September 10th, 2008
06:31 PM ET

Too perfect to be dismissed & The Sarah Palin Show

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Editor's Note: This is a joint mother/daughter blog: Faye Wattleton is an AC360° contributor and President of the Center for the Advancement of Women; Felicia Gordon is Faye's daughter.

Too perfect to be dismissed
Faye Wattleton |
President, Center for the Advancement of Women

The 30-year campaign by occupants in the White House, a re-structured Federal judiciary and Congressional hostility has eroded women’s fundamental Constitutional protections, most notably Roe v. Wade. After the 1976 presidential campaign, the take-over of the Republican Party by a confluence of unlikely partners, known as the religious right, led to the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980 and delivery of two future presidencies. Recently, analysts have pronounced this constituency to be in a state of disarray, if not all but dead; it seems that all it needed was a jump-start in a candidate who stirred the passions for their “100-year war” against affirmative action, equal pay for equal work, reproductive rights and gay rights, and for abstinence-only sexuality education.

Last year, the 5-4 Court, in Gonzalez v. Carhart, disregarded a woman’s health in allowing prohibition of a type of abortion procedure in the second trimester, which may be the best option to preserving a woman’s future fertility. In another decision, the Court ruled that Lilly Ledbetter, the only female supervisor at a Goodyear Tire & Rubber plant, could not seek justice, under Title VII, for 19 years of discrimination. In Long Island Home Care v. Coke, home care workers, 90 percent of whom are women, were declared unworthy of minimum wages and overtime compensation.

Shrewdly, John McCain has offered a gift too perfect to be dismissed: a poster child for the issues that religious conservatives hold dear. The announcement of Gov. Sarah Palin’s selection as the Republican vice presidential nominee, a long-term member of the Assembly of God Church, swept Sen. Barack Obama from the headlines, less than 24 hours after the fireworks faded into the Rocky Mountain skies. Some concluded that it was a bold grab for disaffected supporters of Sen. Hillary Clinton. Down in Colorado Springs. James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family, said it best, “… Sarah Palin is God’s answer.” History tells us it’s hard to counter the power of the revisionist religious pulpit, which will be politically active from now until Election Day, in support of the McCain-Palin ticket. There will be some women who don’t care to be called feminist, who will cross-over.

A larger prize was at stake; one that has been reliably successful in election after election.

The Sarah Palin Show
Felicia Gordon

Since the election’s focus has taken an unexpected turn to children, I thought it a perfect opportunity to invade my mom’s blog and offer my own two cents.

Soon after Gov. Sarah Palin came on the scene, I knew that her nomination was not about capturing disenchanted “Hillary” supporters. I knew it because, almost as quickly as I knew her name, my favorite celebrity gossip blogs had begun to post pictures and dirt that rivaled any popular celebrity in entertainment value. I have no doubt that the McCain campaign knows what Britney Spears and TV networks have known for a long time: Americans relish the comfort afforded by viewing the train wreckage of those whom we are supposed to idolize – the more beautiful, the more powerful, the better. When Sen. John McCain commented that his campaign had thoroughly vetted the former beauty queen’s past and that he was “grateful” for the results, he meant just that.

You don’t know who Heidi Montag is? Sen. McCain does. When told of reality TV’s reigning ice queen’s endorsement, he responded, “I’m honored to have Heidi’s support, and I want to assure her that I never miss an episode of ‘The Hills,’ especially since the new season started.”

Call it “low brow,” call it cynical, call it what you want: Americans are just as fascinated by the Sarah Palin show as they have been by the Britney Spears show for years now. As Lynn Spears gets ready to release her book, “Through the Storm: A Real Story of Fame and Family in a Tabloid World,” in which she purportedly discusses her daughter’s sexual promiscuity at 14, that daughter drew millions of viewers to the same music awards show on which she humiliated herself just one year prior. As rumors of an alleged Palin extramarital affair swirled on the Internet, her acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention attracted over 40 million viewers, eight million more than that of democratic presidential candidate, Sen. Barack Obama. Just as Americans digested the Enquirer’s latest report that Jamie Lynn Spears’ baby’s father never plans to marry her, they scoured the internet for Gov. Palin’s future son-in-law’s Myspace page declaration that he’s “a f—kin’ redneck” and the YouTube video of a young black man threatening legal action if the Palin family does no allow him to raise Bristol Palin’s baby whom he claims to have fathered.

