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August 30, 2008
No Dan Quayle
(and no Hillary Clinton, either.)
I was there on the levee in New Orleans when George H.W. Bush rode the Delta Queen into New Orleans in August 1988 to announce his surprising choice of Dan Quayle. Bush had met Quayle campaigning in Indiana and had been impressed by how well Quayle worked the crowds in small town America. Unfortunately what the unfairly maligned Quayle didn't have was presence in front of TV cameras. His fair coloring looked washed out, his pale blue eyes took on an Orphan Annie quality under TV lighting and the mannerisms that made him seem down to earth when meeting voters one on one made him look slow witted on TV. By contrast, Sarah Palin's degree is in journalism. She has worked in front of TV cameras and she comes across very well on the many video clips of her in circulation on the Internet.
What may be even more important in the long run, however, is that Palin represents the post feminist generation of women in politics. She appeals to both men and women without ever being either strident or resorting to dealing the gender card off the bottom of the deck.
Read this from the At Home and Abroad
blog of Kathy Hendrickson. and see why a lot of what the Democrats and the media are trying to throw at Palin is likely to backfire with a great many voters.
What I like most about her, though, is that, while she certainly isn't afraid to be assertive, she doesn't seem to have embraced the supercilious, academic, ball-busting persona that a lot of highly successful women display. Yes, I'm talking about Hillary Clinton, but I'm also speaking from my own experience at a high-powered boys' club law firm in Washington, D.C. Many of the successful female attorneys I worked with directly or encountered as co-counsel (particularly those over 40) simply couldn't renounce femininity strongly enough; it seemed like they thought the only way to succeed and earn the respect of their male peers was to overcompensate and out-man the men. Many of them made a point to use foul language at work, to behave stridently toward underlings, to take extremely aggressive stances on the legal issues in their cases, and even to dress mannishly. Some were childless, but those who did have kids proved to have little ability or desire to find a work/home balance, and overwhelmingly chose absentee motherhood instead. And the sad thing is, these choices didn't earn them one bit of respect, but rather made them disliked and unhappy.
I know that I owe a debt of gratitude to these women for being pioneers in male-dominated fields. I can't imagine the crap they had to deal with to fight their way to the top, and I appreciate their efforts, because their successes will make it easier for me and other women to follow and succeed in turn. On the other hand, I see in our modern society that girls are increasingly taught to replace equality with misandry, assertiveness with bitchiness, self-confidence with brashness, and aspiration with naked ambition. Is it any wonder when their role-models are political bitch-queens and celebrity poptarts?
In my opinion, Sarah Palin comes off as a capable, confident woman, a no-nonsense mother of five who doesn't treat her gender as a handicap or a get-out-of-jail-free card. Her neutral treatment is what allows her gender to be a non-issue, and I'd love to see her in the White House, so that at last, women can run as reformers, or conservatives, or beltway outsiders, and not as gender novelties.
The vice presidential pick is always a gamble. Obama had his chance to play the Queen of Diamonds, but he picked a knave instead. Every maverick knows the Queen of Hearts is always your best bet.