Monday, September 1

:: When Misogyny Doesn't Pay

Sometimes, not too often but every once in a while, it actually doesn’t pay to be an ignorant sexist numbskull. This is one of those times. Unfortunately, some of our Dems are so committed to the primary election gameplan that they can’t even fake being enlightened human beings when it is obviously to their own advantage.

I speak of the utterly repugnant rumor mill and commentary about the announcement by VP nominee Sarah Palin that her daughter is pregnant. WHAT DID HE KNOW AND WHEN DID HE KNOW IT…. 17 YEAR OLD DAUGHTER PREGNANT screams the splash page of the Huffington Post. Apparently it’s a given that having a daughter who is pregnant out of wedlock is so scandalous, so unacceptable, that McCain must not have known about it before he chose her. Thus, it is evidence of his poor judgement in choosing Palin. 

This assertion comes on the heels of a ridiculous rumor started by the bully boyz at DailyKos and continuing at HuffPo (and I'm sure elsewhere) that aims to discredit Palin by saying her youngest son isn’t her son, but her daughter’s son…. What the motive would be for Palin to do this escapes me but its providing a platform for all sorts of prurient inquiries into Palin’s abdomen, her behavior (how dare she fly while pregnant!) and her choice of hospital (she bypassed a hospital that was closer by, with a better neonatal unit!  How dare she endanger her baby that way!).

The author, Steve Rosenfeld, tries to act like its "the media" who doesn't respect privacy, in the midst of his invasion-of-privacy exercise.  Nice try.  The comments reinforce the snide, derogatory tone:  "It seems to me her priorities at this time are not her children. It certainly would seem her family has taken a backseat to her own personal ambitions."

I give Senator Obama credit for stating "I would strongly urge people to back off these kinds of stories… You know my mother had me when she was 18, and how a family deals with issues and, you know, teenage children, that shouldn't be the topic of our politics and I hope that anybody who is supporting me understands that's off limits." That is the decent thing to say, and for once I actually believe he is sincere. But once you’ve let loose the dogs of misogyny its damn hard to get them back in the kennel. And those dogs are barking mad.

I know it would be too much to suggest people give credit to McCain for doing something good – for not treating the situation as though it is shameful and disqualifying. But is it too much to ask that people who call themselves liberal shut the hell up? Instead we have the “left” playing the role of the fire-and-brimstone religious right (this sexual behavior was unsanctioned by the patriarchy! the whole family must be excluded from public life for this grave offense against decency!).

The notion that McCain didn’t vett Palin before choosing her is a popular one. But I would bet real money that the vetting happened. In fact, I’m surprised no one has clocked onto what a bonus this is for the GOP ticket.

I predict the five (or six or seven)-months-pregnant thing will be brought up in the context of using late term / "partial birth" abortion as a wedge issue against the Democrtic ticket. I can picture Palin saying - "I've seen my grandson’s sonograms and listened to his tiny heartbeat, and no way can you tell me my grandson isn't a human being worthy of protection," or somesuch. That would certainly knock Team Obama back on the defensive, sticking him with trying to delineate what he thinks should and shouldn't be permitted, and when. If I were a GOPper, I'd be looking forward to playing that card. Its a strong one.

The irony is that despite all the trouble Obama went through to inoculate himself against being called extreme on choice - alienating us along the way – he’ll be labeled extreme anyway. And his statements about not supporting a mental health exception won’t help him one bit.


RS said...

Ummm... I find it interesting that the first thing that (apparently) comes to your mind upon hearing that Governor Palin's 17-year-old daughter is pregnant is to unload upon the "bully boyz" who appear to be your favorite whipping horse.

[By the way, the first comment on (user-contributed, unmoderated) dkos diaries that try to propagate the "Trig is Sarah's grandson" rumor is usually - "delete this diary".]

From what I understand, you are a firm believer in abortion rights, and an advocate/lobbyist for the same. So would it be safe to assume that you are not in favor of abstinence-only sex-ed programs?
In any case, apparently Governor Palin, like Senator McCain, is not in favor of explicit sex-ed programs, preferring abstinence-only-till-marriage (ontheissues).

And yet, here we have the (unfortunate but) best example of why such an approach is stupid. If Bristol's parents couldn't teach her enough to keep from having sex/getting pregnant... How would a school fare?

