Debate Thread

If you want to discuss last night’s VP debate among Shapelings, here’s your thread. (Not exactly Friday Fluff, huh?) I wrote about it for Broadsheet this morning and have lots more to say, but I have to go turn in another post over there.

The one thing I’ll add now is that I’m stunned by how many pundits seem to think Palin came off as confident and together (apparently because, as Joan Walsh said, “her subjects and verbs corresponded”). She wasn’t full-on deer-in-headlights, but her discomfort was glaring to me — especially relative to Biden looking like he fucking owned the place. (Turns out 30 years of political experience might actually come in handy.) My friend Jeanie even pointed out that a few times, you could literally see her sweat. 

What did y’all think, if you watched?

150 thoughts on “Debate Thread”

  1. Gah. I thought Biden was awesome, although everytime either one of them said “mankind” (as in “mankind causes global warming”) I shouted “HUMAN kind” at my computer. I also don’t want yet another president who cannot fucking pronounce nuclear.

    As far as actual issues, Palin wasn’t exactly as stupid as I was hoping, in that she obviously does well with the cram and spew method of test taking. But I have to admit, I was hoping that she would be as terrible as she was on Couric.

  2. Palin reminds me of nothing so much as a student who has only read Cliffs Notes (or SparkNotes, my age is showing!) and then has to answer questions in class. She’s got a few talking points, but anything that asks her to think beyond them can’t work because she hasn’t read the damn book. It’s a shame the format didn’t allow for followup questions, because I would have liked to see Ifill do some Couric-style “But can you give a specific answer” questions. Palin was the student who managed not to run out of the classroom in tears, but who was not fooling the teacher or the kids who did the reading.

  3. I just can’t handle the fact that Palin kept swaggering off on previous topics after the prompter brought up a new one.

  4. I’m not sure asking for follow-ups would have even helped since she plainly stated at the beginning she wasn’t necessarily going to answer the questions posed to her. And boy did she come through on that promise. Look, I work in PR and have taught many people how to artfully dodge questions. But there is a limit (for example, you run the risk of not looking like you understand the concept of a debate if give your canned tax answer to every conceivable topic).

    But the Couric interviews really lowered the bar–if she didn’t stare off into space as her non-sensical sentences trailed off into mumbles, the debate would be hailed as a big win! And we’re seeing a fair amount of that in the papers today.

    But the absolute worst was the winking into the camera–REALLY? Winking?? This is a debate, not a video dating service.

  5. This is what I wrote on my blog last night: Biden kicked ass. I’m still afraid that the people who were looking for a reason to like Palin’s soundbites will. She’s pretty and she manages to make the blather sound articulate if you’re not really paying attention to it or the questions that were asked. She apparently has no ability to have a conversation, but she is good at talking *at* people, and that’s what she did here.

  6. I was also impressed by Biden – I feel a lot better about him after this. At first, when he started to talk about ‘don’t say I don’t understand because I’m a man’ I was ready to cringe, but he turned it around by talking about being a single father and basically called b.s. on the whole only republicans love their kids and understand regular folks crap.

    As a writing teacher, Palin seemed not just like a crammer but someone who writes incoherent sentences because they’re trying to reach for an authority in their writing they can’t yet pull off.

    But most of all, since I teach writing at a community college, same as Jill Biden, I’m really, really happy to know I’m getting my reward in heaven.

  7. I have several observations about last night’s debate.

    “Maverick.” You keep saying that word. I dinna think it means what you think it means. If i hear it one more time, i think i’m going to develop a nervous twitch under my eyeball.

    The part where Biden choked up, where he’d just said that he knew what it was like to wonder if your child was going to make it? He was able to pull himself back together and not burst into tears on national television. BUT, when Palin started talking again (~1-2 minutes later), she gave no evidence that she had noticed what had just happened. She showed no empathy, no sympathy – there was no change in her obviously-practiced perkiness. I was horrified by her reaction (or rather, lack thereof).

    If i hadn’t already decided? That moment would have completely done it for me.

    Also: if someone cannot PRONOUNCE “nuclear” correctly, they shouldn’t have the nuclear codes.

  8. I had to turn the debate off because I completely went off on her comment about “tolerating gays.” I say a hearty “Fuck You” to Sarah Palin for that. It’s fundamentalist Christian code speak for “hate the sin, love the sinner.” I’m tired of hearing her talk about how her “best friend” is gay. I don’t “tolerate” my best friends, I love them. I defend them. In many cases I would lay down my life for them or their children. I certainly don’t spew about their “lifestyle” on national TV to gain political points. While I’m sorry that Obama/Biden can’t/won’t/don’t support gay marriage I was pleased to hear Biden say that they would work on civil remedies. I’ll take that. If they want to redefine marriage as a religious ceremony, that works for me.

  9. If in a debate, the debator refuses to answer questions, the entire citizenry of the US should be offended. It is the one CLEAN process we have for hearing what they think, and what they’ll do, ON THE ISSUES. If you can’t trust a candidate to do a simple thing like answer questions, what kind of honesty, integrity and intelligence do you think she’ll bring to the executive table?

    And let’s not even talk about how much of a cartoon character she is. I have to admit I am glad she wont’ sit down with leaders of other countries because if she did, she’d just wink and cluck at them and start dropping her “Gs” and offend them this passive aggressive I’m just like you and me garbage.

    Biden may have been boring, but I learned more in 90 minutes from Biden than I have learned about the policies and differences of each of the candidates in this entire campaign by reading blogs, NYT, and “whatever they put in front of me. I read it all.” The man is smart, and so should our presidents be. Palin clearly didn’t even know what half the words the moderator was using meant, and it was OBVIOUS.

    God help us all on Nov. 4.

  10. I am really put off by Palin’s consistent refusal to answer the questions and to continue to read from whatever script she had in her head (Cliffs Notes indeed!). I’m admittedly no expert on debates, but I think the controversy surrounding the moderater and her upcoming book did a disservice to the debate by possibly keeping her from forcing Palin to actually answer the questions asked. I could be wrong.

    I also giver Palin a big F for her response to the climate change question while Biden nailed it with the fact that if you don’t know what causes it, how do you propose to fix it? (My job is indirectly related to carbon emissions reduction projects, so I am hot on this issue).

    I also got a little tipsy with my buddy and our “Maverick/Hockey Mom/Doggoneit/Up in Alaska” drinking game. :D

  11. lt, I couldn’t take that “reward is in heaven” line. I yelled at the TV, “HOW ABOUT SOME REWARDS HERE ON EARTH!!” Rewards in heaven don’t pay the rent.

  12. This

    Say it ain’t so, Joe, there you go again pointing backwards again. You preferenced your whole comment with the Bush administration. Now doggone it, let’s look ahead and tell Americans what we have to plan to do for them in the future.

    made me want to hurl.

  13. It’s easy to exceded expectations when expectations are so low. I find it ridiculous she refused to answer the questions that were asked of her – I think everyone who watched the debate should be offended. Her folksy talk and behavior was a complete turnoff for me. I WANT a vice president (and president) who is smarter than me – that’s why they make the big decisions. I’m afraid that I have more knowledge that Palin – and I am admittedly woefully ignorant of econmics and foregin affairs.

  14. I was happy Pailin did her reading and was prepared for this one. She managed to prove that even someone with a uterus can handle the pressure of debating on camera, unfiltered and with no previous knowledge of the specific questions (way to go on lobbing them the “What do you have to change in your platform because of the economy? question Gwen; I was stammering with your delivery of that one).
    In any case she’s proven that she has higher-reasoning capabilities, and can connect previous knowledge to present situations effectively. Which is actually much harder than it sounds when put on the spot and in full knowledge that thousands of people are waiting for you to make a mistake.

    What got me about her delivery though was how much she cuted herself up for the camera, O.mi.gosh.don.cha.know.gahd.bless.her.heart.
    There’s nothing wrong with accents, but the second in command should not be able to be described as cute. I know its all part of playing to the electorate as an everyday, down to earth kind of person who is easily realated to, but it seemed like she was just aching to put those regional linguistic tics in there – sell herself as a lovable PTA mom who just might have some influence. It is a fantasy to all level-headed PTA moms out there who just want things done right.


    Because it turns out that a picture of her shoes jumped to the #1 picture emailed on Yahoo, last night.

    Weirdo-foot-fetishists. It’s a debate, not porn. Or am I wrong on this one?

  16. See, I thought it was pretty even. I don’t like her at all (did you catch that she said the constitution allows for a stronger role than Dick Cheney has played?) but she toned down the obnoxious meanness, kept to stuff she could sound good on, and made complete sentences.

    She definitely was trying to spin her non-answering style as rebellious cool straight talk whatever, and I do worry that it worked.

    On the other hand, I was pretty neutral on Biden but his choked-up moment made me *cry*. And he seemed kind of off-balance after that, too – he started using a lot bigger words, among other things.

    I wish when the moderator asked about his disagreements with Obama earlier, he had said something strong like “I play to win, and I can be outspoken, but I can still work with people I’ve disagreed with in the past.”

  17. I can’t understand people who are claiming Palin as victorious simply because she didn’t fail miserably. There was a clear winner.

  18. Well, she “won” in that she had prefabbed talking points that never varied, and had the sense to not ad lib or directly answer questions. So, whether she did well is like believing that you really saw a beautiful lady in a blue gown standing in a grotto: If you think you did, than you did. If you think it’s a crock, then that’s what you saw.

    What chips women off is that she is the embodiment of what lots of women-hating men want to see in a woman: an undeserving, unqualified dope who trades on her cuteness. One poster on Fark (natch) said: if she ended by saying, “God bless America, I’m not wearing any panties,” I’d vote for her.”

    ‘Nuff said.

  19. I accidentally napped through the debate, which is probably a good thing as I just can’t control what listening to her makes my brain do, and it makes me feel like a very, very bad feminist.


  20. A friend who knows livestock says that a “maverick” is an animal with poor survival instincts, because it wanders away from the herd and puts itself and the herd in danger. You want to get the mavericks BACK in the herd or else all hell breaks loose.

    I told her she really needed to write that up into an editorial, like, RIGHT NOW.

  21. I could see her bangs shaking. I thought she was nervous.

    She really rambled on about her family and her small town. I didn’t know if she did that to win points for folksiness, or she was just trying to run out her clock and not get stuck on something tough.

  22. maewyn –

    Yeah, I was laughing to keep from crying. Funny thing that she also said teachers should get paid more. Guess she didn’t get the memo about evil teacher’s unions. And she also said something pretty close to saying she supported civil unions. She’s like an 18 year old who’s ennamored with conservatism and likes saying the words but doesn’t really understand the full concepts she’s signing onto.

  23. **OT***

    Ahhh! Seriously. I am a new asst. prof this semester, and my MENTOR just opened my door (no knock) and asked if I wanted to go to lunch. I said no thanks, I am eating a poptart. She said, “Oh, really healthy! And a coke!” I smiled! I seriously fucking smiled! what the hell is wrong with me? Now I can’t stop being pissed, at her and myself. I can tell this will be one of those days where I keep thinking of awesome comebacks all day long. Or at least imagining a scenario where I didn’t SMILE when someone looked at my lunch and commented on it.

    thanks for letting me get it out.

  24. *yawn* There was a debate?


