So McCain has chosen Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate. She’s young — 44 — and a self-described “hockey mom.” Because Palin is relatively unknown on the national level (she’s been governor since 2006, and before that was mayor of a town of 8,000 people), a lot of people are already identifying this as a ploy to snag the votes of disaffected Hillary Clinton supporters. I don’t know whether that’s true (my guess is yes), but it’s my sense that Hillary backers who don’t like Obama are not going to like a McCain/Palin ticket much better.
Let me say right off the bat that, overall, I think it’s great that Republicans have chosen to elevate a woman to this level — no matter what their motivations. I want to see more women of all parties involved in politics. But, as we stated over and over in the primaries, a politician’s gender isn’t everything. It’s merely one factor to be considered. And quite frankly, Palin’s political views suck.
First up, she’s super anti-choice. The forced-pregnancy crowd is thrilled today! (She recently had her fifth child, who has Down’s syndrome.) She’s against marriage equality and supports a federal gay-marriage ban, but has made sure to note that she “has gay friends.” Though she has signed on to same-sex partner benefits. She believes schools should teach creationism. She’s also pretty terrible on environmental issues, and is a huge advocate of drilling in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge. Plus, she’s embroiled in a scandal:
But Palin’s seemingly bright future was clouded in late July when the state legislature voted to hire an independent investigator to find out whether she tried to have a state official fire her ex-brother-in-law from his job as a state trooper.
As Vanessa blogged last month, Bill Kristol was claiming McCain would pick Palin — and that would prove that Republicans are “much more open to strong women.” Frankly, that’s bullshit. Republicans are more open to a certain type of woman — one who is strongly against things like equal pay, universal health care, and reproductive freedom. In other words, the party is pro-woman-candidates, as long as they enact anti-woman policies.
More to come later… Any Alaskans out there who know a bit more about her? What do the rest of you think?
UPDATE: My colleague Adam over at TAP makes some great points:
The pick of Palin is dripping with transparent condescension, the notion that the enthusiasm behind Hillary was simply the result of her being a woman, that it had nothing to do with what she actually stood for, and in that sense it’s equally sexist. Palin is essentially a hard right ideologue, and therefore nothing like Hillary as far as substance is concerned. It’s not very different from running Alan Keyes against Barack Obama in 2004. The conservative media reaction has already engaged in paternalistic language, with FOX News reporting on television that “McCain broke the glass ceiling,” implying in fact, that the pick had nothing to do with Palin or her qualifications, but merely her gender. It’s fitting that the party positing affirmative action as a program that picks people exclusively based on race or gender rather than qualification should do something similar given an opportunity for political advancement. While Obama is promising change through policy, not simply through the circumstances of his birth, the McCain campaign thinks his appeal is simply visual and demographic, and therefore something they can exploit.
UPDATE II: Bilerico has more on her record on LGBT issues.