Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Roads to Hell

This is my first contribution to this new blog, so I was filled with a little trepidation at what I should write about. Although part of me hates to be caught up in the same obsession that seems to have taken hold of our lovely founder, several conversations today have lead me to wander down that road to hell now paved with erstwhile Republicans. I just returned from the Democratic National Convention in Denver, and while there, had the opportunity to see and hear from many of our female elected officials, including several Senators and Congresswomen, and a handful of female representatives of the 4th estate. On more than one occasion, a quote attributed to Madeline Albright, former Secretary of State and Ambassador to the United Nations, was cast upon the winds, its clear intent a clarion call to women: “There’s a special place in Hell reserved for women who don’t help other women.”

This week, watching the ravenous jackals of the media feed on yet another woman, I began to wonder, “Is that help reserved only for the women we like, the ones with whom we agree, the ones whose policies don’t make us cringe in anticipatory fear, or does it mean ALL women? And what exactly is the help we are supposed to provide?”

I wrote the first couple paragraphs of this yesterday, and since then a great deal has transpired, not the least of which are allegations by the Republican party of blatant sexism on the part of the MSM, among others, toward VP nominee, Sarah Palin. Let me say up front, I detest almost everything that Palin stands for in terms of social policy and political theory. That being said, hell yes, she has been the victim of sexism. No male candidate would ever have his credentials as a serious politician questioned simply on the basis of the number of and/or age of his children, their medical conditions or lack thereof, or his parenting skills. Period. Never happen, my friends.

So, why is it considered acceptable to do so with a female politician? And perhaps more specifically, why does much of the Left, for decades the bastion of support for the downtrodden, for minorities squashed under the heel of the Establishment, not only consider indulging in spurious attacks on Palin to be fair game, but their civic duty? Has liberalism always had hidden in a secret compartment in its bag of tricks such sickening, offensive sexism or is it only when women have power within their grasp that it is slipped out into the sweaty palm of the party of the people and wielded like a baseball bat in the hands of a four year old; with little finesse, but a lot of enthusiasm?

And why do we let them?

There have been few card carrying members of the Left who have dared to rally to Palin’s defense, Hillary Clinton’s former communications director, Howard Wolfson being one of them. “There’s no way those questions would be asked of a male candidate,” said Howard Wolfson, a former top strategist for Clinton’s presidential campaign.

I won’t even begin my litany of the absolutely abhorrent, disgustingly sexist things said about Hillary Clinton during the primary season....none of us has that much time. Suffice it to say, I haven’t been surprised by the attacks on Palin. Merely surprised by the response, especially by prominent Democratic women. I hate to be the one to point this out to such esteemed political leaders and members of Congress, but silence is a statement in itself. It is tacit approval and acceptance of all the jokes, all the veiled remarks, all the outright fabrications.

Attack Palin’s stance on abortion, on off-shore drilling, and same-sex marriage. Question her experience and her ability to deal with real issues like foreign policy and the economy should she be required to do so. But do not say that if she hadn’t been so busy running for office and then running a state that her 17 year old daughter wouldn’t be pregnant. Do not ask how a mother with five children can possibly be Vice President. Do not second guess her decision to have a child with Down’s Syndrome. And for Heaven’s sake, for Madeline Albright’s sake, do not stand idly by and allow anyone else to do so. Doing so takes us all a little closer to the special place in Hell reserved for women who don’t help other women.

My two cents....adjusted for inflation. Feel free to toss in a couple pennies of your own.



Anonymous said...

I'm reading these blogs (and much of the MSM frou-frou-ness) with an sense of irony. Inasmuch as the announcement from the McCain camp for Palin (i.e., Palin for VP) did not make me wonder about her own skills at management and/or how she takes care of her family, but the accompanying news of the politicizing of a local election (getting onto city council/then mayoral elections) and the absolute lack of depth (and views from her) about various issues makes my eyebrows raise more than I thought they should.

I frankly don't care about her private life until it impacts her public service. It might be considered tittering to note that her personal life/family structure/whatever seems to be at odds with her political positions (Whatever they may be), but it's not relevant to public discourse. The only thing that might be relevant would be this Bristol/whatever situation as an example of the teen pregnancy rates etc etc.

I find it interesting that the chatter about whether Palin would be able to fulfill her role as potential-VP while caring for her family appears to be coming from women. Personally, I'm not out to judge her for her choices - on pregnancy, family, or anything else. If anything, I would challenge her as a choice made by John McCain -- whether there was sufficient vetting or not, suddenly, this VP selection has dominated the airwaves in a way that no one had anticipated.

Erin Hoagland said...

No male candidate would ever have his credentials as a serious politician questioned simply on the basis of the number of and/or age of his children, their medical conditions or lack thereof, or his parenting skills. Period. Never happen, my friends.

Although I agree with you that it doesn't happen as often, male candidates have been criticized/questioned (and yes, even praised) about their parenting skills. John Edwards was questioned/criticized regarding the death of his 16-year-old son, Dick Cheney was questioned/criticized when his lesbian daughter and her partner had a child. There's a positive article up on right now about how Obama gives his eldest daughter a $1/week allowance (and other parenting issues). Nixon was criticized when his daughter revealed her alcoholism, Reagan was criticized and defended when his daughter distanced herself from the family. During Bill Clinton's first run for office, it was de rigeur of the Right Wing pundits to blame him for Chelsea's perceived unattractiveness. During both of George W. Bush's campaigns, his daughters' drinking/partying habits were criticized (and blamed on W.) and during his administration, he's been praised for their newfound maturity and their ability to change.

Of course, these candidates/politicians weren't being judged solely on these issues but neither are female candidates. I am hearing more criticism of Palin's lack of foreign policy experience and the pending investigation regarding "Troopergate" now than when her candidacy was first announced and I'm sure there will be more criticism/analysis to come, both of her stance on actual issues and of her parenting skills/choices.

But to say that male candidates have never had their qualifications questioned because of their ability or lack thereof to parent is just not true. It does happen, just not with the same focus/volume that it does with women candidates. But then male candidates are often picked apart on their sexual history/proclivities with more focus/volume than are women candidates.

Are either of these issues necessarily issues that pertain to serious governing/leadership abilities? No, not necessarily. They are meant to be distractions. And distract us they do.