Re-Affirmative Action

26 09 2008

“No one would criticize a mother who puts her family first.”

In an article in The National Review, conservative columnist Kathleen Parker has called on Sarah Palin to give up her seat at the political table and to drop out of the race. It cites her flawed interviews, panic-driven press moments (what few there have been) and her lack of experience in economic matters, which have become rather important recently, if you hadn’t heard – what with the biggest bank failure in American history this week:

“Quick study or not, she doesn’t know enough about economics and foreign policy to make Americans comfortable with a President Palin should conditions warrant her promotion.”

No sh*t, Sherlock. Congratulations – you’ve just caught up to where the rest of us were a month ago. It only took one Wikipedia article to convey her major strengths and weaknesses, but you just had to rally around the skirt. Did you rally around Palin? No. You rallied around her skirt. Well, for better or worse, she’s your man, so don’t get a jelly belly now. There are plenty of arguments to make for the McCain-Palin ticket. Here’s one: It is monumental that a woman would be in the position to serve in the office of the highest executive – no BS, that’s a really big deal even if it IS only symbolic. Symbols are what inspire the rest of us when we’re just getting to the age of reason. No six, seven, or eight year old will remember the specifics of the McCain-Palin administration. What they will remember is that the vice president was a woman. That she exists in that capacity will prove not that a woman can be a president, but that there is no reason why a woman can’t be a president – a far greater lesson.

Those of us who have already reached the age of reason, however, have facts to contend with. Palin’s views are enough to disqualify her from my short list of feminist leaders, but those views aren’t why some people are calling for her to step down:

“Palin’s recent interviews with Charles Gibson, Sean Hannity, and now Katie Couric have all revealed an attractive, earnest, confident candidate. Who Is Clearly Out Of Her League.”

What’s worse is that the recommended course of action is fueled by the old “take one for the team” mentality. This is always a convenient line of logic for sexists looking to get rid of a girl on the team. In doing so it totally undermines those qualities for which Palin has be lauded ever since stepping into the national spotlight. Mainly, her toughness and committment to her career:

“Only Palin can save McCain, her party, and the country she loves. She can bow out for personal reasons, perhaps because she wants to spend more time with her newborn. No one would criticize a mother who puts her family first.”

Oh really?

Tell that to every anti-feminist who has ever criticised women in general because they reportedly lack the capacity to have a family AND a career.

Tell that to every mother who encourages her child to miss school or blow off schoolwork in order to focus on learning a trade because their school districts aren’t worth a damn thing.

Tell that to any mother who is also a stripper, or any other socially queer occupation, in order to make ends meet.

Tell that to any mother who has chosen adoption for her child, not because it was in the best interest of the mother, but because it was in the best interest of the child.

Tell that to those who criticize single mothers who leave their children in early-bird and after-school programs so their kids don’t have to be latchkey kids, coming home to an empty house.

Tell that to those who criticize single mothers with latchkey kids, coming home to an empty house.

Tell that to those employers who reprimand and fire working moms for their lack of punctuality instead of giving them flexible schedules.

Tell that to the critics of mothers who go back to school in order to get a job that pays a salary that could help her child go to college someday, and in the process has little energy to spend with her young child every night.

Tell that to the moms who leave toxic, low paying work environments in order to preserve their self-respect, which her children pick up on, only to be without a job and broke for weeks or months on end.

Tell that to the moms who stay at toxic, low paying work environments in order to gather a paycheck that makes ends meet.

Tell that to the pregnant woman who cannot afford to go to the doctor, but does anyway to ensure her baby’s health, and consequently runs up debt which the state later pays off for her.

Tell that to the mother who cannot afford to go to the doctor for cancer screenings, thereby putting her family in danger of being without a mother.

The fact is, many people criticize mothers who put family first. It is a constant battle to defend one’s choices against one’s critics. The fact remains, they are our choices to make and we do the best we can with the resources available to us.

Sarah Palin has every right to run in this race. We cannot blame her for being elected, because she could not do it without our votes. Anyone can run, not just anyone can win. If you’re really furious at her presence on the ticket, don’t vote for her ticket. It’s as simple as that.

