I'm not sure who should win this week's award for Biggest Sexist in Politics. John McCain or Bill Clinton.
For that matter, we might also want to consider Pakistan's new president, Asif Ali Zardari, for the greeting he gave Sarah Palin when he first laid eyes on the 44-year-old hockey mom during their brief meeting yesterday at a New York hotel.
As the Los Angeles Times reported, the Pakistani leader swooned that Palin was "even more gorgeous" in person than he had imagined.
"You are so nice," Palin said demurely. "Thank you."
At which point, obviously sensing the gravity of the moment, a Zardari aide requested that the two new friends do a photo-op and shake hands.
"I'm supposed to pose again," Palin said coyly.
"If he's insisting," Zardari said gamely, "I might hug."
Unfortunately that's where the account of the photo-op ends so I can't confirm the hug.
Other than this knee-jerk (jerky?) diplomacy, you're probably wondering if they talked about anything foreign. Like, say, Pakistan's apparent problem with U.S. helicopters straying across its border with Afghanistan. Or the suicide truck bomb that destroyed the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad just the Saturday before, killing more than 40 people and wounding at least 200 more. I guess, as with most things McCain, we'll have to rely on hearsay or, in this case, the word of Palin's foreign policy tutor. The only print reporter permitted to hear her grave discussions with world leaders got nixed at the last second by the campaign.
Still kudos to Columbian President Alvaro Uribe, who didn't seem quite as smitten by the Alaska governor's looks. Maybe that's because he's from a much warmer climate where they don't appreciate the value of field dressing a moose or the idea that because you can see Russia from your state that you have awesome foreign policy credentials!
Which reminds me. As someone who has been to Mexico frequently and used to sneak across the Tijuana border with her high-school friends to drink, I'd like to apply for Ambassador to Mexico or Drug Czar.
But back to chauvinism. I'm not the only female reporter who's irate about the treatment our Republican v.p. nominee has been suffering at the hands of boorish male politicians. (Insert name of John McCain here.) Earlier this week Campbell Brown scolded McCain good for not treating Palin with the same dignity and respect he'd reserve for a male candidate by keeping her from the press. Not even letting her speak! What's he afraid of? Right on, Campbell!
In a week when middle-class people who'd lost their homes were being asked to save millionaire CEOs, this was the sanest thing I heard. As Brown pointed out, Palin is not only a "strong" woman but she's from Alaska, for god's sake! Surely, a gal who doesn't blink when it calls for shooting wolves from helicopters can handle a few city-slicker-reporters? Ya think?
Naturally I couldn't wait to see Katie Couric's interview with Palin.
Unfortunately the governor couldn't answer the one question about her running mate that I hoped (prayed?) she could. And that was to provide specifics on McCain's 26-year record curbing greed on Wall Street. When Katie couldn't get a straight (coherent?) answer from Palin the first time, she kindly gave her another chance. No go.
"I'll try to find ya some and bring 'em to ya!" Palin offered the CBS anchor helpfully, as if she were going to rush back to Wasilla to unearth some of Alaska's famed gigantic produce.
At least now we know the reason McCain won't let Palin roam too far from home.
As for Bill Clinton, did he not see Brown's speech? I guess not. Because on "Larry King Live" last night he gushed about Palin in the worst way. Praising her as if she were Hillary's soul mate. Never mind that the two women don't agree on anything, as "Saturday Night Live" pointed out in a hilarious skit on Clinton and Palin. Or that we have a pretty big election at stake and that Clinton sometimes has trouble saying the guy-who-beat-Hillary's name. (Psst! It's Barack Obama!) When King showed a clip of Palin complimenting Hillary for blazing the trail for her, the still-grieving president looked like he was going to cry.
"They like families that hang together," added Clinton of Palin's appeal to rural voters. "She and her husband and their kids come off as gutsy and real. I find her an appealing person."
And he doesn't think it's a "productive" use of "an ex-President's" time to criticize the inexperienced v.p. candidate.
I wonder if he would be so forgiving if Hillary and not what's-his-name had been the Democratic nominee?