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Andy Ostroy Headshot

It's Not Because Palin is a Woman, It's Because She's the Wrong Woman

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Enough already with the sexism charge. Not only is it patently false, but it's hypocritical. What happened to the right-wing's chorus of "Why can't we criticize Sen. Barack Obama without being called racists?" Now that the shoe's on the other foot our whiney friends on the right are crying foul over the left's outrage over Sen. John McCain's appointment of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his vice presidential running mate. Yes, Democrats are upset. They're scared shitless at the thought of this incredibly inexperienced woman one day having to assume the role of president while the nation fights two wars and terrorists abroad and an economic recession here at home. With McCain being 72 and a four-time cancer survivor, the fear is well-founded. Palin would be but a heartbeat from the Oval Office which, for any sane, rational person, is a little too close for comfort.

On MSNBC Saturday Republican strategist Brad Blakeman repeated the party-line about Palin's readiness to be president: "Should something happen to McCain, she has the 'executive experience' and will be capable of stepping in to lead the country." I often wonder if these spinheads really believe this garbage or if they're so scared and desperate in the face of Palin's gross deficiencies that they simply have to regurgitate this offensive drivel non-stop in order to feel like they're keeping McCain in the game. But Blakeman and the rest of the GOP spinners who are singing Palin's "readiness" praises ultimately wince at the thought of her taking direct questions from reporters, which is why the campaign has made the calculated decision to keep her away from the media. Obviously, her knowledge of the broader national and international issues is so weak that she's not even "ready" to stand at the podium, let alone sit in the Oval Office.

The campaign's relentless spin is that Palin, unlike Obama, has "executive experience" (for the record, McCain has none either). McCain, Palin and their surrogates are quite disingenuous when they refer to him as a "community organizer," conveniently leaving out his eight years in the Illinois State Senate and four in the U.S Senate. They also forget the fact that Obama's been running for over a year, has been vetted every which way, has appeared in 23 debates, answered question after question about his experience and positions, and ultimately convinced 20-million people to vote for him. Excuse me, but there are no comparisons to be made here.

In the Los Angeles Times last week, renowned feminist, author and publisher Gloria Steinem was dead-on when she criticized Palin's sudden and dubious ascension into national politics: "This isn't the first time a boss has picked an unqualified woman just because she agrees with him and opposes everything most other women want and need....Palin shares nothing but a chromosome with Clinton", belongs to a party with a "platform that opposes pretty much everything Clinton's candidacy stood for, and that Barack Obama's still does", and "To vote in protest for McCain/Palin would be like saying, 'Somebody stole my shoes, so I'll amputate my legs.'"

The GOP's defense of Palin centers on the same framing tactics used with Iraq: that if you're against the war you're against the troops. Hence, not supporting Palin is an attack on women. Of course, this is a ridiculous assertion, as the opposition has nothing to do with her gender but rather the glaring fact that she is a political lightweight and is grossly under-qualified to be in her position. Ironically, the very same people Republicans accuse of being sexist are the same people who passionately supported Hillary Clinton. That's hardly sexism.

It's also a sad commentary on John McCain that his campaign has become all about Sarah Palin and not the candidate himself. The passion, excitement and renewed optimism among Republicans about their ticket can be attributed to Palin's one week in the national spotlight, not because of the man at the top or what he stands for. What does that say about conservatives and their misguided expectations? About how low they're willing to place the bar? About how they want to maintain power so badly that they'll pander using the lowest common denominators?

My favorite ReDrunkLican delusionist, Sirius Radio's Andrew Wilkow, railed last week about the hypocrisy of Democrats in their harsh criticism of Palin:

"These people are pathetic. They claim to to be the champion of women and minorities."

That his party's ticket is headed by a rich old white guy while the Democrats nominated a black man and also had 18-million people vote for Sen. Hillary Clinton seems lost on Wilkow, as are most facts. This from a guy who who refers to the Democrats' lack of support for Palin as "ovarian fascism." Wilkow and his radio/TV cohorts on the right spend an awful lot of time trying to convince voters (and themselves, I think) that over the years the Republican Party, more than the Democrats, has been the true champion of the poor, the middle-class, blacks, Hispanics, women and the elderly. We're talking levels of delusion here that would make Freud's head spin. Either that or these clowns are lying through their teeth.

The Republican hypocrisy in this campaign is embarrassing. How long have they been bashing Obama on the "experience" issue, claiming he's nothing more than a charismatic orator who gives great speeches? Yet they're so quick to fall in love with a political neophyte who's given voters nothing more than one electrifying speech, albeit one with filled with lies, deception, anger and sarcasm.

Let's be clear: Democrats' opposition to Palin has nothing to do with her being a woman and has everything to do with her being woefully unprepared and unfit for the job. McCain could've chosen any one of a number of highly qualified women as his running-mate, chief among them Sen. Elizabeth Dole, Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchinson, Sen. Olympia Snowe, Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice and former NJ Governor and EPA head Christie Todd Whitman. He also could've gone a bit out of the box with former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina or former EBAY CEO Meg Whitman, both brilliant women, well-versed in economic matters and who already play strong surrogate roles in the campaign. You would not have heard a peep from the left, just as Sen. Joe Biden's nomination has caused virtually no stir from the right. Biden's unassailable, as would be these women. You may disagree with their positions, but you could not question their experience.

To be sure, conservatives have gotten themselves whipped into a euphoric lather over their gal Palin, and rushed to send the campaign a million dollars the day after her speech. The only problem for them is, Obama's supporters sent in a whopping 10 million dollars the same day. Palin's inspiring all right, but not how Republicans had planned.

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