Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Sarah Palin

Several people have asked me how I feel about Sarah Palin. One friend even asked me I would vote for John McCain now that he has picked a female running mate.

Let me make this unequivocally clear.

I will be voting for Barack Obama and Joe Biden.

The choice of Sarah Palin has one upside and one upside only - that no matter what it won't be two white guys. That's good. That's progress. However, Sarah Palin does not represent me or my interests or what I believe is best for this country and I will not be voting for her.

When I first heard that John McCain had picked a female running mate, I admit that I was immediately concerned. I worried that disgruntled Hillary supporters might connect with this decision and feel like John McCain understood their concerns. The more I learn about Sarah Palin the less concerned I am.

First and foremost, I was shocked to learn of the age of her youngest child. I find it massively hypocritical that the party of traditional family values has embraced this woman who is clearly not going to fulfill her traditional role. If she wants to discuss openly that her husband will quite his job and become the primary caregiver then fine, but this narrative I keep hearing that she'll be able to do it all is insulting and it hurts all the progress women have made over the last few decades.

You cannot have it all. Every day I watch dear friends struggle with these issues and I constantly think about the tough decisions Nicholas and I will make when we have children of our own as we pursue careers and raise a family. Our society needs an honest discussion about work and life balance, not to be told that of course you can raise a family of five with time left over for the second most powerful job in the country.

I understand that Sarah Palin is not the first executive with young children. John F. Kennedy, Jr. was only a few months old when the Kennedys entered the White House and Barack Obama has small children of his own. However, at least Barack and Michelle are honest. Michelle Obama has made it clear that this campaign was going to be a huge life-changing sacrifice for her children - one she was hesitant to make. That it meant their dad and mom would not be there as much but that she felt for their future and the future of our country it was a sacrifice worth making.

If Sarah Palin were to honestly admit that she will not be the one their to take her infant son to therapy or doctor's visit, but that she feels that she can make a difference not only for him but for all special need children then maybe I would have a bit more respect for her decision. In fact, I purposely held off writing this post to give her a chance to address these issues in her speech tonight and she did not. She waved her mom flag repeatedly but did not honestly address the real sacrifices she would be making as a mother - primarly time with her own children.

Then, of course, we all learned that in addition to the infant son, her 17-year-old daughter Bristol is five months pregnant. Again, Sarah Palin and the conservative pundits waved this flag as proof of her pro-life credentials then balked if anyone wanted to discuss the issue further - if they wanted to discuss her cutting funding for projects that help teenage mothers or her opposition to sexual education in schools that might keep other kids from the same fate. Actually, policy aside, I want to know what made Sarah Palin decide that this job was worth the public scrutiny her young daughter (not to mention the baby's father) would be under or, even worse, if she was delusional enough to think it might not come out at all. Openly acknowledging that there will be upsides and downsides of public life for your children is one thing. Putting them in the spotlight during the most difficult time in their life is quite another.

I admit that this is pretty personal stuff but to be honest with you I don't know much else about the woman. I know that she has a little under 10 years of public service - most of it as the mayor of a town of 6000. The town where she advocated the banning of books. I know she supported the Bridge to Nowhere and Ted Stevens - the two biggest sympols of corruption and government waste in the last decade. I know she has shockingly little education. I know she's under investigation for abusing her power as governor and I know if I was raped tomorrow by my own father, she would deny me the right to an abortion.

I'm not sure what more I need to know.


Anonymous said...

Sarah, first of all you know how much i love you, but I would think that you would feel just the opposite. that a woman whoever she is could and would be able to do both. Not that I am on the same level but never once have you or anyone ever asked me how I manage my career and raise 2 boys with absolutely no help. Is that because I am a man. I am not looking for pity, or poor me, but I would have done the same to raise you and try and keep up a career. At least she has a man that wants her to be what ever it is she wants to be and he will do whatever it takes to help his wife achieve those goals. I have always thought that Nicholas would be that kind of man if that was what you chose. You seem to have made a complete 180. Her husband and kids love her and I am almost sure that if they had said this isn't the right thing she probably would have removed her name from the running. I hope you are not angry but Daddy needed to speak up.
I love you.

heather said...

Wow. I've meant to blog about Gov. Palin all week, but have been sidelined with a nasty stomach bug. Now I feel that it is unnecessary because you have totally articulated my beliefs as well, if not better, than I could. The odd part is, I'm a liberal Republican who has never considered herself particularly feminist.

I despise the idea that "one woman is as good as another", which seems to be the premise on which many Republicans have built the theory that disillusioned Clinton supporters will somehow support Governor Palin. I've never personally been a huge supporter of Senator Clinton, but I certainly see that her qualifications for Executive leadership are infinitesmally superior to Governor Palin's. It makes no sense to believe that Mrs. Palin's gender renders her an adequate substitute for Senator Clinton.

