A Brilliant Trap Makes Dems The Male Chauvinists

New York Post; by Kirsten Powers; August 30, 2008

SHE’S just a beauty queen.

She’s another Dan Quayle.

And ironically, the biggest criticism of Sarah Palin, John McCain‘s veep choice, is she has no experience. Funny, coming from the Barack Obama camp.

Following McCain’s announcement of Palin – the first female to be put on a GOP ticket for the White House, and only the second in US history – the Obama campaign skipped the niceties and blasted her as the “former mayor of a town of 9,000 with zero foreign policy experience.” She’s also a governor of Alaska (my home state), the first woman in that office and the youngest elected in state history. She has an 80-plus percent approval rating. She has turned the state upside down with her reformist zeal and has made enemies of the Republican establishment.

And she can talk energy policy, one of the biggest issues facing this country.

Is she a gamble? Definitely. But so is Barack Obama, who has himself dismissed experience as a prerequisite for leadership, despite his spot atop the Democratic ticket.

At this point, Palin is so unknown, there’s no way to make a clear judgment about her. But listening to Obama supporters take to the airwaves to shriek with indignation about her lack of experience is just a little too rich. Where were they when Obama, two years into the Senate, announced his candidacy for president?

One Obama supporter and political operative blogged, “In picking an unknown, untested half-a-term governor from Alaska . . . John McCain is following in a long line of reckless men who have rolled the dice for a beauty queen.”

Do we really have to do this again?

No sooner was Hillary Rodham Clinton out of the race, and a new woman is in the cross hairs.

On CNN, during a discussion about whether it was appropriate for Palin to accept this job when she has a baby, Dana Bash pointed out it’s unlikely anyone would ask this of a male candidate.

I can’t help wondering if this is a trap. The McCain camp watched and learned as Obama supporters offended Hillary supporters by their treatment of her. The McCainiacs had to know that this group is incapable of behaving, that Palin would bring out their worst instincts.

One top Republican said to me: “Just wait until she is debating Joe Biden and he starts attacking or condescending to her. Hillary voters are going to say, ‘Oh yeah, I remember this.’ ”

The McCain camp has already made clear it stands at the ready to scoop up these voters. Yesterday, Palin proudly acknowledged her historic selection, the candidacy of Hillary Rodham Clinton and the woman who paved the way for her, Geraldine Ferraro.

Ferraro told me she’s excited for another woman to be on a presidential ticket. She sees Palin as a risky choice – but also dismissed the idea that she’s unqualified.

And she rejected the idea that all the so-called “Hillary voters” would be repelled by Palin’s staunch anti-abortion views. These voters know the Senate will have a veto-proof Democratic majority, so that lessens the potency of that issue.

Howard Wolfson, Hillary’s top strategist, said “it won’t help with most Hillary voters, but it could help with some.”

“Some” of 18 million people is what the McCain camp is after.

The other potential trap is luring the Obama campaign onto the “experience” field. The early conventional wisdom says McCain’s pick was boneheaded because it takes the experience issue off the table. But it seems that it has done the opposite: The importance of experience is the topic of the day.

The more Democrats complain about this, the more Republicans can turn it on them and say, “If you are so concerned about the amount of experience of the vice president, what about the top of your ticket?”

Obama’s argument thus far has been that experience isn’t what counts; it’s judgment. By attacking the Republican woman relentlessly on this issue, Democrats are undermining their own man.



  1. Adding Obama’s and Bidens age=113 avg 56.5 years
    Adding McCain’s and Palin’s age=116 avg 58.0 years

    Obama’s experience in the Senate – about 183 active days
    Palin’s gubernatorial experience – about 1 3/4 years

    Biden’s 36 years in the Senate
    McCain’s 32 years in the Senate

    Hmmm! They seem pretty evenly matched to me. Also, wasn’t there some mention in the Obama camp about bringing in new blood and getting away from the Washington insiders? Wha’ happened to the legendary man of truth, justice, and the American way! Did he decide that he had to come down from Mt Olympus so as to fight in the trenches of lies and deceit? God help us all from either party!!!

  2. While Obama supporters may be the ones to assess Palin as having little to no experience, you will never hear Obama or Biden speak of such.

    I see McCain’s choice is Palin as purely strategic and I find it even more chauvanistic that he chose her to exploit her “female-ness” and motherhood status as a draw for Clinton supporters. Maybe then again, I am ignorant to the work she’s done and what she stands for, as is most of America. I hope to hear more of that next week. I’m concerned about what Palin actually brings to the plate (other than her status as a woman) that isn’t already apart of this campaign…

  3. I really don’t think this is the time to discuss such issues. More importantly, most die-hard Hillary supporters didn’t vote for her because she is a woman. There are two basic reasons why they supported Hillary. First, on many important and critical issues (women’s rights, labor rights, health-care, economy, to name a few) they agreed with Hillary. Second, they could connect with Hillary on an emotional level. I personally find it offensive that Sarah Palin should compare herself with Hillary by mentioning those “18 million cracks” in all of her speeches. The former didn’t run in a primary while the latter received 18 million votes during the primary.

    Having said so, I will also add that Obama too ran in a primary and won 18 million votes. He energized the Democratic campaign, immensely. Sarah Palin, on the other hand, didn’t contest in the primary and she didn’t have to work hard to get a single vote. If she had indeed run a primary campaign, she would have had met a fate similar to Huckabee’s. So, let’s not compare Obama with Palin.

    Lastly, one doesn’t have to be a rocket scientist to see how different Hillary and Palin are ideologically. The former is more or less in the center whereas the latter is a far-right politician. I wouldn’t vote for Hillary if she were a far-right politician. It’s as simple as that. And, if other die-hard Hillary supporters don’t understand that, I can only feel sorry for them.

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