The oval office marriage

by on August 29, 2008  •  In Elections

Like pretty much everyone else, I know almost nothing about Sarah Palin. As an Obama supporter, I'm generally happy about  McCain choosing her, since the qualifications gap is gargantuan. Ultimately, I don't think that this strategy will work to bring in Clinton supporters, but I do think it's going to be fascinating to watch how women's reactions unfold.

The blogosphere is vibrating with intense responses to the selection of Palin, mostly predictable, but at least some from women who think that attacks on Palin by Dems and media white boys will remind women of the misogyny directed against Clinton's campaign, moving them to skip the top of the ticket or even vote Republican. I hope they're wrong.

What worries me are the visuals. It's a pretty common dynamic for a male and female co-worker to team up in an "office marriage," psychologically as well as for instrumental reasons. I think it will look and feel familiar to a lot of voters. The gender "optics" are good, as politicos love to say, especially when the senior executive of the pair is the man, and the woman, a rising star in middle management. In truth, this kind of mentoring is how a lot of women in corporate jobs break through the glass ceiling. It's neoliberal feminism in a snapshot.

If the Dems (and the liberal media pundits) go all frat boy, joking about the dumb beauty queen; and if Palin turns out to be genuinely smart and impressive even if inexperienced, Obama could blow the election that is still his to lose. Please, guys, don't be that stupid.


4 Responses to The oval office marriage

  1. TheOtherNan August 30, 2008 at 10:51 AM

    Hmmm. I do wonder how the Phyllis Schlafly’s of the GOP (and their men) will reconcile their beliefs that the Bible commands women to be submissive and subservient to men with Palin’s selection? Subservience is also the official position of the Southern Baptists, as those of us who grew up in the South well know.
    I wonder whether this is Grand Slam homerun with conservative Christians even with Palin’s opposition to abortion, gay rights, etc.
    Phyllis comments last year on women in general:
    link to

  2. Katie August 30, 2008 at 11:03 AM

    I’m not worried about the fundamentalists getting on board — Phyllis et al are quite comfortable with hypocrisy (her own career and ambitious professional agenda have always gone against the grain of her talking points). I think the question is whether “stay at home moms,” Catholics and very religious but not quite fundamental folks will feel comfortable supporting her given her recent work-family choices (i.e., going back to work so quickly after having a baby this past spring).

  3. Chai August 30, 2008 at 12:00 PM

    I think Palin’s work-family choices are going to be relevant in this election. But I think the liberal media guys have to be very careful if they bash her as having “no experience.” That is certainly the case with regard to policy issues, but a lot of non-fundamentalist, but still middle-of-the-road women out there, will feel that raising five kids and working gives someone a LOT of experience. So the liberal media just has to be careful here! The optics have changed, as Nan correctly notes, and the Dems have to keep the focus on the policy differences for working women across the country if McCain/Palin were elected, rather than Obama/Biden.

  4. Nan Hunter August 30, 2008 at 12:46 PM

    Here’s why I’m worried. I happen to be well acquainted with a 50-something Evangelical couple, with a son in seminary, who have voted Republican for who knows how long. I thought there was a shot they could go for Obama, largely because of his fluency in Christian-talk and their own commitment to some of the better parts of Christian ethics. Now, unless Palin implodes, I’ll bet they are goners for the Dems.

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