Further, as you note, ALL WOMEN (all people, for that matter) must chose how their careers intersect with their families. Governor Palin, as much as I hate to invoke the sexist overtone, seems destined to fail in light of her particular family situation.

All partisan rhetoric (of either flavor) aside, Governor Palin is a shaky choice. To be truly fair to successful, professional women is to acknowledge when they are unsuited for a position, as well as to endorse them when they are qualified. Mrs. Palin simply doesn't measure up.

Jessica said...

I like this choice for VP. As such, I knew you wouldn’t.

Questions about how she can raise a family and seek office are unfair. They're not asked of the men and I'm disappointed that you and others question her decisions in this regard.

We live in a country that allows her to choose this path and I hope you're proud of that fact. You didn't verbalize that and, only b/c of your unrelenting history of speaking up for equal rights for women, I'm disappointed. Although you try to argue that you’d feel better about it if they announced that Todd would quit his job, I don’t think you would. Your issue, as you stated it, is that Republicans chose a woman (the party of Traditional family values chose a woman who clearly isn’t going to fulfill her traditional role). You assumed the party of Traditional values can’t progress and change. You were wrong.

Don’t count Palin out- just because she may not yet have verbalized that the sacrifices she’s going to make are worth making (putting country first) as you state Michelle Obama did, doesn’t mean she won’t. She’s been on the scene a week.

You backed yourself into a hole and that’s why people have asked if you if you’ll be voting for McCain/Palin. I knew you wouldn’t be voting for them b/c we’ve had extensive conversations about your beliefs and I know that she doesn’t represent you.

But, for others to ask if you’ll be voting for her based on her gender leads me to believe you haven’t done an adequate job expressing your beliefs to others, which is surprising and then again, not. Sometimes your message gets lost in your excitement and maybe that’s what happened here. People saw your excitement over Hillary as a woman rather than Hillary as a candidate. I realize I’m just assuming here, but I think that assumption from others is playing towards your dislike for the Palin nomination. People made an assumption about you that was wrong and you didn’t like their assumption.

I would never vote for McCain/Palin because there's a woman on the ticket. Or, because I have the opportunity to cast a historic vote. Those are terrible reasons to vote for any candidate.

I'm voting for them because I feel they represent MY best interests and the interests of this country. They have records that I believe in- they say what they mean and then point to what they've accomplished to demonstrate it.

As was said last night, "Hope isn't a strategy."

I think Palin's gotten a bad rap and the only reason Hillary supporters should sympathize with Palin is b/c Hillary got a bad rap too. I don't expect anyone to vote for Palin just b/c she's a woman- but don't underestimate the number of people that can relate to her simply because of that fact.

I feel thats why Democrats are understandably alarmed. The "party thats out of touch" just nominated a mother of five...she was on the PTA... people think she can understand what they're going through more than anyone else on any ticket and thats important to people. Whether or not that translates into votes is irrelevant; but the problem for Democrats is they’ll have trouble selling their “out of touch” storyline to voters now.

The media attention given towards Palin exposes the lack of professionalism and the unfair, unquestionable bias they have towards Obama. Hillary was a victim of this; I pray Palin is not.

She’s a strong person that will weather this storm well and she brings good interest to politics. I like what I see thus far and I hope that continues in spite of the challenges she’s already faced because of questions you and others unfairly raise about her decision to seek a higher office.

I think you made assumptions about Republicans and about Palin that are incorrect and you’re uncomfortable being wrong.

I knew this post was coming and hoped to come away with something like, “Palin is wrong. I don’t believe in what she believes based on what I’ve read over the past few days. We seem to disagree on every major issue and as such, I’ll vote Obama/Biden.”

Instead I came away with, “She’s a dishonest person who is delusional to think she can have a family and be vice president. People are correct to ask her questions that they don’t ask of her male counterparts. She’s a questionable mother who is dragging her daughter through hell and won’t be taking her son to his therapy appointments. Oh yea, and I disagree with her on every major issue.”

Annie said...

See, this is why I don't talk to people about my political beliefs. I'm probably a baby, but I don't think I could endure the personal criticism or the fear of disappointing others.

At least when you talk about religious beliefs, people are worried about offending you when they attack your reasoning.

Matt Roberts said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
dylan said...

John, nobody asked you how you manage your career and your kids because you're not asking us to vote you into the second-highest office in the land. If it was just you and the boys and you were running for office, I'm sure someone would be asking who was watching your kids while you were working (if only to find out who your nanny was and if they could create a scandal out of it.)

