Once again, I just don’t even really know where to begin re: McCain’s pick of Palin as the VP. We talk a lot about working moms here on KT and I’m pretty sure that until McCain picked Palin, the only working mom criticized here is Katie Holmes because well, she’s a freak, and it’s too hard to resist.
But enter Palin. I immediately had a visceral reaction to her. Again, maybe it was the bun. And trust me, I realize this just plays into the horrible notion that women are hardest on each other. But you come to KT because I call it like I see it.
I realize that attacking Palin right now could be interpreted as suggesting that a woman cannot hold high office because she is a mother or questioning her because of her ability to commit her time underscores the perception that working moms aren’t as commited to their jobs because they are distracted by home life. I get that this is a slippery slope.
But this is the job of the vice presidency, not just any old job, and though Palin herself questioned what it is the VP does just this past July, those of us living outside of Alaska seem to fully appreciate that holding the second highest office in the land is a 24-7, demanding, stressful, intense job. So, I first would like to call out the Republicans who are using the following talking point: it is sexist to say that Palin can’t take on this responsibility, no one questions Obama and he has two kids, so we are only doing this because she is a woman.
Mais non, republicans!
A pretty weak talking point if you ask me.
This isn’t about questioning whether a PARENT can hold the highest and second highest office in the land – this is specifically about a parent who has a 5 month old with downs and a 17 year old expecting a baby. This, friends, is a unique situation and one that I would question whether the parent were a man or a woman. Anyone with any sense, particularly all parents out there, can fully appreciate just how demanding raising children is. But add in a special needs INFANT and a teen who hasn’t yet graduated high school and is going to become a young mother – before you even add in the three other children – and this is heavy demands and a unique circumstance. It would be extremely taxing on any family, let alone one in which one parent has the job of Vice President. To say that the situation of these two children alone won’t be very time consuming and distracting is fool’s talk.
So – I do think it is totally fair game that this is an issue – it is a tough question and a tough situation that needs to be addressed and hiding behind claiming it is sexist because she is a woman – is just a talking point. And a weak one at best.
My other issue is this – Palin was a virtual no one to those of us who do not have the pleasure of living in Alaska. The onus was on the McCain campaign to introduce her to the world – and they did that on Friday – but the way they did so is just INVITING lots of attacks on her because from the onset, they branded her as the poster-woman for all working moms. The woman who has it all – governorship at a young age, five children including one with special needs, a marriage, a former beauty queen pageant winner, a regular old hockey mom who also happens to be a tough governor. They branded her as a MOM. Rather than introducing her to us as a tough legislator with a long list of political victories and examples of those victories – she was branded as one of “us” and a “hockey mom.”
I’m a gal who understands a few things about branding. And if you are choosing to craft her identity as that of “hockey mom” and “former Miss Congeniality” then she is going to be judged by these standards – why the McCain camp didn’t brand her from the onset as a tough politician with a laundry list of accomplishments in her political career – escapes me entirely. But by making her a woman of the people, a woman we should flock to because we didn’t get Hillary, a woman who understands us all because she has mastered juggling work and family – then she is going to be judged against these standards. Like it or not. This was a strategic decision they made – and a terrible one, in KTs not-so-humble opinion.
Before I end, I would like to say a few things about Palin and McCain specifically. The whacko evangelicals love her because she is pro-life, pro-evolutionism and anti-birth control. She now is facing the reality of what happens when you refuse to teach your children about birth control. I am a proponent of teaching abstinence. This is the best of all scenarios – but teens will be teens. So let’s live in the real world, shall we? I want to know what Palin has done for women in her state, I want to know what the justification is for NOT being a proponent of birth control, if we’re supposed to flock to her like zombies with our bras burning because she has a vagina – I want to know, exactly, what it is she has done on behalf of women. Because I haven’t seen any evidence just yet and frankly, I’ve been looking, and right now – she’s in a bit of a pickle over not advocating for birth control, now isn’t she?
According to a column by Ruth Marcus in yesterday’s Washington Post, Palin opposed a program that would have allowed teachers to teach students about contraception. Marcus then goes on to point out McCain’s position:
“McCain has voted to increase abstinence-only funding, voted to terminate the federal family planning program and voted against funding teen pregnancy prevention programs. He voted to require teens seeking birth control at federally funded family planning clinics to obtain parental consent.”
You know how I feel about these beliefs. You know who I will be voting for in November.
So in conclusion, I do not believe this is about judging her because she is a career-driven woman with children – this is about a family with two children who are going to need a tremendous amount of attention, time and support – and that stands in direct conflict with the reality of the pressure and demands on a Vice President. It is for Palin to decide what’s going to give – her family or her career – and she has clearly chosen her career – but it is fair for the voting public to question if the heart and soul of a VP is really in the game, given the reality of the home situation, whether the VP is a dad or a mom.