Thursday

Lipstick, an apparent leadership requirement


I listened to Sarah Palin’s speech last night. While impressed by her presentation, I am not a supporter. She’s charming, an entertaining speaker, and her experience as a beauty queen makes her likeable. She wore a nice suit, had her hair down, and she wore lipstick. The combination of all of those things got the crowd excited. As a professed girly girl, I was pleased that she was comfortable enough to be herself. That being said, I resisted the urge to get caught up in her aura. Instead, I listened to what she said. To her credit, she tried to sweeten her offensive, puritan, and repressive ideas with sugar and a smile. However, for me, that did not make the bitter pill go down any easier.

As I listened to Governor Palin I was scared. Unlike others, I don’t doubt that she is capable of leading. The real question is where would she lead this country?

She is anti-choice in all respects. She is against the freedom to choose an abortion. She is against detailed sex education. She is anti-gay marriage. Indeed, she is against all things that seem to involve the people deciding what is best for them. And while she presents her family as an example of her principles, you’re not supposed to ask her about them.

The children of candidates may be off limits, but the candidates’ platforms are not. Governor Palin’s daughter, Bristol, is pregnant at seventeen. She has another year of high school. Her parents have released a statement commenting about their great blessing of becoming grandparents. While all children are a blessing, no sane person would deny that it is preferable to delay parenthood until after high school. Before her daughter’s pregnancy, Palin agreed. Her plan to prevent teenage pregnancy was to permit schools to teach the “abstinence”. Given Bristol’s current situation, I think that it is fair to ask Governor Palin whether she has expanded her views about what constitutes appropriate sex education.

Palin is a mother who has decided to run for Vice President even though she has a newborn, special needs baby. It is not sexist to point that out. It is a fact. It is true that male candidates aren’t confronted with that issue. However, male candidates have answered the question before it became an issue. They had the benefit of having stay- at-home wives. Or in the case of the Obamas, a wife who has sacrificed her career for her family and who has a mother who takes up the slack. Instead of objecting to the question, the Palins simply need to explain who is, and who will be, caring for baby Trig. It is a valid question. And all I have heard is how Todd, “The First Dude of Alaska” is a good union guy who rides a mean snow mobile.

What impressed me the most about Palin’s speech was how many people were electrified by her antiquated ideas. She sold traditionalism as if it were transformative. In many ways it was brilliant. Even though I am not going to vote for McCain/Palin and I am not going to subscribe to their ideas, I did learn an important lesson last night.

I learned that a pretty woman can get away with a lot. Perhaps it all boils down to the importance of wearing lipstick. It hides a multitude of sins. And, given the applause Palin received from the crowd, lipstick gives you the ability to say unpalatable things without consequence. In the words of Governor Palin, lipstick makes you prettier than a pit bull, but no less tough. Who knew?!
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