Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Lipstick on a Pig

So, I'm curious how other people feel about this. News is just coming out that last night Barack Obama made the following comment during a speech in Lebanon, VA:
"The other side, suddenly, they're saying 'we're for change too.' Now think about it, these are the same folks that have been in charge for the last eight years[...] You can put lipstick on a pig. It's still a pig. You can wrap up an old fish in a piece of paper and call it change. It's still going to stink after eight years. We've had enough."
The McCain campaigners immediately took offense at this statement, arguing that it was clearly a sexist jibe at Governor Palin (who made the joke during the her RNC speech that the only difference between a hockey mom and a pit bull is lipstick), despite the fact that McCain himself has used the phrase "putting lipstick on a pig" in the past (in reference to one of Senator Clinton's proposals no less).

See The Washington Post and The New York Times for more information about the context of Obama's speech and the fall out.

Is this another example of the Republicans-who-cried-sexism, blowing everything out of proportion the way they have with Obama's proposal for age-appropriate sex education at all grade levels? Or is their anger actually legitimate?

What do you think?

Update: NYTimes article, Obama Responds to ‘Phony Outrage’

Update 2.0: A friend of mine posted this clip on Facebook--Stephanie Cutter on John McCain's hypocrisy re: women.

5 comments:

mzbitca said...

I'm torn. I wonder if the Obama campaign knew that they had that past statement to fall back on so they felt they could say it. However,seeing as how Obama has spoke out on leaving both Palin's family and church out of the discussion I think I am willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. Also, after the horrible ad attacking Obama on his sex education stance I'm hardly feeling sympathetic for the McCain camp.

Erin Hoagland said...

I don't think it's offensive at all and I certainly don't think it was meant as a sexist zap at Palin. It could have been equally applied to the McCain camp had his VP been Romney. It is a phrase that means that one is attempting to misrepresent something as positive when it is not, with little success. Variations include "lipstick on a frog" or "lipstick on a donkey". If Obama had said "icing on a mudpie" or "chrome on a rusty unicycle" would we even be having this conversation? No.

If someone wants to take offense at the phrase, she or he should be thankful that its probable origin wasn't used. Some sources believe the phrase is a derivative from a line in Christopher Morley's 1939 novel, Kitty Foyle: "Scenery in the Midwest is like rouge on a colored girl; it means well but it's kind of pathetic."

Now that? That's offensive. And as unlikely to be uttered by Obama as I am to register to vote Republican.

In my opinion we (as in the US in general) have bigger things to worry about than who said who was putting lipstick where.

M.R.Ambrose said...

It's a bit hard...in Obama's case...even if he had said pit bull...I'm not really sure I could see that as SEXIST.
oh!press pass

aviva dv said...

I'm inclined to agree that Obama did not mean it in a sexist way and that the McCain camp are just jumping all over anything he says like white on rice (to use another cliched phrase).

Also, check out this post about it over on Feministe. Great post from Jamelle about McCain's campaign ads and attempt to slander Obama: Liar liar in a fiery, smoldering pair of pants

Habladora said...

Eh - I don't think it's so bad, but then I think both McCain and Palin are sorta sexist pigs (yes, I know Palin is a woman - still, a lot of her policies are anti-woman). Still, I'm glad that it wasn't Biden who said it - I really do trust that Obama has a deep commitment to women's rights, so perhaps I'm more lenient. Biden, though, says some sexist crap sometimes so I'd be less likely to give him the benefit of the doubt. At the end of the day, though, its their policies that matter.