Okay, I have a touch of Palimania. I admit it. But I am on the road to recovery. Still, I will say up front that the Palin pick has swayed my vote.
Think about it. All the mythology about The One, which took 18 months and the art of Hollywood to create, was all blown away in a few days by a real middle class, religious, staunchly pro-life mom who does not appear to be politically motivated. Even if the Republicans loose, the moment is too sweet not to savor.
BTW, Palin’s speech came close to surpassing the record breaking viewership of the big 0’s speech, even though Palin’s had been carried by 4 fewer networks. No smoke and mirrors, no Greek god motif and no support from Oprah! Not bad.
Whatever might be the celebrity effect that has been caused by her gender, attractiveness and story, I think that the kind of support she is receiving from the right could in no way be generated if she were not the no-nonsense, social conservative that she is.
Considering what is at stake, I think Catholics and other Christians who brush this ticket off are going to die old maids. At some point you have to be thankful for what you have, even if it is not perfect. That just might as well be a donkey in the back of that truck.
Even so, the objections raised against the whole working mother iconography of Sarah Palin, one that militates against the traditional socially conservative religious view of marriage and family life, cannot easily be dismissed. I was a bit mortified by this post by Debbie Schlussel:
And for the last several days, my jaw dropped to note the partisan pandering on both sides of the aisle, first as prominent liberal feminist women suddenly discover that a woman actually should stay home and raise a family, but second–and far more disappointing to me–as conservatives and Republicans suddenly endorse the fictional notions that 1) a woman can do it all and working women are good at raising a family–nix on both; and 2) it’s not a problem that a man quit his job and subvert his life to raise the family in submission to the ambitions of his wife.
It’s odd–and, frankly, jarring–to hear formerly traditional family values conservatives throw it all former principle out the window to adopt the lingua franca of what was once the exclusive domain of the Gloria Steinems and Betty Friedans of the world, to call “sexist,” those who raise the issue of Sarah Palin’s ability to mother her family and be a full-time working woman at the same time.
What is, since Friday, now “sexist” to these many conservatives-cum-lemmings, was yesterday “traditional family values.”
Ouch. O course, I know this. It is why I pointed out that Palin’s political career appears more like the efforts of a mom, who was fed up with the good ‘ol boys, to set things right. This has happened before, even in Catholic cultures. Women have found themselves in extraordinary circumstances and have risen to unheard of prominence in order to right the wrong. This usually happens when the men who should have done this, either were afraid to do it or were incapable of doing it.
I also have been willing to consider the possibility that providence has led us to this point. How else do you explain the fact that a middle class hockey mom with little backing, money and power has come this far, this fast? And she is still nursing a special needs baby! One might argue that just because she is stepping outside the traditional role, does not mean that every woman should.
The problem is Sarah Palin does portray herself as a feminist and does encourage women to break all the barriers. It does seem as though she thinks that a mom can do it all, and all of it well.
Schlussel also points out that the Palimania is also causing the advocates of traditional values to except the emasculation of men:
When Palin was initially announced, last Friday, as the McCain choice, I cheered her on. What I didn’t realize is that she had five kids, some of them very young. What I also didn’t realize was that, for all the talk by the GOP about this “hockey mom,” the real hockey mom in this picture–for the last two years, at least–has been Mr. Mom, Todd Palin.
I am, as you can see, inclined to see the best in all this. I am not so sure that Todd Palin is quite as emasculated as Schlussel thinks. It remains to be seen.
I also think that Schlussel goes a bit overboard on her comments about the situation with Bristol Palin. Everyone knows that Sarah Palin advocates abstinence and has backed that up in both her political and personal life.
In the end Schlussel is not so scandalized that she feels obligated to abstain from voting for the McCain / Palin ticket, and neither am I:
I like Sarah Palin, and I will be voting for her, more than John McCain.
But is her Mr. Mom marital employment and child-rearing dynamic a good example for the boys of America? Is it a good example for the girls of America?
Only if you want your men–no matter how studly and masculine–to be women, and your women–no matter how good-looking and feminine, as Mrs. Palin is–to be men.
For conservatives to sweep these issues under the rug now that “one of ours” is doing it, is to say that for all these years, our movement was a fraud.
Well, I for one will not sweep it under the rug. But neither am I so naive to think that this culture war is going to be won overnight and without some measure of imperfection. I do agree, however that it is ridiculous for social conservatives to be suddenly screaming sexism when they are asked if a mother with five children can reasonably undertake the office of Vice-President.