    I am debated out right now (got home at 8 again, although to be fair this time we got a mad jones for omelettes and went to the diner around 6). I will say that I discovered last night that I do a fierce Sarah Palin impression, which is a skill I shall put to use. It is not as good as my Kenley from Project Runway impression, which is just sort of a nasal drone in the back of my throat.


    That’s awesome. I had nightmares about Palin last night, and I’ve been shaking with fear at work all day. When Palin said she would “tolerate” TEH GAYZ, her tone of voice betrayed her–what she meant was that she would continue to despise “those people.” It’s insulting, too, that she constantly insinuates that sexual orientation is a choice, and a bad one at that. I mean, she should sympathize with “those people.” She’s in a similar situation–she didn’t just choose to be a fucking idiot, she was born that way.

  26. Y’know, when Obama picked Biden for VP, I was frankly disappointed, but after the debate, I’m behind him. He actually sounds like he knows what he’s doing, he was civil, articulate, and he has a great track record on behalf of women. Go Joe!

  27. I think your BINGO PALIN was bogus! She talked about “creating jobs” but didn’t actually say “job creation.” My co-watcher disallowed me from taking that one on my card. :)

    (However, card 4 did ultimately win, once she said “homeland” – got a 5-across. Me, I was stuck waiting for her to say “earmark” so I could get the top row on my card!)

  28. And in other responses, my stomach turned when Palin said “considered as blah blah blah” instead of “considered to be,” because it’s a mistake my students make all the time in their writing and it drives me nuts.

    Also, “we’re gonna clean up that greed and corruption on Wall Street.” Six times? Seven? Mostly in response to questions that had nothing to do with the economy/bailout? Fortunately the polls of uncommitted voters seemed to indicate that they were as non-plussed by her lack of specifics as I was.

  29. We tried watching, even had our Palin Bingo cards and were rapidly filling them up. But hubby got seriously disgusted after 15-20 minutes of Palin not answering the questions and we watched the Simpsons epis we had on the DVR for the rest of the evening.

  30. WTF was the moment where Palin said she supports a two-state solution for Israel, but with Jerusalem as the capital??? I don’t care what you believe about Israel/Palestine, the combination of those two things DOES NOT COMPUTE.

    And no way, no how does her base support a two-state solution. All those end-time fundamentalists like Hagee think giving Palestine sovereignty will delay the Apocalypse. Right-wing Jews like Lieberman, whom she’s trying to court, think that a two-state solution – at least one agreed to so blithely – rewards terrorism.

    And left-wing Jews, lots of whom *do* support a two-state solution, of course are already voting for Barak Obama. (Damn straight!!! :) )

    That was a terrible answer for her to give, and it made me think she had absolutely no fucking clue what “two-state solution” means. Not good. Not good at all.

  31. I only watched about 30% off and on because I was sewing, but here’s a couple of things that made me boggle:

    1) Palin said “promped up” at some point, I can’t remember what it was about because my hearing turned off while I was trying to figure out WTF she meant.

    2) She also said that the Nuclear option is “the be all to end all” when I think she meant “lats resort” or something… I don’t think be all to end all was what she was trying to say.

    3) She need to control her facial features, she was constantly doing the raised eyebrow sarc “oh really look” that made me want to puke. Although Biden did a real heavy sigh at one point so I guess they could both work on containing their reactions. However if I were Biden I would have been sighing and rolling my eyes and raising my eyebrows and calling her an idiot to her face… so I can empathize with him.

  32. No no, Lexy, she said that about the NUCULAR option. There is totally a difference.

    Laura, really good point about the Israel comment. Cause hey, gotta prevent a second holocaust, right? *bangs keyboard*

    When Biden finally went off on McCain not being a maverick I was cheering. About fucking time someone said that loud and clear.

  33. I may be the only conservative who reads this blog and I have never commented before (I figure I will be eaten alive if I do) but here goes.

    I think Palin did quite well. In fact, I would say that both candidates did great. That’s what I really want in a debate – both candidates to present their positions without spending all their time attacking each other. Attack each other’s positions and plans – sure. But ad hominem attacks are not productive. I would say that personal attacks also aren’t productive when engaged in by supporters of one side or another.

    I think that the debate in many ways was a tie – Biden did well, but considering the extremely low expectations for Palin I think that she ‘won’ because she exceeded those expectations. It’s the fault of all those who said she was ‘just a caribou barbie’ that when she wasn’t it was a huge positive.

    I like Palin. I like her positions, I like her personality, I like her life story. I am looking forward to voting for her this year, and hopefully in the future.

    I also like this blog – even though I disagree with many of the positions espoused here (I absolutely NOT a ‘feminist’) I like reading about all the topics covered and gaining insight to different perspectives. Thanks for the great blog and all your great work on it.

  34. Off topic-ish… I was watching last night with a few non-native English speakers. We put the closed-captioning on to make it all a little easier to understand. Clearly whoever writes up the captions had never heard the term “folksy” and as such continued to write about Palin’s “foxy charm” over and over…

  35. Like many who have already commented, I was very frustrated with her evasiveness and desire to make her own rules as she went along. It was obvious that she was just going to skip the questions she had no clue about and beat the drum of energy and taxes.

    Her “folksy” approach (which I think is completely faked, btw) reinforces for me that she has no business anywhere near the Oval Office. Can you picture her sitting down to a meeting with a foreign leader?

    SP: Oh, hello Mr. ForeignLeader. Isn’t your suit just precious! I’m the Vice-President, don’cha know, and we’re gonna have a nice chat, you and me…

    I don’t believe it for a second. It’s an act so that people look at her and think that she is just like them. Well, here’s a news flash – I’m not a “hockey mom” or a “soccer mom” and my husband is not freaking “Joe Six-Pack.” We’re just every day tax-paying citizens who are concerned for the future we’re leaving our child.

  36. Notable things that make me go “dur?” at Palin:

    She smiled the whole time, even while talking about horrible things like genocide, except when she struggled to talk about gay marriage: her face dropped and she looked SO uncomfortable. (By the way I wish the dems would stop with this civil liberties but no marriage for gays crap as well!)

    Nucular? WTF????

    STOP SAYING THE WORD MAVERICK! Also, you can’t have a “Team of Mavericks.” That doesn’t even make sense.

    I think it is lame that people think she did well simply because she didn’t make a total fool of herself, but the one time when she so ridiculously clearly went into Miss South Carolina territory was when she was asked about global warming and ended up spouting the most random, non-nonsensical crap I’ve ever heard that wasn’t really even in line with what Republicans are about (or so I think, because I’m not even sure what she was talking about!)

  37. All I can say is that if Harper (canadian) wins our election, and McCain/Palin win yours the world is going to fucking END. That’ll be it; game over, man.

    Mary Martha: Thanks for reading and commenting and not being a horrible troll. As for being a woman and not a feminist, that makes my brain hurt but whatever. Your choice to label yourself, or not, as you see fit.

  38. When she winked at the camera I almost threw my drink at my TV. I mean, I get taht she’s trying to seem accessible and all, but I do not want a Vice president who winks at me. I really don’t.

    I liked Joe Biden a lot more than I expected to.

  39. Every time I heard the word “Maverick,” my middle finger, all on its own, presented itself to the screen. If I ever meet her in real life, I might have a hard time keeping it under control.

    Also, I have a co-worker who grew up in Alaska, about 5 miles from Wasilla, and she has NEVER heard anyone around there speak like Sarah Palin.

  40. A couple of completely non-substantive points:

    1) Biden’s got a hot-old-man thing going, kind of a Clint Eastwood vibe. I had not before realized how attractive he was, even though I did not get an email with pictures of his shoes, which makes me kind of disappointed.

    2) I thought it was kind of annoying how Palin was going out of her way to show how much she agreed with Biden: Yay! We both love Israel!! Yay! We both blow the “One Man One Woman” dog whistle about those homosexuals!!

    3) I also thought that Biden was holding back, there were a few mistakes that Palin made that he obviously caught. I’m sure his handlers had coached him on walking that fine line between winning and looking like you are beating up on the “girl.”

  41. I listened. I didn’t watch, I listened. Which means that I missed the winking and the sweating and the new highlights and a number of the visual cues that almost everyone has been talking about. What I heard was this: several long answers from Biden that, while sometimes got a bit too technical or even a little rough, felt and sounded like thoughtful responses. Palin sounded downright rehearsed. The difference between the sound of their voices and the sound of their responses was staggering.

    I can’t imagine how Tina Fey is going to lampoon this on SNL. Palin just lampooned herself.

  42. Someone explain to me how Sarah Palin gets to call herself a Maverick. If you’re a Bible-believing woman who is anti-choice, anti-gay and pro intelligent design, exactly what system is she bucking?

    Because backing up the patriarchy with fundamentalist Old World theology and a shotgun, while pandering to a political movement that is too male, too pale and too stale doesn’t a maverick make.

  43. Also, Ms. Palin needs to wake up and understand that you pretty much can’t run for public office and then hide from the Fourth Estate.

    We’re the press. You’re the candidate. In the name of liberty, we own you.

  44. Cindy, the past couple of months have convinced me that “maverick” means “a person who tries to maintain a position of authority despite being batshit crazy, and whose handlers are unwiling to reveal the depths of the crazy to themselves or to outsiders”.

    This makes “a team of mavericks” the LAST group I would want to vote for, because they all reinforce each other’s crazy.

  45. Biden’s got a hot-old-man thing going, kind of a Clint Eastwood vibe. I had not before realized how attractive he was,

    Bellacoker, um, *cough* I might just be the “friend” who said, “I’m falling in love with Joe Biden” here. I also might have given her that line about the imminent “I’ve got a crush on Joe Biden” video.

    I luffed him last night. And I gotta give Obama credit for the pick, ’cause boy howdy was I skeptical when he first announced it. I’ve been warming to Biden ever since, but last night, I was actually a little warm for Biden. “VPILF” has a whole new meaning.

  46. “Also, Ms. Palin needs to wake up and understand that you pretty much can’t run for public office and then hide from the Fourth Estate.

    We’re the press. You’re the candidate. In the name of liberty, we own you.”

    I think that attitude is why conservatives (like myself) increasingly dislike much of the press (and are actively shunning it) and because the ‘fourth estate’ has an inflated sense of their own importance.

    She doesn’t need to deal with the press if she doesn’t want to. Why would she deal with them when so many of them have made their dislike of her so very clear.

    What she can’t do is hide from the people – the voters.

    Palin made a point of saying in the debate that she appreciated the debate gave her to opportunity to “to speak directly to Americans without that filter of mainstream media”. After the games played with editing it’s no wonder that she would rather speak directly to the people.

    The press doesn’t own our politicians – the people do. I think that Sarah Palin – and all the candidates should focus on speaking to the people – instead of tailoring their positions and persona to garner the approval of the press.

  47. Cindy/Maewyn:

    From my prespective, it looks like Maverick means “unpredictable.”

    Like, whoo whoo, you don’t know what I’m gonna do next, suspend my campaign, haha you didn’t see that coming, but I was joking, I suspend that suspension. For my next trick, tadah, pick a fight with Spain, haha!! Did you see what I did there? You were all worried about Iran, but I head-butted Spain, that’s some maverickal misdirection!!

    Also not really attractive in a President.

