Sunday, September 07, 2008

Palin: Pitbull with Lipstick?

Andrew Sullivan:

Ferraro was being interviewed within four days of being announced. Dan Quayle gave an interview one day after being selected.

We are now on Day Nine for Palin and are told to expect another thirteen before she's ready.

This is a pitbull with lipstick? More like a cowering chihuahua.

Andrew Sullivan also sees the McCain Campaign's shielding of Palin from the press as patently sexist.


MAD said...

Huck: I have enjoyed our earlier dialogue, but let me add a coda which is apropos to this post. Moderates and indepedents, of which I am one, generally lean
conservative. While this large group of voters may have some concern about the red meat that Palin represents, they want fair treatment of her. What we are seeing instead is a concerted and insane vendetta to destroy her and her family. That is a recipe for electoral failure. If the far left blogosphere like Sullivan and their willing accomplices in the MSM continue to cross the fairness line, enough moderates and indies will shift to the McCain camp to hand him the victory. Obama's political people know that, and that is why the official word is to restrain the invective towards Palin. However, I believe Obama has even less control over the far left than McCain has over the far right, so the lefties will no doubt continue to misguidedly shoot their own candidate in the foot.

Huck said...

With all due respect, MAD, how is Palin somehow immune to scrutiny but Obama is not. Do you not see how the conservative media, not to mention the conservative blogosphere, has treated Obama in many ways much worse than anyone is treating Palin? Obama's membership in his church? His relationship with Jeremiah Wright and his membership in Trinity United Church of Christ? His middle name, for goodness sake? What about the rightwing's perpetuation of the notion that Obama is a muslim terrorist sympathizer? And have you not heard of the story that Obama has had coked up gay sex? And that's not even going into the brutal attacks on Michelle Obama's character, ranging from her thesis at Princeton to her part in the "terrorist" fist bump she shared with her husband?

What I want is that Sarah Palin demonstrate to me that she is more than just a red meat pick to appease the conservative fundamentalist base. She is, after all, McCain's second-in-line to the highest office in the world. I want to know that she actually has a clue, much less an informed opinion, about the world around her and the pressing issues of our time. Is it acceptable for Palin to somehow receive cover from you just because you fear how the MSM will ask her tough questions about domestic and foreign policy matters? I have a right to know this. And it is cynical and absurd that, under the guise of "protecting" her from leftwing meanies, she can't be subject to having to answer these questions.

The problem with the Palin pick is that we know almost nothing about her. When this happens, the gossip and rumor mills churn out their stories and we have nothing more to go on than these. Frankly, I could care less about her daughter's pregnancy. I could also care less about the fact that she's a mother to a Downs Syndrome baby. I want to know what she thinks about issues like war and peace, trade policy, healthcare reform plans, the mortgage crisis, Iran's nuclear program, etc. Doesn't it terrify you that she apparently has not ever given any thought to these issues and needs a two week crash course before facing media questions about these issues?

Finally, why is Palin to be treated with kid gloves? Would you be circling the wagons for any other politician? For Mitt Romney? For Rudy Giuliani? It does strike me as sexist. Politics is nasty business, as Palin herself showed in her own nomination speech with all those barbs and snide attacks she happily made against Obama. So what is it that makes you want to let her dish it out but be shielded from taking it? Is it that she can't handle it? What is it?

You want "fair treatment" of Palin? Please define what you mean by fair treatment. And then apply it to all candidates. I've long since come to grips with the fact that conservatives will never give fair treatment to Obama. Your attitude strikes folks like me as propagating a double standard of what constitutes "fair treatment."

Eric said...

2 things:

1) mad's point wasn't so much that you have an obligation to treat Palin with kid gloves, but that liberals are going to cast off undecided voters if they go after her too visciously. That may not be fair, and it may very well be a sign of a double standard... but I think she's right, practically speaking. Republicans definitely lost some moderate voters by going after Obama the way they did, and the Democrat's treatment of Palin thus far leads me to believe those voters are likely being put back into play. It is absolutely fair to expect her to answer questions about policy opinions (although, as VP, she does have a duty to follow McCain's lead on some issues where she might disagree with him), and I expect we'll see those questions answered soon. In the meantime, I expect one of the main reasons they are stalling is to draw out these kinds of "cowering chihuahua" attacks that, while they play well to the party faithful, tend to turn off moderates.