Sarah Palin shouldn’t drop out of the race any more than John McCain should. She is totally wrong for this country’s leadership, but she has every right to run as the Vice Presidential candidate. Sarah Palin may not be a Rhodes Scholar, but she isn’t stupid. She is one of 50 people in the entire United States who was elected to run an entire state. Stupid people are not elected to high executive offices. Sheepish people who do exactly as their told by their backers are elected to high executive offices, but they need a few functioning brain cells. She was elected to city councilwoman, then mayor, and then governor. This woman knows how to schmooze, throw fundraisers, and make promises she’ll never keep.

I’m not saying that she’s done her jobs well, or that she should have been picked as John McCain’s runningmate, but saying she should drop out of the race for the country’s sake because her half of the ticket isn’t polling well is almost as sexist as her getting the on the ticket in the first place. She’s a politician – she has bad days; bad hair days, bad gaffe days, bad speech days, bad interview days, etc. She may be as bad as George W. Bush – or worse. The mistake we made with him, however, was laughing and cringing at his idiotic remarks during his first term in office, dismissing him as stupid. He served two full terms, led our country into two wars without blinking, and took an economy from surplus to debt. In fact, we had so much surplus that what to do with it was a major portion of the presidential debates in 2000:

Interviewer: “Let’s suppose that the projected surpluses in your tax plan fail to materialize in full or in part. What part of your tax package gets dropped first?”

Bush: “I refuse to accept the premise that surpluses are going to decline if I’m the president. I think they’re going to increase, because my plan will increase productivity by cutting marginal rates.”

The signs were there when Bush-Cheney ran in 2000. The signs are there for McCain-Palin in 2008. Asking her to step down because of news media hiccups, even if she is as dumb as she seems, is ridiculous. It’s like if an all male construction crew was forced to hire a champion female bodybuilder with no construction experience, and then a month later fired her because she had no training.

Our country needs an architect, not another construction crew.

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2 responses

27 09 2008
7deadlycyns

This was an interesting post. I’m unclear on the argument that inspired it, however.

Was the columnist suggesting that Palin should bow out because McCain wasn’t polling well? Because that’s ludicrous. She was supposedly “galvinizing the base” after the convention, and for a while she was more popular than the guy at the top of the ticket. Now the chickens have come home to roost on McCain’s legacy of deregulation, basically demonstrating that Obama has been right about the toxic effects of this economic philosophy, so Obama is up in the polls. Yes, she’s had a few uncomfortable interviews with Charlie Gibson and Katie Couric, but the economic crisis, and the gain for Obama that comes out of it, is hardly Sarah Palin’s fault. Blaming it on the girl just seems like picking the scapegoat in the skirt, you’re right.

Or was the columnist suggesting that she should somehow come to her own realization that a Palin presidency, should there be one, would be downright dangerous? Well, it would. But why should she be the one to say that? She’s unqualified, yes. But the idea that she should bow out at this point, rather than having McCain admit to a lapse in judgment in picking her in the first place, is pretty insulting. I think it’s the case that many conservatives had very high hopes for Sarah Palin. They wanted her to be Super-Mom and Super-Politician. The woman who can do it all, without any help from you thank you very much. Hands held high in church and fists ready to K.O. anyone who dared oppose her on the national stage. Baby in one arm and veto power in the other. And, admit it, we liberals were pretty scared she might actually turn out that way. But she hasn’t. She has some pretty naive or just plain wrong ideas, and is folksy without demonstrating any capacity for gravitas, qualities which are dismissable in your average citizen but fairly scary in a President. She hasn’t exactly been passing the “who is Sarah Palin?” inquiry with flying colors. But the fact that she was selected for the Vice Presidential spot on the McCain ticket is the McCain ticket’s fault. They should own up to it, if anyone is going to.

1 10 2008
Tim Valentine

Good post. Although I think Bush is stupid and he got elected, but it may be the other way around he was elected by stupid people. Either way I will be checking you out more often.

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