Sarah Palin: A View from Israel

A political cartoon from today's Israeli newspaper, Yediot. As McCain marches with a bikini-clad "Miss Arkansa", Obama says to Biden "How do you look in a bikini?" Is this blatant sexism that turns a governor into a sex object reason enough to put a woman in (or near) the Oval Office?

 

This story is a classic example of what my father would call contrarian politics: i.e.,
The Republican Party beating the Democrats in getting a woman into the
Oval Office. Unbelievable, really. Just for the record, though, if
Sarah Palin gets elected, I would like history to show that Hillary
Clinton got her there. McCain would not have sought out Palin had
millions of women not spent the past year screaming for Hillary. It's
just a little sad to me that McCain was able to read the pulse of the
women of the country better than Obama. Or at least his advisors were.
Either McCain is a brilliant study of American society, or he's
brilliant at picking advisors. Whichever way, I have no doubt that
millions of American women who voted for Hillary are about to move over
to McCain. If the elections were to be held tomorrow, McCain would win
in a landslide. And I completely sympathize.

So are we women that fickle and predictable? Is gender no more than a knee-jerk response? Mea culpa.
Personally, when I first heard about Sarah Palin, I was genuinely
excited. And considering that I am most decidedly in the "undecided"
camp since Hillary dropped out, this decision most certainly has the
potential to woo me over to McCain. She's eloquent, confident,
powerful, active, and manages to be a dynamic leader while raising five
kids. Yeah, I really want to see some of that in our elected officials.
It would make me feel represented a little. Like someone up there has a
clue about what life is really like for 50% of the population. Yes, a
woman on the ticket attracts me, that's for sure.

But my readiness to go Republican for Palin is a little bit
depressing when I think about all the things that she stands for. Aside
from the whole fishing, hunting, and oil-drilling culture that I don't
buy into at all, aside from her support for a bizarre animal called
"Feminists for Life" -- women against abortion with some twisted
as-if-feminist thinking -- aside from all that, Palin is effectively a
beauty queen who has gotten ahead mostly on her charm and good looks.
Oh, and by the way, her predecessors were completely corrupt. Yeah.
Pretty woman versus ugly, selfish old man. For Alaska she was a
no-brainer.....

The problem really is that Sarah Palin is no Hillary Clinton. I
wanted Hillary not just because she is a woman but because she is the
best person, by far, for the job.

Certainly Palin is very smart and savvy. And she's apparently a
terrific governor for Alaska. And she may be good for Israel, though
nobody really knows. And she seems like she's a good mother, and is
caring and sweet and capable of doing the juggling that so many of us
struggle with. For sure, in Alaska they love her -- much the way so
many Americans love Obama.

Palin is proof, like Obama, that it helps when smart people also
look good on camera, never mind what they actually believe in. I think
this election will go down in history as the victory of celebrity over
substance.

So who is Sarah Palin and what does she stand for? Here are some
items from Wikipedia, apparently written by "little Trig" (not the four
month old, but clearly someone in the Palin camp) [Hat tip -- Onedia
Hayes Sylvest on Blogher]:
v In favor of repealing Roe Wade
v In favor of the death penalty
v In favor of oil drilling in the Arctic and for off shore drilling
v On the board of the NRA and strongly supports the NRA's gun stance
v Against federal government putting polar bears on the threatened species list so not to endanger drilling in the Arctic
v Believes that global warming is NOT man-made and that reports on global warming are unreliable
v In favor shooting wolves from helicopters as a predator control measure
v Against any systematic plan to provide health care to all
v In favor of protecting fishing even if that jeopardizes wildlife
v Opposes stem cell research

Oh, and by the way, she successfully accumulated a $20 million long-term debt for her town of 9,000 while mayor.

So, whom would I prefer, a candidate who is a woman, or a candidate
who implements policies that are good for women (and the rest of the
world…)?

I come back, once again, to my Bill Clinton question. Bill was
undoubtedly one of the worst presidents when it comes to how he treats
women. Ironically, one of my biggest issues with Hillary is that she is
still married to Bill, and still thinks of him as a political asset.
But that said, Bill’s record of policies that benefit women is pretty
good. He may have been a creepy date, but he was an excellent president
for women.

How do I reconcile that? Will I vote for McCain because someone
around his table understands that women have some important
contributions to make to politics? Or do I vote for Obama, despite the
way he dissed Hillary, despite the deriding way Biden refers to his wife, because in the big picture, Democrats are better for women and for society?

Right now, judging by today's Yediot, which has a cartoon of Palin in a bikini, I may vote for Palin just to protest men in the media. Yuk!

But I don't know if that's the best idea, really. I don’t know. I
think I’m back to being undecided….But at least I had a split second
moment there of being, well, almost excited.

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