  48. mary martha, thanks again for not being a horrible troll. That said, how the hell, short of getting every single voter in America to attend a personal appearance at which they lay out every aspect of their platform in every single said appearance, are the candidates supposed to interact with the American public without the press/media? Hate to break it to Palin, but the televised debates? Still mainstream media. Just sayin’.

  49. Being Canadian, I’m just an outside observer of things. I didn’t see either debate (our English debate last night, too), since I was at work.

    Reading the posts and comments here, as well as many other places, I can’t help but shake my head. Wasn’t it here, just recently, that there was a long discussion of anecdotes in response to the claim that women are crueler to other women than men could possibly be? My personal experiences happen to agree with that statement. Purely anecdotal, of course, but seeing and reading the incredible backlash against Palin by other women has done more to prove that point true than any of my personal experiences. I mean really… Palin bingo cards? Go polish your tiara? Not to mention the disgusting comments like that Canadian columnist, or that comedian that hoped Palin would be gang raped, among other things.

    I find it strange to read all these comments bashing Palin’s performance during the debate, yet not a single person seems to have caught that Biden outright lied at least 14 times during the debate.

    Oops… I just looked it up to include a link, and the list is now up to 22. This is just one of a number of articles about it.

    I guess some prejudices are ok, so long as they’re against women who don’t believe the same way folks here do?

    As to the word maverick, this is the cattleman’s description I know of. Most cattle, when hit with strong storm winds, turn their backs to the wind and give way, eventually getting crowded against a fence or some other obstruction, where they get trapped and sometimes freeze to death. Maverick cattle turn their heads *into* the wind, facing the storm and refusing to let it drive them to their deaths. (The cows we had as I was growing up, on the other hand, would go to the large shelter we built for them, but then we never had more than a small herd.)

  50. Kristin – I’m in a similar situation and I’ve been very careful about what I’ve said and done. Kind of a pick your battles thing. Though I know exactly what you mean about that kind of moment. There are a lot of ways to fire off a comeback that wouldn’t have been offensive but you won’t think of them for another 2 hours!

    I’m REALLY starting to doubt if I want to be a teacher any longer than this academic year.

    On the debate, I give you the shorter version:

    Biden: Here are a lot of facts to back up my points that I know by heart.
    Palin: I’m from Alaska! Yahsure ya betcha! *wink*


  51. Honestly, and not just as a response to Mary Martha, I think every American should be required to read the part of the US Constitution that explains the constitutional role of the president. What the president can and cannot do is set forth pretty clearly. If you actually read the Constitution, you realize that people who are by and large ignorant of the world and world politics do not fit the job description. Bush is a case in point. By the way, its Article 2, Section 2 and you can google it.

  52. Mary Martha, ditto what killedbyllamas said. I really appreciate that you’re willing to share your views here without spoiling for a fight, despite it being a very liberal space. But honestly, I was offended by her saying she was going to speak “directly to the American people,” because it came on the heels of her saying she wouldn’t answer the questions the way “they wanted her to” — and the rest of her performance showed that meant she wouldn’t answer questions she didn’t like, period. I don’t think changing the subject as it suits you is fair play in a debate.

    Having said that, I also can’t stand her positions and strongly belief she’s woefully underqualified, so I’m not predisposed to give her the benefit of the doubt.

  53. Yeah, killed, I agree. This isn’t the 1850’s where candidates can do whistle-stop tours at every small-town depot. It’s an enormous and diverse nation. So, marymartha, how else is a candidate supposed to speak to “the people” except via media. And while I don’t like the “we own you” language (mostly because I just generally dislike that kind of terminology applied to humans, even as a witticism), I *do* think the “fourth estate” is super-important. There’s a reason that a free, no-holds-barred media apparatus was so important to America’s founders: without it, look at what happens–China’s a good example. The notion that candidates can somehow speak directly to the people is, I think, not helpful in this day and age. Besides, I don’t at all get the sense that the media has already expressed its intense dislike of her–mostly she’s been the subject of intense coverage because she’s such an unknown, with so little experience. People are hungry to know more.

  54. Oh, Kate!!
    I don’t really have a physical type, but I cannot resist a guy that is useful. Biden just seems to be able to get things done, mmmm . . . and I think he mentioned hanging out at the Home Depot, so maybe he likes to fix things, as well.

    Mary Martha:
    A well-informed populace is necessary for the democracy to work, and the media is the way that we are able to stay informed. If all we had to help us make decisions were the press releases put out by candidates and corporations, we would soon be snacking on deadly chemicals under the watchful eye of a (more) self-interested body of government.

    Perhaps conservatives are upset by the media because they have been making poor choices in their candidates. Surely there are conservative leaders whose morals, intelligence and leadership would stand up and appear genuine under the hot glare of the spotlight. That individual would garner a lot of support from liberals and conservatives alike, like, I don’t know, Billy Graham or that guy Dave Ramsey. We do not believe the same things, but I cannot argue that they come across as good people. Just saying . . .

  55. bellacoker, I concur that conservatives are upset with the media because their candidates just don’t look good without the ridiculous spin generated in their favor by Fox News or talk radio, for example. The vast majority of screaming about ‘liberal media’ occurs, at least in my limited powers of observation, when mainstream media decide that either a conservative doing dumb shit or a liberal doing something competent, instead of vice-versa, is news.
    (I know I’ve seen a study discounting liberal bias in this campaign season, but I can’t find it at the moment. Anyone?)

  56. “But honestly, I was offended by her saying she was going to speak “directly to the American people,” because it came on the heels of her saying she wouldn’t answer the questions the way “they wanted her to” — and the rest of her performance showed that meant she wouldn’t answer questions she didn’t like, period. I don’t think changing the subject as it suits you is fair play in a debate.”

    I think that the line about not answering questions ‘the way they wanted her to’ was in reference to the fact that she was a bit outnumbered on that stage… with both the other people having a financial and professional interest in the success of the Obama/Palin campaign.

    You may not believe that Ifill’s book is evidence of lack of objectivity – but I think that it is not unreasonable to question Ifills’ selection to be a moderator (let me be clear that I generally think Ifill did a fine job and I do think she is a fine journalist).

    I would say that changing the subject when the question doesn’t suit you is a long established tactic in political debates. Both sides do it and it is frustrating sometimes but can also be illuminating (what questions do they avoid, what do they push into every answer).

    If Palin didn’t change the subject upon occasion the debate would have focused on Biden’s strengths (foreign policy) without giving Palin a chance to show her strengths (energy policy). Sometimes if you aren’t given the opportunity to shine by the moderator – you have to make it.

    Just a note about Biden’s command of ‘facts’ nobody has commented on this thread about the number of facts that Biden got wrong (ie – the US and France didn’t kick Hezbollah out of Lebanon). I think in that circumstance it is understandable – when speaking extemporaneously about complex issues mistakes will happen. However, I have seen very little in the media correcting his mistakes.

    As to the question of how candidates can connect with voters without depending on the media… that’s hard. The national media has set themselves up as a choke point where they are the gatekeepers who define how information is relayed, and what information is relayed.

    The key is to use local media, direct contact, person to person connections and alternative media in conjunction with advertising. Technology gives campaigns (on both sides) great opportunities to connect directly with the voters that didn’t exist 10 years ago.

    The stranglehold that the large national media has on information is fading. Look at the numbers – newspapers are dying (both in revenue and circulation), the viewership of network news is declining and increasingly younger people do not get their information from those traditional sources.

    It is entirely possible to be well informed without depending on the national media for your information. I agree that a well informed populace is necessary, I just think that depending on the national media for your information does not necessarily make one well informed.

    “There’s a reason that a free, no-holds-barred media apparatus was so important to America’s founders: without it, look at what happens”

    Here is where we may disagree. I do think that the media is free – I just think that they do not report in a no holds barred fashion. Some stories are big (Palin’s daughter’s preganancy) some stories are not (Biden’s son being sued for fraud). I am not saying that either of those stories necessarily merit coverage – but it is interesting which ones are downplayed.

    Wow, I just wrote a book length reply. Sorry about that.

    Again, I do like the blog and appreciate all the work that goes into it. As a fat woman in Chicago (yes, I may be the only conservative in Cook County) I really appreciate your voice. I understand that most people here disagree with me and that is why I have never commented before. I guess today I was just feeling like a different perspective might be good on this post.

  57. I should add here that obviously, I have my own issues with the media. What we’ve got is by no means a perfect — or even very reliable — truth delivery system. But I also find the concept of the Evil Librul Media utterly ridiculous. I only wish the “liberal media” would hold politicians’ feet to the fire.

  58. Mary Martha–I’m a liberal prof at a fairly conservative university; I spend most of my life exhausted from the tightrope I have to walk every single day. (I’ve been treated quite badly by conservatives, too–I was called a pagan by one of my colleagues, among other things). So I appreciate your effort to participate in a civil conversation with people who don’t agree with you. I know what that’s like, and I applaud you for it. I wish these kinds of conversations happened more frequently. Obviously, you and I don’t agree on much when it comes to Palin (e.g. she “shines” on energy policy?! Yikes!), but I do think it’s a good thing when people make an honest effort to participate in, learn from, and engage with those who differ from them. It’s the way diversity is supposed to work:)

  59. Kate, I whole-heartedly agree about the existence of this liberal media kabal. I’m not exaggerating when I say that my reporter friends are literally the most politically even-minded people I know. If they aren’t all technically registered Independents (and actually, I think they might be), then they certainly act like it. They’re switch hitters–voting either side of the aisle depending on the candidate, and they take the call to write without bias very seriously (even if, as you’ve pointed out, this isn’t technically possible).

    To those who believe in an evil media kabal: Don’t mistake the yacking heads on TV for journalists–those are pundits. Though pundits may be journalists, journalism and punditry are two separate things.

  60. Sumac, as the daughter of a print journalist who covers politics, I’ve always had the same impression. There are exceptions and they’re bad and we should watch out for them – and objectivity is impossible – but most journalists I know attempt to be fair to a fault. It’s a calling for them, not something they manipulate to serve their Evil Liberal Agenda.

  61. What I cannot understand is what Palin MEANT by juxtaposing:

    “It’s Predatory Lenders”
    – and her stress that this needs to be cleaned up
    – with a platform espousing more free market solutions.

    Newsflash: it wasn’t Congress who was being predatory. It was a deregulated, NON-governmentally controlled, Free Market.

    If she, like most Neo-Con republicans, (which is not the same as old style small government fiscal conservatives, for whom I have respectful disagreement), believes that the unregulated market WORKS, then:

    -> There is no such thing as predatory lending here – there was no lack of detail available on these contracts, if you are of the belief that caveat emptor in the fine print is fair, and people are able to make the “best” choice, as they do with, for example, HMOs, then there was nothing Predatory. This is how people make money. End of fucking story.
    -> There is no goddamn reason to bail a bank out.

    (and… for Mary… There is no such thing as UNWANTED media bias. That’s a “good government” thing to say, you crazy librul, you.
    For a free market, we get what people want and what they’ll pay for. Which, if you are seeing liberal media and there’s no barriers to publication – which there “shouldn’t be” in a non-monopoly situation – that means it’s because everyone else is voting with their money and they’re more ‘progressive’ than you. Fox news is more conservative than me.
    Which is why the social conservative/neo-con economic systems are such odd bedfellows to me. In the neo-con system, if gay folks and their supporters have more money and therefore are a demographic block that advertisers want watching TV in prime time, then by golly, because the market determined it.)

