Saturday, August 30, 2008

Thoughts on Palin

Sorry, Gale, but McMain is a wise man - who wants to think about the convention now when all the buzz is about Palin?  So, some first impressions.

The experience issue.  I sure hope this sinks the McCain/Palin ship (reports from the Republican homeland indicate this may be a deal-breaker, especially among male fiscal conservatives), but if the pundits on the right start arguing that Palin has nearly as much experience as Obama, I'm going to be very upset.  Obama's experience in political office may not be great, but he has had his head in weighty national and international issues for decades.  In stark contrast, reports that Palin hasn't even thought about the most pressing foreign policy issue of this election: "I've been so focused on state government, I haven't really focused much on the war in Iraq."

Social issues.  Palin is a nightmare when it comes to social issues: staunchly pro-life, proponent of intelligent design curriculum, NRA member.  The question is whether as VP she will be visible enough and hold out enough promise to mobilize and turn out the socially conservative base and the religious right.  And what of the uber-conservatives who believe women should be subservient to their husbands?

Women.  I could be totally off here, but I really don't see Hillary supporters defecting to support a pro-life, evangelical, NRA member.  But then, I never knew any of these supposedly bitter, Obama-hating women and continue to believe that they are a media-generated myth.  All the Clinton supporters I know are loyal Dems who would never ever support someone like Palin.

Swing workers.  Maybe the greater threat could be her appeal to moderate workers who don't feel strongly about social issues but feel alienated by Obama's supposed elitism.  (Have I mentioned that I hate David Brooks and his stupid speech to the delegates?)  Nevermind that the whole reason McCain's POW days are so well documented is that the North Vietnamese considered him an elite...

Also, who the hell names their kids Track, Bristol, Willow, Piper, and Trig?!?!  

Just my uninformed first thoughts.  What do y'all think?


gale said...

I know - it's brilliant, for this week. I think that all of what Laura points out will come to the surface in the next few weeks/months, and this is going to be a liability, ultimately, rather than a boon.

From a women's history perspective, I find it intriguing. Clearly, Palin is not from the feminist/women's rights side of the politically active women spectrum. In some ways, Palin represents the modern version of nineteenth-century moral reformers, and of course, the Phyllis Schlafly wing of the GOP. Except for the fact that Schlafly and all of her followers were (are) super interested in foreign policy and a militarily strong America. I think this will be Palin's undoing with conservative men, just as Laura points out.

I saw that Senator Diane Fienstein (a Democrat, of course) remarked that she could understand and even support McCain selecting Olympia Snowe or Kay Bailey Hutchison, but Palin? I agree.

Might McCain and his pals misunderstand feminism? That the point is not elect a woman-or-nothing?

Laura said...

OK, this settles it. I'm *definitely* taking my sex discrimination law class. How can I not with all of this in the air?

My dad, the representative fiscal conservative in my life, is "not impressed" with McCain's choice. He was a big Hillary fan and I think admired her drive and no-nonsense hawkish pragmatism. Unlike Palin, HC absolutely has the interest in foreign policy and a militarily strong America that appeals to people like my father.

Ultimately, I just don't really get who Palin is supposed to appeal to. It's not clear to me that the conservative base is really interested in either a female VP or ground-breaking change. Isn't their whole narrative based on a return to traditional American values? And she's so far from a surrogate for HC that it's kind of laughable.

And on the feminism note, the McCain/Palin ticket does very little to disrupt traditional gender roles. You have little Miss Congeniality, mother of five, protector of morals and religious values playing second fiddle to the powerful military man with experience in the male world of foreign policy and DC politics. I think you're right, Gale: McCain and his pals don't have a clue about feminism.

I would have loved to see Olympia Snowe on the ticket, but she's far too moderate to help McCain where he needs it. I wonder why Kay Bailey wasn't a contender, though.

Laura said...

Normally, I'm not at all a Maureen Dowd fan, but this is quite funny. And quite depressing.

Sorry, I just can't stop posting about this choice.

Laura said...

This, from Gail Collins, is also spot-on:

"This year, Hillary Clinton took things to a whole new level. She didn’t run for president as a symbol but as the best-prepared candidate in the Democratic pack. Whether you liked her or not, she convinced the nation that women could be qualified to both run the country and be commander in chief. That was an enormous breakthrough, and Palin’s nomination feels, in comparison, like a step back."