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It's the Hypocrisy (Not the Pregnancy), Stupid
I have waited to hear from McCain's VP pick before writing about her. Last night, Palin was feisty and strong - the pitbull in lipstick - and she articulated the divisive mean-spiritedness of the Republican Party. My guess? She was the Mean Girl in high school. The average-looking Queen Bee who puts all the other girls down so that she can rise to beauty queen and be voted Most Popular. I'd like to champion the Republican Party for naming a woman to the presidential ticket, but I can't, simply because there are too many other, better-qualified Republican women who should have been at the podium last night. It seems, to me, manipulative, to position Palin opposite Biden in an attempt to neutralize the Delaware Senator even before the debates begin. She's the gun-toting hunter, the tough hockey mom, yet she is simultaneously positioned as off-limits on so many key issues because she's a woman, because she's a mom, because has a special needs child, and because she has a 5-months pregnant teenager - and this is where the Republican hypocrisy kicks in.
Palin's 17-year-old daughter's out-of-wedlock pregnancy not only highlights the obvious failure of abstinence-only sex education in the Palin household. This debacle also highlights the willingness of Mother Palin to subject her family to the public gaze, even when they are at their most vulnerable, just to satisfy her own ambitions. Unlike Edwards, who explicitly removed himself from public speculation over Obama's VP choice knowing that the shoe was dropping on his extra-marital affair, Palin has subjected her daughter - and her daughter's teenage boyfriend - to the glare of public scrutiny when they as a family are obviously still trying to come to grips with the news of her pregnancy. After all, Palin's daughter was not introduced to the American people as her engaged or married daughter, but as a teen about to get married sometime in the snow-swept future.
Who hasn't been to a shotgun wedding? They almost always take place by pregnancy week 12. Anything later, when the expecting mother is showing, suggests, at minimum, a real hesitation on the part of one or both parties to tie the knot. The church bells should have rung for these two teens by the end of her first trimester if the clear intention of both families was to honor their commitment to the lofty standards of the Family Values Gang. It shouldn't take more than five months for such a staunch conservative to get these two legally wed - unless Palin herself has had to pull out one of her moose-huntin' rifles to get Bristol's boyfriend down the aisle. And why is she reaching for her firearm now? Obviously in response to her sudden and surprising nomination. How dare she and the Republican pundits blame the media for discussing the news of her 11th grader's out-of-wedlock pregnancy when Palin herself is ultimately responsible for putting her poor daughter out there. Why isn't this woman protecting her daughter? Heck, Obama has done a better job of shielding Bristol than Sarah Palin has.
What a poor decision on McCain's part. If it is Palin's destiny to rise through the ranks of the Republican Party and obtain national office, even the presidency, shouldn't she launch her ascent to Washington DC after these overwhelming family issues are worked out in Alaska? And what if the reportage from the National Inquirer is accurate? After all, they broke and then relentlessly pursued the story of John Edwards' extramarital affair. The National Inquirer is getting it right these days. If it is proven that Sarah Palin did have an extramarital affair with her husband's business partner, then there is no way McCain can be taken seriously as a decision-maker competent enough for the demands of the Oval Office.
Just as Obama was shifting the nation away from the divisive rhetoric of the Culture Wars, the Palin nomination is reeling us all back in. That is a shame, particularly for the working class voters who are a key block in this election. As they have in elections past, the Republicans have shifted the discourse away from the economic realities of everyday Americans, who would benefit more from Obama's economic plan than they would under McCain's, and refocused the discussion on personal behavior. The hypocrisy, of course, is that Palin is being celebrated for her personal behavior, when any democrat or person of color who engages in the very same personal behavior is viciously attacked.
In fact, a woman of color does not need to make the same mistakes Palin and her family have made to be attacked. Remember how Fox called Barack's wife, a married mother of two beautiful daughters conceived well after Michelle's wedding day, Obama's Baby Mamma. White privilege has enabled Sarah Palin to parade what the conservative right wing (to which Palin hypocritically aligns herself) calls the worst of personal behavior - her husband's DUI, teen sex, out-of-wedlock pregnancy, and now perhaps extramarital sex - and get away with it. Instead of prompting the party faithful to wonder what the heck is really going on in the Palin family, this dysfunction has been twisted enough to somehow humanize Palin.
It's not that moms can't balance the demands of their professional lives with grace - it's that Palin specifically can not. Her family is falling apart, but the conservative talk show hosts and pundits aren't
attacking her the way they have attacked nameless, faceless women of color and single white women over the past few decades. Shoot, Dan Quayle went after the fictional Murphy Brown harder than this.
I also felt a surge of incredulity last night when Palin attacked Obama for his work as a community organizer. After all, aren't community organizers the very people who worked tirelessly for little to no personal gain to enable her ascent? Where would Palin be if women and men had not labored since the 1960s to champion women's rights and shift public perceptions regarding female competence at the grass-roots level? She should kiss Obama's ring for his dedication to and engagement in real people's lives - the same real people she sanctimoniously says she supports.
If she really cared about working people and the future of our nation, why, for example, would she support increased oil drilling? The Obama plan to develop new industry by investing in green technology will create more new jobs for American workers than more of the same ol' same ol' from the oil companies. How ironic that, as the Republicans go on and on about oil production at the RNC, hurricanes made stronger and more frequent by the effects of Global Warming are lined up to slam our nation? Anyone in the path of these storms would be foolish to vote for the Republican ticket, for the Right-Wing Elite who couldn't care less that many small towns are being wiped out by these relentless storms. That Palin's husband worked for BP should cause all Americans to wonder why she is so quick to denigrate Obama's plan, which will diminish our dependency on foreign oil by creating new technology and reposition America as a worldwide innovator in energy production - and not a debtor because of it.
Finally, it is interesting the the RNC has attacked democrats for feeling energized by Obama's great speeches. After all, they obviously have anointed Palin as the antidote to Obama fever. For Palin to attack Obama's rousing speech-making in what was, after all, the most rousing speech of the RNC, is just a sham.
Indeed, last night was all a sham.