    The free market model is simple: people get what they choose, out of a market that offers what choices it offers, and the market will be creative enough to offer something new if people want it. And if it’s not good for them, they won’t choose it. And if they DO choose it, and have their futures blown up from their mistakes, well they need to take responsibility.

    That’s it. That’s all. So how someone can bitch about predatory lending and follow the Free Market Fairy at the same time drives me nuts: THE FREE MARKET FAIRY MADE THE PREDATORY LENDING. That’s what she does, and she’ll do it anywhere she is allowed to, unregulated.

    It’s working the way it’s supposed to: housing inventory is massive, now. Supply and demand. This is the way this theory works.

    The free market supposes that people are able to act in their own best interests, and it supposes that the market will create that for which there is demand. Period. (And it may even be true, if you don’t mind a certain amount of destabilization, poverty, rioting, and death of the poor.)

  62. WTF was the moment where Palin said she supports a two-state solution for Israel, but with Jerusalem as the capital???

    Argh. I have been listening to politicians of all stripes pander to Jewish voters by assuming we’re all diehard Likudniks for the last 30-ish years now, and I really wish they’d all shut up. Most reform/renewal/reconstructionist Jews (and that is most American Jews) are NOT Likudniks and want a two-state solution. And like you said, Laura, that statement is even more full-of-WTF than most; saying you want a two-state solution with Jerusalem as the capital is like saying you want to be vegan and own a KFC franchise. Doing SOME homework is sometimes more dangerous than not doing ANY. Unless, of course, Palin meant the “Jerusalem” line as some kind of code for the armageddocrats…shudder.

    Also, what’s with the winking shit? I’ve been told Bush has been doing that sort of thing on TV for a while now but since I can’t stand the sound of his whiny voice and haven’t been watching lately, I couldn’t tell you. And no, I don’t think it’s an involuntary tic, either. If it was involuntary, she’d be winking in the middle of sentences, not at the end.

  63. Arwen,
    You’ve totally hit upon a really important tension within the Republican party. The total, all-out free market policy also makes for an uncomfortable bed-fellow with right-wing religious ideology (for the same reasons you already noted). Til recently, they’ve been connected, but I suspect that, with the total breakdown of the economy, that relationship, too, will soon become even less comfortable.

  64. I would just like to say that I’m REALLY sick of people picking on how Palin and Bush talk– BECAUSE the way we speak is a cultural artifact. I am from the South and I have an accent– I am not stupid.

    Bush is stupid because he is stupid. Not because he has an accent. Palin is a douchebag because she is a douchebag. She pronounces “Nuclear” probably the same way millions of people who do not speak the language of the wider communication pronounce it.

    Having said that, I think that since Palin says she’s doing such a good job being Govenor of Alaska, we should let her keep doing that.

    Obama/Biden 08!!

  65. Also, can I tell you how much I loathe the idea that being President or VP is nothing more than some sixth-grade popularity contest and any “Joe Six-Pack” can do it? If that’s the case, why bother having elections at all? Why bother building any sort of political career or studying law or government at all, even on the self-study level, if knowledge and expertise are bad? Why don’t we just have a lottery for those jobs every 4 years, that anyone 35+ will be entered into unless they specifically opt out? GAAAH.

    You wouldn’t let someone fix your car — or your teeth — just because they had a nice smile and a wrench. You’d demand that they actually knew what they were doing and could prove it, wouldn’t you?

  66. Why don’t we just have a lottery for those jobs every 4 years, that anyone 35+ will be entered into unless they specifically opt out?

    Sadly, I am not 100% convinced this would be worse than our current system. Hmm.

    On a side note, I have a question for the knowledgable about the two-state solution and Jerusalem as a capital. Why is this contradictory? I mean, I know why it wouldn’t necessarily be desirable, but isn’t it pretty common for people to think that Gaza and the West Bank should be a state and that Israel should retain Jerusalem? Or am I totally mixed up about the labels?

  67. mary martha, could you clarify what you mean when you wrote that you are not a feminist?

    this: http://tomatonation.com/?p=677 is one of my favorite articles/rants on feminism, and it defines a feminist as someone who believes in political/social/economic equality of the sexes. by that definition, it’s hard for me to understand a woman can identify as “not a feminist.”

    however, you may be working from a different definition of feminist.

    i realize this is totally off topic, but i’d still love to hear your view if you have the time/energy to write it out.

  68. The key is to use local media, direct contact, person to person connections and alternative media in conjunction with advertising. Technology gives campaigns (on both sides) great opportunities to connect directly with the voters that didn’t exist 10 years ago.

    mary martha, do you see the McCain/Palin campaign doing this? I’m curious if Palin has made herself available to local media in a way that hasn’t been picked up on by the national media.

    This question is for everybody: does “Joe Sixpack” seem classist to you? It really rubs me the wrong way but I’ve never heard anyone called on it. It certainly seems less politically neutral than “John Q Public” (which is still, of course, not neutral gender-wise).

  69. yellowhammer- I hate the way Bush says nuclear because, at least to me, it seems like he does it on purpose….like, fuck you, I know how it’s pronounced, but I am doggone downhome, and I will say it like I please. And I feel like his whole persona is artificial. Regardless, when people want to lead the nation, I don’t think it is too much to ask that they know how to correctly pronounce the word nuclear. Whether we like it or not, we are judged on how we speak (and write, so I am probably not doing so well :)

  70. kunoichi, I approved your comment but I’m letting you know that you are skirting troll lines. This did not happen here, no would we stand for such a thing: “Not to mention the disgusting comments like that Canadian columnist, or that comedian that hoped Palin would be gang raped, among other things.” Being a feminist does not mean you can’t criticize other women; it means you stand for women’s equality and that you are against oppression against women for being women. I’m against Sarah Palin not because she’s a woman, or even because she presents her femininity in a certain way, but because I think she’s dead wrong on important issues and dangerously underqualified to be Vice President.

    And for what it’s worth, both candidates stretched the truth extensively last night. I recommend reading FactCheck’s article on this — it’s an explicitly nonpartisan source, unlike the National Review.

    You’re welcome to engage in the discussion here, but if you comment again attributing things to us that haven’t been said here, you’ll be banned.

  71. SM, it rubs me the wrong way too. The mental image it calls to mind for me is, oddly enough, Carl from Aquateen Hunger Force, and thus it seems like a totally classist and disrespectful way to speak of the so-called average American. Random cartoon characters aside, it relies on probably-negative stereotypes of certain demographics.

  72. Sarah @ f-words posted this video:

    McCain’s big plan for rural health? Exercise. And for the fat kiddies, Shaq’s lose weight “challenge”. He met some kid who lost 97lbs on it!

  73. The F-Word also has a thread about the debate. I’m going to be a lazy fattie tonight and post my response from that thread here:

    I did not watch, but this morning as I was getting ready to go to a seminar for my job, Good Morning America had analysts on talking about the debate and one comment by one of the men really hit home for me. He said that Palin comes off as the character Marge from “Fargo.” If you’ve ever seen that movie, you’ll understand why: the voice, mannerisms, the “golly, you betcha!” attitude that while can’t be helped, is extremely grating and comes off as very unprofessional.

    Joe Biden is not the most charismatic man, and he has made some questionable decisons and sayings (Obama a well-dressed, articulate black man anyone)? but I do see why Obama picked him. Just like McCain choosing Palin to pander to female Hilary supporters and extreme conservatives who share Palin’s point of view, Obama had to pick someone with long-term political experience and someone who, while Democratic, is a bit more conservative when it comes to abortion and out-and-out gay marriage, and could influence, or actually pander to Democrats who aren’t as liberal about women’s and gay issues. To sum it up, both VP picks were deliberate.

    But despite my reservations about Biden and Obama, their take on some of the key issues that will affect me as a woman are more in league with what I believe, instead of Sarah Palin “abstinence only/schools should teach Creationism/no marriage rights for gays/make rape victims pay for their rape kits” Palin. A vote for Palin and McCain IMO, is a vote for 50’s mentality and oppressive politics, and we don’t need that in 2008.

  74. “You may not believe that Ifill’s book is evidence of lack of objectivity – but I think that it is not unreasonable to question Ifills’ selection to be a moderator”

    It wasn’t like Ifill’s book was a well kept secret – or a secret at that – it was listed with the publisher in their catalog that has been out for WEEKS. Both campaigns agreed with Ifill as a moderator, so to come up the day before and declare that she’s obviously biased is, frankly, bullcrap.


  75. This question is for everybody: does “Joe Sixpack” seem classist to you?

    Whether the actual term is used or not, yeah, it’s a stereotype, and a pretty unfelicitous and annoying one. You can’t tell squat about what kind of person someone is just from their job or income or educational level, or even all three.

    But the belief that you can is nothing new. Nathaneal West was using the “lower middle classes” as his scapegoat as far back as The Day of the Locust (1939). Probably some examples even exist earlier than that. Certainly I remember the term being bandied about a lot in the 1970s, only then it was “Billy and Mary Six-Pack,” a term I seem to recall was coined by an unnamed TV executive to describe their target audience: “Nice people [who] have good jobs [but] don’t want to think. Dummies, I call them.” (I remember the quote from some 1980s book about sitcoms, it might have been Rick Mitz’s.) Yeah, like “not thinking” isn’t an affliction you’ll ever find among TV executives or people of their SES, no sirree. Bah.

    I’m thinking, though, that Palin’s use of the term really just means “a random anybody.”

  76. You know you think about weight a lot when instead of thinking 6-pack of beer, I thought of a 6-pack of abs. HA!

    I don’t know about classist, but I did think it sounded ridiculous and out of place in a national debate.

  77. omg deb, until I read your comment I totally had no idea joe six-pack referred to beer – i’ve been thinking that it was abs since I heard it last night.

    wow, that suddenly makes a lot more sense. I still don’t LIKE it, but it’s not quite as bizarre now.

  78. well…I guess I’m assuming it refers to a 6-pack of beer. I’m pretty sure the average american (male) would be more likely to have one of those than a six-pack abs.

    I’ve been known to be wrong….rarely. But it does happen.

  79. The winking and cutey-cute use of words makes me think of Palin as the pretty girl who’s always gotten social approval for being pretty, so she’s playing up her visual appeal at the expense of substance.

  80. “Whether we like it or not, we are judged on how we speak.”

    Kristin, that’s true, but isn’t that part of what we should be aware of and working against?

    I mean, whether I like it or not, people are going to judge me because…
    1) I have a vagina
    2) I grew up in a trailer
    3) I’m a fatty

    The way I speak is part of my cultural heritage. I often monopthongize my dipthongs on purpose, and would indeed bristle if some one chose to correct me.

  81. yellowhammer, I really do see your point. I was making a similar one with some stuffy people at a faculty development workshop a couple of weeks ago. I was trying to make the point that we, as faculty members, should be aware of AAVE and not so quick to be frustrated with students who have trouble conjugating “be” verbs. (this was in response to an old white male professor basically saying that students who are at the college level and still can’t properly conjugate verbs had something seriously wrong with them).

    And, probably, if I met someone on the street who was saying “noocyouler”, I wouldn’t be so pissed off by it. I think my serious hatred of GWB clouds my ability to logic good :)

  82. :-)
    I must admitt, I did laugh at the part of the JibJab video where Kerry sings, “You can’t say nuclear, that really scares me, sometimes a brain can come in quite handy!”

