Monday, September 01, 2008

It's NOT Demeaning to Women

In his choice for VP, was John McCain first and foremost concerned with whether the person was capable of being President of the United States? Or was he concerned about whether the person could bring him the electoral votes of rural, conservative, female voters in swing states? Just three weeks ago, on Face the Nation, Karl Rove was intensely critical of the possibility that Barack Obama might choose Gov. Tim Kaine for his Vice President. Rove said:

"With all due respect again to Governor Kaine, he's been a governor for three years, he's been able but undistinguished," Rove said. "I don't think people could really name a big, important thing that he's done. He was mayor of the 105th largest city in America."Rove continued: "So if he were to pick Governor Kaine, it would be an intensely political choice where he said, `You know what? I'm really not, first and foremost, concerned with, is this person capable of being president of the United States? What I'm concerned about is, can he bring me the electoral votes of the state of Virginia, the 13 electoral votes in Virginia?'"

Somehow, posing this same question about a women is now out of bounds. Watching Larry King Live tonight, it's clear that the Republican talking point-anytime someone questions whether or not McCain's choice for VP is qualified for the position-is to claim that such scrutiny is "demeaning to women." Why? Because Democrats blanch whenever they're accused of being unfair, and quickly retreat from allegations of sexism. In this instance, we certainly owe it to the electorate to get over ourselves.

Questioning a VP's readiness to serve is a core issue and is most certainly appropriate for men and women. Attacking family is out of bounds; questioning preparedness to be President is not only appropriate, it's the responsibility of the electorate. One in three Vice Presidents have actually become President, so the question is surely relevant.

Fighting for the equal treatment of women, working to help qualified women get elected and helping knock down barriers so that women can participate in professions that were once off-limits is important work that is diminished anytime a women gets a pass because of her gender. Whenever that happens, it reinforces the myth that, in politics or in business, the bar for women is lower and makes it more difficult to construct the ladder women need to get elected. The perception that a women has been added to a ticket for any reason other than being eminently qualified reflects negatively on every women who seeks any office.

Failing to fully vet Sarah Palin-now that's demeaning to women.

Choosing a Vice President is the first act of any presidential candidate that has the potential to actually impact the course of democracy in our country. In his choice of a person who has limited experience in government, zero experience in foreign affairs and a basic lack of understanding of what a VP is actually supposed to do, John McCain has behaved in a reckless manner that ought to give every American pause. Unlike Presidential candidates who must survive a grueling primary process and endless vetting by the public and the press, Vice Presidential candidates get little scrutiny. We rely on our Presidential candidates to do the vetting for us when it comes to the VP nominee. It is the first moment when the future of the county is in the hands of the Presidential hopeful. It is the first moment when we are able to see whether the candidate will actually put country before political interest. And it was in this moment that John McCain failed not just his Party, but his country.

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1 comment:

Emma said...

Well said, Amy, and Amen.

I tire of Republicans trying to convince me that Sarah Palin is better qualified than Barack Obama because "she has executive experience" or "she has energy experience" or "she has conservative Christian morals and support." One pundit even suggested she was more prepared for foreign policy issues because "Alaska is close to Russia". (I'm not kidding - google it.) I tire of Republicans trying to guilt me into liking Palin as a candidate, and I tire of Republicans being hypocritical about poor Bristol - if this had been Barack's daughter, or young Chelsea Clinton, can you imagine the press? Instead, we get spin from Republican commentators that this is just the "average American family" with the average pregnant teenager. But push that abstinence-only education, because it CLEARLY works!

The plain truth is that if you stack them up, Barack blows Palin out of the water and it becomes more obvious that McCain has insulted the entire nation - and possibly endangered the nation - by choosing a woman as a publicity stunt, in an attempt to woo conservatives and religious evangelicals and yes, women.

A dear dem friend of mine thought that Palin for VP put McCain over the top for president because women would automatically vote for her. Well, women didn't automatically vote for Hillary, did they? Nope. And Hillary is qualified to be President or pretty much anything legislative she chooses. Women voted for a candidate, not a "woman candidate". Do not insult our intelligence by throwing a blooming female politician at us and saying "Look! She's a girl like you! Now, go! Go girl! Vote! Vote for Palin!" Women are not labrador retrievers, and Sarah Palin is not a bone. I find her nomination insulting, especially given the other qualified candidates, and demeaning to Palin and to the rest of us. Regardless of the caliber of her intellect, her political instincts or ability to govern, this nomination has put Sarah Palin in the category of Dan Quayle - not even Republicans believe she is qualified. Methinks the party doth protest too much.

Sorry for the rant, but the whole thing makes me crazy. And kudos on the Dem convention coverage! Thanks for the good information.