Election 2008

Palin Pick Is GOP Hypocrisy at its Best

Will the media test her on substance or let her play "Ms. Congeniality?" It is up to the public to see through the fact-free diet we're being fed.
In selecting Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as his running mate, John McCain is dusting off an old GOP tool: the estrogen guard. Slap a friendly, female face on a hard core-conservative political platform, and pray that the pundits will only take pot-shots and talk about gender. It worked for George W. Bush and it just may work for Palin. 

Watching Palin address the RNC from here in St. Paul, Wednesday, I could have sworn I heard Katherine Harris cheer. Remember Harris, Florida's Secretary of State in 2001, and co-chair of her state's Bush/Cheney Committee? No one did more to snag the White House for her man -- and no one was laughed and scoffed at more heartily by the media. While the press poo-poo'ed her make-up ("she seems to have applied her makeup with a trowel" wrote the Washington Post) and introduced her to the public as caricature ("Cruella de Ville"), as Florida's top election-cop, Harris purged enough voter rolls, understaffed enough voting places and ill-equipped the voting system sufficiently to guarantee election day chaos. Parodied in the press, she rose to stardom in the GOP. Come Inauguration Day 2001, Florida Republicans threw an enormous bash for the woman they dubbed "our Joan of Arc." Soon after she was elected to Congress. 

So it is with Palin. While her record stinks, so does the media coverage. In place of serious discussion of her policies on the environment, on human rights, on taxes, free speech and governance, we've had five days of "Veep Pregnant Teen Shock" and there's more than enough misogyny in the mix to give the McCain camp a stick to beat any truly investigative members of press-corps with. 

Desperate for female votes (a group the Democrats have taken for granted for years,) John McCain clearly hopes his Palin pick will burnish his appeal among middle-of-the-road women. It's a long-shot. Palin believes abortion is a crime even in the case of rape and incest (that was even too draconian for the voters of South Dakota). She supports teaching creationism in schools as strongly as, as Governor, she opposed environmental protections for the Holy planet. 

The hypocrisy is rank. Bristol, Palin's daughter "made the decision on her own to keep the baby," McCain's aides told the press. That's not a choice pregnant teens would have under the proposed administration of her mother and McCain. As for her claims to oppose corruption and pork - according to the Alaska press, she supported that costly bridge to "nowhere" for years, before finally canceling it as Governor. And experience? Again, according to Alaskan papers, during Palin's tenure as Mayor, most of the actual work of running small Wasilla was turned over to an administrator after Palin's precipitous firings gave rise to a recall campaign. Mayor Palin even tried to fire City

Librarian after she demurred at a proposal to censor the library's collection. 

Will the media see the substance or only the "Ms. Congeniality." We'll find out soon enough. But it's likely she'll get plenty of jabs in before then if her first performance on the national stage is anything to go by. Palin can dig at Obama more effectively than her running mate. (Does anyone not hear the racism in her allusion to John McCain's as the "sort of name you find on small town war memorials.") And if you're counting on her getting a grilling on the campaign trail, don't hold your breath. Reading from the Karen Hughes/Karl Rove campaign playbook, they McCain team will keep Palin from answering questions (as they did a young Texas Governor called Bush.)

They're already de-legitimating the questioners, and there will simply be no access for anyone but "Fox News" pals and those who act like them.

 So will the public that's been fed a fact-free diet of John McCain the "maverick," see through Palin, the fresh-faced feminist? Don't bet on it.

 Laura Flanders is host of GRITtv.org and author of BushWomen: Tales of a Cynical Species, (2004, Verso.)
Laura Flanders is the host of GRITtv, Mon-Thursday on Free Speech TV (Dish Network chn. 9315) and streaming at GRITtv.org.