus dragging these things out further) is creating some confusion on where the fair game is.
I should probably make clear at this point that I think the ability to have a field of candidates this diverse is a symbol of how far we’ve come as a nation, and that for a candidate to claim unfair treatment by the press/other candidates/etc. because of their race/gender/religion/ etc. when they’re reached this point on their own is utterly ridiculous. These candidates each worked their way to where they are on their own – yes, even the former First Lady (though her Senate race opponents in New York have not been particularly strong).
Hillary didn’t lose out because she’s a woman. She very narrowly lost because, as qualified as she is, her personality and skills are infinitely more suited to a cabinet position than to leadership. Her strength has always been her detailed understanding of policy, but her public speaking and other “leader skills” often leave something to be desired. This isn’t sexism.
By the same token, Sarah Palin isn’t unqualified to be Vice President because of her gender, go-go boots, collection of beauty queen tiaras, special needs baby, pregnant daughter, husband’s history of DWI, sister’s lousy taste in men, short time as a governor, or lack of a position in “the permanent political elite”. Sarah Palin is unqualified for Vice President because she is being investigated for misuse of power, because she left a town of 9000 residents $20 Million in debt, and because her first introduction to Americans outside of Alaska who aren’t hardcore politics junkies was to lie to us about her position on a much-maligned pork barrel spending project. She’s an unusually questionable choice because she’s courted favor with a group which wants Alaska to secede from the nation, and because her husband is employed by a BP, a large energy company. She’s not just taking money from special interest groups, she lives with one! Never mind the fact that when the results of her current investigation are released but four whole days before the general election, she could be thrown out of office or even arrested.
Talking about these things is not sexism. Investigating a political unknown who’s suddenly been nominated for the country’s number two spot is not sexism. (It certainly wasn’t for Thomas Eagleton, George McGovern’s original running mate in 1972, who was withdrawn from the ticket after just 18 days.) To whine that investigating this woman’s decisions, accomplishments, and scandals is sexism is just plain stupid. Like starfruit. And to be perfectly honest, it’s an embarrassment to women all over this country.
I’d like to see a woman President as much as the next girl, but more than anything, I want our first female President to be able to stand on the issues, and on her own merits, just like we expect male candidates to do. Her qualifications and record should speak for themselves – she should not need to whine about imaginary unfair treatment. I want our first female President to be able to competently discuss the issues. To understand what the job will entail. To do something besides blatantly pander to the female or other identity vote. To not demean political dialog in the U.S. To be capable of balancing a budget, or something remotely like it. To understand and use proper channels for her personal problems. To be honest. To not be some old white man’s pawn.
What continues to baffle me about this pick is that Sarah Palin was chosen over several more qualified Republican women. Some of these women are far more qualified. Many of these women had already spent a great deal of time in the national press, and could easily have been thoroughly vetted in secrecy. Where’s Kay Bailey Hutchinson? Condoleezza Rice? Olympia Snowe? Susan Collins? Linda Lingle? Florence Shapiro?
One thing I am sure of? Looking down your running mate’s shirt through most of her introduction speech is definitely kinda sexist. No one would dare pull that stuff on Batgirl.