St. Paul – Back in June, I carefully examined the Democratic presidential primary and concluded that despite many asking whether Hillary Clinton’s bid for the White House fell short because of sexism, that the Democrats and those who covered the race had held a 100 percent sexism-free contest.
Today, you’re hearing the same questions about the response to McCain’s selection of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as his running mate.
There is really not much evidence that the response has been sexist.
Sure, one of the first inquiries from CNN’s John Roberts was, “Children with Down’s syndrome require an awful lot of attention. The role of vice president, it seems to me, would take up an awful lot of her time, and it raises the issue of how much time will she have to dedicate to her newborn child?” And indeed, no one has ever asked whether Obama or McCain will have enough time to dedicate to their children while serving as president. But clearly, Roberts was just asking out of concern for the little tyke, not out of sexism.
It’s clearly not sexism, merely a series of mental slips, that prompt Barack Obama to consistently refer to Palin as a former mayor, and to never speak of her as if she were a governor. Clearly, sexism cannot be the motivation of that repeated mental error, just like his statement of “Hold on a second, sweetie. We’ll hold a press avail,” which he told a reporter at an event outside Detroit was just a reflection of habit. As we all know, it’s common for high-powered lawyers to call women “sweetie.”
But if Obama really were consistently sexist, would have said something about Palin like, “You challenge the status quo and suddenly the claws come out.” Or, “You know, over the last several weeks since she fell behind, she’s resorted to what’s called ‘kitchen sink’ strategies. . . . She’s got the kitchen sink flying, and the china flying, and the, you know, the buffet is coming at me.” You know, the sort of remarks he made about Hillary. Or he would suggest that Palin “periodically when she’s feeling down, launches attacks as a way of trying to boost her appeal.” As he did with Hillary. (This one is especially benign, considering he went with “periodically” instead of “every 28 days or so.”)
The media, in particular, has been sterling in keeping sexism out of the discussion of Palin and her qualifications for high office. Sure, ABC News correspondent David Wright said, “In small groups, Palin can seem like the young, trophy running mate.”
And sure, the Washington Post’s Lisa de Moraes did write, “John McCain will have to do better than naming Tina Fey his vice presidential choice.”
And perhaps it may have appeared to be sexism when liberal talk show host Ed Schultz declared a “bimbo alert.” And admittedly, liberal columnist Richard Cohen compared McCain naming her to Caligula naming his horse to be a consul and a priest. And yes, even Fox News interviewed her dentist about her smile.
Sure, on MSNBC, the phrases “daughter’s pregnancy” and “Palin’s judgment” were used in conjunction so many times, liberal bloggers who disagree with Palin were grinding their teeth.
Sure, Maureen Dowd calls her the “Vice in Go-Go Boots.”
Sure, the Baltimore Sun’s Susan Reimer dismissed her as “a skirt on the ticket.”
And when Wisconsin Lt. Gov. Barbara Lawton declared that Palin would make a “pretty fragile” president, one might be left scratching the head at that label, knowing that Palin hunts caribou moose. But clearly, sexism could not have been what prompted that unflattering stereotypical adjective.
And sexism was not the trigger for the “laughter” in “many many newsrooms,” brought to our attention of Eleanor Clift.
This doesn’t even get into the insightful and sexism-free analysis of the Palin pick from Alan Colmes, who speculated that Palin’s negligence caused her child’s Down syndrome, or Andrew Sullivan, who wanted proof that Trig was indeed Sarah Palin’s child.
So other than that, there is no evidence that sexism played a role in the response to Sarah Palin’s selection.
– Jim Geraghty writes the “Campaign Spot” at NRO.