August 29th is a big day in recent American history. Five years ago today Katrina hit New Orleans. Two years ago today Sarah Palin was introduced to the world as John McCain‘s running mate. Needless to say, where Palin in concerned what a difference two years makes.
So, who’s responsible for Palin’s meteoric rise to the top of the media, and arguably political, food chain? Jezebel founding editor Anna Holmes and Salon’s Rebecca Traister — who just published a book on the 2008 election and what it meant to American women — have penned a provocative op-ed in the New York Times today arguing that progressive leaders are as much to blame (or thank, depending) for Palin’s dominance:
Since the 2008 election, progressive leaders have done little to address the obvious national appetite for female leadership. And despite (or because of) their continuing obsession with Ms. Palin, they have done nothing to stop an anti-choice, pro-abstinence, socialist-bashing Tea Party enthusiast from becoming the 21st century symbol of American women in politics.
Holmes and Traister further argue that while the Left tends to treat Palin dismissively “by looking down on her as a dim, opportunistic, mean-girl prom queen, all spunk and no policy muscle” they have done precious little to bolster the female leaders in their own party.
But the sad truth is that Democrats often prefer their women fulfilling similarly diminutive models for behavior. Consider how Hillary Clinton has been treated, at times, by those in her own party: Democratic leaders never really celebrated Mrs. Clinton’s nation-altering place in history as the first female candidate to get so close to a major party’s presidential nomination. Indeed, she is most appreciated when she plays well with others in the Senate or the State Department; when she behaves like a fierce competitor, she is compared to Glenn Close’s bunny-boiling virago from “Fatal Attraction.”
So what’s the solution? Here’s a rough outline of a the sort of ideal woman candidate Holmes and Traister have in mind:
Imagine a Democrat willing to brag about breaking the glass ceiling at the explosive beginning, not the safe end, of her campaign. A liberal politician taking to Twitter to argue that big broods and a “culture of life” are completely compatible with reproductive freedom. A female candidate on the left who speaks as angrily and forcefully about her rivals’ shortcomings as Sarah Barracuda does about the Pelosis and Obamas of the world.
And that’s just the beginning. Read the full rallying cry here.
Related: A Palin of Our Own [NYT]
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