Tuesday, September 30, 2008

I Feel Sorry for Sarah Palin

Yes, you read that headline correctly.

The further we get into the McCain-Palin campaign, the more I feel bad for Sarah Palin. She is, as has been pointed out from the beginning by intelligent pundits and more recently by a few conservative pundits, way out of her league. This, however, is not entirely her fault.

Sure, she stepped into something glamorous and exciting and politically heady. Who wouldn't? But the blatant fact is, Sarah Palin is a pawn. She's being used for her flash and sparkle as flair and swag for a campaign that has nothing to offer the American people. That makes me sad for her, because it belittles her ability or potential to make genuine contributions. (Note, I say that part tongue-in-cheek, but there's also a grain of truth in this bit of salt.)

Even worse, though, as the Palin patina wears off--and it certainly is. There's only so much pretty hockey mom, former beauty queen, pseudo-celebrity shine to go around and distract us from her appalling lack of experience--she becomes a horrifying parody of herself.

Palin is now turning into a liability for women and the progress we've made over the decades. In short, she's proving to be an embarrassment for smart, educated, hardworking, non-beauty queen women and she should step down before she destroys any more of the gains we've made in the last 20 years. She's a joke and I'm starting to feel sorry for her. I'm especially squirmy (it's the only word I could come up with) about her upcoming debate with Biden. While I'm obviously rooting for Biden, I'm cringing at the fact that she's going to look stupid and, unfortunately, her stupidity may end up being an indictment on the intelligence and capabilities of women universally.

While some of her gains as a woman and a politician are legitimate, she's doing us more damage than good. It's too painful to watch and I feel sorry that history will mark her as a joke rather than noting that she was used as a pawn in the ongoing war on American intelligence and intellect.


And, I can't believe I'm going to say this, but the McCain-Palin ticket actually makes George Bush look like an articulate, competent president. How low has the Republican Party fallen? I thought we'd bottomed out at stupid with Bush, but seems dumb can go even lower. Karl Rove and his ilk deserve a hot seat in hell for dumbing down politics in this country and giving the American people the perception they're too shallow and vapid to really make a decision about who their leaders should be. Instead, pandering to unfounded fears and telling people to be scared seems to be the better way to govern. Throwing some swag and glitz our way plays into our stupid fascination with celebrity and keeps expectations low. Even worse, it makes those of us who actually stay on top of the issues look like grandstanders and alarmists.


Lucy said...

I have thought that from the first. The press has made her out to be a bumbling idiot. And yes...as funnny as SNL is about her, I feel sorry for her. No one should be made fun of like that. It must hurt her children.

Gilahi said...

Did you ever think you'd see a time when you'd reminisce about Dan Quayle? I wonder if Governor Palin can spell potato?

Kat said...

"In short, she's proving to be an embarrassment for smart, educated, hardworking, non-beauty queen women and she should step down before she destroys any more of the gains we've made in the last 20 years." -- This was my fear about Palin from the beginning. Well put.

Virginia said...

With all due respect for those that feel sorry for her I might if: 1.She had not just given birth to a baby with special needs that at the very least, needs both parents working their tails off to help him make necessary progress starting about 3 months ago. Down Syndrome babies need early intervention and a regime at home that takes more than the First Dude when he's not on the campaign trail clapping for Mom. 2. She had not thrust her pregnant teenage daughter onto the worldwide stage for everyone to know her most private business. This is incorrigable Sarah "Holier Than Thou" Palin! 3. You hadn't taken on this role knowing full well you don't have a clue about being VP of the United States of America. You put your blind ambition ahead of your children and for that Sarah Palin the only sorrow I feel is for them.

Holly said...

I'm with Virginia and Rebecca Traister at Salon: I cannot feel sorry for Sarah Palin. The fact that she's in over her head doesn't change the fact that she asked for everything she's getting. What did she really think presidential politics are like?

J.M. Tewkesbury said...

Lucy: I have to respectfully disagree. The press hasn't made her out to be a bumbling idiot. She's underqualified and it shows. McCain really muffed choosing her. That's not to discount that she's no doubt likable and skilled on some level, but the McCain folks have thrown her into the national fray, knowing she wasn't/isn't qualified and then have cried foul when the press calls out her lack of experience. I mean, sorry, but saying you have foreign policy experience because Alaska is a flyover state for the Russian president or because you're the commander in chief of the state national guard is ludicrous. The ilk who make up McCain's campaign team know this and they're letting her take the fall anyway. Sarah Palin likely would have gone on to a distinguished career in politics in Alaska and done okay. This foray into VP politics at this time is senseless and cruel.

Gilahi: I don't know if she can spell potato, but we can certainly say her views on out-of-wedlock pregnancy differ from Quayle!

Kat: Thanks!

Virginia: All excellent valid points. I absolutely agree. That said, though, I still feel sorry for her. Washington politics are a sordid affair. Despite her choice to be the VP nominee, the fact remains, she is a pawn for the GOP. They're using her and they'll continue to use until she's no longer needed. Then they'll drop her like yesterday's leftovers. That's just dirty and wrong.

Holly: I guess part of my sympathy/empathy for Palin comes out of my experience working this sordid, bitter, partisan town. I know a pawn when I see one and nothing pisses me off more than seeing someone used like this. I see it happen to good, capable people all the time in this town. And, while I'm not necessarily suggesting that Palin is good or capable, she is a human being who is being used and manipulated in ways that continue to leave me embittered toward this f*cking town.

