Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Palin backlash warning

Former Geraldine Ferraro and Michael Dukakis advisor Susan Estrich on the Left's attacks on Sarah Palin:
But what is just as troubling to me as Palin's willingness to impose her choices on others is the stupid and mean-spirited commentary from some of my liberal friends, attacking her for the choices she's made, attacking her diligence in securing prenatal care in her latest pregnancy, suggesting that the child was really her grandchild and not her son.

Since her selection last Friday, liberal blogs have been on the attack against Palin and her family. They have assumed the right to second-guess her choices in precisely the same way we criticize conservatives when they presume to second-guess ours. How dare she leave her infant at home and return so quickly to her job as governor? How dare she entrust the care of her baby, especially a baby with special needs, to someone as unqualified as, say, her husband? Maybe the baby wasn't really hers in the first instance. Maybe it was really her daughter's. And, most appallingly of all, maybe she didn't seek adequate prenatal care for her son — a post so loaded with the implication that she might somehow be at fault for her son's Down's Syndrome that its author ultimately claimed he was merely questioning her "judgment" in deciding to give a speech in her seventh month of pregnancy before heading directly home (she also consulted her obstetrician by phone). How dare he?

There is an old saying that it's never the crime, it's the cover-up. So, too, I often think with women candidates: It's not about sex, but sexism. If you say to a group of women, you should support Mary or Jane, or Hillary or Sarah, because she is a woman, the majority will be offended. We women like to believe that we make our decisions on the merits, on the basis of policy and experience, not anatomy.

But if that woman candidate should come under what is plainly sexist attack, if her opponent or the media treat her in the sort of patronizing way that every girl and woman in America is more familiar with than we should be (as Hillary's Senate opponent did in 2000 and as many in the media did in 2008), women rally.

Obama is right in saying that he finds the attacks on Palin and her family offensive, but those who support him don't seem to be listening. They should. Keep this up, guys, and major backlash is sure to follow. Sarah Palin may be no Hillary Clinton, but if she faces the same sort of sexism that Hillary did, she may yet capture many of her supporters.