What's laughable about Palin is in your own paragraph, Jessica. They're running her on the novelty of her being a PTA mother of five, and let's be honest: somebody's not paying attention at home if a 17-year-old gets knocked up. I wouldn't say she's a bad mother or anything without knowing her better, but it's hard to claim she's not "out of touch" when her own daughter is dropping out of school. Plus, she's touting her mom credentials when she's got a 6-month-old special needs kid at home and going for this huge position. I'm sorry, but you can't have it both ways, and that goes for fathers and mothers. If a dad got up and ran on his awesome dad-ness, then it would certainly be questionable as to how he could do both.

If there was more substance to Palin instead of just novelty, I'd be worried. As it is, though, she's a tragic mess of a choice. A former resident of one myself, I can spot trailer trash when I see it.

Dave said...

Sarah, I think you could clarify this post a bit because I had to read it a couple times to realize that I generally agree with your argument. The fact of the matter is, Sarah Palin has been subject to sexism by a mainstream media that questions her ability to serve as VP AND as mother of her children. Men in the political sphere are never questioned on their ability as fathers, because the assumption is that the care of children is a woman's role.

While I am once again appalled by the sexism of the American media, I have to agree with you that Sarah Palin's position on motherhood is extremely hypocritical. It's becoming increasingly clear that she is nothing more than a gimmick chosen by a very cynical Republican party. You're right, Sarah: Palin cannot have it both ways. She cannot be both a mother and an effective VP and for her to claim that she can is a flat-out lie.

However, the genius of the Republican Party is their ability to bring together voters who have nothing in common; the so-called "values" voters, i.e., the Christian Right, and the Big Business voters who vote with their own financial interests in mind. The last minute decision to bring Palin into the race was no doubt an organizational decision to renew the increasingly tumultuous bond between Republicans with very different agendas. Palin is an intelligent woman, no doubt, but her role on this ticket is unfortunately little more than a Republican mascot.

Jessica said...

"somebody's not paying attention at home if a 17-year-old gets knocked up."

That fact alone aligns her closely with many, many parents who feel they've "raised their kids right" only to discover their 17 year old child has a will of his/her own.

I think it's comical that you feel she's running on her mommy-ness. She brings her family into her conversation as a way to connect with others and also distinguish herself from others. I'm curious as to how thats different from Biden and the great lengths he took to remain engaged in his childrens lives after his tragic loss. Did you feel he was running on his awesome daddy-ness?

That generalization is dangerous territory especially when followed by "I'm not calling her a bad parent." If you have to clarify whether you're questioning her parental skills, then maybe you are (intentionally or not).

I think it's dirty to call her trailer trash, regardless of your previous life living in one. And it reflects poorly on what could have been an interesting discussion.

Her family challenges personalize her and take her from novelty into reality.

Anonymous said...

so dylan what your saying is my life and my raising kids as best as i can doesn't matter. it does matter that in this context the one and only reason I have never been asked nor has any other male been asked is because we are male. How many political MALE figures have ever been asked the question of how are you going to take care of your kids and run a country. I am telling you right now, this country will be in a world of hurt if Barack HUSSEIN Obama gets elected. And for Biden, all he has ever done is run a committee.

Jessica said...

I agree with Dave on many of his points, including:

1) Sexism in the Media. I wonder if people felt that way pre-Hillary? Or, if there was even the opportunity to expose it pre-Hillary?

2) The Repubs are trying to bring together different voting groups. This goes along with my previous comment about the Party changing. Blogger friends of mine that are attending the RNC include in almost every post how amazed/stunned they are at the diversity of the RNC attendees. It's another challenge for the Democrats- its difficult to peg Republications as the same ol' same ol' when the party is evolving to move forward.

I'm left wondering in what situation(s) is it OK for a mother to run for office? What checklist must a woman complete before she's able to run for a higher office without being subject to the questions facing Sarah Palin?

No have young kids? How young is too young?

Not have special needs children?

Not giving the impression that she's a good mother by referring to herself as a Hockey mom?

I'm serious when I ask, under what conditions is it OK for a mother to seek a higher office without subjecting her to questions about her qualifications as a mother and/or politician?

It seems to be possible since Hillary was rarely, if ever, questioned about her dual role.

So, there must be some criteria by which you deem someone able to do both.

dylan said...

I'm not that worried on reflecting poorly on this discussion, Jessica. You should have seen the screed I had written about trailer parks on Massachusetts Avenue before I toned it down.

Anyway, please note that YOU brought up Palin's PTA membership as a boon to her candidacy. If you want to leave that off the table because fathers aren't held to the same standard, then let's leave it off the table. Why can't you understand that this is having it both ways?

