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Taylor Marsh

Taylor Marsh

Posted: September 25, 2008 10:41 AM

McCain's Mannequin


by Taylor Marsh

Meet John McCain's mannequin. Her name is Sarah Palin. She is to be seen, but never heard.

The AP reporter shouted a question at Gov. Palin ("Governor, what have you learned from your meetings?") but McCain aide Brooke Buchanan intervened and shepherded everybody out of the room.


Palin looked surprised, leaned over to McCain and asked him a question, to which your pooler thinks he shook his head as if to say "No."

McCain's stunt to suspend his campaign, it turns out, may be just a stunt to save Sarah by getting the veep debate postponed as well. Seriously, the Republicans aren't even trying to pretend Palin has the chops for the job.

Campbell Brown put it to words on CNN. With a blaring "Free Sarah Palin" graphic, Brown revealed what Republicans have been doing to Sarah since she was tapped:

"Tonight I call on the McCain campaign to stop treating Sarah Palin like she is a delicate flower that will wilt at any moment," said Brown. "This woman is from Alaska from crying out loud. She is strong. She is tough. She is competent. And you claim she is ready to be one heart beat away form the presidency. If that is the case, then end this chauvinistic treatment of her now. Allow her to show her stuff. Allow her to face down those pesky reporters... Let her have a real news conference with real questions. By treating Sarah Palin different from the other candidates in this race, you are not showing her the respect she deserves. Free Sarah Palin. Free her from the chauvinistic chain you are binding her with. Sexism in this campaign must come to an end. Sarah Palin has just as much a right to be a real candidate in this race as the men do. So let her act like one."

McCain and the Republicans are muzzling her. Simple as that.

Now, I've gotten a lot of emails about the reviews I've been giving Palin since she was chosen. Count me with Cottle:

I'm not so defensive about where I come from that I feel the need to champion a wildly unqualified fellow hick whose politics I disagree with as a way to get back at everyone I know who has ever made a sniffy comment about big hair or small towns.

The emails don't phase me at all, because I've had this pegged from the start. The only reason the Republicans chose Palin had absolutely nothing to do with her competency or anything else remotely related to her political prowess. It was because of her gender, first hoping to win over gullible Hillary supporters, the unhinged fringe contingent, and also because of her hard right wing views that would seduce McCain's base. Though it's hard to believe Dr. Dobson and company would get down with what Max Blumenthal caught on tape, which is an absolutely frightening church video of Palin at services recently that rivals anything ever unearthed about a national politician.

But we really got a good illustration of what McCain and the Republicans think of having the first woman on their national ticket, when Sarah was silenced once again. Sarah is allowed to be seen but not heard. The little woman simply cannot be trusted when her mouth is open. Traipsing her out for foreign policy photo ops, the McCain team thought they could keep reporters away from her, muzzling mom because she might blow it. After all, can't trust a woman to actually utter a sound in front of the vaunted Henry Kissinger, now can we?

This is typical Republican behavior with women. Bush gave Christie Todd Whitman a big job at the EPA, then ignored her until she had to resign. Dr. Rice was given big national security jobs one after the other, but never given any real authority, which was instead handed off to Bush's boys Cheney and Rummy. Women are symbols for Republicans. They're never leaders with responsibility.

Women figureheads will do. Giving them actual authority will not.

So, McCain's mannequin, Sarah Palin, continues to be used, insulted, made smaller, because John McCain doesn't really think much of what women have to offer. There has never been a vice presidential running mate more scripted, controlled and handled than Governor Sarah Palin. It's a window into why McCain thinks women need more training, not equal pay. Why women's civil rights is an afterthought for him. Why he allows the religious right to sway him more and more, because "traditional values" to Republicans mean the opposite of equal rights.

The other ugly truth is that McCain and the Republicans are nervous about what Sarah Palin might say, because she cannot be trusted. So they're keeping the little woman quiet. No speech on foreign policy. Not even serious interviews on matters of national security, which every other vice presidential candidate has had to endure. Oh right, but that's only for the guys, and to say otherwise is "sexist."

Hillary moved women forward in the arena of national security and foreign policy, taking tough interviews and answering tough questions at every turn. Standing up and punching back at every question asked, having policy prescriptions and answers for whatever challenge the U.S. might face. She did it with over 30 retired flag officers standing beside her.

Sarah Palin sets women back. Way back. She gives no substantive policy speeches. She can't even answer questions from reporters by herself. Sarah must be coddled at all cost. She doesn't give interviews after meeting with world leaders. All of this giving more room for the Sunday shows and other outlets to exclude women from serious conversations, especially on matters of war and peace, because as far as McCain and his team are concerned not even Palin, who might be vice president (perhaps president), is up to the task.

Following on Hillary's example, many are condoning McCain's mannequin to become the new standard by which women are to be judged. Not as equal to men, but as symbols to sit in silence. Shame on anyone sanctioning McCain's naked sexism, though no doubt Henry Kissinger is delighted that Sarah proved once again that power is the ultimate aphrodisiac. When Palin finished meeting with him, in front of cameras no less, she gave the big lug a hug and a kiss, along with another smile for the press. Sarah's so sweet. But for McCain's sake, just make sure she keeps her mouth shut!

Hey, but Rush rambles on with bullish praise for Palin. That's because Sarah fits his mold. Republican eye candy is what Palin provides. Seducing world leaders, one man at a time. Because as far as McCain is concerned, the rest is men's work.

Taylor Marsh is a political analyst who's been seen on CNN and MSNBC, talk radio personality, and author. Twittering daily.

Follow Taylor Marsh on Twitter: www.twitter.com/taylormarsh