Whether fascination with the first reality show starring a vice presidential candidate will translate into votes for the Republican Party is still up for debate. Jamie Lynn Spears and Bristol Palin may make us feel temporarily entertained and comforted with respect to our own families’ issues, but the reality is that having a child as an unwed teenager is hardly ideal. Statistics show that teen mothers are more likely to deliver prematurely and to have low birth weight babies; more than 75 percent of unwed teenage mothers are on welfare within five years of the birth of their first child; only about one teenage mother in four ever completes high school; the sons of teenage mothers are 13 percent more likely to end up in prison; and the daughters of teen mothers are 22 percent more likely to become teen mothers themselves.

While I think the Republican Party’s vice presidential nomination is brilliant in many respects, I still believe that we should aim for more than the comfort engendered by the shortcomings of those in the spotlight. We should be awed and inspired by our country’s leaders. We should want the president and the vice president of the United States to be better than us because we should want better for ourselves. We should hope that the only reality we want to see them produce is a better version than our own.

soundoff (70 Responses)
  1. Trish A

    I believe everyone has the right to choose. We wer given that right by our Constitution. But sadly Government today is taking more and more of those rights from us. Soon we won't be able to choose what we eat. We may even be restricted to Health Care if we don't make the right life choices according the High Court of Deciders. There are many more examples but I'm sure you know you them all.

    So, when a woman, virtually unknown, like Palin comes onto the American stage suggesting her life choices, moral standards, religious beliefts are healthier, more noble, more Christian then some Americans, I feel a noose tightening around my neck. And when the truth confirms for me that her decision making skills are far from superior, her life choices harm her environment, her parenting skills are questionable and her religious denomination can't be defined with certainty – I know I do not want this woman involved with putting any restrictions on my Constitutional right , freedom of choice!
    And I do not want my life or the lives of Americans hanging by a thread in the event this woman has to make critical decisions affecting Americans while having not even a shred of experience or knowledge on Worldly Affairs, Government Protocol, or even an idea of what a day in the White House looks like or a clue of about what a National Disaster looks like from a VP Office up front and personal!

    September 11, 2008 at 8:04 pm |
  2. Will in California

    With the criticism of Palin flip-flopping in the bridge-to-nowhere issue, why is it that only one of CNN or HLN shows reported that after Palin changed her mind to build the bridge with US taxpayers’ money, she requested that their money that was intended for the bridge should be diverted to help Katrina victims, but OH NO, both the dems’ presidential and VP candidates voted against it. That is so huge, why isn’t that reported more often?

    September 11, 2008 at 7:27 pm |
  3. Samantha

    An infant child at home, four other children including an unwed teenager at home, a husband frequently absent for long periods of time working, this is the story of the Palin household. Any truly Christian woman would have alarm bells ringing all over the place, that her #1 responsibility, her own marriage and children are being neglected.

    So what does Gov. Palin do? Run, run as fast as she can, AWAY. First for mayer, then governor and now for the second highest office in the land almost literally 1/2 a world away from home. The so-called Christian Right is absolutely giddy about it. What's wrong with this picture?

    September 11, 2008 at 6:03 pm |
  4. Kate, NV

    As a woman, I'd like to see a woman as VP or President one day. But what it comes down to are the ISSUES and anyone who supported HRC, this is not the election to put a woman who stands against everything you and HRC stand for. If you believe in equal treatment (unbiased by gender , race or religion) then you should look at both sides based on the issues they support and the solutions they bring to this nation.

