"It's not about lipstick", said my 86 year old mother. "We didn't fight all these years so that women could be involved in public affairs, to have a debate about lipstick. There are serious issues we should be discussing." She is right, of course.
Since Sarah Palin made her comment about lipstick, hockey moms and pit pulls at the Republican convention last week, the media has really been obsessed about this trivial issue. What are we thinking? How can we possibly let lipstick divert our attention from the major problems facing the country, our own state, and our local community?
On our teetering economy: Just last week three more financial giants failed. The Treasury Department has pledged to provide up to $200 billion to keep Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, both public-private financial institutions, solvent. Together Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac own or guarantee approximately half our country's $12 trillion in mortgage debt. This will be one of the biggest bailouts in US history-and it will be paid for by US taxpayers. These are the same taxpayers who are reeling because of falling house prices and increasing costs for food and fuel. Another half a million Americans went into foreclosure in the first quarter of 2008. And we are talking about lipstick? Lehman Brothers, once a highly respected, 158 year old investment bank is also teetering because of losses on its residential mortgage holdings. At the moment, Lehman Brothers has no buyers. What do these two failures have in common? The main issue is that central banks in Asia and the Middle East who had billions invested in these two institutions, began selling off their holdings last month to reduce their losses from the falling dollar and the housing market collapse. For the first time in five decades, the US is rapidly losing the ability to structure the international economic and financial system. A big part of the problem is the lack of regulation and oversight of banking and financial systems-- -and the McCain campaign is calling for fewer regulations. The role and relationship between government and the private sector is one of the key issues in this watershed campaign. And we are talking about lipstick?
On national security: The seventh commemoration of the terrorist attacks of September 11 was held last week. At the same time the Government Accounting Office released a report titled: The United States Lacks a Comprehensive Plan to Destroy the Terrorist Threat and Close the Safe Haven in Pakistan's Federally Administered Tribal Areas. This is the title! This report, along with several commission reports recently released document that we do not have a strategic plan for dealing with potential terrorists threats. Billions of dollars have been spent on this fundamental issue of security and we are not secure as a nation. And we are talking about lipstick?
On global heating: Last week scientists told us that the Arctic ice had shrunk to its second lowest level in recorded history. (2007 was the lowest) The melting of the ice, a consequence of global warming, will also accelerate global warming because water without ice absorbs more sunlight. According to scientists at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, "The recent retreat of Arctic sea ice is likely to accelerate so rapidly that the Arctic Ocean could become nearly devoid of ice during summertime as early as 2040." (And Sarah Palin thinks that polar bears should be removed from the endangered species list and we continue to talk about lipstick.)
"I can't talk about this any more," said my mother. "My blood pressure is rising." Once again, she is right to be so concerned.