Wayne: "She's a babe." Garth: "She's a mega-babe." Wayne: "She's from Babe-alon. She's Babe-alonian." Garth: "She's Babealicious...SCHWING!"Mike Meyers (Wayne) and Dana Carvey (Garth) "Wayne's World" - Saturday Night Live
Republicans in Augusta County, Virginia have been working hard to sustain a rise in base enthusiasm for the McCain-Palin ticket. As a by-product of the full-out promotion of Sarah Palin, they are also attracting what can best be described as, the "Hooters" vote, from male voters. It all started with blue and white, 4 foot by 8 foot field signs stating, "I Am Voting For The Chick" campaign signs being planted outside local businesses in September. Smaller yard signs have sprouted up in next to McCain-Palin signs across the county, in Staunton and Waynesboro, and beyond. Local Republicans say that they have helped deliver more than 600 of the signs and have had sign orders from as far away as Florida and Alaska. The larger signs seem to be the most popular with male small business owners.
Seems like the tag, Caribou Barbie, works for some guys. A local outdoor sporting goods store is prominently displaying a Chick field sign along with "Sportsmen for McCain-Palin" signs. Palin's physical attributes, and her Alaskan hunting and fishing credentials, makes her a very popular gal with hunters and fishermen. Palin has become an object of desire for some younger guys, too. At the national level, it should have been no surprise that after the "hot governor" hype surrounding her nomination, the internet domain name "VPILF.com" was quickly registered. Explaining the meaning of MILF and VPILF is best left to the reader to discover.
Stalwart Augusta County Republican women, see no offense in using the "chick" label for Palin.
In an interview with a local newspaper, Local Republican activist/blogger, Lynn "SWAC Girl" Mitchell, said
"... the reason behind the sign's popularity is simply Palin's appeal to many Republicans in the area. "They just love Sarah Palin," she said. "And this is just a way for them to express how much they support this woman." However, not all reaction to the signs has been positive. Mitchell said she has heard negative comments from just a handful of people and some of the signs have been vandalized, such as when the word 'not' was inserted in the phrase on one of the larger signs. Mitchell said she does not believe the sign's use of the word, "chick," is being used negatively or in a sexist manner. "It is meant in a respectful way, which is reflected in the number of women that want these signs," she said. "I mean, I'm a chick and I don't mind." McCain-Palin spokeswoman Gail Gitcho said the signs are not campaign-issued or approved. While she said it goes to show the strong support Palin has in the Valley, she downplayed the importance the signs bring."
Of course other local folks are scratching their heads over the tone-deafness of local Republicans. Roger Watson, President & Publisher of the News Leader in Staunton, Virginia commented in his blog,
"If Barack Obama said in a debate or in a political speech something like, "John McCain and that Chick want to raise your taxes," it would be an international incident. I have no doubt that he would be roundly criticized by feminists, all Republicans and probably even Hillary Clinton. Hillary would put a chokehold on anyone who called her a chick. It might cost Obama the election and would certainly be parallel to George Allen's Macaca moment.
But local Palin supporters put signs in their yard calling the potential vice president a "chick." Those same people would probably be offended if their wife was called a chick by somebody. I would be offended if somebody I didn't know called my wife a chick. She might like it. I don't know. But I wouldn't."
Local physician, Elizabeth Pinkston, MD (News Leader, 11/2/08) adds her reaction,
"... as a woman and medical professional, I believe that the term "chick" is insulting to any woman, whether Republican or Democrat. From my experience, "chick" is a term used mostly by men to refer to a woman who is defined more by her appearance and social interactions than by her accomplishments. Despite my belief that Sarah Palin is out of her league and not qualified to take over the presidency of the United States at a moment's notice, she is a successful woman who deserves more than being referred to as a "Chick ".
The Chick sign phenomena is one more example of the widely divergent views in the on-going American culture clash, being fully aired in the final days of this presidential campaign. The so-called Republican base would appear to be conflicted over the family-values version of Palin, versus the hot babe version that appeals to the boys, young and old. Sarah's special assets are clearly of political interest to a 72 year-old former Navy pilot named, John McCain, who's had more than his share of beautiful women in his life.
Local Democratic headquarters, have seen a steady flow of self-identified Republican women, looking for Obama-Biden campaign materials. This is probably a leading indicator, signaling that many women of a certain age, who have spent a lifetime striving to reduce these stereo-typical labels, see the Chick label as one that diminishes their standing in the workplace. This local political campaign sign issue is not likely to get much attention beyond this traditionally conservative area. But I think this may be another small Macaca moment, for Virginia Republicans.
Women voters, of all ages, will have their say on this issue on Tuesday.
Follow Riley Murray on Twitter: www.twitter.com/BlueRidgeData