    The question you have to ask yourself is based on the plans, policies and issues they support "Would you vote for McCain/Palin if they were both Men"? AND "Would you vote for Obama/Biden if they were both White?" That is true equality and true sanity. Come on! Wake up and get real with the 21st century. This is why we have EEO in America because qualifications, education, and policy positions should be the reason you hire someone, not on anything else!!!!

    September 11, 2008 at 4:57 pm |
  5. B.Daytona Bch.

    Where is the compassion of this great mother, Sarah Palin? I can not believe there was not an embrace or simply a cuddle for her baby when she deboarded the plane in Alaska. How important are her children ? Does her husband speak at all? There are many questions surrounding the sincerity of this woman.

    September 11, 2008 at 11:12 am |
  6. Tiana

    As a republican, I've watched my party change for the worse over the years. The fact that McCain would resort to picking a running mate who is UNQUALIFIED boggles my mind. The fact that he picked her because she is a woman completely disgusts me. I give credit to all of the hard working hockey moms out there but being a hockey mom doesn't qualify you for this type of candidacy. Palin has fired up the republicans, you can't deny that. Could it be because she can deliver a speech and doesn't put the crowd to sleep like McCain does? Palin is a McCain puppet. On the outside, she is everything he isn't- attractive, somewhat well spoken, female, somewhat interesting (because we know nothing about her). When it's time to cast my vote, it will be for Obama. I can't believe that there are republicans out there that would endorse the McCain/Palin ticket. Is Ashton Kutcher punking us????

    September 11, 2008 at 11:07 am |
  7. malcolm x

    I dont expect you2 post my remarks cause i know what kind of country this is, but i will say it anyway. the reason john mccain will win this election is because white people, on the avarage, will always vote against there OWN self interest b4 they vote for a black man. its sad but its true. you have a bunch of laid off white people who dont know how they will feed there family as a result of the last 8yrs but they still rather face that than except the fact of a black president. even though that black man might be the one to help them feed there starving family. and you run all around the world talking about democracy. before you go to iraq trying to tell them people about democracy, maybe you should talk to some of these ignorant white people, who would rather starve than vote for someone who dont look like them. your country is pathetic! always was, ALWAYS WILL BE!

    September 11, 2008 at 12:15 am |
  8. cj

    @ Tammy

    It is a bit heavy-handed to say that all women who have abortions are choosing to "murder their unborn child". It would be nice if every woman was a "highly educated", "sexually responsible adult" but that is not the case.

    The story of your family is sweet but, again, that is not always the case. I don't know how many abortions are performed each year – I have only known two people that have had abortions.

    When I was in my teens, a friend's younger sister got pregnant. She was 13. How is a 13 year old supposed to cope with pregnancy, continue with school, and raise a child? Her mother was a single parent of 4 kids and had to work to support them. She couldn't take care of the baby either. They chose abortion.

    I had another friend who, unfortunately, was just naive. She was in her late teens, single, and supporting herself. She had a older sister who was married, had never used birth control, but didn't get pregnant. My friend was naive enough to think that she wouldn't either.

    Neither one of these people made the choice for abortion lightly. It was an agonizing decision – depressing, and painful; both physically and emotionally. And don't give me that adoption baloney. Being pregnant involves having access to good medical care, the option to take days off when you are sick, and, again, not everyone is in that situation either.

    Nobody is screaming for the right to murder their children. Nobody WANTS to have an abortion. But, sometimes, it is the only option.

    September 10, 2008 at 11:55 pm |
  9. sandey, georgia

    So many things are circling in my mind about this election. I felt sad yesterday after the McCain campaign spread the smears and when I saw the education ad against Obama, I knew then that John McCain gave his soul to Karl Rove. I felt sad for America that the leading news was 'lipstick'.. What the heck? The entire Sarah Palin thing is a train wreck of John McCain recklessness and total loss of control in his own campaign. He may be up in the female vote in his base etc, etc but a man’s integrity should mean something. After all the debunking of the lipstick stuff, McCain in an interview, still said Obama called Palin a pig with lipstick. So I ask, has John McCain lost his honor?