  83. LilahMorgan, I’ll take a stab at your question:
    I have a question for the knowledgable about the two-state solution and Jerusalem as a capital. Why is this contradictory?

    Disclosure: I am someone who has visited Jerusalem, and lived in Israel, and has some pretty strong connections to Israel. I grew up in the American Reform Jewish movement and these days identify as a Reconstructionist Jew (Judaism = Civilization).

    My answer:
    Jerusalem is the most prime real estate in the world, religiously speaking. While the State of Israel identifies Jerusalem as it’s capital, the city is “owned” by four religions and many, many of the most devout sects of those religions. It is an amazing place. I don’t think having a U.S. embassy in Jerusalem is a giant priority for most American Jews or most Israelis, and would have pretty serious political/religious fallout.

    The two state solution is also problematic from the more radical left perspective. One unified, secular, multi-cultural democracy is preferred by most Palestinians. How practical or likely to happen is a one-state solution? Not very, but from a purely rational perspective, one unified “Israel/Palestine/Ca’anan” would make sense. Politically, it’s almost completely unlikely to happen. What is hard to grasp unless you have been to Israel is how untenable a two state Gaza+West Bank Palestine with Israel squeezed in the middle is likely to be.

    In my experience (lived there for about 1.5 years and have had about 4 subsequent visits) Israel is a beautiful, infuriating, cruel, overpopulated, exciting, awesome place. I really encourage anyone who has an interest to visit.

  84. I thought I was going to lose my fucking mind every time she used the word “attributed” backwards. What was it, “my executive experience can be attributed to my appointment as VP candidate”? Gah.

  85. emi – Thanks for the link, that was a great essay.

    However, even after reading that I am still not a feminist. The reasons are many and I would be happy to discuss them, but I don’t think this is the forum. I wouldn’t want to derail this comment box.

  86. It’s pretty loose around these parts, actually, and I for one am really interested. Honestly, the only reasons I’ve ever heard for not being a feminist have to do with complete strawman arguments and a real unwillingness to pat attention to reality. So anything that isn’t of that realm would be new and fascinating.

  87. Hey, I’m just going to step in here and say that this is not a good place to have a “why is mary martha not identifying as a feminist” discussion. This is a feminist blog; we welcome respectful commenters who don’t identify as feminist, but we’re not interested in hosting discussions on the merits of feminism. On Shapely Prose, feminism is part of our basic fabric. Feel free to pick up discussion elsewhere (and we’re working on community features for the future, I swear!), but let’s please keep this thread at least somewhat about the debate.

  88. I agree with Sweet Machine, but I’d also like to point out that there are a lot of women, particularly women of color, who subscribe to what I would consider basic feminist principles, yet don’t identify as feminists because they feel the feminist movement doesn’t speak for them. There are lots of reasons why someone might not call herself a feminist, and as SM said, that’s beyond the scope of this thread, if not this site.

  89. I was skimming just now and read something about how Sarah Palin pronounces nuclear like many people who don’t speak the language of the wider communication? Look, if this woman’s going to have a hand in running the country if not BOTH (in the case of McCain keeling over), I’m going to need her to speak properly, and that’s all there is to it. I want people representing America who don’t make me want to barf all over my shoes. I mean, what if I could potentially conduct myself more appropriately in a room with foreign world leaders and speak to be understood? I don’t want that to be so. Both the president and the VP should be smarter, more competent, and more eloquent under stress than I could ever be. It’s their job. It’s why they have the “nucular” launch codes.


    VPs should not give shoutouts in a debate forum. This isn’t the acceptance speech at your awards show of choice. Are you going to thank God and your mom and that old guy who promised you a whole lot of power, too? Possibly pair it off with a wink that you did not less than SIX god. damn. times like you’re picking up some biker in a sleaze bar? Personally, I lost it when I found out that she couldn’t name a single Supreme Court judgment other than Roe v Wade. Not only does it show she’s ignorant, but it shows she doesn’t watch Law & Order — at least five times per episode, one of the lawyers slings around an SC decision to make or break the office’s decision to go or go ahead. And I can’t handle electing someone who doesn’t watch Law & Order.

    Not to mention that anyone who would stand by while rape victims are charged for the cost of their kits earns nothing from me, neither points nor respect. She might not have personally busted down any doors demanding the money from those women, but by signing off on whatever bullshit rule required a fee before investigation could proceed? Fuck you. The victim blaming, men can do no wrong, we’ll charge you for the rape kit whereas nobody would bat an eye investigating your home invasion without cost, mentality makes me want to smack somebody’s face.

  90. Late to the thread but… Palin’s performance made me sick. Her fauxksiness was an insult to every northerner, to every person who comes from a small town, and when she actually winked at the camera I was shocked by her lack of professionalism.

    So there.

  91. I think it’s not so much about Palin’s accent as it is about her word choices. The ‘cutesy’ speech. While I completely understand having a Midwestern accent (not Alaska, but, whatever…), saying things like “Joe Six-Pack,” “Doggone it,” and “Say it ain’t so, Joe”–those are just ridiculous things to say in one of the most important facets of this election.

  92. Mary Martha – Thanks for responding, and I see that SM & Kate agree with you that this is not the place (sorry for the derailment!).

  93. “I think that the debate in many ways was a tie – Biden did well, but considering the extremely low expectations for Palin I think that she ‘won’ because she exceeded those expectations. It’s the fault of all those who said she was ‘just a caribou barbie’ that when she wasn’t it was a huge positive.”

    I had to respond to this. I don’t want to vote for the person who exceeded expectations more, I want to vote for the person who is better. The Olympic medals don’t go to the people who exceed their personal bests the most, but to the person who does best objectively, and by any objective standard Biden won the debate. Only when you bring subjective expectations in can you say that Palin was better, and that’s just because she has shown herself to be so very very terrible in interviews… not a good thing in a world leader.
    Personally, as a Canadian, I fear for the future of the world if McCain/Palin are elected. Global civilization may not survive 4 years of an impulsive short-sighted violent man with the ability to launch nukes. Global markets probably won’t survive 4 more years of Conservative rule. The stock market regularly goes down with conservatives in power and up with liberals, but the people in charge don’t want to talk about this because they make more money themselves with the conservatives.
    Conservative ideology is a bad thing, looked at objectively, on almost every count. Markets, freedom, deficit, just the ability to support a middle class….

    Sorry for ranting.

  94. Gov Palin’s accent is not exactly pleasing to my ears, but I’m used to such a wide range of ways people speak that nothing really bothers me so long as I can understand what they’re saying. Oddly enough, the only thing she says that DOES get on my nerves is – “John McCain”. For some reason, the way she pronounces it, or the emphasis she places on it, or something like that, makes me flinch.

    I don’t mind folksiness. I don’t mind winking. (Of course, I’ve always given Bush a pass for his lead tongue as well. Tripping over your tongue doesn’t make you stupid, it makes you a bad public speaker. I am also a bad public speaker.) I don’t think we’ve seen enough of her on the national scene to really get a feel for her actual intelligence.

    What I see in her is someone who feels charging stubbornly ahead, ignoring all obstacles, is a virtue. And perhaps I would feel that it was, if the direction she was charging was anywhere near where I wanted to go.

    I feel very excluded by her. Her talk about hockey moms and sixpacks makes me feel like she has a very specific image of what it means to be a “Real American”, and that those are the only people that matter. And I’m definitely not one of them. When she says “tolerant” and “diverse”, I hear her gritting her teeth.

    I don’t like the way she completely dodges questions and fails to answer them, then blames the ‘elite’ for filtering her. You’re right there, ma’am! You have a mic in front of you! Talk!

  95. Her talk about hockey moms and sixpacks makes me feel like she has a very specific image of what it means to be a “Real American”, and that those are the only people that matter. And I’m definitely not one of them.

    Oh, no! She’s very tolerant. I know because she said so herself many times.

    Rolls eyes to the point of pain.

  96. I just want to point something out… when I say that I am not a feminist that is what I mean. Not that I don’t “identify as a feminist ” but rather that I am not a feminist.

    I am a single professional woman with two graduate degrees. I know who I am and what I believe in and stand for – feminism is not it. I respect many who are feminists (one of the reasons I read this blog) and I would hope that they would respect my decision to not be counted among their ranks.

    I think that Sarah Palin is also a successful and professional woman who knows who she is and what she stands for and refuses to let others define her. I greatly admire that about her.

    I believe her refusal to fit into the established paradigms is what so many people find frustrating about her. She demolishes the stereotype of what a conservative, Christian, mother of 5 is, and that can be quite disconcerting.

    I believe in the VP debate Palin showed her ability to stride onto the national stage and hold her own. She went toe to toe against a more experienced politician with over 30 years in the Senate. That was quite impressive.

    Like I said in my first reply – overall I think the VP debate was a tie. However one person came onto that stage with a great deal to prove – and I think she accomplished that goal.

    I understand if people disagree with her positions and politics and therefore don’t think she ‘won’. I disagree with Biden’s political positions and he didn’t win me.

    [Off topic] emi if there is a better forum to courteously discuss why I am not a feminist then let me know. I don’t want to upset our hostesses here, but I do think it is an interesting topic to discuss.[/Off topic]

  97. Speaking in complete sentences does not a win make.

    Showing my geekery here, I did debate in high school. To win the debate you had to answer each question asked of you and be able to counter with evidence each of your opponents attacks. If you missed a single attack or chose not to respond you lost. Plain and simple.

    I too agree that she showed a remarkable lack of professionalism during the debate. I want someone that is intelligent and that is clearly for the good of the people (not the good of corporations or lobbyists).

  98. She demolishes the stereotype of what a conservative, Christian, mother of 5 is, and that can be quite disconcerting.

    How so? I mean, how does she demolish the stereotype?

    Maybe I have a different stereotype in mind. I guess some people would associate that sort of woman with being purely a submissive stay-at-home mom, and therefore be surprised that she’s got a career and is outspoken, but I’m from the South originally and I’ve known plenty of assertive conservative Christian women with jobs, so that’s not a surprise to me.

    As far as shattering stereotypes go, I *was* surprised by how often on the silly Wife Swap TV show, you’d get a family which seemed very male-dominant, woman keeps house and does everything he says – and then it would turn out that not only did she like it that way but that she was strongly and assertively insistent on it being that way! Which definitely *does* confuse a lot of liberal mindsets the first time you see it. :)

  99. Emmy, I don’t think that’s so surprising about Wife Swap. People have a high stake in their own happiness, and don’t go around saying they hate their situation unless they think it could be different or have some idea about changing it. I’m sure plenty of Shapelings spent a lot of time talking about how dieting made them happy. The fact that lots of people, including smart and well-intentioned people,
    defend something doesn’t make it right, whether it’s dieting or male dominance.

  100. She demolishes the stereotype of what a conservative, Christian, mother of 5 is, and that can be quite disconcerting.

