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Tony Campolo

Tony Campolo

Posted: September 29, 2008 01:02 PM

A Race Full of Ironies


There are all kinds of ironies in this election, especially concerning Sarah Palin's nomination as the vice presidential candidate for the Republican Party.

On the one hand, those ardent feminists on the political left who have strongly denounced any suggestion that women should be a full-time mothers at the expense of their career aspirations are now declaring that this mother of five children, one of whom is a Down Syndrome infant, ought to stay home and make caring for her family her top priority.

On the other hand, those advocates of "traditional family values," who have loudly declared that married women should be homemakers focused on nurturing children, are now wildly enthusiastic over a working woman vying for a very demanding job that will take her away from her family for extended periods of time.

If the Republicans win the White House, however, I feel certain the Palin children will not be neglected. Indeed, there has already been a public announcement that a whole network of neighbors and friends will step in to help in their mother's absence. This is evidence that when it comes to raising children, it really does take a village. We've heard these words before, of course, and that's another irony because those "family values" folks ridiculed Hillary Clinton for saying them.

I have heard people accuse Sarah Palin of being a "Barbie Doll" candidate and a "Stepford Wife," even as she turns out to be a tough, aggressive campaigner who knows how to carry a gun and, in her short time as governor, has proven to be a tough negotiator who knows how to stand up to big oil companies.

I have also heard people praise the consistency of this pro-life candidate who, when her own teenage daughter became pregnant, welcomed the opportunity to avoid an abortion and supported her daughter's decision to carry the pregnancy to term. But I cannot help but wonder what the reaction would have been if an unmarried teenage daughter of Barack Obama was discovered to be pregnant. Would she be celebrated publicly, the way Bristol Palin was at the Republican Convention? Or would the racism we seem to be transcending in this election rear it's ugly head again?

It is also ironic that Governor Palin, who has been paraded as "The Christian Candidate" by the Religious Right, has turned out to be somewhat disingenuous. For instance, she accused Barack Obama of promoting increased taxes for the middle class, when it is clear that his tax program offers three times more benefits of tax cuts to 90 percent of American voters than the McCain/Palin plan.

And then there's the claim Governor Palin made in her acceptance speech (which she continues to repeat) that she rejected the earmarked funding proposal for the infamous "Bridge to Nowhere." It turns out that she took $220 million that the federal government had earmarked for that project -- and then refused to return the money when the plan was scuttled. Indeed, on a per capita basis, this condemner of earmarks is responsible for asking more for earmarked proposals on behalf of the folks of Alaska than any other candidate in any other state.

Many were expecting more straightforward honesty from this banner-carrying leader of the Religious Right.

The Democrats don't quite know what to make of this feisty woman. To complain that she is nothing more than an attractive, inexperienced, neo-celebrity who has emerged out of nowhere to gain national political prominence is only to accuse her of the same things Republicans say about Barack Obama.

Of course, the greatest irony of all in this election may be yet to come. It just may be that, for the first time in American history, the candidates on the tops of tickets are not the determining factor in how people vote.