Now, would Governor Palin retract her previous stance and favor explicit sex-ed programs, presumably incurring the wrath of the religious right? That'd be a mavericky move, wouldn't it? Or would she continue to crusade for abstinence-only programs, which might end up with many girls who are not fortunate enough to have a supportive family with either an unwanted baby or (potentially, give a couple years of a McCain/Palin administration) an illegal abortion?

[It's not like Palin hasn't had time to think this through - Bristol's been pregnant for five months, and the news would have come out eventually.]

So - I find it interesting that the first blog I see from you is unloading on the "bully boyz"... Not on the issue (apparently) closest to you.

Anonymous said...

If the new coalition ever had a moral compass, it has been locked in a drawer for the past sixteen months.

McCain has Obama boxed in with nowhere to go. The "inexperience" road is closed, had he reined in the dogs all those long, miserable months ago when Hillary was being abused, Obama's statement, sincere or not (and I am leaning towards not, since I think someone has finally told him that what worked THEN, may not work NOW) may have carried some weight, not now. Remember if you will, that the only public figure to defend Hillary against the "Glen Close" attacks was, for all his faults,John McCain.

Pissing on 52% of the voting public once, is stupid, pissing on them twice, is a monumental tactical blunder and political suicide.

The Republicans are rallying around Sarah Palin, defending one of their own from outside attacks, unlike the Democrats who have proven over and over again this year that we only eat our own we don't defend them.

Thank you Democrats, once again, you have snatched defeat from the jaws of victory - well done!

Anonymous said...

rs: The "trig question" has been going on for days and only a little while ago did Moulitsas retract the story and start deleting comments trying to dredge it up again. The fact that it should never, ever, have been printed in the first place, seems to have been lost in the wank fest.

What did not stop however, was the hand-wringing,faux concern about whether Palin should have flown on a plane after her water broke, blah blah blah and the slut, whore and worse, over a teenager's pregnancy.

Taking the politics of
personal destruction to the Republican's home turf, where they are masters of the game
is foolhardy, they are not the fractious rabble we democrats have always been proud to be, they are lock-step, they rally round, and attacking Palin and her family on a personal level, merely distracts from the Republican policies and practices. This used to be, before the new coalition, when adults were in charge, common knowledge.

Moulitsas, Sullivan, and Ariana are all republicans, I get that, this is how they play, but instead of feigning horror and surprise that a Republican candidate would chose a Republican running mate (duh)and sitting around talking endlessly about a mother and daughter (you are not going to vote for one, the other is none of your damn business)and which one is more fu@$#able (yes I've been over to Kos too);
How about sitting around discussing how to shore up the base of your own party?

Just saying......

Nina Miller said...

RS- The NY Times today has a lead article on whether the disclosure that Governor Palin's daughter is pregnant - this scandalous, scandalous revelation - was known by McCain prior to choosing her as running mate, and whether it will be enough to result in her being dropped from the ticket.

So now we have a situation in which it is taken for granted that having a child out of wedlock is so shocking, so egregious, that one can legitimately (cough) wonder whether it will end the national political career of the mother of the mother of the child. This is not where the Democrats should be. This is the opposite of where the Democrats should be.

We are supposed to be past the point where the "shame" of a young woman's sexual activity so dishonors her parents that they are seen as no longer morally fit to hold high public office.

Instead, plenty of Democrats are perfectly fine with reinforcing that message if it means scoring a political point against McCain. That may be good for the party in the very short term, but it is bad for women and thus bad for the party in the medium to long term. Not to mention being the morally wrong thing to do.

Palin's position on abstinence only sex education is irrelevant to this discussion. Her position may be - and probably is - that "explicit sex education" (the wording used on the questionnaire that's the basis for this claim) should not be taught in the schools, but that doesn't mean parents shouldn't teach their kids about contraception. The crux of the issue is that parents want total control over what their kids learn - which means the parents are free to educate or miseducate as they see fit. Public health advocates say the consequences are too important to leave sex education willy nilly to the whims of parents.

So we don't know if Governor and Mr. Palin taught their kids responsible, comprehensive sex ed or not; we don't know if Miss Palin was using contraception that failed or not; we don't know anything. And it is absolutely none of our business to find out.

The kind of thinking certain Dems are promulgating is on the same continuum as "honor" murders. Of course here no one is suggesting the Palins cleanse their family's reputation by erasing their daughter - that's the far end of the spectrum. But the underlying concept is the same. Did McCain know about this horrendous stain on the Palin family's honor? How could Governor Palin be fit to serve when she has allowed this horrible sin to happen? How could she manage a country when she can't manage her wayward, wanton daughter?

