My phone has been ringing off the hook for the last half hour. Why? Because John McCain just picked my governor, Sarah Palin, as his VP. As a woman who was born and raised in Alaska and who has watched with increasing cynicism as my home state made a name for itself nationally for having out-of-touch, blatantly corrupt and unapologetically immovable politicians at every level, my reaction is simple:
Holy crap. Sarah Palin? How did this happen? How does she even know people? The woman has never had any sort of political position outside the state. And in Alaska, where a solid chunk of the population has never even TRAVELED outside, that isolation is no joke. When she ran for governor a little over two years ago, we worried that she was too inexperienced. Having been governor of Alaska for not even 2 years now, apparently we think she’s ready for the White House? After spending months picking at Obama’s lack of senate experience, the GOP is giving us a VP Candidate who’s never held a national position?
In Alaska, she has a great reputation for being a whistleblower on ethics violations and a governor who conforms exactly to the letter of the law, if not always its spirit. But that’s not why he picked her. It’s why he’s going to promote her, and it will be a centerpiece of the campaign (and, as an amusing anecdote, where McCain has been pointing out that he’s not “Miss Congeniality,” she was. When Palin was Miss Wasilla in 1984, she won that title by popular vote of the other contestants), but Palin is the VP candidate because she’s young, she’s a woman, and she’s intensely anti-abortion. Palin is a nod to those conservatives who got ruffled when McCain floated the idea of a pro-choice VP – she’s a social conservative and a staunch member of Feminists for Life – a group of so-called feminists who oppose a woman’s right to choose, even in cases of rape, incest or to preserve the mother’s life. Like most anti-abortion groups, they choose to focus only forcing women to carry the pregnancy to term, not on actually reducing the number of unwanted pregnancies, claiming that “Preconception issues including abstinence and contraception are outside of our mission.”
Clinton’s opponents tore apart her campaign using sexism and are now turning around and using the old “but I have a (insert minority here) friend! I can’t be prejudiced!” McCain didn’t pick Palin for her experience (none) or her reputation (who’d heard of her 6 months ago?), but for the simple fact that she’s a socially conservative, anti-woman female candidate who’s younger than Obama and more approachable than McCain.