Sarah Palin: from Little Darlin’ to Scapegoat

First, Fox couldn’t sing Palin’s praises hard enough. Then the election ended – and not well for the party Rupert Murdoch supports – and now Fox can’t tell us enough about the “foibles of Sarah Palin.” (They claim they were prevented from reporting this stuff during the election – by whom, I’d like to know.)  At the very same time, they defend McCain’s choice of her as a running mate:

It’s not McCain’s campaining that cost him the election. Nor was it his choice to echo the policies of an extremely unpopular president until he bought a clue and changed his tune midstream except not really. Nor was it his ham-handed attempt to woo Hillary Clinton voters with the substitution of another woman, as if they’re all interchangeable to us. No, it was, as always, The Woman who cost him the election.

Now, let’s be clear. Palin is underqualified to be president (so am I; so are most of us), and I believe McCain’s rationale in selecting her was all about demographics, and that shows a reckless disregard for the well-being of the US on McCain’s part. Attempting to hide Palin’s lack of qualification shows a reckless disregard on the part of whomever dictated that it not be reported.

But none of this is Palin’s fault. You can criticize her for her policies and her actions and things she says (and there’s plenty there to criticize), but it’s not her responsibility to turn down the offer of a lifetime. It’s McCain’s job to exercise some intelligence and discretion. But there’s nothing quite like using a woman, casting her aside, and then scapegoating her for your (or your party’s) failures, and that’s what everyone from McCain to the press is doing.

Choosing Palin probably did harm McCain’s chances. But it was the choice, not the woman. It was the man who made the choice, not the woman who played her part as asked.

Remember, girls and women: when they make you an offer that’s too good to be true, you may regret accepting. On the other hand, if you don’t accept, things will never change. On the other other hand, if you accept and then make a fool of yourself, you might set us all back twenty years. Oh, never mind. We’re damned if we do, damned if we don’t and damned when we point out what bullshit it all is.


  1. fourthwave says

    I completely agree.

    I am not at all ashamed to say that I hate Sarah Palin. Granted, I do not know her personally; she may be a perfectly pleasant person. But I hate everything she stands for and pretty much disagree with every issue of which she is a proponent. I also think she handled herself deplorably during the whole campaign. I am far from being qualified to be Vice President, but even I know that you shouldn’t answer an interview question like “What newspapers do you read?” with “All of them.”

    That said, even I am sickened by the way the Republican Party and the right-wing news media have thrown her under the bus. Although I’m not at all surprised. Like you say, she was part of a ploy anyway and so, as a political tool, she’s completely dispensable. As a woman, she’s also a convenient scapegoat. So shocking that the Republicans’ sudden “feminism” didn’t outlast the election. Such hypocrites.

  2. SunlessNick says

    The person you should choose for Vice President is the person you’d vote for yourself. (Since if anything happens to you, that’s what you’re effectively doing). Nothing’s ever going to convince me that McCain would have voted for Palin. Nothing’s ever going to convince me that he really believed she deserved the position of VP.

    I do think he chose her for more than appealing to female voters – I also think he chose her to say the stuff that he couldn’t. To voice the extremist positions that a presidential candidate would get called on even by their supporters – but which might be let slide in the deputy – and which will appeal to the violent, extremist base he wanted to cultivate without doing so directly.

    It’s telling that it was Palin’s rally where the N-word was uttered. He wanted her, because it might not have been uttered at his.

    Which is also a ploy.

    And which in my view makes the current blaming of her even worse – since I am sure that the blatantly nasty stuff she came out with was what the campaign wanted from her, and probably asked of her.

  3. Scarlett says

    Even my DAD, who’s an anti-feminist hypocrite who couldn’t stand Palin from the begining, thought it wasn’t fair that she got blamed for the Republicans losing. I think her being part of the campaign influence people away from them but it was obvious from the start that she was going to be detrimental to the campaign, and McCain went and hired her anyway. That’s his fault, not hers.

  4. says

    Well, I would say that yes, she *is* to be blamed for not turning it down – just as I would be to blame if I were somehow given that offer and didn’t turn it down – because being willfully ignorant is no excuse in defense of hubris. I know I’m not informed enough or a good enough negotiator to run the World’s Only Superpower(TM) and even if I were mayor of Goffstown (the neighboring bedroom community where I went to college, and twice the size of Wasilla) or even mayor of my home city of Manchester (pop almost 1/6 that of Alaska!) or even governor of my state (pop 2x Alaska’s!) I would – hopefully – realize that being able to wrangle the leaders of a fairly sleepy backwater, a quasi-rural state where moose outnumber the humans in some counties is not the same as being able to manage a nation of 300 million! And if I didn’t have the sense to say “Non sum dignus” myself, ’twere no scandal for others to point it out. (And I even know a half-dozen Supreme Court cases beyond Roe vs. Wade without having to study up!) And that would be true even if we were talking of Joe Smoe or Slade Palin instead of myself and Sarah P. Being XX doesn’t imo get you off the obligations of humanity.

