samedi, août 30, 2008

The scent of a woman

I couldn't even hear them-and they ticked me off.

I had the rare honor of watching CNN and Fox, sound off, on two large screens at the gym. It must have been braniac day at the gym-yesterday three channels were set to sports and one to soap opera.

CNN was playing some video of a speech Sarah Palin gave and talking about hurricane Gustav. No James Carville to score the easy points.

At Fox, they were not losing a moment in stirring the pot of gender warfare.

With the public eye now on Sarah Palin, the possibilities apparently are endless, according to the conservative pundits.

To be fair to Fox, it's not only the rightwing crowd who is playing the gender game.

Hillary Clinton's success in 23 primaries, and her ability to rally 18 million voters, can be analyzed in many different ways. Again and again the punditocracy have gotten seduced by the Clinton drama, as opposed to looking at the women and men who actually voted for her.

But one thing is indisputable-Clinton's success means that women are a powerful force on the American political stage. Which doesn't mean that female voters are monoliths. Nor that it's all about sexism.

Back to the boys of Fox.

I should say that in an attempt to achieve balance, Fox had a woman academic from American University representing another point of view-pretty much every time one of the guys would say something, she would contest it. And one of my favorite conservatives, Juan Williams, didn't say anything outrageously dumb-but how hard can it be to act like the voice of reason in a bar full of slaphappy drunks?

Fox's bloated, complacent, middle-aged white guys hit some new lows for lowbrow foolery. Joe Biden is going be afraid to be too hard on Palin because women will get mad, one said. Another, criticizing Hillary's Clinton's pantsuits, said he was happy to see women dressing like women.

Attacking the "liberal" media, one of them noted that CNN's John Roberts had stepped in it by implying that Sarah Palin might be pulled between being VP and taking care of a child with a disability (their baby son has Down Syndrome).

Although this is not a popular point of view, I think Roberts had a point, however unPC it may be. Someone is going to have to spend a lot of time with that child...Fair enough, perhaps it will be Palin's husband. But let's face it-most of the time, it's the mothers who do the lion's share of parenting. Should they? Heck no. But to ignore that reality is to pretend we have an equal playing field. I'd love to know what Governor Palin thinks of the Pauline verse that asks women to be subject to their husbands as Christ to the Church.

I find it enormously insulting to think that someone would vote for Palin because she's a woman. But then, I could not see voting for Hillary because she is female, or Obama because he's partly African. Perhaps that is a failure of empathy on my part-or a covert elitism that believes that identity politics isn't a winning gamble. John McCain has staked a lot on his pick. Did this newborn conservative choose Palin because of his principles-or hers?

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