Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Just What You Wanted To See More of Today

I'm sure every blog on the planet is weighing in on the Sarah Palin thing, and for that reason I wasn't going to be one of them.  I think she's appalling for a number of reasons, but I'm also a bit delighted she's on the ticket because it seems like such a fool move for McCain to make.  I hope I'm not proven wrong.  I often misread these things.

But then this interesting comment posted here at toddlerspit:  "What do you think about a woman with 5 children (one baby) campaigning for VP?? Am I sexist for wondering and worrying. YOU know how difficult it is to give 2 children the attention they need."

Huh.  I hadn't even thought about this.  I mean, I know the down's syndrome kid is in the news, and the pregnant teenager, but I hadn't thought about worrying about those five kids not having access to their mother because she was busy being veep.  Maybe this is for a few reasons:

1)  The woman makes a six-figure salary, on top of whatever her husband makes, and I'm guessing that buys some pretty darned good childcare.  So I'm not so much worried about Sarah Palin's kids.  I am, however, worried about people who can't afford healthcare, daycare, education, etc. for their kids.  Which is why I would never vote for a McCain-Palin ticket.

2)  I have no idea what kind of mother this woman is now, or whether taking this new job will make her worse or better.  Honestly, she seems like some kind of foreign species to me (shooting animals from a helicopter?  Not supporting abortion in cases of rape and incest?).  It seems to me that some leaders throw themselves wholeheartedly into, well, leading, and others don't.  Is she someone who takes a lot of vacations?  Is she nice to her kids?  Does she discipline them?  Does she spend time with them?  All questions I don't know the answers to.  And having those answers probably wouldn't sway my opinion about her as a vice president, anyway. 

3)  Is it sexist to ask that question?  Maybe.  More importantly, I really don't care what kind of mother she is.  Maybe that's silly.  Maybe that's short-sighted.  Do I care what kind of father Barack Obama is?  I guess I wouldn't want us to elect a child molester or draconian taskmaster or something, but when someone is running for high office, you have to know that their families are going to take a hit no matter what.  It's public service.  It's about sacrifice.  Which maybe is why so many of these dummies end up having affairs--they just can't sustain the family lives and close connections they need.  I don't know.  But it's not like their kids are out on the streets, either.  They've got big, big support networks and resources.  See #1.  Mostly I remember that focusing too much on the personal lives of these people really obscures the incredible power they wield to fuck things up (or make things better) for the rest of us who live in the world.

4)  I know there's all sorts of stuff being written about her inexperience, her fiscal ineptitude, her unethical actions in office.  I know that a lot of Hillary Clinton supporters find McCain's choice obscene.  I know the liberal bloggers are supposedly salivating over her family dirt (whatever).  But we're still a long way from November.  Palin's cute.  She's appropriately, appealingly feisty in person.  She's conservative.  Those five kids are going to be worn as badges of honor (just like that teenage kid getting married and having that baby are).  If anything, she'll probably just get the christian right excited, which they weren't so much, over McCain.  And that's probably the point.  I don't think it has anything to do with swing voters, or disillusioned  Hillary supporters, or anything like that.  I think it has to do with images and photo ops.  If those kids deserve any sympathy, maybe it's because they are now empty signifiers, pop-up balloons that flesh out the image of the perky, feisty Palin.  But what political kids aren't?  Fact:  images are powerful.  Fact:  we have to remain vigilant to not be fooled by images.  Fact:  We have some power to redirect the agenda/discussion back toward things that matter and away from this b.s.

5)  I'm way more worried about her retro stances on women's rights, energy policy, and ethical standards in government than about her five children.

So, not dumb questions, or dumb to ask those questions.  Good things to think about.  But the choice of Palin feels pretty much meaningless to me, on many counts.  It's an unsurprising move on McCain's part.  It doesn't change the real work that remains to be done.

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