Wednesday, September 24, 2008

A modest theory on women and politics

Perhaps one reason we still don't have a woman president is that in America, women politicians are not thought of simply as politicians. Before a woman--any woman--can clear that particular hurdle, she is subject to endless examination of her family, her fashion sense, her personal habits, and her general life choices.

Team McCain, in their efforts to protect the Precious Princess, conveniently ignores this fact. They would like the public to accept the Precious Princess as a rootin'-tootin', moose shootin' ball-buster, while whining about the media meanies who just totally have it in for her. (Cambell Brown, meanwhile, has called them on their general dishonesty. Somehow, I don't remember the Clinton White House insisting on similar kid-glove treatment of La Hill.)

Meanwhile, Tzipi Livni has could become Israel's first female prime minister since Golda Meir. And weirdly enough, the Israeli press isn't the least bit interested in Livni's non-political life:

The personal notes that creep in are -- no surprise -- introduced by the North American media. So B'nai Brith Canada reveals that "she prefers jeans to a suit and sneakers to high heels, and has been a vegetarian since age 12." That matters about as much as whether Stephen Harper sees himself as a strawberry or a box of raisins. And the day Livni won, a Canadian story led off with the victory of "a stylish 50-year-old former Mossad spy and mother of two." Would any newly elected male leader be described as "a natty 50-year-old father of two"?

You have to turn to the Israeli press to learn that Livni's appeal is not focused around the hobbies she and her husband enjoy -- as is too much of the emphasis on Palin -- but on her reputation for being intelligent, a straight-talker and a politician who is untainted by scandal. As Israeli foreign minister, she served as chief negotiator for the Palestinian talks.

That's where Team McCain misfired. They wanted a People Magazine/Ladies' Home Journal candidate, at a time when the tabloid mentality is weirdly obsolete. All of a sudden, with the events of the past two weeks, nobody cares of Palin can field dress a moose anymore.