Wrong, wrong and wrong.

Anonymous said...

When you support a policy that doesn't even work in your own home, well, then that IS relevant to that specific policy discussion. It is like being pro-life and then having an abortion yourself.

You should wake up to that fact - it makes you look ignorant when you argue otherwise.

Anonymous said...

There are literally dozens of women in the Republican Party more qualified for the vice-presidency, and better suited to it, than Sarah Palin. As Carville noted, Olympia Snowe is one. Kay Bailey Hutchison is another. Connecticut Governor Jodi Rell is a third.

Why not pick any of these women, if you've decided you have to pick a woman? Well, in the case of these three, it's pretty clear why they're out in the cold.

Each of them supports abortion rights. Now, actually picking one of these women as the Republican vice-presidential nominee in spite of those views would, of course, have been the move of a true maverick, and the move of a man serious about placing the people best prepared for the job in stewardship of our nation.

No wonder John McCain didn't do it.

RS said...

ex-pat: You completely missed the main point of my post.

All I did was point out the logical fallacy in your positioning. You say reproductive rights are very important to you, and Governor Palin is against abortion; but if we follow what she says, Bristol happens. You know it; I know it: The policy she and John McCain will implement will bring far worse results to less-fortunate teenage girls (not everybody has a supportive family).
So yes, I don't think my comments are irrelevant.
[One doesn't need a background in abortion politics to figure that out - just logical reasoning.]

I didn't want to say this, but I have to: you keep saying the issues are important and so you supported Senator Clinton over Senator Obama, but the more I see, the more I get the impression this is little more than identity politics on your part.

Nina Miller said...

RS - if you think I've pulled out of thin air the charge that plenty of the same places that were stomping grounds for Hillary-bashers are now stomping grounds for profoundly anti-progressive attacks on Palin, then we must not be looking at the same websites.

The anti-choice position is in itself illogical. Most anti-choicers would make an exception in cases of rape and incest - but why is it okay to murder a child if one parent is a criminal? Do we punish children for the crimes of their parents in other circumstances? (no, unless the crime is tax evasion...). Most anti-choicers don't support punishing the woman who has the abortion, only the people involved in procuring and performing the abortion. How does one justify that? Do we have other criminal penalties that explicity do not punish the perpetrator of the crime, but everyone else around the criminal? A lot of anti-choicers wouldn't ban fertility treatments, or force the implantation of all embryos; but what makes this circumstance different from abortion. Seriously, the whole way they think is screwed up, even if you accept the premise that abortion = killing children. Ultimately, what Obama said about being pro-choice - he "wouldn't want his daughter punished with a baby" I think it was, was clumsy but on the right track. Most anti-choicers see forced pregnancy as a form of social control. Abortion should be restricted for women who behave wantonly, but if the sex was nonconsensual (rape and incest) or within the bounds of matrimony (fertility treatments) abortion is okay.

The problem with using Palin's daughter as an example in the argument that abstinence-only sex education programs don't work (and we already have that evidence) or to say that Palin is a hypocrite for supporting a policy that she knows from her own experience doesn't work, is that we don't know - and should not try to find out - the circumstances of Bristol's pregnancy. We don't if she was using contraception that failed and we don't know that she wasn't trying to get pregnant. In either of those circumstances, comprehensive sex education in the schools or at home wouldn't have made much difference.

The other problem you have with this argument is that it necessitates characterizing Bristol's pregnancy as a mistake that should have been avoided. And that is not somewhere I think we should go. It's important to counsel girls against getting pregnant too early, but once you are dealing with an individual pregnant girl who will have an actual child, it is not good to use that kind of language. The kid does not deserve to be called "a mistake" by umpteen thousand people. Nor does that kid deserve to find out that the shameful circumstances of his/her conception drove his grandmother out of national public life. What's done is done and the best thing is to leave Bristol's pregnancy entirely out of the discussion.

Anonymous said...

Wow, ciccina you are either high or an effing retard. Seek help you freak. Your arguments are pure rubbish. Do you even know that you make no sense whatsoever??

Here is a FACT:

Both McCain and Palin oppose abortion even in the case of rape or incest. LOOK IT UP! McCain used to have a less strict view but flip-flopped in order to satisfy the right wingers.

