McCain and the Bimbo, Part 2

Poor hapless John McCain! He thought he’s scored a coup when he chose Sarah Palin to be his running mate, but his putative Veep has shown herself to be more a liability than an asset. Although she initially shored up McCain’s wavering support among the evangelical Christians and the hard-core Right, whenever she’s articulated her positions on issues all the way from global warming to foreign policy, Sarah Palin has shown herself to be an out-and-out bimbo, in that classic sense of the word—pretty, very pretty, but absolutely vapid.

Now, with her hardball campaign against Obama that does not hesitate to sink to any low whatsoever, as shown by her dredging up the Bill Ayers matter and using it to link Obama to alleged “terrorism,” Ms. Palin has shown herself to fit another classic pejorative for the female that also begins with a “b.” Whatever McCain had hoped to gain by his opportunistic pick of Sarah Palin to be his Vice-Presidential running-mate, and thus the next President of the United States should McCain be incapacitated, has completely evaporated. As thoroughly evaporated as a water spill on a hard surface under the incessant glare of sunlight. A fitting riposte to John Mc Cain indeed, who’s shown himself to be every bit as underhanded as his running mate.

But Sarah Palin, along with Hillary Clinton, raises an interesting conundrum for feminists: given both their serious, major-party candidacies for high political office, and thus at least cracking the Glass Ceiling that held women down, is this the best that it can come to? Especially in the face of other strong women who have achieved exactly that pinnacle of high office, Margaret Thatcher and Indira Gandhi, do we have any reason to celebrate the accession of women merely as qua women? This male feminist sympathizer answers a resounding “No!” Women are not separate from the broader humanity, although far more discriminated against than men (but not across-the-board, and with differential discrimination varying from culture to culture), and must be judged according to those intellectual and ethical norms we would apply to all who aspire to lead us, regardless of race or gender.

In this regard, both Sarah Palin and Hillary Clinton have roundly been disappointments, and while they have succeeded in showing that women can be serious candidates for high office, they have also shown that they can be as venal, close-minded and shady as any male contender as well. Equal opportunity does not mean equal virtue; and while 2008 has demonstrably shown that women in politics now need to be taken very seriously, that seriousness does not necessarily extend to the personal and intellectual qualities of the women candidates themselves. Despite the serious runs for high office, Hillary Clinton is still a wretched opportunist not in the least hesitant to stoop to race baiting, and Sarah Palin eagerly follows suit. The main difference between them is: it’s much harder to classify, and thus dismiss, Hillary Clinton as a bimbo!