Thursday, September 04, 2008

Clinton Aides Consider Palin's Treatment Sexist

A few posts down there was a noteworthy occurrence for a (new) blog with low readership--somebody actually posted a comment! For blog authors that have millions of page hits and thousands of readers, it may seem silly to even note the occasion. But to Alphaliberal, I say thank you.

The comment got me thinking, too. Here it is:
Ask yourself who has attacked her for being a mother and politician? Not Democrats. We nominated same 25 years ago.

Dr Laura, a very conservative person has. That whole thing is a fake out.
I can dismiss the Dr. Laura part immediately. Dr. Laura is caricature and I wouldn't care to comment on her views no matter what the issue.

But it is of course true that the Democratic party was first to nominate a woman for vice-president. Hilary Clinton came inches away from being the first woman presidential candidate, again for the Democratic party. Would it be likely that a sexist attitude towards Palin would come from her own party or from the party that has shown more support for women candidates in the past?

Today some people you'd probably least expect to do so weighed in on the issue. Top aides for Hilary Clinton have gone on record to say that the treatment Sarah Palin has received from the media and from Democrats has been sexist.
Georgetown University professor Deborah Tannen, who has written best-selling books on gender differences, said she agrees with complaints that Palin skeptics — including prominent voices in the news media — have crossed a line by speculating about whether the Alaska governor is neglecting her family in pursuit of national office.

“What we’re dealing with now, there’s nothing subtle about it,” said Tannen. “We’re dealing with the assumption that child-rearing is the job of women and not men. Is it sexist? Yes.”

“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.
Commentary on the remarks has suggested that the timing constitutes a continuation of the disagreements between the Obama and Clinton campaigns. I'd suggest that the reason behind the comments could possibly be that the treatment is indeed sexist and that is upsetting to some people. The article notes two of the more egregious examples that have occurred recently. First, one by Joe Biden:
Democrat Joe Biden, in what he intended as self-deprecating remark, observed, “There's a gigantic difference between John McCain and Barack Obama and between me and I suspect my vice presidential opponent. ... She's good looking."
Was Joe Biden trying to be "funny" or was this a clever jab at a woman opponent by a seasoned politician? Given the history of off-the-teleprompter gaffes by Biden, I'm inclined to say the former. But the comment still is was uncalled for. The second example is from a NOW spokeswoman:
A spokeswoman for the National Organization for Women, noting Palin’s opposition to abortion rights and support of other parts of the social conservative agenda, told Politico, “She's more a conservative man than she is a woman on women's issues. Very disappointing."
This I think brings up a key point. It is unreasonable to believe that all women should feel the same on all "women's issues". While I don't agree with the extreme nature of pretty much anything NOW says, I myself don't agree with Sarah Palin on issues such as abortion. But I can't assume that all women should be of one mind any more than I could assume all men are. Furthermore, by calling singling out some issues as "women's issues" doesn't that somehow designate the other issues as "men's issues"? Does it suggest that women shouldn't have opinions about national defense, terrorism, energy independence, and illegal immigration?

Even if the McCain/Palin tickets loses in November, I think they may have accomplished a lot just by bringing inequities such as these to national attention.

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