The Czar had an awkward moment this weekend. Gathering with friends in Indiana, the discussion at dinner turned to politics. This was unintentional: it started when our friends’s thirteen-year-old daughter shocked the table by stating—against the grain of 13-year-olds everywhere—that she thinks global warming is a farce. The Czar asked her to continue, and she said that when people have to shout so hard to convince you of something, they are either selling you something or trying to convince themselves. She confessed her opinions do not go well at school where the little ones are indoctrinated early on that everything you do or think about kills a polar bear.
The feminine half of our hosts turned her attention to POTUS Obama, and how she has come to loathe his attitude toward the people of Indiana. She is most upset about his bold-faced statements to the people of Elkhart, from his condescension (“I don’t know if you guys have been noticing, but we’ve had a little debate in Washington…”; yeah, they’ve noticed. Hard.) to his complete about-face on how Elkhart—one of the hardest hit communities in the United States—has yet to see any of the boons promised to them.
So, the question naturally followed, why vote for him? Incredibly, she said that the moment the GOP picked Sarah Palin, she picked Obama to win. “I cannot stand that woman,” she said with a shudder. The Царица herself agreed that McCain hit a brick wall in picking her over so many qualified people. This is not nearly the first time the Czar has heard established conservative women speak out against Sarah Palin.
Shocking, and it might be safe to suppose that most male GOP supporters thought she was a great choice. No, liberals, not because she was a former beauty queen…but because she brought a youthful enthusiasm to politics and a common sense, been-there-done-that approach to problem-solving. The Czar asked why, expecting her to state that it was the accent, or the perky hair, or the big cutesy smile, or any of the other stuff we have heard. So why turn on her with nearly the same distaste that liberals of either gender engender? The answer was interesting.
These women were terrified she might screw it up for conservative women. The Couric interview in particular made it look like a conservative woman just doesn’t get politics. Seriously, that’s the best they could come up with? Not someone who can confidently answer a taxation question, jam home the importance of foreign policy, or tell the media to shut up about her private life.
This was interesting. The Czar felt she could handle herself pretty well, given that she had gone from largely unknown governor of a poorly known state to the international spotlight in a matter of hours. The response, which the Czar has seen echoed elsewhere, is that she is anti-intellectual, and goes for the quick and easy sound bite rather than the meaningful answer. Given her acumen, she comes off to conservative women as a manufactured phony.
It seems bizarre, but the less than 10 conservative women the Czar has talked to about this seem to believe, universally, that she does not represent women’s issues or interests nearly as well as Obama.
Fine—you think she’s a fake who either does not represent you, or represents you so well that you fear the slightest mistake will set back the advances of conservative women everywhere. But why would so many women then vote for Obama? If McCain/Palin only represents 50% of your interests, why vote for Obama/Biden, who represents probably 5% at best of your interests?
Because, evidently, women believed her to be a reflection of McCain. Women are convinced, and perhaps with perfectly valid reasons, that Palin was picked to swing the Clinton voters away from Obama. In effect, she was a stunt—and all of her shortcomings were not so much a reflection on Palin as they were a reflection that McCain liked them. Yeah, he liked her youthful enthusiasm and administrative experience, but he didn’t pick a Carly Fiorina, or a Condy Rice, or other under-60ish accomplished women. No, he picked her because he wanted someone perky, who could say goofball things like Biden and get away with them because she’s cutesy and winky. In short, they concede Palin is a serious, powerful woman—but not nearly serious and powerful enough to be vice president today. She would become a Dan Quayle-caliber laughing stock. Fine for Biden, but not with all women would have invested in her.
The Czar asked if, in the next few years, she continues down the path of becoming someone more established—speeches, presentations, books, interviews, policy wonking—well, then perhaps. But 2012 is not 2008, and she just was not ready to earn women’s support any more than a man would have deserved it.
Okay, that’s fair, the Czar conceded…but why all the shudders?