Politrix: Title Already Taken

Back in April, I wrote a column about the Iraq war called, Smells Like Desperation. Looks like I should have held on to that title just a little longer, after witnessing the spectacle that is McCain’s vice presidential pick, Sarah Palin.

I started the long weekend early and was on the couch watching CNN on Friday morning, so I got to see McCain’s official announcement live. But before he mentioned her name, before she trotted out her family, ponytail thingy bouncing, I knew something was wrong. Did anyone else hear McCain say, “She knows who she works for”? (Seriously. See it at 7 minutes and 37 seconds.) I was so overwhelmed by the truth of that statement that I couldn’t help but shout out, “You!” like a lost Young Republican caught up in the rapture.

I guess he likes that she supports increased oil drilling (more money!), is married to a steelworker (she’s just like you!) and a card-carrying member of the National Rifle Association (guns for everyone!). Yup, she panders to the members of his party who criticize him as not being conservative enough, and perhaps redeems for him not knowing how many homes he owns. Oh, and then there’s the whole she’s a chick thing.

I could have gotten over the fact that McCain picked a woman because he thought it would help him pick up voters who felt abandoned when Hillary suspended her campaign; it’s just indicative of the poorly considered reactionary politics that have marked his bid since February. But when it became clear that he choose a woman who is far from “ready to serve on day one,” I was insulted.

Talk about a token. This woman is closing in on her first year as governor of Alaska, after serving as the chair of the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (2003 – 2004), then completing two terms as mayor of Wasilla, Alaska (1996 – 2002), and two terms on the city council (1992 – 1996). Nope, I didn’t leave anything out; that’s it. How dare he pick this woman? There are 25 Republican women in Congress who anyone could argue are more qualified to occupy the number two spot on this ticket than this lame duck. He didn’t even grab someone from a state that matters for November; Alaska has just three Electoral College votes and already skews Republican. And we’re not even going to delve into the fact that she’s under investigation for abusing her power back home. (How funny is it that they refer to her husband as the “First Gentleman” in this clip?)

But what shoved me over the line from insulted to appalled was a quick dig into her stances on women’s rights issues. I’ll be damned if they’re not right in line with McCain’s voting record. FYI, he has voted against making insurance plans cover birth control; against comprehensive sex education; against family planning funding worldwide; against programs to prevent unplanned pregnancies; and against public education for emergency contraception.

Back to Palin: This woman is so vehemently opposed to abortion that she said in a debate that if her own daughter (the 17-year-old, five-months pregnant Bristol, I presume) were raped, she would make her have the baby. In an ironic twist, she also supports abstinence-only lessons in school-which even a government-backed study found to be a failure-and rumors abound that her 4-month old son actually belongs to Bristol. (For the record, I have no idea whose kid it is, and an older woman is more likely to deliver a child with Down Syndrome than a teenager.) She has also sided with McCain in his lack of support for an Obama-backed law that would have made it easier for women to secure equal pay for equal work, and even tried to push through appointments of known sexual harassers. And she and her running mate both want to reverse Roe v. Wade. Even the National Organization for Women has denounced her nomination. Call me a broken, partisan feminist if you want, but I’m just smart enough to know that being on the right side of the issues is more important than having a vagina.

But in the end, I am heartened by this pick. I’ve always believed that this election belongs to Barack Obama, and this miscalculation makes it an even easier contest to win. What do you think?

—Kenrya

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