Sunday, October 12, 2008

For GOP, Chivalry Ain't Dead But It Sho' Is Tired

Ah yes, I remember it as though it were 5,327 years ago—August 29, 2008, the day America was in love with Sarah Palin. The Alaskan governor was a “breath of fresh air,” a “true Washington outsider,” a lipstick-wearing barracuda hockey mom who was going to take on her own party, reach out to Hillary voters, break the glass ceiling, and Maverick our cares away.

But by Sept. 1, the love affair was pretty much over when questions over her last child’s birth led to the revelation that Palin’s teenage daughter was pregnant. Blindsided, the Republican ranks donned their armor and went on the attack to defend her.

McCain already had to ditch his “experience” argument against Obama with the pick, he was soon forced to spin his earmarks stance (since his running mate had been for the Bridge to Nowhere before she was against it but after she took the money), and now they had to defend teenage pregnancy, of all things. The Religious Self-Righteous took up the standard, providing a deft flanking maneuver. “Unfortunately,” Family Resource Council president Tony Perkins said, “teenage pregnancy has become all too common in today’s society” (ignoring the fact that this year was the first in 15 that teen pregnancy rates have actually risen and that only 2.2% of teenaged girls get pregnant).

Meanwhile, the main host went on the attack, calling the MSM (mainstream media) “sexist” for raising questions about Palin’s family. Ironically, the “politics of victimization” (as they like to call it) got to feeling so good, the MSM attacks so effective, they kept it up, claiming almost any questioning of Palin was sexist and if they wanted an interview with the princess, they had to show proper “deference”

The press was flummoxed and perplexed. A public official just had to answer to the public (just like Dick Cheney, right?). Interviews were a vital part of campaigning. Why would the GOP want to cloister their damsel? “RaPalinzah, RaPalinzah, let down your raven hair!”

The answer became all too obvious with the guv’s three TV interviews: with misty-eyed Sean Hannity, Palin mechanically recited talking points; she stammered with Charlie Gibson; and totally crashed and burned with Katie Couric (Craven, King, and Spielberg couldn’t combine to make a more perfect horror); the woman is simply not qualified for the position she’s seeking.

Once again, the Republican Crusade was on the march. Bill O’Reilly accused Couric of “gotcha” journalism (obviously, “What newspapers do you read?” is an SAT question). Obviously, she and the entire MSM are in Obama’s pocket. And with his Mohammedan hordes steadily advancing and the Promised Land slipping away, the GOP keeps hacking desperately away. There was Obama’s “lipstick” controversy. In anticipation of a disastrous VP debate, they attacked Gwen Ifill for obvious bias because of her planned book on black politicians “in the age of Obama.” Last week, they even accused Newsweek of sexism because their cover of Our Fair Lady exposes too many wrinkles and unsightly facial hair.

This constant cry of “Moose!!!” seems to be working against the press. Ifill was definitely spooked, never once asserting herself or the rules like she did with Cheney and Roberts four years ago—even when Palin declared she wasn’t going to answer questions and stuck strictly to her talking points. While there are tons of Palin stories in the ether, nothing has stuck like the three-week Jeremiah Wright Fest earlier this year. And even though poll after poll said she lost the debate, conservative and liberal pundits claim she’d actually won.

The marauding GOP machine’s got the press cowering. But with all their bluster, rage, and pyrotechnics, they can’t bludgeon the rest of us into believing that Sarah Palin’s qualified to be VP. In fact, only 39 percent of America now thinks she is.

Some of this might indeed be sexism (it was quite interesting watching old timey feminists questioning Palin’s abilities as a mother). But you can’t combat sexism using the equally sexist chivalric notion of “protecting” Palin. Either she’s capable, knowledge, and experienced enough to be veep, or she’s not. Constantly attacking everyone who even mentions her name, sheltering her from the media, only leads us to assume that she’s not. This tactic is only insulting to her, to feminists and women in general, and to the American people. In fact, we can only assume that this is just a smokescreen, and the louder you scream the more it seems that she must not be qualified and you know it.

So, if she’s worth the position, then “Free Sarah!” This past week, with her “palling around with terrorists” and whooping up the squires and yeomen of your party into a lynching party frenzy, we know the woman’s up for the attack. Let us she if she’s actually capable of defending herself.

Besides, your throats must be getting raw by now with all your screaming. McCain, for one, looked utterly exhausted in last week’s debate. He looked totally demoralized having to defend Obama against his running mate’s attacks. He needs a break. And now the Palin clan has been found guilty of ethics violations in Troopergate? Damn. Now, I know Johnny can’t throw the princess under the bus, but perhaps he should maybe toss her into the moat. You know, just to see how a barracuda fairs against the piranhas of the press.

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