    I was about to say the same as Emmy – I don’t see her as demolishing that stereotype at all, but fitting quite comfortably inside it. Having an outside job doesn’t break the conservative Christian mold at all – most of them, except for extreme fringe sects, are quite comfortable with women working now that it’s become such a taken-for-granted thing. But being against equal rights for everyone, being thrilled that her 17 year-old pregnant daughter is going to marry her boyfriend (and possibly pushing her towards that), adopting a demeanor that is deferential and flirty towards men in general, toeing the entire Republican line whether or not she secretly agrees with it all – she’s as stereotypically conservative Christian as it gets, from my point of view. (Which, as it happens, is quite steeped in examples, as I was raised in a Southern Baptist home in the southern midwest where we went to church three times a week and “didn’t know” any gay people and didn’t have sex until we were married.)

  101. I detest the way Palin speaks, but “Say it ain’t so, Joe” isn’t really her vernacular, it’s her attempt to hijack a popular quote. (I thought those who didn’t know that Joe Six Pack might not recognize that one, either.)

  102. During the first wave of feminism, companies which feared, correctly, that votes for women would lead to the passage of a Prohibition Amendment established the Anti-Suffragist movement. They found women who would protest how much they did not want the vote, and how a woman’s place truly was in the private sphere.

    These women, no matter what their personal beliefs, were being used as props for companies which were run by and benefited men.

    And Sarah Palin is being used in the same way, I think. She is participating in her own and our oppression both by allowing herself to be used as a prop of a VP candidate, and as a member of Feminists for Life, promotes positions that are anti-women.

    Unrelatedly, it seems to me that tolerance is irreconcilable with evangelical Christianity, which may be why Palin has trouble talking about it. I mean, it is not very tolerant to believe that your friend is going to eventually end up roasting in Hell and suffering for all eternity, and that they deserve that fate.

    mary martha: To paraphrase John McCain, I think you are parsing words.

  103. The “Say it ain’t so, Joe!” was so fake-sounding and rehearsed that it drove me crazy. “So, Gov. Palin — at some point, Biden is going to say something you disagree with. When that happens, you need to preface your statement with ‘Say it ain’t so, Joe!’ and you will be connecting him with the 1919 Black Sox, as well as sounding cute and folksy.”

    And, you know, fake, condescending, informal, and pointless.

    (Also, I knew that from “Field of Dreams.”)

    I would also agree that she epitomizes the mold of conservative Christian woman, rather than breaking it, although I have very little to compare her to in my experience.

  104. OT:

    I just came back to see if I used your/you’re correctly. I was in the other room and began to worry about it.

    What are you people doing to me??!?

  105. Bellacoker:

    Women’s suffrage did not create the Prohibition. That was passed and ratified a full year ahead of women’s suffrage.

  106. Palin reminds me of the redneck politicos I grew up with. Both on 3rd base (white, middle-class), fond of the outdoors but against environmentalism, lacking in empathy, traditionalist, inflexible, fond of canned arguments – nothing surprising there.

    As for why someone is anti-feminist… I don’t care. Feminism is the radical notion that women are human. If you’re not with that, I will not waste a second of your time.

  107. Part of what bothers me about the rhetoric of the McCain/Palin campaign is that they’re reaching so far back for historical references. As Stephanie said, “Say it ain’t so, Joe” goes back to 1919. In the first debate McCain kept referring to himself as a “Teddy Roosevelt Republican”. Why are their speechwriters giving them phrases that most voters under the age of 90 have to think about before they understand them, OR that many voters who aren’t up on their early 20th century American history won’t understand at all? It’s like their very word choice is reinforcing how out of touch with the mainstream they are.

    Not to mention that comparing oneself to Teddy Roosevelt isn’t exactly a way to seem younger and more vibrant.

  108. “Someone explain to me how Sarah Palin gets to call herself a Maverick. If you’re a Bible-believing woman who is anti-choice, anti-gay and pro intelligent design, exactly what system is she bucking?”


    Just saying. But it seems obvious to me.

    It’s just that you think of yourself as the underdog, the resistance, the revolution. As it happens, in some places and in some respects, you’re the establishment.

    You resist her, she resists you. It’s goes around.

  109. Linda:

    Well, damn! My public school education seems to be failing me.

    This will remind me to look shit up before I start talking, fauxcheaux.

  110. No, I think you might be right, Bellacoker, at least in fundamentals – the support for Prohibition and women’s suffrage were building long before either actually passed. So Prohibition passed in spite of the fact that there wasn’t yet women’s suffrage, but that doesn’t mean that there weren’t fears beforehand that women would push it over were they to get the vote.

  111. I would just like to say that I’m REALLY sick of people picking on how Palin and Bush talk– BECAUSE the way we speak is a cultural artifact.

    The problem is Bush is actually from Maine and Alaskans do not sound like Palin did at the debate at all. Hell, Palin didn’t sound like Palin. There are no other appearances in the public record where she behaved that way and spoke with that accent. They are patronizing people who do really speak that way by pretending to be something they’re not and hoping those “down home folks” will eat it up.

  112. Anastasia, I honestly mean this politely, I’m just foulmouthed, so bear with me.

    With the horrific and entrenched abstinence-“education” in our schools, with “intelligent design” actually being taught at all in any non-private, non-Christian school, with abortions very difficult to obtain for many women in many, many states, and gay marriage illegal with all but a couple of shining examples, I can’t think of a place I could move where my atheist, bisexual self could send my “bastard” children (if I had any, which, because of feminism, I am free NOT to, and so I don’t) to a school which teaches the science-based facts about evolution and birth control. I can’t think of many places where I could either have an abortion if I want one without being heckled, pressured, or told to “think it over” after being subjected to an invasive ultrasound, or marry my Kate Beckinsale lookalike lesbian neighbor after a rousing bout of premarital sex if I want to do that, or both of those, if that’s what I gotta do.

    The “establishment” would shit a parade of golden kittens if I were to demand those rights in those words, yet those are exactly the things we’re talking about, here. And they aren’t available in a lot of places. The fact that SOME are available in SOME places does not a level playing field make. They should be available in ALL places, and until they are, we don’t have “fairness.”

    I don’t have to think of myself as the underdog or the resistance. I walk out my front door and I’m looking at the ass of the dog above me. I am the underdog. And a lot of other women in most every state are looking at the same dog’s ass.

    The only difference is, I’ve decided not to kiss it, instead of pretending the sun shines outta there and learning to live with the view.

    If the day ever comes when my way is the establishment way, then I’ll be happy. Until then, I’m going to keep resisting, because not resisting and hoping the other side will be nice enough to give you some watered-down rights with your freedom fries doesn’t really work in the long run.


  113. Naamah, that was really well put. It’s good to remind people that the Christian-fundies running around wanting to limit the rights of those not like them ARE NOT the ones who are oppressed, no matter how loud and copiously they may whine about it.

  114. Naamah, no apologies necessary — we are all for people feminist-ing at others (fingerguns included); I’m just not up for moderating a debate on the merits of feminism, which are assumed here. This is a feminist space. Most of the world is not. People who disagree with the previous statement should let us know what magical wonderland of equality they live in so we can all move there ourselves.

  115. “I think that attitude is why conservatives (like myself) increasingly dislike much of the press (and are actively shunning it) and because the ‘fourth estate’ has an inflated sense of their own importance.”

    The duty of the press is to keep the public informed of what is going on, of the things they otherwise wouldn’t have any idea was happening.

    Without it, the government can go willy-nilly and do whatever it wants without the public even knowing until it’s too late. Unfortunately, the past 8 years were chock full of members of the press who were scared to show us the bulk of the horrible things the government was doing, so it was nearly as bad as not having one at all (fortunately, there were enough underground/brave journalists who did report the crimes and horrors that they weren’t 100% on their own).

    The press is the only business that is protected, or even MENTIONED in the Constitution. That is because our founding fathers understood its importance.

    If you don’t want anyone hiding from the voters, then they need to stop hiding from the press. The press is essentially (in its truest form) a liaison between officials and their constituents. To hide from them is to hide from the public, and if you are doing that, why are you hiding? What terrible things are you doing that you won’t share?

    The press is necessary (and not just because I would like a job). It keeps the government in check, hence the “Fourth Estate” nickname. It keeps the people informed. Without it, the government would be getting away with even worse horrors than they already are.

    That said, I think Biden completely pwned the debate. So Palin got through without blowing it entirely. It makes me sad that we live in a country where simply not fucking up is considered success.

    I think Palin is incredibly arrogant. She is acting like she is running for President, which she’s not – sure, there’s a chance that McCain could kick it in the next 4 (8? *shudder*) years, but there’s just as big a chance that he won’t, and Palin seems to forget that. She memorizes soundbites and tosses them in wherever she pleases, and blatantly ignores the questions she is asked. It’s a debate – you are being asked specific questions and you need to be able to answer them. I guess she’s just too good to lower herself to the peons questions? Ugh.

    Hopefully the New York Times election map comes true. They have Obama only 10 electoral votes away form clinching the Presidency!! Huzzah!

  116. ’s good to remind people that the Christian-fundies running around wanting to limit the rights of those not like them ARE NOT the ones who are oppressed, no matter how loud and copiously they may whine about it.

    Joie, this was very well put!

    Whenever I see one of those whiny emails from fundies crying that everyone else who isn’t like them are taking away their rights, I want to shake all of them and tell them that THEY are the ones who are trying to take away everyone else’s rights, by pushing for no access to abortions, trying to stop two consenting gay adults from getting married, and forcing children who don’t believe in their religion to be taught Christian principles in public schools. We don’t really hear from atheists, agnostics, Satanists, Buddhists, etc. complaining about being persecuted do we?

    I always say not only do we have freedom of religion, we also have freedom FROM religion.

  117. Naamah and Sweet Machine and Joie and Bree, word. The persecution complex is one of my pet peeves. Giving other people rights will not take theirs away. Allowing women abortions does not mean they will be forced to have them. Same-sex marriage does not make opposite-sex couples any less married. Acknowledging that people celebrate Hanukkah or Kwanzaa or the solstice or Festivus or Hogswatch or whatever doesn’t mean they can’t celebrate Christmas. So here’s a nice bowl of STFU and walk a mile in our shoes for them.

  118. I agree with Liza that Palin is incredibly arrogant when she speaks. I just can’t stomach the kind of juvenile, mocking sarcasm that she uses, and the fact that some people think it’s a sign of leadership potential or something. GWBush has that same angry, defensive, what’s-wrong-with-you tone, which has gotten more prominent as all the fake folksiness has dropped away. And I think we’d likewise see more defensiveness and less of the fake folksy stuff if, God-forbid, Palin becomes VP.

    I totally agree that people should not be assumed to be stupid because of their accents. I just think it’s stupid to pretend to be something you’re not and play up your accent, just to get votes. And I am SO angry at Palin for trying to be cute and flirty. That is not fair to the rest of us women. I was not a Hillary supporter, but thank God she never did that ridiculous crap.

    I think it’s HILARIOUS to hear some of y’all talking about Biden being hot!!! Thank God we women have a place to make comments about men’s appearances. I am so tired about hearing about Palin’s looks. I like Biden OK but I wish he were a little less hawkish and a little more sympathetic to the Palestinians. He’s totally not as sexy as Obama, though.

    For the record, and I know I am TOTALLY opening myself up to criticism here, but I am a strong Obama supporter who is a very religious Catholic Christian. I consider myself to be a feminist, but I do believe abortion is wrong, and it is NOT because I think the government should have control over women’s bodies. It is just because I really truly believe the fetus is a human being, so I think it should be illegal to kill the fetus. For example, I also personally believe that getting one’s tubes tied is morally wrong, but I would NEVER suggest it being made illegal, because it is a woman’s decision what to do with her body. I just don’t think it is a woman’s decision (or anyone’s decision) whether or not to kill another human being.

