THE PLANK NOVEMBER 16, 2009
Welcome to Sarah Palin week! Don't try to fight it; you'll only strain something. Best to just sit back and pray for a speedy end.
Scanning the weekend chit-chatter about the ex-gov, I noticed that the Note pulled this observation from PBS's Gwenn Ifill:
"You cannot underestimate the degree that women will be drawn to her story."
Certainly there are plenty of women out there who've endured some degree of sexism or who've come close to despair in their endless struggle to balance work and family. But Palin didn't come to prominence by appealing to women voters or women's issues, and hers isn't a story of grrrl power overcoming a hostile establishment.
Quite the contrary: Palin (as I've noted before) is a national political phenom in large part because she is a certain type of man's fantasy of a go-getter gal: Sassy, pretty, and slightly flirtatious, with a professed love of firearms and sports and a distaste for those icky ol' traditional chick issues that feminists so tiresomely gripe about. (You know, reproductive rights, child care, family leave, comprehensive health care, equal pay, etc.)
The ex-gov's "mesmerizing" smile can make starbursts ricochet around the dens of Rich Lowry and his conservative mates, yet the boys can rest easy knowing she'll never pester them about all that touchy-feely stuff that gives John Derbyshire such dyspepsia.
(Unless someone disrespects Palin, of course, then she cries "sexism" to the high heavens. Although, come to think of it, isn't that what all the studies say men do: blame someone else for their failings rather than internalize?)
Maybe Palin's book tour will change all that. Certainly, the woman has displayed the will, the savvy, and the something-to-prove, score-settling impulse needed for a major reinvention.
I'll be tuning in to Oprah this afternoon for early signs that Palin also possesses the necessary self-awareness.