Sarah Palin: The Vice Presidential Debate Performance of a Lifetime

I’ve waited a few days to weigh in on the vice presidential debate to give myself some time to digest the debate performance of Republican candidate Sarah Palin mostly to see if my reaction was sexist, as in, do I discount her abilities because she is a former beauty queen who doesn’t seem to have a brain in her head (not do I discount her abilities because she is a woman). After doing some soul-searching, I think that my reaction to Sarah Palin is feminist: I react to her the way that I do because I resent John McCain choosing her thinking that placing any woman on the ticket would be a way to win women voters, regardless of that woman’s qualifications, as in, women are interchangeable because of their parts.

But let me step back for a moment. Admittedly, the debate was not a train wreck (more like an episode of The Brady Bunch, sans kids and dad on the right side of the stage, but more on that later), and for that, the Republicans can all breathe a collected sigh of relief and get back to the matter of trying to make their presidential candidate look presidential. Good luck with those numbers, and too bad about Michigan, guys.

As to her actual performance in the debate, I will say that she exceeded my expectations. Palin did not fall of the stage. She pronounced multisyllabic words. She was able to string together sentences. Granted, they were her sentences, and not necessarily related to the questions she was asked. Palin declared early on that she was going to use her own game plan: “I may not answer the questions that either the moderator or you want to hear, but I’m going to talk straight to the American people and let them know my track record.” Well, okee dokee, governor. And that’s exactly what she did. If she didn’t like the questions, she went back to something she was more comfortable with, as in “I’m still with that tax thing.” I counted at least six mavericks. Please, no more, and at least two contradictions, increase regulation in one answer, while reigning in government to get it out of the way in another. But does the woman even know what an “Achilles Heel” is? It’s not a good thing, but that didn’t stop her from going on for 90 seconds about her positives, including a supposed (incorrect) Reagan reference to the City on the Hill.

I wish that format had been stricter so that Ifill had done more follow-up as Lehrer did and had made the candidates answer the actual questions. Both candidates had a few factual errors, but Palin was prepped well on her key points and stuck with them—over and over and over again. Joe Biden, god bless him, managed to be succinct most of the time, not condescending, and to hammer Palin with facts. He was better after the first forty or so minutes when he finally decided to become more aggressive, and I loved it when he finally called her on the maverick thing.

But what I could not take, could not stand, absolutely could not abide for one more second was the bless his heart, you betcha, doggone it, “say it ain’t so Joe, there you go again” (awkwardly stitched together Reagan reference), supposedly joe(?) six pack-speak that was meant to endear Palin to the common people. Now, I don’t know about the rest of you, but I don’t want a common person in the presidential or vice presidential seat. I want individuals in both seats. I want to know that the person in charge and the person who is next in charge will be able to lead this country in times of peace and in times of crisis with a cool head and an above average intelligence, a savvy articulate negotiator who will be able to go toe-to-toe with any world leader and not come off as some kind of backwoods idiot, a person who will be able to stare down a Putin or a Kim Jong-Il, will be able to garner the respect of someone like the iron maiden British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher—a person like Barack Obama, a person like Joe Biden.

The last thing this country needs is another president like George Bush who cannot find the verbs in his sentence. We have a whole industry devoted to Bushisms. It’s a national pastime.* Bless our collective hearts, but we just don’t need the humiliation again.

Please. Winks? Crinkling of the nose and opening the eyes really big like a high school cheerleader?Shoutouts? This was not a PTA meeting or a Wasilla town council meeting for gosh’s sakes. “Hey, can I call you Joe?” It was phony and condescending from the first moment. More and more, Palin reminds me of Carol Brady of The Brady Bunch, with her big family and her can-do attitude and her absolutely sunny attitude. But even as a child, I knew that there had to be something wrong with Mrs. Brady; I imagined that she was probably a secret alcoholic (I know it was the early cynic in me), but how else could you put up with that group of kids and that irritating husband and one bathroom? You would have to be a bitch behind closed doors when no one was around, but only the other moms would realize it. The other dads would be thinking of ways to get in your pants because you looked so good for having so many kids. And it was the men in the audience in particular who found this endearing. Pat Buchanan post debate declared Palin a clear winner, and in his commentary used the word “attractive” no less than four times in his description of the candidate. That definitely is a clear indicator of a good vice president. How could I miss that?

But perhaps the worst offender was Rich Lowry of the National Review’s “The Corner,” who wrote, “when Palin dropped her first wink, [I] sat up a little straighter on the couch and said, “Hey, I think she just winked at me.” And her smile. By the end, when she clearly knew she was doing well, it was so sparkling it was almost mesmerizing. It sent little starbursts through the screen and ricocheting around the living rooms of America. This is a quality that can’t be learned; it’s either something you have or you don’t, and man, she’s got it” (10/3). Thanks to Keith Olbermann’s Countdownfor sharing the wonderful bit of pure ickiness, which just goes to show which part of their brains male supporters are using when they are assessing Sarah Palin’s qualifications.

