Reading the recent release of the Journolist discussion on the day of Sarah Palin’s selection to be John McCain’s running mate, I was surprised by how un-surprised I was . . . until I got to the part at which Suzanne Nossel - chief of operations at Human Rights Watch and author of Presumed Equal: What America’s Top Women Lawyers Really Think About Their Firms (1998) - suggests one possible way to attack McCain and discredit Sarah Palin:
“I think it is and can be spun as a profoundly sexist pick. Women should feel umbrage at the idea that their votes can be attracted just by putting a woman, any woman, on the ticket no matter her qualifications or views.”
To her credit, Nossel asserts that she at least believes this to be true, but her suggestion is met with enthusiastic support from her fellow femisogynist conspirators. Indeed, Jonathan Stein leaps on board by admitting that Palin’s being a woman is “the SINGLE thing that Palin brings to the ticket.” Context matters here, of course, and he’s saying this because a female VP pick would have appealed to feminists, including faux feminists on the left. Another woman being selected for vice president? Isn’t that what feminists should rally behind? Would normally rally behind? Did rally behind when the woman in question was a liberal? Yes, yes, and yes.
So we have a leftist woman suggesting that gynoguilt should immediately be used, strategically so, to discredit Palin and to undermine the selection of a woman to be vice president. In this instance, gynoguilt is leveraging guilt associated with the historic repression of women and using it to cut down a woman to further their own political agenda. Telling women to “feel umbrage” that their vote is somehow being coerced by the mere selection of a conservative woman (remember, to leftists, conservatives cannot be feminists) is typical of this type of attack, one we see all of the time in the way that white guilt plays out in politics. This is particularly offensive not only because the initial suggestion comes from a woman but because the other Journolisters seem to believe Palin is a good choice, even if they don’t like her politics.
Warming to Nossel’s strategy, Ed Kilgore chimes in with the leftist slogan we all came to know so well: “Say it with me: ‘Classic GOP Tokenism’.” The “token” accusation is one of the first and best tools in the arsenal of leftists: they pull it out at every opportunity and beat people over the head with it (always conservatives, “tokens” do not exist in the case of leftists; instead, they are “watershed,” “historical,” and reflect glory on leftists everywhere). Michael Steele? Token black. Sarah Palin? Token female.
Once they’ve made these pronouncements, they walk away (patting themselves on the back). Damage done. There is no need to argue facts, to examine positions, or to assess fairly experience and ability. Add in Ben Adler’s argument that Palin’s decision to keep her baby with Down’s Syndrome somehow destroys the courage and morality of that decision because (oh the irony!) Palin ran for political office, taking her away from hearth and home, and the resulting picture shows exactly how gynoguilt worked to undermine Sarah Palin.