I’ve received more than the usual amount of criticism for my recent opinion piece on Sarah Palin, most of it alleging sexism and/or an unseemly infatuation with Barack Obama.  For those who care, I’d like to briefly respond:

My alleged sexism: It is true that I used some hackneyed, gender-slanted language in the piece (“get sassy,” “girl-next-door,” etc.). This was deliberate. Clearly, I played this game at my peril. I can say that if Sarah Palin were a man of similar qualifications, I would have used equally slanted language to describe him. I might have called Mr. Palin a “frat-boy” or a “lumberjack.” I would have invoked some silly macho phrasing like,“Watch Cousin Jim flip Putin the bird.” My concern is not that Mrs. Palin is a woman. My concern is that she is a totally unqualified and poorly educated woman who was added to the Republican ticket as a token woman (and Creationist wacko). For what it’s worth, the article was vetted by the two women closest to me (wife and mother) and by two female editors at the LA Times. If anything, the editing at the Times made the piece even more “sexist.”

My alleged Obamamania: Many McCain supporters have written to say that (1) Obama is also unqualified (or even less qualified than Palin) and (2) I have shown myself to be a hypocrite by not objecting to Obama’s religiosity. Briefly: My criticism of Palin should not be construed as uncritical acceptance of Obama. Needless to say, I find Obama’s religious pandering repulsive. The suspicion that he is pandering, out of obvious necessity, and not quite as religious as he makes out, is somewhat comforting, however. But even if Obama were precisely as religious as he appears, he is not a Creationist, Rapture-Ready blockhead. Palin, by all appearances, seems to be one. This is a difference worth noting. Whatever you may think of his politics, Obama is very intelligent and reasonably well educated. Palin thinks the universe is 6000 years old. Unfortunately, I wrote my article before some of the most disturbing signs of her religious extremism came to my attention.

So, let me simply declare that I would be overjoyed to have a qualified woman in the White House. I would, likewise, be overjoyed to have a qualified African American in the White House. In fact,  I would be overjoyed to have a qualified WASP man in the White House. I will be guardedly optimistic to have a very smart (and somewhat qualified) Barack Obama in the White House. And I would be frankly terrified to have a religious bumpkin like Sarah Palin in the White House. I think you should share this last conviction. Hence my latest opinion piece.


September 3, 2008