2) I think Palin has appeal outside of the very narrow cross-section of voters you are ascribing to her. It's not just the fanatical religous right who like her. Based on her rhetoric from one speech (which is admittedly not a lot to base an opinion on, but it's about all we have at this point), she also has appeal to small government fiscal conservative libertarians. She also has 'soccer mom' appeal, which is a large group of women who aren't exactly religous fanatics or conservative idealists, but who like tough talking politicians who make them feel comfortable about the safety of their kids. And to a lot of people who just aren't excited about either candidate, Palin's novelty offers an interesting alternative.

3) (I know I said 2, but I am on a roll) I watched Biden on Meet The Press this morning, and think the GOP underestimates him at their own peril. If Palin isn't sharp on foreign policy issues, Biden will eviscerate her in a very public way during the VP debates. If she is as green as many pundit seem to think she is, Biden has the ability and the knowledge to expose this in such a way as to take the air out of her baloon completely.

Huck said...

Eric and MAD - Maybe I'm too much of a political junkie and pay too close attention to campaigns and issues, such that I find it difficult to see the campaign in the ways that a casual moderate or independent voter might see them. Perhaps both of you are right that the attacks on Palin may come across as unseemly. But it chafes me that Palin can get a pass for playing pitbull and selling herself as such, and then step back and let others claim that being pitbull back is somehow too bruising for the sensitive mom. If it plays out that way among moderates and independents, it would not only be unfair, but it would also be sad. And for the McCain campaign to make use of a double standard regarding gender in this way makes the McCain campaign (and the GOP machine behind him) stoke the fires of identity politics in reprehensible ways. I've always lamented when the left uses similar tactics, and it's just a shame to see the right embrace it when it is politically convenient, too.

But I have a feeling that this charade can only be sustained for a little bit. I have confidence that, eventualy, moderate and independent voters will want to know more about Palin's stances on policy issues before deciding where to cast their votes. And when that day comes, I am almost sure that Palin will find herself completely out of her element.

I appreciate both of your comments and am grateful to have each of you trying to get me to see this from the point of view of someone with different ideological lenses.

Eric said...

I too think it would be sad if the GOP is purposely trying to gain some momentum by stoking the fires of identity politics, but I wouldn't be surprised if this is the case. It is hard not succomb to such pressures in such a tight race, and we have seen Obama do it to with some of his statements.

All in all, "sad" is a pretty good word for how this political contest is shaping up. One party seems to be short on ideas, and the other party is full of ideas I despise. A lot of conservatives have gotten very excited about Palin, but I find my self in about the same place I was before (back then I was more optimistic than other conservatives, but now they are more optimistic than me). McCain/Palin is yet another ticket I'll hold my nose and vote for. I have some hope that they will do good things on porkbarrel spending and the budget, but otherwise I don't expect much from them, especially if they are fighting a Congress that gains Democratic seatgs.

I envy the Obama people who are excited about their candidate. Outside of Primary voting, I haven't been excited about a Presidential candidate in my voting lifetime.

Cynthia said...

As a brilliant op ed in the NY Times stated this morning, Palin "defends her own pregnant daughter’s right to privacy even as she would have the government intrude to police the reproductive choices of all other women." Moreover, after her mean-spirited, smug speech at the convention, it's hard for me to feel sorry for her.

MAD said...

I sent a long reply to your last comment, but it was lost in transmission, and I don't have the time now to re-construct it.
Suffice it to say that Palin should get no special privileges, but neither should she be singled out for personal attacks on her family. Her politics must be scrutinized, but not her family.
The left has shamed and embarrassed itself this past two weeks, and has hurt their candidate. If the lefties keep it up, which I believe they will, they are paying for McCain's and Palin's one-way ticket to the White House.

Huck said...

"Suffice it to say that Palin should get no special privileges, but neither should she be singled out for personal attacks on her family. Her politics must be scrutinized, but not her family."

