Tuesday, September 30, 2008

On Sarah Palin Poison: Good Etiquette & Bad Sympathy...

PART I - Good Etiquette:

"The truly disgusting thing about Sarah Palin isn't that she's totally unqualified, or a religious zealot, or married to a secessionist, or unable to educate her own daughter about sex, or a fake conservative who raised taxes and horked up earmark millions every chance she got. No, the most disgusting thing about her is what she says about us: that you can ram us in the ass for eight solid years, and we'll not only THANK YOU for your trouble, we'll sign you up for eight more years, if only you promise to stroke us in the right spot for a few hours around election time."

PART II - Bad Sympathy:

"At the moment, all signs point to yes, as some strange bedfellows reveal that they have been feeling sorry for the vice-presidential candidate ever since she stopped speaking without the help of a teleprompter.

But just because I'm human, just because I can feel, just because I did say this weekend that I "almost feel sorry for her" doesn't mean, when I consider the situation rationally, that I do. Yes, as a feminist, it sucks -- hard -- to watch a woman, no matter how much I hate her politics, unable to answer questions about her running mate during a television interview. And perhaps it's because this experience pains me so much that I feel not sympathy but biting anger. At her, at John McCain, at the misogynistic political mash that has been made of what was otherwise a groundbreaking year for women in presidential politics.

In her piece, Judith Warner diagnoses Palin with a case of "Impostor Syndrome," positing that admirers who watched her sitting across from world leaders at the U.N. last week were recognizing that "she can't possibly do it all -- the kids, the special-needs baby, the big job, the big conversations with foreign leaders. And neither could they." Seriously? Do we have to drag out a list of women who miraculously have found a way to manage to balance many of these factors -- Hillary Clinton? Nancy Pelosi? Michelle Bachelet? -- and could still explain the Bush Doctrine without breaking into hives? This is not breaking my heart. It is breaking my spirit.

A woman governor with executive experience -- doesn't have to rely on any elder or any man to protect her and pull her ass out of the fire. She can make a decision all on her own. (Palin was more than happy to tell Charlie Gibson that she made her decision to join the McCain ticket without blinking.) The McCain camp was craven, sexist and disrespectful in its choice of Palin, but I don't agree that the Alaska governor was a passive victim of their Machiavellian plotting. A very successful woman, Palin has the wherewithal to move forward consciously. What she did was move forward thoughtlessly and overconfidently, without considering that her abilities or qualifications would ever be questioned.

Sarah Palin is no wilting flower. She is a politician who took the national stage and sneered at the work of community activists. She boldly tries to pass off incuriosity and lassitude as regular-people qualities, thereby doing a disservice to all those Americans who also work two jobs and do not come from families that hand out passports and backpacking trips, yet still manage to pick up a paper and read about their government and seek out experience and knowledge.

When you stage a train wreck of this magnitude -- trying to pass one underqualified chick off as another highly qualified chick with the lame hope that no one will notice -- well, then, I don't feel bad for you.

When you treat women as your toys, as gullible and insensate pawns in your Big Fat Presidential Bid -- or in Palin's case, in your Big Fat Chance to Be the First Woman Vice President Thanks to All the Cracks Hillary Put in the Ceiling -- I don't feel bad for you.

When you don't take your own career and reputation seriously enough to pause before striding onto a national stage and lying about your record of opposing a Bridge to Nowhere or using your special-needs child to garner the support of Americans in need of healthcare reform you don't support, I don't feel bad for you.

When you don't have enough regard for your country or its politics to cram effectively for the test -- a test that helps determine whether or not you get to run that country and participate in its politics -- I don't feel bad for you.

When your project is reliant on gaining the support of women whose reproductive rights you would limit, whose access to birth control and sex education you would curtail, whose healthcare options you would decrease, whose civil liberties you would take away and whose children and husbands and brothers (and sisters and daughters and friends) you would send to war in Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, Russia and wherever else you saw fit without actually understanding international relations, I don't feel bad for you.

Shaking our heads and wringing our hands in sympathy with Sarah Palin is a disservice to every woman who has ever been unfairly dismissed based on her gender, because this is an utterly fair dismissal, based on an utter lack of ability and readiness. It's a disservice to minority populations of every stripe whose place in the political spectrum has been unfairly spotlighted as mere tokenism; it is a disservice to women throughout this country who have gone from watching a woman who -- love her or hate her -- was able to show us what female leadership could look like to squirming in front of their televisions as they watch the woman sent to replace her struggle to string a complete sentence together.

In fact, the only people I feel sorry for are Americans who invested in a hopeful, progressive vision of female leadership, but who are now stuck watching, verbatim, a "Saturday Night Live" skit. Palin is tough as nails. She will bite the head off a moose and move on. So, no, I don't feel sorry for her. I feel sorry for women who have to live with what she and her running mate have wrought."

-Matt Taibbi ( Part I-Excerpt: "The Scariest Thing About Sarah Palin Isn't How Unqualified She Is - It's What Her Candidacy Says About America," SmirkingChimp.com, 9.27.08. -Rebecca Traister, Part II- Excerpt: "The Sarah Palin Pity Party," Salon.com, 9.30.08. Image: Vintage Poison Label, Spookshows.com., 1900s).

VIOLETPLANET SAYS: Masterful propaganda engineering: " Educated people = elitist snobs. Ignorant people equal = Americans." Whose going to bail us out of this one?

2 comments:

John Graden said...

Interesting that you mention the impostor syndrome.

Over 20-years ago, I saw Paul Newman in an interview say that he always had the feeling that someone was going to come through the crowd, take him by the arm and say, "It's over Newman. It's all been a mistake. You're coming back to paint houses."

When he said that, I immediately understood the feeling. Later I learned that he was describing the impostor syndrome. I've spent the past two decades living with and learning about this common condition.

The Impostor Syndrome is a fascinating topic and the subject of my new book, "The Impostor Syndrome: How to Replace Self-Doubt with Self-Confidence and Train Your Brain for Success."

You can download Chapter One, "Paul Newman and I" at www.JohnGraden.com

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