Unsurprisingly, the world and its commentators have jumped on Sarah Palin like starving dogs on a hunk of sirloin. It’s sexist, and I’m hardly the bra-burning feminist type who thinks every jibe at a female figure in the public eye is sexist. I’ve said it before about some of the attacks on Hillary, and I think the McCain campaign was at least smart in grabbing the headlines by appointing her to the ticket.
Some would argue that it’s a cynical attempt to secure the PUMAs, those disillusioned women voters who thought the day had finally come when a woman could seriously run for President. While there’s an element of that in play, it’s a worthwhile reminder to the Obama campaign that they don’t just inherit another candidate’s voters by default. In a perfect world maybe that would be the case, but the level of personal investment in the primaries this time around makes it unlikely. Joe Biden also has to be pretty damn careful in the VP debate, because patronising Palin the way many think Hillary was patronised will only irritate smart women even more. I think that aside from the bounce-deflating headlines (seriously, doesn’t Denver seem a lot longer ago than last week?) the best part of having Palin on the ticket is the vital mobilisation of the Republican base.
Let’s be clear, I wouldn’t vote for Sarah Palin because our politics are pretty much polar opposites, but to the gun-totin’, baby-sparin’, God-pimpin’ redneck wing of the GOP she’s pretty much the best thing since sliced bread – especially since the top of their own ticket has made a career out of shunning the base in a particularly ‘maverick’ way. As we saw with Bush and perhaps with Reagan and Bush Sr, winning swing voters and undecideds pales in comparison to getting your base fired up and out to the polls en masse. There are just such a lot of rank and file Republicans waiting to be inspired to the voting booths, something that never seems to be quite so strongly the case with Democrats (something the primaries have been stark evidence of).
I just wish that for once, a female candidate could run in the same race as the guys get to take part in. If Obama’s child had a genetic disease, or John McCain had a grandchild being born out of wedlock, would their fathering skills be impugned with the not-so-subtle undertone of ‘what can you expect when a woman’s too busy with her job’? I think not. Whether Palin changes the race or not, she’s certainly made it more interesting. I for one practically dozed off at the ‘old white guy’ announcement of Biden on the Dems’ ticket – so much for not having business as usual eh? I think the Obama campaign set themselves up by not seriously considering Hillary, and I’d almost enjoy seeing them pay for that if it didn’t mean the risk of another 4 years of Republicans in the White House. Oh, and one last thought, the Obama supporters carping on about her lack of experience? At least being a governor is an actual executive position. Not to mention that she actually tried the job out for five minutes before hitting the Presidential campaign trail. People in glass houses and all that, eh?