John, I have absolutely no idea why your life and your raising your kids as best you can would matter in a discussion about the vice-presidency. Sorry, I really don't. Swear to god that if I'm ever raising kids on my own I'll call you for tips, though.

But I will give you that you're right that fathers aren't held to the same standard, and it isn't fair to women. The roles are pretty defined in this country, partly because conservative organizations keep trying to reinforce them. Submit, wives! Thank you, Family Research Council and American Family Association and the Eagle Forum!

However, if Biden (or his supporters, like Jessica above) brags about his fatherhood, then it's fine to find out if any of his children are high-school drop-outs.

And John, one of my best friends is named Hussein, so capitalizing it only reminds me that I owe her an e-mail. I'm off to write it.

Jessica said...

"The roles are pretty defined in this country, partly because conservative organizations keep trying to reinforce them"

Until now.

What I'm getting at is: if you can't have it both ways, then how can you have it?

Are you suggesting that you're either an unfit mother but a stellar politician?

Or, you're a great mother, but an unqualified politician?

Which scenario is preferable to you since it can't be both ways?

I would think you would want a good politician that can generate change, which would preclude any good mothers (under the "you can't have it both ways" argument).

I must be missing your argument because I don't understand your point about not having something both ways.

dylan said...

I mean, you can't run on your mommy credentials and then not expect scrutiny of same. Your point, I thought, was that it was sexist to speculate about her mothering. My point was that if you bring up your parenting, no matter what your gender, then questions will arise (or at least should arise) about your skills in that area.

Anonymous said...

I don't think she actually brought it up. the liberal media dug around until they found something that made her have to answer.

Jessica said...

I see.

"My point was that if you bring up your parenting, no matter what your gender, then questions will arise (or at least should arise) about your skills in that area."

Seems to me, again, that it's all or nothing. So because she described her family and stated she served on the PTA, that's running on mommy credentials?

I disagree. Clearly serving on the PTA was meant to lend to her executive experience (beef up her political resume) rather than elevate her mommy status. Don't people see that??

In fact, she probably should have pointed out that decisions she made as a PTA-er were more lasting and effective than decisions Obama has made as a senator.

Anonymous said...

The idea that serving on the PTA is in any way comparable, similar, more impressive than, more "long-lasting" than, or more meaningful (from a political perspective) than service as a state representative in Illinois or as a U.S. Senator is ridiculous. Governor Palin, as indicated by her current status as the highest executive in her state, needn't pad her credentials with evidence that she showed up to glorified parent-teacher conferences. Thus, it's clear that the point of mentioning the PTA is to make her more "like you and me" and to indicate that she is involved in her kids' lives, not to improve her resume. To argue otherwise is disingenuous and not a little bit insulting to Gov. Palin's accomplishments beyond the PTA - which are considerable.

Regardless, the point of Sarah's post (at least as I understood it) was not to convince you not to vote for McCain/Palin or to vote for Obama/Bidem, it was to give the reader some insight into her thinking and into what influences her as a voter. As this post and the comments show, those influences include the personal and the political. Thus, whether or not it's fair, sexist, or otherwise to consider her family life as relevant to the debate is a personal decision - one we all get to make on November 4th.

God bless you, and God Bless America.

Anonymous said...

On a side note, this:

Plus this:

Equals awesome.

Jessica said...

Dear Anonymous- I can't believe I actually have to clarify this, but I was kidding re: Palin and the PTA.

Peace out.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps you should learn to indicate sarcasm in your posts, then. Since the rest of your arguments were so ridiculous, it's hard to tell the serious ones from the facetious ones.

Jessica said...

I absolutely WILL DO, Anonymous.

Thanks for the tip. I'm incredibly grateful (INSERT SARCASM HERE)!

Really, I am (AGAIN with the sarcasm).

I'm just now getting a hang of this whole internet thing.

Anonymous said...

Well done.

Anonymous said...

this is Sarah's dad who by the way was the first anonymous. i am not the anonymous going rounds with Jessica, I happen to agree with her. Just wanted to clear that up.

Terri said...

Gotta say that I am the proud mother of Dylan who, has to be, hands down, one of the best writers around. It could be that I am his mom but I'll just say--You are so right, son! Lead on!

Haley said...

Obviously, I'm a little late on the debate of this topic.

But, with regard to the "out of touch"-ness of the Republican party, here is an interesting report from the Washington Post on the Republican Convention noting that few minorities were present and represented:

As far as questioning Sarah Palin, her role as a mother does not concern me so much as her policy decisions and the fact that she pretends to be a champion for children with special needs, but as govenor of Alaska SLASHED the budget for programs that support those very same children. The record speaks for itself.