The link below is to her column for the back of Newsweek
Hypocrisy is only bad when it is improperly used.
-George Bernard Shaw
I never thought I would live long enough to see the day when the
Republican presidential candidate would cite membership in the PTA as
evidence of executive experience, when the far right would laud the
full-time working mothers of newborns, when social conservatives would
stare down teenage pregnancy and replace their pursed-lip accusations of
promiscuity with hosannas about choosing life.The Republican Party has undergone a surprising metamorphosis since
Sarah Palin was chosen as its vice presidential candidate
. In Palin I
recognize a fellow traveler, a woman whose life would have been
impossible just a few decades ago. If she had been born 30 years
earlier, the PTA would likely have been her last stop, not her first.Her political ascendancy is a direct result of the women's movement,
which has changed the world utterly for women of all persuasions. It is
therefore notable that Palin has found her home in a party, and in a
wing of that party, that for many years has reviled, repelled and sought
to roll back the very changes that led her to the Alaska Statehouse.
But expediency is an astonishing thing, and conservative Republicans
have suddenly embraced the assertion that women can do it all, even
those conservative Republicans who have made careers out of trashing
that notion. James Dobson of Focus on the Family once had staffers on
his hot line saying, "Dr. Dobson recommends that mothers of young
children stay at home as much as possible." He now applauds a woman who
was back at work three days after her son, who has Down syndrome, was
born.Even to state that simple fact resulted in outrage among those at the
convention, who screamed double standard. But the double standard was
mainly theirs. The governor was aggressively marketed in terms of her
maternity, yet questions about how she managed to mother five and lead
the state were dismissed as sexist.
This as well. They're playing this issue well.
The governor's two years leading
Alaska, which in terms of citizens served is the equivalent of being
mayor of Poughkeepsie, N.Y., was said to be the linchpin of her
appointment, but questions about her breadth of experience were
dismissed as sexist. Her surrogates wanted the press to write about
mooseburgers and ignore how the governor had once pursued the kind of
earmarked federal funds she now insists are anathema to her.Conservatives have probably used the word "sexist" more in the past week
than they have in the past 50 years.
This as well.
This would all have been entertaining if it were not such rank
hypocrisy. These are people who have inveighed against affirmative
action, a version of which undoubtedly played a part in this selection.
These are people who inveighed against personal attacks on their new
nominee when the wingnuts of their own party elevated such attacks to a
fine art by accusing Hillary Rodham Clinton of fictitious misdeeds
ranging from treason to murder. To try to suggest Sarah Palin might
garner the Hillary Clinton vote, that one woman is just the same as
another, that biology trumps ideology, is the ultimate evidence of true
sexism, and I hope Senator Clinton will travel the country and say so.Amid the drumbeat of female Amazonian competence occasioned by the Palin
nomination ran one deeply discordant assumption, the assumption that
women are strong and smart and sure and yet neither sentient nor moral
enough to decide what to do if they are pregnant under difficult
The governor has talked about the choice she and her
pregnant teenage daughter have made, but would deny other women the right to make their own choices.
This is my biggest problem, right here. I know there are other issues, but for me this is the important one. It's great that they made the choice that is right for them, for their beliefs, for their situation.
But Sarah Palin is not me. I would not want my daughter to decide to marry someone at 17, whether she was pregnant or not. I would want my daughter to be able to make the choice that is right for her. Abortion might be that choice.She talks about fighting the old boys'
network and corrupt politicians, but would turn over the private
reproductive decisions of American women to both. This is not choosing
life. It is choosing unwarranted intrusion into the family lives of
This is an interesting way of making the argument. I like it.
Which, ironically, is exactly what the Republicans accused the
press of doing in the case of Governor Palin.
When Democrat James Carville said he found the choice of Palin
perplexing on the merits, Republican Congresswoman Michele Bachmann said
she found that "offensive to American women." I found her offense
offensive to American women, since at its core was the notion that
Governor Palin should not and could not be judged by the same standards
as her male counterparts. In fact, all the cries of sexism suggested
that, yet again, the Republicans had underestimated the ability of women
to lead; when the governor finally took center stage, it was clear that
she needed no protections or excuses. If she is as sharp and
self-assured as her convention speech, the first thing she will do, in
the parlance of the sport she played under the nickname "Sarah
Barracuda," is to slam-dunk the notion that she can't take an elbow. She
certainly knows how to give one.
John McCain has been no advocate for women; when asked during the
primaries, on the subject of Senator Clinton, "How do we beat the
bitch?" he responded, "Excellent question." (Note to the GOP: that IS
sexist.) He has been either hostile or clueless on issues like
contraceptive funding, workplace protections and aid to poor mothers.
And his running mate will likely walk in lock step with him on all those
things. But she could certainly help move the inevitable tide of women's
rights, the tide that has floated her own boat, by demanding that she be
honored with the same tough scrutiny the guys in this race get. Which
was, in case these improbable born-again friends of feminism missed it,
the entire point of the exercise in the first place.
*** *** ***
I know choice is not the only issue, but for me it is a major one. A candidate who is not pro-choice would have to have A LOT to make up for that flaw (in my eyes). Choice is important for me, for my daughter.
Also, it's really great that Sarah Palin had a job where she could mesh work and family. I mean that, absolutely, without sarcasm. I think it is wonderful that she can manage to fit her kids in her schedule, that she has a support network she can depend on, that she understands that family is important. So this is what I'd like to know:
What would Sarah Palin do to ensure that all mothers, not just mothers able to tailor their own job, are able to mesh the commitments of work and family without making one suffer unduly?
(Since Sarah Palin is unlikely to drop by here, please feel free to contribute your own suggestions.)