    That said, of course sexism is going to be rampant on the right in their dismissal of Gov. Palin – they’ll only make an exception for a successful woman-hatin’ woman. I can’t believe she didn’t realize that she was only “one of the boys” for so long as and in so far as she validated their self-image and self-esteem. Of course, quite a few conservatives have made her their Joan of Arc, their Great White Hope for 2012, with RedState and Michelle Malkin founding Operation Leper and Rich Lowryand John Derbyshire standing by their adulation of her ability to give them little starbursts in their, um, hearts, but I suspect that even Bill Kristol and Steve Schmidt know deep down that she wasn’t the Next Maggie Thatcher, nor even The Next Phyllis Schlafly…

  5. Fran Hartman says

    The choice of Sarah Palin was a cynical one on a number of levels. Had it been a true, genuine attempt to appeal to those voters that were seeking out a strong feminine political role model and felt disenfranchised by the loss of Hilary Clinton on the left, it probably would have gone differently. Perhaps someone like Kay Bailey Hutchinson would have made more sense – but that would have gotten you a strong, self-assured female that would also have brought her own opinions and perspective to the campaign, and as Sunless Nick pointed out so astutely above, probably wouldn’t have been so willing to do the dirty work.

    Instead, the choice of Sarah Palin pretty much personifies the paternalistic white male normative perspective that, even politically, all women are the same in the dark.

    Make no mistake – I’m no Sarah Palin fan – but I do think that it was pretty much lose/lose for her from the start. She was set up to fail, and if the ticket *had* won, I would be willing to bet she would have been muzzled and only allowed to speak when spoken to, and repeat what was rehearsed – though from what we saw, it might have been safer that way. Sigh.

    It really could have gone so much better, if the female voting base had not been so badly misjudged.

  6. aizjanika says

    I completely and totally agree. I’m a liberal and I didn’t support her, and I was glad McCain didn’t win, but this scapegoating is annoying me. Most of the points you made in this article are things I said to my husband when we started seeing this on the news.

    (I don’t even know where I’ve seen it since I don’t watch Fox News or any news except maybe The Daily Show. I’ve just seen little bits and pieces here and there on CNN in the doctor’s waiting room or maybe online news.)

    Choosing Palin probably did harm McCain’s chances. But it was the choice, not the woman. It was the man who made the choice, not the woman who played her part as asked.

    I think I get what you’re saying here. He chose her. It was his decision to choose someone who was so unqualified that she frightened some people away from her campaign. If he had chosen, say, Elizabeth Dole or someone who actually was qualified in some way, I don’t think it would have been as much of a problem for the campaign (maybe in other ways).

    The choice was his, so I hold him responsible for that choice. As much as I disliked her and her views, it made me question his judgment even more than I had been.

    I wouldn’t say it’s not her responsibility to turn it down so much as that she wouldn’t be in that position one way or the other if he hadn’t asked her. He’s the one who should have looked at her qualifications, her background, her family problems, her financial dealings, and her ability to handle campaigning. That was his job to figure out before he even asked her.

    So, yeah. It was his decision, his choice, his responsibility, his fault.

    (They claim they were prevented from reporting this stuff during the election – by whom, I’d like to know.)

    That’s a whole other story. Are they journalists? Seriously? “Prevented”? Are they admitting that their “fair and balanced” network really isn’t? heh

  7. says

    Okay, honestly, I just find it ludicrously impractical to assign Palin the responsibility for turning down this opportunity. If you’re surrounded by more qualified people than yourself who are telling you you have what it takes to move up to management (which you’ve always wanted to do), wouldn’t you tend to assume they know what you’re talking about and take the promotion? People are notoriously bad at assessing their own qualifications – that’s why we have hierarchical structures and peer review.

    It also bothers me that no one EVER said Dan Quayle should have turned down the offer to be Bush’s running mate. Even Republicans made fun of him, saying Bush chose him because Quayle was the only Republican who could make Bush look good in comparison. It was always treated as a choice Bush made, not Quayle’s fault for not turning down the offer of a lifetime.

  8. gategrrl says

    This entire thread reminds me of how blacks and Hispanics are being blamed for the passage of Prop 8 (against gay marriage in California) because they went out and voted for Obama in force when usually, they’re not a presence at the polls.

  9. gategrrl says

    I think it’s a stupid idea (see my above post) and have no idea why, for example, even NPR keeps repeating the idea over and over in their interviews with one particular pollster person. They didn’t seem to question his conclusions, and it was very frustrating.

    My point was, yes, Palin is being scapegoated by the Republicans, but also, so are huge swaths of the population regarding another issue. The reaction is similar. I thought it bore mentioning.

  10. says

    Yeah, the blame game on Prop 8 has really been ugly (which was Gategrrl’s point). California has passed bans on gay marriage before, without a multi-racial candidate on the ballot.

  11. Robin says

    I disagree with most of Sarah Palin’s political views, and can’t stand her personality, but this treatment from her own party is disgraceful.

    As other commenters have noted, she was used as a prop, a sparkly distraction from McCain’s slowly failing campaign. The real problems started when she opened her mouth. When someone in such a visible position comes across as uninformed and inarticulate as she has during the past few months, it just can’t end well for them. The GOP saw that their ploy failed and are trying to get rid of the evidence that it was their idea in the first place. In a way, I can admire Palin for not going down quietly in the face of such shoddy treatment by people she trusted. But it pretty much balances out with my disdain for letting herself get into that position in the first place.


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