I have neither the time nor the inclination to set your stupid ass straight on your other inane arguments. Maybe some other chump will.

What a nutjob.

Anonymous said...

What an embarrassment.

This year, we witnessed history. A woman ran for president and received 18 million votes from a citizenry that made clear it is indeed ready to consider serious women candidates seriously.

And you, Governor Palin, are making a mockery of that message.

As has been noted by many -- from activists to members of Congress -- you, Governor Palin, are no Hillary Clinton.

But, worse than that, you are a disgrace to the culmination of 200 years of women's struggle that Hillary Clinton represents.

You did not work at the Children's Defense Fund, fighting to secure rights for children.

Instead, you used your line-item veto to strike funding for programs that assist teenage mothers.

You did not revamp the education system of an entire state -- though you are governor of a state in which the illiteracy rate is astronomically high.

Instead, your claim to reformer fame is your activities at the PTA.

You have not traveled overseas to speak in dozens of countries about the rights of women.

You did not stand on a stage among half a dozen men and make the case to the America people for why you are qualified to lead this nation.

You did not receive 18 million votes of confidence. In fact, you were nearly recalled as mayor of your tiny Alaskan town.

You have not stood up for reproductive freedom or even reproductive education.

Instead, you have championed ignorance.

And the proof of your failure lives under your very own roof.

You have agreed to accept a nomination for which you are wholly, indisputably unqualified. And in so doing, you have allowed yourself to become the punchline to a very bad joke.

Except that this isn't a joke, Governor Palin. This is our country's future. And while we have certainly found amusement in the disaster that appears to have been your "vetting process," it's really not funny.

The American people continue to learn new and alarming facts about you, but you already knew these facts when you accepted this position:

• You already knew that you were under investigation for ethical violations.

• You already knew that you turned your town's budget surplus into a deficit before you moved on.

• You already knew of your close involvement with indicted Senator Ted Stevens.

• You already knew the carwash business of which you and your husband were part owners was shut down by the government for failure to comply with regulations.

• You already knew that your husband was a member of a radical political party that advocates secession from the United States.

• You already knew that your teenage daughter was pregnant.

And you damn well know, Governor Palin, that as governor, you have not made any decisions whatsoever regarding the overseas deployment and activities of the Alaska National Guard.

And you damn well know, Governor Palin, that despite your geographical proximity to Russia, you have never been involved in foreign relations with Russia.

You know that, Governor Palin.

And you damn well know that despite your cynical attempt to link your name to the success of Hillary Clinton, you also said that you would not vote for her.

The fight for women's equality is a long and continuous struggle. And you, Governor Palin, are clearly on the wrong side of history. While we fight to prove that we deserve to be taken seriously, your willingness to be on this presidential ticket at this time makes a mockery of that struggle.

And now, although you chastised Hillary Clinton for "whining" about unfair and sexist treatment by the media, because Senator McCain's campaign -- your campaign -- cannot answer the myriad legitimate questions surrounding your vetting process and qualifications, it has instead accused the media, the Democrats, and Obama's campaign of sexism.

And you damn well know, Governor Palin, that just isn't true.

Your own party adamantly opposes affirmative action, and yet, tonight you will stand on a stage and accept the nomination for vice president of your party, a nomination for which you are unprepared and unqualified and which you did not earn and do not deserve.

This is not why Hillary Clinton ran for president, and it is certainly not why 18 million of us voted for her. We were not drawn to her because she won a beauty pageant; we were drawn to her because we believed that decades of work and service and education gave her the wisdom and experience to be able to lead our country out of its current darkness.

That, Governor Palin, was why we stood with Hillary Clinton.

Your candidacy makes a mockery of Hillary Clinton's campaign. It makes a mockery of those who supported her. It makes a mockery of decades and centuries of women who were beaten and jailed, who fought with all their might for a day when there would be no more glass ceilings.

You, Governor Palin, are not a continuation of that legacy. You are an insult to that legacy.

Shame on you, Governor Palin. Shame on you.

Anonymous said...

As a long, long time proponent of "choice" I am only recently finding out what Pro-Choice actually means.

Apparently, my interpretation of "choice", which is have an abortion or NOT, or keep the baby or NOT, have the baby adopted or NOT, is all wrong!

Should we also start screaming "moral failure" at parents who despite providing sex education for their children at home and at school and find themselves surprise grandparents - I don't think so.