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August 29, 2008

Sexism (For Real This Time!): "Is She Experienced Enough?" is Sexist Code for "Is She Tough and Manly Enough?"

That's why they're pushing this absurd notion that Sarah Palin's two years of governorship doesn't adequately qualify her, but Tim Kaine's (Democrat!) two years did qualify him.

Being liberals, and having pissed off the PUMAs, they can't come out and ask if she's tough enough, flinty enough, if she's got the stones, if she can order men into battle to die. So they're going to insinuate it by asking about her "experience."

It's actually a valid question, not just on the substance but as to the perception.

Perception first, Sarah Palin isn't just a woman. She's an adorable, bubbly, sweet woman. None of that actually means she's not tough or serious -- but people have their preconceptions, and most people that painfully cute are not thought as tough or cagey or, when necessary, ruthless.

(I actually think those perceptions are wrong, largely -- I think people who are cute aren't perceived as cagey and ruthless, even though they actually might be quite mercenary, because their looks are disarming and tend to engender trust, not suspicion. No one ever thinks a puppy deliberately crapped all over your new couch, but of course the little bastard knew exactly what he was doing. But those soulful eyes let him get away with blue murder.)

As to the actual facts-- I don't know if she's "tough enough" or not. I know I've liked everything I've heard from her since I started hearing about her six months ago. I know she had the stones to take on the Alaskan political establishment -- including her own party -- an expose corrupt officials she came across.

That's not "nice." It's noble, but not "nice." Nice is trying to tear down walls and build bridges -- all that pussy-shit Obama talks about -- not rip someone's guts out for lacking integrity and breaking the law.

I don't know how far that unsentimental righteousness goes, but certainly she's not the creampuff her looks suggest.

Nevertheless, partly because of sexist bias against women (let alone cute women), and partly just because we require all our presidents to have a minimum threshold of steely ruthlessness (except if they're Democrats, of course; look at the soft sob-sisters running this year), Governor Palin does have to convince America she's got the grit for the job.

And it's not just men who harbor doubts about female presidents -- it's women, too, and perhaps even more than men.

She surprised me today. She was confident and unfazed, direct and sharp. I'm looking forward to being surprised further. But I guess I do need to be surprised further, as do many voters.

Adorableness has its advantages, but it has its drawbacks too. She's got to show some real iron. And maybe cutting apart that soft-handed starched-shirt Joe Biden woud be a good start.

On a related note... Here's some sexist bias-- some say women might be all in favor of women achieving great things in principle, but when it comes to specific women making concrete achievements, suddenly they're a bit lukewarm on the whole idea of sisterhood.

Jealousy and envy, I'm talking about.

Is that real? Will this actually backfire and drive women away?

Attack Dog: Actually, a good start in dispelling the "too nice, too sweet" impression would be to play the role of the attack dog well. If she's thought of as being 25% a ball-breaker... well, win-win.

Burn on Barracuda: I wanted to google some of Palin's attacks against the Dems to remind myself of how well she did.

Allah has one, wrapping "fearmongering" on energy production around Joe Biden's pencil neck.

She has a sweetness to her as she "attacks." (Attacks in quotes, because of course what she's saying is both true and vitally relevant; but anytime a Republican notes a Democrat's votes or quotes it's an "attack," most often of the "intolerable and unacceptable" sort.)

I have to deduct style points, though, because that bubbly, sweet, gosh-darn sort of manner just doesn't seem serious or dour enough to me.

I know we've got that in spades from Mr. Warmth McCain, but still... I think she'll have to ease up on the sweetness and get a bit more grim.

On the plus side: Everything she says is right and informed. The only knock is the style one.

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