    September 10, 2008 at 11:55 pm |
  10. R K

    Let me see if I get this straight. Just because Sarah Palin looks "okay" that WE THE PEOPLE are just supposed to take McCain and the Republican Right's word that she is qualified to be the VP. As a woman I find that extremely insulting. She came across as arrogant, condesending, and down right nasty, for someone is presenting herself to the nation/world for the first time. And just because she is a WOMAN, does not make her the RIGHT WOMAN. She does not even have the qualifications to become the CEO of a major American Corporation and I doubt very very seriously that Donald Trump would even give her a second look. ENOUGH IS ENOUGH. The powers that be that are pulling the strings behind CNN, ABC, CBS, and MSNBC are acting like some dogs in heat. This is OUR COUNTRY and not some major huge conglomorate where you can manipulate the masses into thinking whatever you tell them. I have stopped watching ALL of the major news organizations, CNN, for one because they are doing the American people an extreme disservice to bow down to the McCain campaign. It is beginning to feel like "state sponsored" television. It takes longer to have a background and criminal check for a regular GS job than she has had for the VP. I also find it truly truly disgusting how everybody is falling all over her. Obama has been thru hell and back, I mean, you guys hounded this man day and night and critiqued, analyzed, and over analyzed EVERYTHING AND I MEAN EVERYTHING that is man said and did. And for you guys to call yourselves journalist and now NOT scrutinze Ms. Palin in the same manner, just because she is a woman, is a total disgrace. She knows absolutely nothing about the issues that are unique to the lower 48 states. I have lost all respect for most of the news anchors and news organizations because of their behavior. You guys seem like you love the CHAOS AND MADNESS, which this has become. This is NOT ABOUT RATINGS, AGAIN THIS IS ABOUT OUR COUNTRY. It is time for America to WAKE UP, AND OPEN YOUR EYES, AMERICA WAKE UP, to what our society is becoming. It seems it is all about being a celebrity. We have two BRILLIANT MEN, Obama and Biden and we cannot see it. Obama chose the person that he thought was BEST for the job. A President or VP needs to be a person of intelligence, wisdom, integrity, honor, depth, and foresight and truly from the depths of their soul want what is best for ALL citizens and not just the "RIGHTEOUS FEW". AMERICA, WAKE UP, WAKE UP AMERICAN and let us not let our BUTS/BUTTS get in the way of moving this country forward to becoming great and respected.

    September 10, 2008 at 11:20 pm |
  11. L.D. Wiltz

    Why is Sarah Palin getting a free pass on her unwed pregnant daughter? Instead of criticizing Obama's sex education plan, she should be embracing it. She still has two (2) daughters.

    September 10, 2008 at 11:07 pm |
  12. Gail

    Fact: Obama will give everyone that makes a tax break if you make less than $227,000. Let me ask, does the average American make
    $227,000. 00 or more? That would be "no"
    Fact: Obama went to Harvard – graduated and choice to help the poor and underprivileged – McCain has done nothing for the poor and undeterprivileged-he fought in the war – ok – but he has voted against bills to help the underprivleged – Do you think he'll do more in the white house? That would be a "no"
    Fact: Obama has tried to run a campaign on issues and has been honest and descent about it. McCain has done nothing but attach Obama to distract him because he can't talk about issues without Liberman – and certainly Palin can't help – why do you think she's not talking to the press.
    Fact: We need to think about our Country – more people have lost their lives, homes, health care, jobs and sense of security because of the present administration. Don't be fooled by "reform". McCain just wants to get in the White House – that's why he choose Palin. He doesn't care about you and me. Why should we give him a chance.
    We need to get our lives back.

    September 10, 2008 at 11:05 pm |
  13. marka danielle

    OMG... how true!!! I couldn't have said it better!!!!!
    Thank you Liz
    September 10th, 2008 6:46 pm ET

    "I’m amazed that at this time in our history women are willing to throw away every bit of progress people like HRC fought for just to have a VP that doesn’t have a penis. Let’s face it–it really is that simple for these women. My daughter & grandaughter deserve better. Like they’ve said to men for years, ladies thinks with your other head."