    I know this isn’t a discussion on abortion but I’m just writing this because there are a lot of rants on here about Christian fundamentalists, etc., and I want to let people know that you might disagree with some Christian views, but not all Christians are the same. I just ask WHY WHY WHY can’t we have a candidate who supports the poor, is pro-peace, and also pro fetus’ rights? But I vote democrat, and would never vote for McCain/Palin, because being “pro-life” to me has to include being pro-poor, pro-civil rights, pro-peace. And not believing in evolution is just stupid.

    And also for the record, as a believing Christian who lives in the San Francisco Bay Area, I do feel marginalized in society. I am sure that I would also feel marginalized if I were a gay secular humanist living in the midwest. That’s why it is so important for political leaders and all of us to have REAL tolerance of each other, from all sides, and not just pay it lipservice. I haven’t seen any real tolerance evidenced by Palin.

    And yeah, I love my friends who are gay and straight and atheists and protestants and even those who are thin (I have to work at that!), but even though I love and support them, I don’t always support what they do or who they identify as, and sometimes I even have to just tolerate their views. That’s even true with my husband and family. I just get so discouraged with all the either/or thinking that I see from most conservatives and some liberals. That’s why I think Obama rocks – he’s much more open-minded.

  119. MaryMette– I don’t want to completely derail the conversation, but I’ve never heard someone express the view that tubal ligation is immoral. Do you feel the same way about vasectomy? I’m not looking to debate it–I’m just curious because, as I said, it’s a new POV to me.

  120. Yeah, vasectomy too. Not that I want to judge anyone who has either of these procedures. You can email me at molly1@rotosource.com if you want to chat about it. Please, everyone out there who disagrees with me don’t send me nasty emails, though!

  121. Marymette–I certainly don’t agree with everything you believe, but I wholeheartedly applaud HOW you believe it. This is what maturity looks like! And this: “being ‘pro-life’ to me has to include being pro-poor, pro-civil rights, pro-peace”–rocks.

  122. And also for the record, as a believing Christian who lives in the San Francisco Bay Area, I do feel marginalized in society.

    I appreciate the spirit in which you made your comment, marymette, but I’m also pretty sure that you’re not legally oppressed in the way that actual minority groups (and women) have been throughout our country’s history.

  123. I really don’t see what’s particularly mature about throwing gritted-teeth “tolerance” around on feminist sites. It’s no different from Palin crowing about her invisible gay BFF who she so magnanimously tolerates despite her “lifestyle choice” being WRONG WRONGITTY WRONG.

    So you think it’s morally wrong for me to not spend the next ten years of my partnership celibate? Here’s the thing – not only do I not want anyone to curtail my legal freedoms, I also just plain _don’t want to know_ about your sexist moral judgements. Legal force isn’t the only oppression out there.

  124. marymette – hugs! I’m not in quite the same camp as you, but I always face the frustration of there not being a *name* for the camp I’m in. I have never liked the pro-choice label because I’ve always felt like ‘choice’ feels too trivial for a fairly awful decision, and it’s not just the woman’s body anymore… on the other hand I feel like the greater societal good is served by keeping abortion safe and legal.

    But to try and sound less like Palin with her fakey tolerance – I wish people didn’t have to make that choice, but it’s NONE OF MY BUSINESS! I wouldn’t presume to judge anyone’s circumstances.

    lauredhel – To play devil’s advocate, isn’t “I don’t want to know” what a lot of gay-haters say about all that icky, icky homosexual lovin’? Some people claim to feel oppressed by having to see it and hear about it because it offends them and they wish the gays would keep their ‘deviance’ buried in bunkers where they can pretend it doesn’t exist.

    I tend to lean towards wanting people to be up front about their beliefs, but I am aware that there are downsides to that.

  125. Emmy: I can’t figure out where you think the parallel is in your devil’s advocate analogy. You’re plucking out four words and leaving all of the context behind: my point is to keep sexist moral judgements to yourself, or risk being thought of as someone who is sexist and judgemental.

    This applies equally, of course, to people who pronounce homophobic moral judgements.

  126. To clarify, I do believe in God and Jesus. However, I call myself a “liberal Christian,” in the sense that I do not agree with the views about abortion, homosexuality, women, marriage, etc. that radical fundamentalists do.

    I understand there are many Christians out there who are not as hateful and judgmental. Unfortunately, it’s the ones like Fred Phelps and his ilk who get all the soundbites and try to act like they represent all Christians. With so many problems our world is facing, it’s what happens sexually between two consenting adults that they are obsessed the most with, to the point that it makes a mockery of Christianity.

    I can’t support anyone who refuses to realize that “alternative lifestyles” are not going to drop America into the depraved pits of hell and uses the Bible as a backdrop to make legislation. I know Obama and Biden do not support full gay marriage, only civil unions/domestic partnerships, but at least they do understand everyone needs rights to make life-changing decisions when it comes to loved ones.

  127. my point is to keep sexist moral judgements to yourself, or risk being thought of as someone who is sexist and judgemental.

    Oh, true, that’s perfectly fair enough.

    It seemed like you were saying that you didn’t want anyone to talk about what they thought if those thoughts equated to, in your opinion, sexist moral judgments, and that the very stating of those opinions is oppressive. (Which in some cases it IS, but at the same time, I tend to be in favor of talking openly.) I thought you were saying that they should be forced into silence because their existence is offensive.

    If you’re simply saying that you’ll be judged by what you say, then, well, yeah, that’s obvious.

  128. Can’t one be anti-abortion and anti-coathanger at the same time?

    Of course, many people are anti-legal-abortion, anti-sex-ed, and anti-contraception; presumably they’re pro-taking-in-pregnant-teenagers-and-feeding-them-and-their-babies?

  129. @marymette: I agree with you on a fair number of things (having Christian beliefs but still being pretty liberal politically–though I’m a non-denominational protestant rather than a Catholic & am very much *in favor* of birth control).

    Like Miss Conduct said, I like the way you stated your beliefs—rationally, politely, non-judgmentally.

    I also definitely get what you mean about feeling alienated in SF. I never lived there, but when I was in college (and was more…I guess “religiously conservative” is a good way to put it), I felt awfully alone. Academia, at least the slice of it that I was in, seems pretty condescending toward anybody with religious beliefs. And I spent (and still spend) a lot of time feeling like I had to defend and explain what I believe, which is a sucky position.

    Because of that, it actually didn’t occur to me for a while that I was in a pretty privileged position religion-wise. Yeah, I’d had people make fun of me and think I was some evil bigoted nutjob, but that isn’t on par with the discrimination other religious groups face–not getting a job, losing an apartment, even getting run out of town.

    This might be an overly broad generalization, but I’d wager that everyone is marginalized at some point in their life to some extent. Maybe it’s because of gender, maybe race, maybe religion, maybe looks. Maybe there isn’t even any -ism you can pin it on. If nothing else, there’s school—kids don’t need a “reason” to be cruel or to make somebody the odd one out.

    So it’s easy for somebody in the majority or dominant group to *feel* persecuted, even though what they experience doesn’t compare to what the less privileged group experiences. Like, I felt discriminated against when professors made harsh comments about my beliefs. And to an extent I was–but not anywhere near to the extent a minority religious group is discriminated against. I understood a little piece of that feeling, but not the whole. And because I equated my experience to that whole, I didn’t really see how different they were.

    I hope that made sense—it’s something like the distinction between Skinny People A and B on the Comments Page. I probably was Skinny Person B as far as religion for a while–you know, except for the skinny part.

    (I hope this is acceptably close to the topic—I know we’re not on the debate, but the idea of how religion intersects with politics and ideas about marginalization are relevant, right? If not, I’ll shut up. :) )

  130. Again, not to derail, Marymette, but I’m pretty sure that if there is a “god” s/he probably doesn’t want me having kids I cannot afford and would probably treat like crap because I am freaking mentally ill, and also because I just flat-out really, really don’t want kids and don’t enjoy spending time around children. (And as tons of depressed mothers who abandon or murder their unwanted offspring attest, no, it’s not always different when it’s your own. I’m not willing to gamble a child’s life and my sanity and freedom on the magical — and for many women, totally mythical — character-building properties of motherhood.)

    I sincerely doubt it’s god’s will I bring another kid into this world. Ergo, I would argue that for me, and for thousands of women and men like me who don’t want kids and/or know they would be spectacularly shitty parents, it is the moral choice to be sterilized, and having children would be morally questionable.

    I say this as someone who wasn’t really a wanted child, herself, and grew up with a mother who was as bipolar as I am. I know whereof I speak, and that’s not something I would wish on a dead woodchuck.

    Unless you personally have experienced it, it’s almost impossible to believe the condescending claptrap that is trotted out to prevent or dissuade women from getting sterilized. I myself was told — at 28 — that I was too young and in “no mental state” to be making such a decision. I was plenty old enough and plenty sane enough to bear and raise children, though. Yup.

    I get it from strangers, too, because politeness can apparently go diddle itself when the Entire! Future! Of the Human! Race! is in jeopardy from me refusing to give birth.

    And grudgingly granting me an exception, as some people do, for being bipolar, isn’t really any less sexist. It ain’t up to anyone but me. As I once said elsewhere, “Who the f— made you the three-headed moral watchdog of my c—?”

    I’m with Lauredhel: If a person walks like a sexist and talks like a sexist, they shouldn’t be surprised when they get treated like a sexist. I’m not saying they shouldn’t speak, they have every right to do it, but I am saying that they’re wrong — yes, morally — in their opinions, and I’m going to call them on it when they do. I’ve got every right to do that, too.

  131. Mary Martha and others.

    I work for a metropolitan daily that has a history of endorsing conservative political candidates – and some liberal ones, too. We publish Kathleen Parker, Ann Coulter, Walter Williams and Cal Thomas. Pardon me if the “liberal media” chorus makes me very hot under the collar. My publisher? Republican. Yes, he’s the big bull moose of the paper. Our editorial writer? Liberal. But guess who reads and approves his work? The Publisher. A Republican.

    The fourth estate does not have an inflated sense of its own importance. I’m not a political reporter, but I work next to the guys and gals who cover city hall and the county courts. They slog through thousands of pages of documents that trail back to republicans and democrats for crap pay — all so that the media consumer can huff and growl about bias left, right and center. When we get complaints from all sides, we know we’re doing our jobs.

    When you run for public office and you win your office, your private life is over. And thank goodness for that, because if it wasn’t, the taxpayers wouldn’t learn about the elected official with dirty money in his home freezer. And taxpayers wouldn’t have learned that one president defiled the Oval Office with the occasional blow job. I won’t even touch Nixon.

    Yes, it’s unfair. Yes, it’s vicious. Democracy doesn’t mean getting along and being comfortable.

    I can take the heat for that.

  132. And now for a moment of uninvited righteous anger. Directed at no one in particular.

    As a religious person who happens to be gay AND in an interracial relationship, I don’t want tolerance.

    I want full citizenship. I want the full benefits of membership in a republican democracy.

    I really couldn’t care less if someone can *tolerate* me or not. If someone seethes over my existence, that’s his trip. He or she can seethe all they want. They are welcome to lose all sorts of headspace and energy struggling to tolerate me.

