I will have the pleasure of looking back on an eventful Labor Day, when we wondered whether it was VP nominee Sarah Palin or her teen daughter who had recently been in it. Labor, that is. (Hahahaha, funny joke on two meanings of word "labor"! I kill me!) For those who aren't keeping score, blog postings on Daily Kos on Saturday (which seem to have been taken down now?) claimed it was Palin's 17 year-old daughter who gave birth to the 5 month-0ld in the family, not Sarah herself, claiming a coverup. Within a news cycle or two, we got the official word from Palin that the teen is in fact preggers in the present tense if not in the past tense. I imagine they worked overtime at the celebrity gossip magazines this holiday weekend, with a newly famous teen mom who might overshadow the antics of the Spears family.
Going into day three of the "pregnancy controversy," we find ourselves in a version of "Where's Waldo" - who's pregnant? Who's been pregnant lately? Who might get pregnant next? These Alaskans are certainly fecund, that much we can say with confidence. If the GOPs goal was to bring attention to their ticket, they have succeeded, but I am not sure this is the type of attention they were looking for.
In any case, the larger story of choosing a woman for the VP slot has been rapidly eclipsed by these fertility announcements. We barely had time to kick around the question of whether this pick helps or hurts the McCain campaign. On the face of it, there's no denying the blatant attempt to attract women who felt cut out by Obama's choice of Biden. But are women (or any bloc of likely voters) really that shallow? So shallow they will vote for any human being who has the same genitalia? I think not. There may be a Republican woman who could draw the Hillary fans to the other party, but I don't think Sarah Palin is the one. Susan Reimer from the Baltimore Sun gets it right:
So. This is what being pandered to feels like. John McCain picked Sarah Palin, governor of Alaska and mother of five, to be his running mate to woo women like me. He seems to think that my girlfriends and I are so disappointed that an utterly qualified woman is not going to be president that we will jump at the chance to vote for an utterly unqualified woman for vice president. ...Does McCain think we will be so grateful for a skirt on the ticket that we won't notice that she's anti-abortion, a member of the NRA and thinks creationism should be taught alongside evolution? His selection of Sarah Palin is insulting on so many levels that I am starting to feel like the Geico caveman...
If you are going to pick a woman for the sake of picking a woman, can you at least make it a credible choice?
Can you at least make a choice that doesn't give the gag writers for Jay Leno and Jon Stewart the month off?
(The jokes started immediately: She won't be able to hold her own against Joe Biden in a vice presidential debate. But wait until the swimsuit portion of the competition.)
Hahahahaha! Good one! Swimsuit competition!
Fair enough to say that this history-making but mostly boring Presidential campaign just got more interesting, and just at the right time when people are starting to pay attention. It would be good for democracy if everyone sees the election as an engaging, multi-faceted reality show, and as such, deserving of some time.
As far as how we decide to vote, I think we all know that Americans are not that simple. We don't vote based on gender. We use much more sophisticated evaluations, such as who's taller, and who has the better hair.