    September 10, 2008 at 10:55 pm |
  14. Pete

    If Americans base their votes on a pretty face, Lipstick Palin, then they will deserve to have a Republican President for the next four years. No wonder the whole world thinks that Americans are stupid. You people just never learn!!!

    September 10, 2008 at 10:51 pm |
  15. Wilbur in California

    After reading an essay from Naomi Wolf, in college I wrote that many men fear the perfect woman, a woman who not only has the beauty with brains to match, but a woman who can fill the roles which most men feel solely entitled to; leaving men feel they have less worth in society due to a female who is their equal intellectually, if not physically as well. Some men don’t want to be humbled by a woman nor do they want to be embarrassed by one. With Palin’s beauty, governing experience, courage to fight special interest, and all out moxie, she certainly possesses much of what the perfect woman has, which she has used to propel her to where she is today in politics.

    When I see Carrie Underwood's music video of "All-American Girl", I used to see Hillary, but know, it is Sarah Palin.

    Don't you know that what McCain said about Hillary, when using the lipstick term, was forgotten by most, and that using lipstick in any humorous or insulting context would automatically make people think of Palin? Sheesh He should have known that Palin's use of the term is still fresh in the minds of Americans, especially women. Remember when the so-called unifier said that he still doesn't know how she (Hillary) "does it in heels". Was that a sexist Freudian slip of the tongue about Hillary being a female politician who was such a formidable politician opponent during the primary campaign?

    September 10, 2008 at 10:43 pm |
  16. Patty Connelly

    I am so disappointed in this election; disappointed and very fearful. How can Americans vote for someone like McCain and Palin. All they do is rip apart Obama, give nothing but lip service on issues, and tell lies and we know they are lying. Doesn't integrity count anymore. These two people, an old man with old ideas, and a woman who cannot even answer a question from the press, are applying for the most important two jobs in the world. I didn't know who I was going to vote for when Obama became the nominee. However, I sure know now; it's Obama, and I am volunteering at his campaign site in Western PA. John McCain did not put country first with the Palin pick; he put himself first. They are no Mavericks; they are liers and what is worse; no one seems to care that they are lying.

    September 10, 2008 at 10:29 pm |
  17. Hoku

    Why are Palin and McCain traveling together all the time? Is it insecurity? Photo ops? How old is Palin? How old is John McCain?

    September 10, 2008 at 10:29 pm |
  18. kevin p

    Before she was even considered as a VP candidate, I was told by my brother ( a geologist in Alaska), the Palen's husband worked for BP petroleum. At the time BP was being scrutinized for knowingly using faulty portions of the Alaska Pipeline that was severely damaging the ecosystem, but refused to shut that portion down long enough to make some vital repairs.
    Finally, after cosiderable pressure from Alaskan residents, the same oil company that makes commercials about how ecologically conscious they are did make the uverdue repairs.
    Coincidentally, this was done just prior to Sarah running for Gov.
    Is there any real "coincidence" about this?
    Why haven't we heard more about this?
    This was something I was aware of before she even became Gov.!!

    September 10, 2008 at 10:27 pm |
  19. lampe

    I hate to inform you people, but it was The DNC, Obama, and his supporters, that have set women back years and years. Obama, was not man enough to let his big ego go. The DNC, wanted to be the first party to get a Black Person nominated, so therefore they through the best candidate away. They allowed people to talk about HRC, like she was trash under their feet. Now if you don't see this as a set-back for all women, then you deserve to live your lifes in the shadows of men, you deserve to do the same work as a man, for less pay. This is about so much more then a women's reprodutive system, and if you think for one minute women, are just going to roll-over and play dead for Obama, you are highly mistaken. I am a proud supporter of HRC, but I will never vote for a party, that is not willing to give a women an equal shot.

    September 10, 2008 at 10:23 pm |
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