MAD - I agree with this completely. But let us remember that this is exactly what Obama and Biden are saying and have always said. What "the left" does they cannot control, much like what "the right" does to Obama and his family is not under McCain's control. It bothers me somewhat that you refuse to acknowledge how the "right" has gone after Obama and his family. Why the outrage over Palin and not over Obama?

MAD said...

My lost comment said just that. Some of the Obama criticisms have also been foolish, like the mockery of his "community organizing" days. I have done my share of community organizing, and it is serious work. The Rev. Wright and William Ayres stuff is within bounds, especially since Obama was evasive about the relationships.
But my gravamen of my complaint is about attacking the family, and not the candidate. Michelle Obama set herself up for criticism with her "never been proud" comment. But she appears to have retired as a social commentator, and no further criticism of her is warranted. I have fortunately heard no comments about the Obama kids.
I have my political persuasions, but try hard not to have selected outrage over stuff like this. Yet I would admit that there is a copious amount of hypocracy on both sides of the political aisle.
Nonetheless, I would argue that the Palin family criticisms have been way over the top, and ridiculous, particularly in the blogosphere, which has not distinguished itself in this regard.

Cynthia said...

Let's not forget that it was McCain, at a Republican dinner in 1998, who said this:

"Why is Chelsea Clinton so ugly? Because her father is Janet Reno."

(Google it, and you'll find hundreds of sources.)

While the comments about Palin's family deserving privacy are warranted, it's to be expected, especially since McCain and several of Palin's supporters have engaged in the same type of mudslinging. Was anyone watching Fox News when Hillary was in the running? The Conservative media wrote the book on sexism and inappropriateness in this campaign.

Huck said...

Good comment, cynthia. Let me just add another recent example that crosses the line: Republican Congressman from Georgia, Lynn Westmoreland, said just last week about the Obamas (both Barack and Michelle): "Just from what little I’ve seen of her and Mr. Obama, Sen. Obama, they're a member of an elitist-class individual that thinks that they're uppity." Now you tell me what in God's good creation does that term "uppity" refer to other than some racist code word. In fact, I have never ever heard that term used outside of a pejorative racist characterization of educated black people. And we're not talking about some Ann Coulter, Michael Savage, of Rush Limbaugh pundit, but a sitting Republican Congressman who made this remark when asked to compare Michelle Obama to Sarah Palin.

How's that for outrageous, over-the-top, personal attacks grounded in racist code language?

MAD said...

So what the point here, that the other side started it, so continuing it is okay? Can we have agreement then, that comments about family members are out of line. Westmoreland's comment was plain ignorant, and he should apologize. McCain's joke was tasteless, and I am sure he regrets saying it. So too the continued stupid railing against Palin and her family. This stuff is poison to the body politic, but it will not stop until we all demand that it be stopped.

Cynthia said...

My point was this - the campaign got ugly a long time ago. The tone of Giuliani's and Palin's speeches at the convention was bordering on childish. McCain has made some ridiculously sexist remarks in the past. If the GOP ticket wants privacy and respect, they should lead by example.

Huck said...

"So what the point here, that the other side started it, so continuing it is okay? Can we have agreement then, that comments about family members are out of line."

Absolutely. I, for one, am happy to have agreement then, that comments about family members are out of line. But here's the rub. You and I have different ideas about what's "fair game" and what constitutes out-of-line comments about family members. Take above, for instance, your consideration that Michelle Obama's comment about pride in the US was "within bounds." Would it have been in bounds if Cindy McCain said something that got misused and taken out of context to slam her character as a patriot? See, we define what's considered fair play differently. And though we can agree in principle that family is off limits, we need to agree on when and how they are off limits in specifics, too.

MAD said...

In light of the first amendment it would be a challenge to establish universally agreed upon standards of permissible attack upon your opponent, below which you are "out of bounds". Obviously, that would not work, so the best we can each do is not contribute personally to this odious practice, call it out for condemnation when you think you hear it (by whatever fair standards you choose to apply), and refuse to vote for candidates who actively engage in it.

Huck said...

mad - Fair enough, and agreed.