Thursday, September 4, 2008

Nominee Sarah: Palin’ by Comparison

Since Helen Reddy’s bold anthem, “I am Woman” rang across the land, women have been empowered to go for it in ways previous generations never could. I’ve been privileged to personally witness females making great strides toward gender equality in a series of memorable “firsts.”
As a sports writer, I regularly interviewed and profiled accomplished athletes for Women’s Sports and Fitness Magazine—including basketball players who played when the rules included stationary players who weren’t allowed to run back and forth across the court—and surfers who went from Gidget to greatness as they learned to dance on waves.

During the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games, I covered the first-ever women’s Olympic bicycle road race, won by American Connie Carpenter Phinney, and the first women’s Olympic marathon, won by Joan Benoit. And later that summer, I stood for hours on the tarmac at Long Beach Airport, awaiting the arrival of newly named vice-presidential candidate Geraldine Ferraro who gamely delivered her inspirational stump speech to the enthusiastic cheers of assembled hundreds—a crowd depleted by late summer heat and the passage of time.
Those historically meaningful moments moved me to tears—as did the recent Democratic Convention speech delivered by Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton. Had she presented that persona throughout the primary season, there’s no doubt she would now be the first female candidate of a major party nominated for President of the United States. Instead she continues to display her grace, leadership skills and political accomplishments.
And now we’re confronted with Sen. Clinton’s er, polar opposite, Sarah Palin.
The former mayor of a city of 6,500 earned a total of 114,697 votes to become the governor of our largest state with one of the smallest populations — at 670,000, smaller than the population of Ventura County. She earned a bachelor’s degree in 1987 from the rural University of Idaho, and obtained her first passport 20 years later, in order to travel to Kuwait and Germany. She considers both the Iraq War and the building of a $30 billion gas pipeline project part of God’s Plan.
The former state champion basketball player worked as a sports reporter for a short time. Today she considers global warming a hoax, opposes the listing of polar bears as an endangered species, proudly wears fur and drapes a grizzly bear skin across her office couch.
Adapting equal parts of the fictional worlds of television’s “Northern Exposure” set in quirky Alaska, and “Commander in Chief” starring Geena Davis, the 72-year-old Presidential nominee has decided that this 44-year-old mother of five, including an infant with special needs, is the best qualified person in all of America to be his running mate, the first female vice-presidential candidate ever nominated by the Republican Party.
Sen. McCain had plenty of prominent Republican woman with real records of accomplishment, gravitas and serious credentials from which to choose: Sen. Olympia Snowe of Maine (a small state with an equally tiny population); Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas (a huge state with a huge population); former E-Bay CEO Meg Whitman (a whiz at the intersection of new technology and the economy); even the dismissed but still outspoken one-time Chairman of the Board at Hewlett-Packard, Carly Fiorina (an Honorary Fellow at London Business School).
Sisterhood is powerful, and certainly not stupid. This nomination is a sucker punch to every woman in America, with its pandering attempt to attract the so-called “women’s vote.” Palin’s nomination trivializes the serious and legitimate candidacy of Sen. Clinton who truly is qualified to run and to serve; the governor should know better than to allow herself to be manipulated in this way. And if she doesn’t know better, American women do.
This cynical action that values campaigning over governing and craven individual ambition over the good of the nation insults the good sense of the entire electorate. In treating women as interchangeable parts, and impulsively choosing a symbol rather than a qualified candidate, McCain has recklessly risked everything and revealed his complete lack of comprehension of the intelligence of the American voting public.
The current events swirling about Palin’s candidacy recall the short-lived 1972 vice-presidential run of the distinguished Sen. Thomas Eagleton; it ended after just two scandal-filled weeks, when he was forced to reveal his hospitalizations for mental illness and electroshock treatments.
My guess is that in the very near future, vice-presidential nominee Sarah Palin will cite family issues as the reason she must step out of the spotlight she never should have occupied in the first place. Sen. McCain and his followers will hail her nobility and ferret about for another running mate—one who will agree to step in for the good of the nation. And sadly, that may have been the plan all along—a momentary, energizing distraction of sleazy political maneuvering that treats the American electorate—and women in particular—with such disrespect, carelessly leaving individual lives and entire families disintegrated in its wake. Call it Hurricane Rove, far worse than Gustav and Katrina combined.
The winds of change cannot come soon enough.

Cheri Rae’s column appears every Thursday in the Daily Sound. E-mail


Anonymous said...

This editorial is embarrassing, particularly your outlandish prediction in the conclusion and your trigger-happy, irrational reference to Karl Rove. You fail to explain why McCain chose Palin over Snowe or Hutchison: she is a staunch conservative yet not a partisan Republican, perhaps the highest ranking woman (or man) of that kind in the country. Sure, she serves a political role beyond sheer "qualifications," but this is politics-- a game (gasp) Democrats play too (see: Obama's candidacy). Also, it seems you are personally offended by Palin's strength, something Snowe and Hutchison lack. As a supposed admirer of strong women you should at least say: "wow, with everything she's going through-- her daughter in difficult times, her son in the military, her professional reputation and future of the republican party/the country on the line-- she was pretty impressive, no, courageous last night." Ah, but if you could only stop playing politics.....

Anonymous said...

Right on Cheri -- I agree 100% I think the choice of Palin is a pathetic attempt to woo Hilary supporters, even thought the two of them are diametrically opposed on most issues. McCain wanted a woman to get the Hillary vote, saw one who looked like she might fit the bill, and chose her. It is another example of his pandering to position himself to get elected, such as his "revised" stance on torture.

Anonymous said...

Hack job by a card carrying feminazi.........

Anonymous said...

Typical Liberal - Preaches tolerance an all issues unless you disagree with them and then goes into talking points on how she will fail. See the latest polls lady? You may have to eat your words.......

M.C. Confrontation said...

This piece is ridiculous. Don't you think women will vote for Sarah Palin? I do. Well, all those women who will end up voting for the R ticket, whether it's because Sarah Palin is on it or not, you just called them stupid and pandered to by John McCain. Are you retarded?

And to say Karl Rove's existence behind the scenes amounts to something worse than Katrina or Gustav is a gut shot to all those families who lost a loved one in those natural disasters. You are pathetic, insensitive loser who doesn't even deserve her own column in a free newspaper. Stick to writing about all the trees we're cutting down in town, Cheri. This game might be over your head.

Anonymous said...

Wow... you Republicans are the mean spirited ones with the comments you left! God help us if Mr. McCain & Ms. Palin win. You will be the one eating your words when this county goes down the tubes! Oh, but you probably voted for Bush the last 2 elections, so that would explain it. Further, you have the nerve to ask Cheri if she is "retarded" but go on and preach about people losing someone to Gustav & Katrina?? Is that your way of having a heart? Feeling bad for the victims of hurricanes but still using the very un-PC word RETARDED?? Do you think that word may offend someone with mental disabilities? You are way out of line and way out of touch. Go put some lipstick on your pig.