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Amy Siskind

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The Undefeated: The Movie I Wish Hillary Had Made

Posted: 06/06/11 10:00 AM ET

When the credits rolled at the end of the pre-screening of The Undefeated my first thought was this: Why didn't Hillary's advisors think of this? It was impossible for our country to know the real Hillary Rodham Clinton through the media's sexism-colored-glasses during the 2008 presidential race. The real Hillary was never introduced. By the time our country finally got to know her post-2008 and she became our most popular politician, it was already too late.

Which is why The Undefeated is providing such an important service by, finally, introducing Sarah Palin. True, the producer Stephen Bannon does share the same political ideology as Governor Palin, and so has a point of view (as Bannon aptly points out, so does Michael Moore in producing his documentaries). Yet, it's hard to watch the film without tripping over the facts: the character of Sarah Palin and what has she accomplished. Seems pretty basic, yes. Yet, our country has yet to know Governor Palin beyond the initial smear job done on this woman as she entered the national political arena. At the end of the film, I suspect the 20% of voters who consider themselves far left still won't consider her (just as those 20% on the far right would never vote for a Democrat); but, I am quite certain that a whole lot of reasonable voters in between will be surprised by what they see.

Admittedly, Secretary Hillary Clinton and Governor Sarah Palin share next to nothing in political ideology or background. Here's what they do have in common: both woman candidates were victims of a media smear campaign which played a major factor in their temporary political demise. And the parallels are uncanny.

Prior to embarking on her 2008 presidential run, Hillary Clinton was the State of New York's first woman senator. Then Senator Clinton won re-election to the Senate in 2006 with a whopping 36 point victory and was extremely popular in her home state.

Similarly, Governor Palin was the state of Alaska's first woman governor. On the day then presidential candidate John McCain called Governor Palin to ask her to be his running mate, polls revealed her popularity was above 80% -- simply, unheard of.

Both women took a risk in their run for the White House. Both paid a price: a smear campaign saturated with overt sexism.

I knew little about Governor Sarah Palin when she was selected as a vice presidential candidate; but, I knew Senator Hillary Clinton very well when she ran for president. Which is why it was so painful for me to watch the media's sexist savagery (I found myself talking to my television: "that's a lie!", "that 's not Hillary!"). From "she devil" to "white bitch" to "unstable" to just simply "isn't likeable" the attacks were relentless. In March 2008, observing the onslaught of sexism, Kathleen Deveny penned over at Newsweek: America is not ready for a female president. To which I would add: our country surely did not know Hillary Clinton in 2008.

When Governor Palin entered the national spotlight, we had just formed The New Agenda and we braced ourselves for Sexism, Part Deux. We thought it would be bad. We were wrong. It was worse. When it was over, of one thing I was sure: just as our country did not know Hillary Clinton, we surely did not know Sarah Palin either!

Which is why I would encourage you to see The Undefeated when it is released. Be an educated consumer/voter. Allow yourself to be curious. I had my 'aha moment' at Act 3, watching Palin's speech at the Republican National Convention. The context of the speech and the person clicked. Here was a woman who had outed ethics violations and corporate cronyism in the GOP (outraging not only her own party, but also the big oil companies), then turned around and passed the AGIA (Alaska Gasline Inducement Act), landmark legislation, working hand-in-hand with Democrats (58 votes for, 1 against). At which point I thought about the all male federal budget negotiations going on in DC -- a bunch of grown men acting like 5 year-old boys in the playground without supervision.

Here's what we know: after the media was done savaging Secretary Clinton, we got to know her and she became our country's most popular politician. Could this possibly be the same Secretary Clinton who was told by President Obama: "you're likeable enough?"

We owe it to Governor Palin to get to know her and see through the haze of the media's sexism-colored-glasses. We might learn about her and disagree on policy and issues, and that is okay. But we also might find a different kind of leader at a time when the country we love needs fixing.

 

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