Saturday, October 4, 2008

Palin Revealed as Little More than a Useful Prop for the McCain Campaign

The McCain campaign never bothered to tell Gov. Sarah Palin (R-AK) that they were conceding Michigan. She revealed Friday in a Fox News interview -- the only post-debate interview the McCain campaign allowed Palin to do -- that she read about it in the newspaper. (Wonder which paper? -- since she couldn't seem to remember any in her disastrous interview with CBS' Katie Couric.) Clearly, Palin is not even close to the inner circle of the campaign -- she's only the running mate after all.

The Maverick's campaign has no plans to have Palin visit any of the Sunday talk shows -- a rite of passage for any serious politician. Damn, I would have loved to have seen Tim Russert get a hold of this supposed junior Maverick wannabe. I bet it would be similar to his now-famous systematic dismantling of David Duke -- revealed as nothing but the racist he was during his unsuccessful run for Louisiana governor several years ago.

There are no other serious interviews planned for Palin -- at least not at the moment. For the next 30 days or so, she'll live in a cocoon. It will be scripted campaign stops only for Sarahcuda -- in short, Palin has become the favorite prop of the McCain campaign. She'll be wound up and trotted out to rile up the base -- and raise funds -- at whistle stops around the country. Palin might cut a few commercials. She'll sign autographs, wink at the crowd, give a shout out to the kiddies, and flirt with Joe Sixpack -- a full day of mugging for the cameras but no answering of any substantive questions. No wonder Americans sense she's not ready for the job.

It's insulting. Condescending. Patronizing. To the entire nation -- but most especially women. Now, let me be clear here -- I am not a Palin fan. I don't think she's qualified to be Vice President. I don't agree with her on anything -- except for perhaps the fact that the sky is, indeed, blue. But I don't think she's a complete idiot either -- she actually was at the start of a promising political career, before John McCain plucked her from that path of development and thrust her into a situation for which she is not prepared. The choice shows not only McCain's lack of judgement, but his selfishness as well. Clearly McCain is willing to expose the nation to the consequences of an ill-advised choice and Palin herself to all kinds of ridicule -- SNL is only the tip of the iceberg, as we know. Yep, McCain has thrust Palin into situations for which she is not prepared simply because she is useful to him, as a sort of Trojan Horse disguising his lackluster campaign -- and potentially setting back all women in the process. No wonder Palin is especially unpopular with likely women voters -- as revealed by a TIME poll done even before her twinkie performance at the debate.

Sure, Palin is good at memorizing and reciting talking points. She's personable -- when the folksiness isn't faked she has a certain charm. But Palin needs more seasoning. A chance to build her political chops on the national stage -- perhaps through the National Governors Association or the Republican Governors Association. And she likely would have if The Maverick had not interrupted a promising political career. Now, if the McCain-Palin ticket loses -- WHEN the McCain-Palin loses -- Sarah Palin will be nothing but a footnote, a joke, an object of derision. And she'll be headed back to lead a state that -- now that it knows her a lot better thanks to John McCain -- is a helluva lot less enamored of their governor.

There are no shortage of media opinions from the right and the left coming to this same conclusion -- that the McCain's campaign positioning of Palin ultimately hurts her and other women candidates. Some have even called for Palin to step down from the campaign. Conservative columnist Kathleen Parker wrote just last week:

"As we’ve seen and heard more from John McCain’s running mate, it is increasingly clear that Palin is a problem. 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...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..."

"Palin filibusters. She repeats words, filling space with deadwood. Cut the verbiage and there’s not much content there...If BS were currency, Palin could bail out Wall Street herself."

"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. Do it for your country."
In "Sarah Palin, 'Girl' Candidate: Restricted Access Feeds Gender Bias in Coverage," Linda Lowen writes:
"Whether deliberate or unintended, the soft focus of the Early Show interview [with Palin's parents] barely obscures a biased angle that has become media shorthand for the narrative of Palin's campaign -- the plucky, big-hearted, fresh-faced but naive candidate. This simplistic archetype jeopardizes not just Palin in this particular instance, but all women who run for public office who are young and attractive. The stakes do not revolve about a girl who played high school basketball and won the Miss Wasilla beauty pageant, but a woman struggling to convince voters of her qualifications and her suitability to lead the US as president should the need arise."
In the Detroit Free Press, Rochelle Riley writes:
"She should drop out of the race (no explanation would be needed) and stop making women look bad."

"Her whining about answering a question she wasn't prepared for makes it clear she's not ready for prime time. But her month-long Bumble Across America Tour, during which she has displayed an increasingly clearer level of ignorance about the world and politics, shows she's not ready to represent women. Asking pointed questions of candidates who may become the leaders who run the country not only is allowed, but necessary and prudent. But the more we learn about Palin, the more frightening she becomes. The more she learns about the job and domestic and foreign affairs, the more frightened she should become...Palin is setting the gender back by decades. The next time a woman runs for any national office, her opponents will have sound bites galore from the Palin ditz reel, the last time a woman ran."
It pains me to say it, folks, but the Palin Problem needs to be addressed. I don't want her or her party to win this election -- and maybe her staying on the ticket furthers that Democratic goal. But I also don't want Palin to crash and burn -- selfishly, for the women candidates that will come behind her. And while Palin did not crash in the debate, she did not put all the burning questions to rest, either. I am faced with this awful truth: I'm not sure what's worse -- Palin stepping down, or Palin staying on the ticket. But I do know this much: it would be a cruel, cruel joke -- after Geraldine Ferraro and Elizabeth Dole and Hillary Clinton -- to have the first woman to be a heartbeat from the presidency be someone who simply is not up to the job.

Copyright 2008. The Zaftig Redhead. All Rights Reserved.

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