Tuesday, September 02, 2008

EVENT: Palin is a footnote; Clinton is a chapter.



Gemma is one of my most trenchant and honest friends, which is why I mix it up with her in detail... I'm posting here a comment in response to Gemma's post Palin(g) in Comparison. Here's what I think:

Hm. Well, I was evidently off in the last comment that I posted, and I agree with you that we are presented with an opportunity to "appreciate" Palin. I mean, we can appreciate her place in this election as the first woman on a major ticket; that is something to be proud of and to acnowledge. And finally, you did post this on 8/29, and the last 4 days have been extremely eventful.

But I disagree with most of the rest of what you have said about her. Politically she seems to be the worst of bad candidates: a high likelihood of corruption, a dogmatically closed-minded view of the world, no *particular* evidence of political saavy, and a lack of experience that likens Obama's to McCain's.

If part of considering her nomination to have been an achievement of the Left (which I do not necessarily disagree with, although it maybe gives the Right a lame excuse to have owned women's lib more than they deserve) then it is also appropriate to evaluate her resume on the same terms as I would evaluate her positions on issues, as well as the same terms as I would evaluate a male candidate or the democratic ticket VP candidate: that she seems to combine in one person the worst qualities of George W. Bush and Dan Quayle. She's belligerant, uncompromising, uninformed on the issues she'd be presiding over, lacks relevant experience, and has evidently been chosen for political expedience over any chemistry or cooperative spirit with her teammate.

I also strongly disagree that this is going to help the McCain campaign one bit, and I felt that way on Saturday morning before the revelations about her affiliation with the Alaskan Independence movement, her daughter's pregnancy (something I don't care about, but which the Right will) and all the other drama. The fundamental reason why so many women were drawn to Clinton was that she was an eminently qualified candidate, and that allowed her to own her historical role in ways that other candidates have not. I think (and some sources like Rasumussen are starting to suggest: here) that most women will reject this choice overall, and not simply on ideological grounds.

To suggest that "any woman will do" for women, which is not so subtly what the McCain campaign is saying with this choice, implies that women are desperate and are willing to accept a symbolic gesture (granted to a numerically significant voting bloc) as opposed to equal status in the marketplace of ideas. Palin offers the former, but Clinton actually obtained the latter. I'm sure McCain/Palin will draw some of the crossover vote they seek, but I think they will be disproportionately punished by both independent voters and women for making a sharp tack to the right and for an (accurately) perceived disingenuousness.


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