This was a vice presidential debate that was viewed by 70 million people around the world. Have some dignity. At least the Todders wore a dark suit and a tie.

And PLEASE, it’s noo-clee-ar, not noo-cue-lar. DAMN!!

*For a really good read on how to diagram Sarah Palin’s sentences, see this article in Slate


The American Dream (part 2)–according to Sarah Palin

I have to get this off my chest: Aside from the fact that I’m not a conservative Republican, I don’t have an issue with her daughter’s pregnancy. That’s none of my business, and as someone who believe in pro-choice, her daughter is old enough to decide what she wants to do. I also can truly appreciate Palin’s status as the mother of a special needs child, and I don’t see how that should be brought up as an issue as to whether or not her children should in any way affect her ability to be a candidate. I agree with Obama: family should be off-limits in this campaign.

But obviously, that’s not how Palin views it. She put her family on display tonight, and made the whole family values issue a big, fat cog in the Republican campaign machine by introducing herself as “just a simple hockey mom.” But even that isn’t my issue here. This is my issue: Palin fired the cook at the governor’s mansion, as in when she moved into the governor’s mansion, she fired the cook. That’s my issue. Now it might sound as if I’m nitpicking when there are a whole bunch of really big issues to discuss, but bear with me. Firing the cook is just one example of how Palin, a non-feminist (because conservatives do not consider themselves to be feminists (because they do not know the true meaning of the word)), operates, making it appear that any other woman who does not operate in a comparable method, is a whiner, or just plain loser. She is the wife/mother who can do it all without any help, and she seems to see asking for help as a weakness. So how much sympathy is she going to have for the rest of us? I think this is a point worth pondering as the Vice President sits over Congress, which is where we will be fighting over key legislature on family rights bills in the coming term.

More examples of super mom on steroids (just a figure of speech, not an accusation): Palin went back to work three days after the birth of baby Trig and nurses Trig during meetings. How nice. She gave a keynote speech when she was eight months pregnant; her water broke, and she flew home; most airlines won’t even let you get on a plane when you are eight months pregnant, let alone if your water has broken, but not super mom. How many of the working mothers out there, myself included, had the opportunity to nurse their newborns or infants during staff meetings? And I’m sorry to mention this delicate matter, especially since she’s now being described as “full of fire,” but, which will come first if she’s nursing her baby during a session of Congress and, god forbid, has to suddenly fill in for the president, especially since she doesn’t believe in nannies.

I know, I’m being cynical again. But talk about being a wee bit cynical. Palin is no pussycat. Repeatedly, she whomped on Obama as being just a “community organizer” with no real experience in her version of a political acceptance speech. I’m just wondering what the reaction would have been if a male candidate had spent the first 10 minutes of his speech pontificating on his stellar experience as a dad and not a politician. And, of course, Palin impaled the media, but I find it curiously ironic that the McCain organizers asked for everyone to back off the Palin family, but she was so willing to put her family, especially 17-year-old Bristol and her boyfriend front and center at the convention for all of America to see. “Do as I say but not as I do”?

But as usual, I digress . . . She fired the cook, has no help with the kids other than the older kids, gets the kids to hockey, PTA, ballet, church, etc., etc., etc. In other words. She can bring home the bacon, fry it up in a pan, and never, every forget “her guy” is her man. May I gag now? I have dust bunnies on my cobwebs. We’ve already discussed my penchant for clutter and my continually growing personal library. I love my children more than life, but I have occasionally used my family as babysitters, and when I was working full-time, all of them at one time or another stayed with one or the other of their grandmothers during the day. It was the main reason I moved back to the area: so that my children could know their grandparents, and Filipinos believe in extended family participating in the care of the babies.

My family life is definitely not perfect. My daughter did not get pregnant at 17, but she was not an angel.  I think that few of us could withstand microscopic scrutiny of our families. That is not the point. What I wanted to hear was what was never said: her political ideaology. What does she believe? Not just that she believes that John McCain is right for the job, not that she believes that he is an honorable man, not that she doesn’t believe that Obama is qualified—what does Sarah Palin believe this country needs in order to become unified, to progress, to end this war, to solve its educational woes, to end its dependence on fossil fuels, to take care of the largest deficit in history? I didn’t hear any of that. But I know the names of her children, and that she cooks in the governor’s mansion.

Too much information, not enough substance, and definitely nothing to give me hope for a better tomorrow.