By Mary Schmich
A woman I like and respect spotted me in a coffeehouse (Hate to beat a dead horse here but does every Tribune columnist write in a coffeehouse and happen to run into an impetus for a column?) a few days ago and sat down at my table. Her first words, after she noticed my laptop, were: "I hope you're writing about Sarah Palin. Isn't she awful?"
She shuddered—literally, her body shook—and said she hated Palin.
I've found myself in this awkward position several times since Palin became the first Republican woman, only the second woman ever, to be nominated for vice president (I always found the one-leg-over-your-head Kama Sutra position kind of awkward. Is that the awkwardness Mary is talking about?).
Female friends send me Facebook invitations to join "Women Against Sarah Palin" and forward group e-mails spreading Palin jokes or Palin information, some of it misinformation. (Go to factcheck.org to verify what you think you know.) (Umm....yeah...I went there and what I thought I knew is what I knew. Way to assume otherwise.)
I can't count the times a woman has said to me, "I just hate her," then looked at me mystified when I've said I don't. (I think the friends she 'likes and respects' probably are using a short-hand conversational tool. You know, summing up the whole Palin debacle where she's mind-blowingly unqualified for the job. Dippiness + Smugness + Certitude = Hatred. I don't hate her as a person. I just don't think she should be in the same dimension as any VP candidate. That's all.)
There are good reasons to object to Sarah Palin's politics. (Thanks, Mary. I was worried my reasons weren't good.)
If you're for reproductive freedom and against drilling in the Arctic wildlife, if you think global warming is a problem and global leaders should have a wide experience of the world, you can't want Palin to be posted a proverbial heartbeat away from the presidency. (Didn't Bush even say that global warming is a problem? And I love how being qualified is no longer a qualification.)
There are good reasons, too, to question Palin's credentials for this job. (Thanks again.)
If you watched her stumble through thickets of fractured syntax in response to Katie Couric's questions last week, you know why even some of her defenders are having second thoughts.
But many women who hate Palin's politics have personalized her candidacy in a way that's tough to fathom. I hear men mock Palin, but I haven't yet heard one say, "I hate her." (They envy her boobs. Or maybe it's the fact that Palin pretty much represents the antithesis of everything the women's movement tried to accomplish over the last 100 years. You think they should just go lock-step because Palin also has a hoo-hoo?)
Hoping to tease out the nuances of the ill will, I called a female friend, an expert on this campaign. We riffed on the possibilities. If Sarah Palin weren't so pretty. If Sarah Palin were pro-choice. If Sarah Palin weren't so cocky. If Sarah Palin read Plato. If Sarah Palin were a man. If there were more women in politics. (Wow. An ugly, pro-life, humble woman who reads Plato should be able to clean up then, right? At least in the women's demographic.)
If this, that or the other, Sarah Palin might not make so many women burn. We drew no conclusions. (So far, this column hasn't drawn any conclusions at all. Where's she going with this?)
I relate to the betrayal, insult and worry the choice of Palin as John McCain's running mate stirs in many women. (Or maybe Mary could relate to the anger in women that Palin wears her ignorance like a badge of honor. The first close race (Mondale-Ferraro doesn't count) where a woman could ascend to the highest office in the world and THIS is the woman it could be?)
Do the guys (whoa! she's not...) who picked Palin in the hopes of nabbing Hillary Clinton supporters really think one size fits all? We've waited so long for a woman to make it to the White House and the closest we can come is one who can't volley with Katie Couric? And what if Palin's deficiencies make it easier to claim that women aren't fit for high public office? (Yes. That's exactly what will happen. We're all morons and will judge every woman running for office henceforth on Palin.)
At its most logical, the hatred many women profess for Palin is rooted in the feeling that she has ascended to power she hasn't earned and that she could turn that power against the beliefs and best interests of most women. (There. Asked and answered. What that so hard?)
But the way some women talk about her risks making us look like the very thing she is sometimes accused of being: mean girls. (Who gives a shit what it makes you look like!)
Palin is an ambitious, smart, energetic woman, who through work, luck, pluck and, yes, a ruthless streak common to politicians, has invented an uncommonly full life, which includes being governor of Alaska. There's a lot to admire. (You forgot 'gutsy'. That's what we call women politicians now. Ballsy McGrindies.)
If she'd also been wise and humble, she would have said, "Not yet," when she was asked to play in the big leagues. But what gutsy woman (There you go.) would have said no?
By the end of last week, even a couple of Palin haters I know had softened, slightly.
It hurt to watch her fumble through her interview with Katie Couric and pose nervously with Henry Kissinger. (Because it was unbelievably embarrassing! I had to look away. Mostly because I was embarrassed that the current American political system allowed for this to happen.)
Her weak week was enough to make at least a few people recognize that the real bad guys were the folks who seduced her for their political gain into thinking she was ready. (HOLY SHIT!!!!! I didn't just read that. I did not just read that. It didn't happen. What happened to 'gutsy and smart and energetic and luck and pluck and uncommonly full life'? Mary has just negated the very thing for which women have fought against for decades. That men are the only qualified people to make important decisions. Mary just put the ultimate responsibility for making such a decision on people with penises and just negated her whole point. Palin was not capable to make such a decision on her own and be ultimately held responsible for it. Thanks, Mary. Does that mean we should just go back to calling women 'cum-catchers'?)