    I want full and equal citizenship. I want to determine my next of kin. I want to bequeath my wealth and property to my lover of 13 years. I want what the most dangerous felon can have without anyone’s consent.

    I want the birthright that belongs to every free citizen of every free nation.

    I want absolute agency in my own damn life.

  133. I want absolute agency in my own damn life.

    Stands up to applaud. Whistles. Throws a bouquet of multi-coloured roses.

  134. Cindy, that’s fantastic.

    Also, in response to an older comment, I have to say that it doesn’t matter when YOU think human life begins. What matters is the living consequence of making abortion illegal (or merely difficult to obtain). No one wants that, no matter which side of the divide you’re on, unless what you really want (sanctity of life be damned) is to punish women who have unwanted pregnancies.

  135. In response to a whole bunch of comments:

    Just for the record, I have taken in low-income women, including single moms, into my home, but not primarily because I wanted to “save the poor little lives of their babies” or something. I just wanted to do something to help women. I’ve also lived for a number of years in an intentional community that takes in undocumented immigrants and refugees, although since I got married and moved into a tiny place we haven’t taken anyone in, which is starting to bother me.

    I think that a lot of very hypocritical Christians have contributed to the number of abortions precisely because they are NOT accepting of single mothers, especially young ones. For someone to demonize a girl for getting pregnant and then demonize her for getting an abortion, WTF? And even though I believe in fetus’ rights, I don’t believe in punishing women who have abortions.

    I agree that I am not a victim of legal discrimination as a Catholic Christian, and that is a big deal. To be legally discriminated against is much worse than the kind of social ostracism I feel. And I know that many other minority groups face much more social discrimination than I do. I’m sorry that I didn’t make that more clear. I think that fetuses are legally discriminated against, but I already said that. I do sometimes worry that my free speech as a Christian might someday be legally curtailed in the US, but it hasn’t happened so far.

    I don’t believe that I have “gritted-teeth tolerance” of the type I see in Sarah Palin. I’m surely not seething at anyone’s existence (other than sometimes maybe my mother-in-law’s).

    Also I didn’t say anything about gay marriage, so I’m not sure if some of the comments about that were specifically directed at my comment or not. I think any kind of domestic partnership (straight, gay, trans, even siblings or other relatives who want to share legal responsibilities) should have the same protection under the law. Whether it’s “marriage” or not is between those people and their beliefs. I don’t think the state should even refer to heterosexual couples as married. Why is it that the state recognizes a piece of paper that the pastor of my church signed, saying I’m married? I know what marriage is in my church, but as far as the state is concerned, why should my rights or designation be different than anyone else’s who is in a domestic partnership?

    Nobody has absolute agency in their life unless they live alone in the wilderness or something. But I agree with the rest of the full and equal citizenship thing that Cindy brings up.

    And I support Naamah’s right to tell me she thinks I’m morally wrong and a sexist! I want to clarify that just because I think an action is wrong, I don’t think the person is morally wrong. If a person is following her conscience, then there is no “sin” (to use a charged word) in that. For example, (even though she might not care about my opinion), I don’t think Naamah is, on her part, acting morally wrong-ly (yikes) by getting sterilized, if she is truly following her conscience. I still think sterilization itself if morally wrong. Does that make sense?

    I’ve had the opposite experience from Naamah, actually, of having sterilization/birth control pushed on me for a personal reason that I don’t want to talk about right now. And like I said, I totally think sterilization should be legal – it’s a woman’s choice what to do with her own body. I think the only exception would be when there is another life involved.

    I do not support lauredhel’s comment which was basically telling me to shut up and saying that my comments are oppressing her:

    “So you think it’s morally wrong for me to not spend the next ten years of my partnership celibate? Here’s the thing – not only do I not want anyone to curtail my legal freedoms, I also just plain _don’t want to know_ about your sexist moral judgements. Legal force isn’t the only oppression out there.”

    I don’t see how her following statement that she was just saying, “my point is to keep sexist moral judgements to yourself, or risk being thought of as someone who is sexist and judgemental” fits with that first comment, but whatever.

    This is a feminist blog and I try to be a respectful and polite feminist while not curtailing my own views, even if others don’t think my views are feminist. It is also a fat acceptance blog, and that aspect of it is extremely important to me. I want to comment on this site because the ideas on here mean a lot to me.

    I don’t agree that it doesn’t matter when I think life begins. Peter Singer (the philosopher and animal rights activist and Princeton ethics professor) thinks that some people with severe disabilities don’t really have viable life as we know it, and that they should be able to be killed. Just because I think those with severe disabilities have real life, and he doesn’t, does that mean that I have no right to say that killing those people should be illegal?

    I’m trying to think of some way to tie all this to the Palin/Biden debate so I can justify putting all this up here. But I can’t. Is it ok that it is responding to comments in the thread?

  136. For example, (even though she might not care about my opinion), I don’t think Naamah is, on her part, acting morally wrong-ly (yikes) by getting sterilized, if she is truly following her conscience. I still think sterilization itself if morally wrong. Does that make sense?

    I’m not making any sense of it.

    How does a medical procedure carry a moral weight all by itself if the actions of the people involved in that procedure, in sound mind and with full knowledge of all the arguments for and against, carry no moral weight? How is there a moral judgement when you subtract all moral agents from the picture? It’s like saying that atoms are morally wrong, or addition, or transpiration.

  137. I can make sense of that, marymette (regardless of whether I agree):

    Sounds like what you’re saying is that there are objective standards about what’s right and wrong – e.g. it is always wrong to committ mass murder, it is never wrong to feel empathy, it is wrong to break a promise under circumstances x, y, z.

    Unfortunately, what is truly right and wrong (in a given circumstance, or full stop) is sometimes hard to discern, so we have to employ our own judgment, even though this is subjective and we don’t always get it right, and even though our judgment doesn’t *make* an action right or wrong or even *influence* whether it is right or wrong. In addition to the objective standards of when an action is right or wrong, there are standards for when a person acted rightly, i.e. acted in a way that, from his own (admitedly limited) point of view, was most likely the right action.

    One reason this might be the right picture is that the criteria for whether an action is right or wrong (whether you think that criteria is, e.g., actions are wrong when social convention deems them wrong, actions are wrong when God says they’re wrong, actions are wrong when they don’t maximize happiness or minimize suffering, etc.) might be different from the *advice* you give a person who is deciding which action to perform (e.g. you wouldn’t say “do the thing that maximizes happiness” or “do the right thing,” since this advice, while it might be strictly correct, is nearly impossible to follow, You would say “do the thing that seems right to you” or “Do what your conscience tells you.”).

    So, assume someone broke a promise under the wrong circumstances, and so performed an act that was morally wrong. But he did it because he thought (wrongly) that he was in a circumstance in which it was okay, e.g. he thought he could save 10 lives by breaking the promise. Then, Marymette might say, he performed a morally wrong act by breaking the promise, but he didn’t act wrongly, because he acted in accord with what he thought would cause him to perform the right act.

    (Admittedly it might not be the best choice of phrases – “wrong act” vs. “acting wrongly” – you might want to say “objectively wrong” but “subjectively okay,” if those terms aren’t already too loaded? Maybe “ultimately wrong” but “procedurally right”? But am I roughly getting at what you’re thinking?)

    Compare the following: Presumably there are objective truths that science is trying to discern (e.g. water is H2O, oxygen has 8 electrons, etc.). And presumably the best way to figure out what’s true is to use (something like) the scientific method. But, of course, sometimes the scientific method spits out something false, like that water is XYZ. If a scientist made this judgment, he would be objectively wrong (in that he had a false belief), but he might still be doing good science, even though the aim of science is truth.

  138. I think I get where you’re coming from, Marymette, and I had a similar conversation with my husband just last night.

    To choose a not that loaded example, I personally think it is “wrong” for people to breed or buy purebred animals.

    I don’t think less of people who breed or own purebred animals I don’t think it should be illegal or that purebred animals should be put down, or that the breeds should be allowed to die out. There are many valid reasons a person might breed or own purebred animals. BUT I personally couldn’t do it without pain in my conscience, because I believe it contributes to a larger problem. Therefore, I don’t do it, even though I want a Sphynx cat really really badly.

    As Prof Lurker said, it is an action that does not maximize happiness and minimize suffering, which, as an atheist with no use for social convention but with a huge love for people and animals, is pretty much my definition of wrong.

    That is why I can’t see it as wrong to have an abortion or get sterilized: there is no suffering involved, whereas with an unwanted pregnancy or child, there’s loads of suffering involved, including the child’s. I cannot consider an embryo that lacks the ability to feel fear and despair as more important than the desires of a woman who is very capable of feeling pain and fear and despair, all three. (People who think it’s wrong of me to not have kids because the kids who don’t exist won’t get the chance to exist and do fun things are on a different freaking planet, sorry. I have no truck with that argument.)

    You’re making a distinction here between what you think is right and what you think should be legal, and I appreciate that. Many people are not capable of making that distinction at all. I wish it were otherwise, and that more people were as thoughtful and as reasoned as you are.

    My primary problem with many arguments of this type is that if one says “I believe this is wrong, but each person must choose for themselves, and their individual choice may very well be the right thing,” then to me, that’s an action that can’t really be judged by anyone but the person doing it. As such we must refrain from judgment and trust each person to make that decision for themselves. Individual choices may be right or wrong, but the question itself does not have a right answer. Very often the answer is NOT to dictate by law what must be done, because in forcing things one way or the other, more wrong is done to society collectively than would be done if people were allowed to choose and sometimes chose badly (as people do).

    I consider it highly unethical to abridge freedom and human agency. If, to me, a thing is more wrong than abridging freedom, then it’s very wrong indeed. If it is not, or if there are likely-to-arise circumstances under which it is entirely okay, then it can’t be called “wrong” categorically. I can only think of a very few things that are always and without exception wrong. (I would rather call those things evil, I think.) Rape is one. I don’t see any grey there at all. None. Enslavement, the total and complete removal of freedom, is another.

    Even taking a human life has, for me, huge grey areas. It absolutely should not be legal to murder people, but there are circumstances where it is, if not okay, at least the lesser of two evils to kill (killing being distinct from murder — one may kill in self defense, or to end suffering).

  139. Marymette – I mentioned in my indignant post that it was directed at no one in particular.

    I meant that.

  140. I kind of get what Marymette is saying, because I feel the same way about certain things. There are things that I feel are wrong, but I also try not to judge people who are in crappy situations. I do think abortion is wrong. (Which is not to say I think it should be illegal.) But I know people who’ve had abortions for reasons that I can’t really argue with. Best example is my mother-in-law. Before my husband was born, she and my father-in-law lived in West Virginia and were flat broke. Actually, I don’t think “broke” covers it–when you’re buying food that’s old and scraping off the moldy bits, that constitutes “poor.” She got pregnant. Knowing her, it was probably despite using birth control, but then if there wasn’t money for food, maybe there wasn’t money for condoms either. She got an abortion, which they paid for with a walnut log. (It says something about the situation that that’s what they had to pay with—and I guess something about where they lived that they found a doctor who would barter for something like that.)

    I tend to think that reality doesn’t always offer people good choices. Sometimes all of your choices suck, and you just try to choose the least bad option.

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