By the way, the link to the Salon article bounced. Here is Rebecca Traister's article. Having read it, it makes wonder what Molly Ivins would say about all this Palin crap. No doubt she and Tim Russert are having a field day in heaven!

Virginia said...

I understand your point, but let me just say that had any one of us been presented with an opportunity of this nature, don't you think we would have had the good sense to say, "Thank you very much Sen. McCain. I am damned flattered, but I know what is involved and I don't have a damn clue how I would run this country even though I THINK I am doing a pretty good job as the governor of Alaska???" Sure she's a pawn , but she ASKED TO BE THE PAWN! No one in the Republican party put a gun to her head.

Anonymous said...

I feel sorry for her daughter and daughter's boyfriend who will be exchanging vows in a shotgun marriage. Would this marriage have been insisted on if Palin didn't leap onto center stage of the most scrutinized presidential campaign I have ever witnessed?

- Phoebe

Virginia said...

I apologize for taking up far too much room here tonight with my personal views, but I have one last thing- I promise. Here in the south we have a saying, "If you can't run with the big dogs, stay on the porch!"

J.M. Tewkesbury said...

VJ: I concede and agree with you. Sarah Palin, who admitted she didn't know what being VP entailed, knew better than to say yes. Or, at least, she should have known better. Having said that, I'm still baffled as to why McCain would choose her when there are so many women politicians who would have been better choices. As Traister points out, Kay Bailey Hutchison, Libby Dole, and Condi Rice are three legitimate choices. Comparing those three to Palin, though, I think it becomes obvious: McCain wanted something pretty--like his wives--and a distraction to the real issues. In that, he has succeeded.

Phoebe: Their use of Palin's daughter is appalling and hypocritical! I may be feeling briefly bad for Palin, but I feel worse for her daughter. And you're right, I think. Palin's daughter (what is her name? Willow?) probably would have gone on to quietly have the baby and not married the daddy if her mother hadn't been offered a national podium. How pathetic.

J.M. Tewkesbury said...

VJ: Missed that last comment. It must have arrived while I was responding to your earlier remarks.

I wonder if they have a similar saying in Alaska? Maybe, "If you can't mush with the huskies, stay in the igloo?"

Palin should have stayed in Alaska and cheered on her First Dude mate in his Iditarod life!

Cele said...

Wow great comments and arguements. I don't feel sorry for Palin, yet, but it's coming. How could you not know what is coming in the 21st century when you say, "Yes, I will run with you." How?

The woman opens her mouth and it's appalling. She may be a "quick study", but she's ignorant on so many levels. She has already set the woman's movement back several decades and she will work to set it back further...by her own choice. A large part of her daughter's predicament is Palin's own parenting fault. Yes, I know teens will be teens, but this is my own opinion-- she failed, er excuse me, she refused to arm her daughter with knowledge. Ergo, you can't predict what her daughter would have done if mom had told her about condoms, IUDs, foam, rings, and what ever other stuff is out there. God, does she know about AIDS?

Shotgun wedding? I think that would have happened anyway. And the one thing I do applaud (wow I spelt it right for once) Palin on is saying up front her teen is preggers, instead of trying to hide it- regardless of when it came out it would have trust her daughter into the spotlight. We get mad at politicians who hide things, and then politicians who are up front.

On a sad note, I won't be shocked when McCain / Palin win, it will be another stolen election by Diebolt.

Virginia said...

Cele, I agree with you on so many of your points. My problem is not that she was honest about her daughter's pregnancy (did she have any choice?), but had she not accepted the nomination, it would have been a localized Alaska announcement. That would have been bad enough for this young girl, but her mother's choice to be the VP nominee made her the object of worldwide notoriety, speculation and ridicule in some cases. My point was that most moms would have taken that into consideration and thought about not only the feelings of her daughter and the father of the baby, but the worldwide ramifications. You are absolutely right about the parental obligations of proper education, but for Sarah Palin anything but abstinence is not an issue. When I see Willow standing on the stage holding her baby brother, it breaks my heart for many reasons.
Family Values???

hm-uk said...

Bristol is the daughter who is pregnant. I think Willow and Piper are the younger daughters.

I think that SNL isn't giving Sarah Palin any more unwanted satirization than they gave Bill Clinton when he was in office. It's just the name of the game and if you want to be a public figure, you must deal with public scrutiny.

I doubt, though, that anyone who was in front of a full-time audience of critics (such as the 24-hour media has become) would be able to say the right things every time. We can all speculate what Sarah Palin SHOULD have said when asked about specific policies of John McCain or Geo W Bush, in hindsight, but when someone is in the hotseat - no matter how well they've been prepped - stupid things will come a-flyin out of their mouths. That still does not mean I think she's qualified to lead but we should look at her policies in Alaska as evidence to her character, not her gaffes in front of the camera.
That said, the SNL piece was as funny a sketch as I've ever seen. Bad times and bad politics make for some funny (and much needed) comic relief!

J.M. Tewkesbury said...

Aitch: You're right about the hot seat. Even the most seasoned talking heads stick their foot in it occasionally. With 24 hour, wall-to-wall coverage, it's impossible to achieve perfection and avoid mistakes.

Given all that unending, mind-numbing coverage, it's a relief to have the likes of Tina Fey and SNL around to give us a balanced, nuanced, humorous perspective on the foibles of our leaders. It's the only way to bear their gaffes and blunders.