Monday, September 15, 2008

Palin power

Palinsanity went plaid live from New York on SNL, with Tina Fey playing the VP candidate from Alaska alongside Amy Poehler as Sen. Hillary Clinton. The two both spoofed and accurately encapsulated their caricatures perfectly, capturing Palin's sudden rise to fame in the wake of Clinton's defeat to Barack Obama, showing the correlation of the two events flawlessly.

A few digs were made about Palin being less experienced than Clinton. As Poehler's Clinton bragged about her foreign policy experience, Fey's Alaskan governor exclaimed: "I can see Russia from my house!"

When Poehler said she disagreed with the Bush Doctrine, Fey's Palin acknowledged, "I don't know what that means" — a reference to Palin's apparent confusion on the subject in her first major interview earlier this week on ABC.

Poehler wrapped up the sketch: "In conclusion, I invite the media to grow a pair. And if you can't, I will lend you mine."

Yeah, it's all there, from Clinton's macho-feminism, to Palin's utter lack of experience, and how neither attribute benefited or harmed either candidate respectively.

So, what do I think of Palin? Politically, she was a shrewd pick by McCain. A few pundits signaled her selection as the end of his campaign--but it has had exactly the opposite effect. It softened McCain's crotchety old man image, while drawing the attention of female voters. Palin, the mother of five, is the everymom, someone millions of mothers can relate to. Attacks on her are attacks on an entire demographic of women. But she is also charismatic and endearing. In many ways she is the anti-Hillary, who represented what Maureen Dowd once called "shoulder pad feminism."

Back in May, Dowd wrote about what women in their 30s, 40s and 50s didn't like about Hillary:

They feel that women have moved past that men-are-pigs, woe-is-me, sisters-must-stick-together, pantsuits-are-powerful era that Hillary’s campaign has lately revived with a vengeance.

And they don’t like Gloria Steinem and other old-school feminists trying to impose gender discipline and a call to order on the sisters.

As a woman I know put it: “Hillary doesn’t make it look like fun to be a woman. And her ‘I-have-been-victimized’ campaign is depressing.”

I always thought this was a provocative perspective from a progressive woman--that feminism doesn't have to be all work and no play. It shouldn't be about trying to be just like a man or burying men as oppressors. My first thought when Palin got the VP nod: that paradigm just took a step backwards. Her acceptance by much of America confirms it.

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