Phenomenal Woman! And Man!


As anyone who saw it knows by now, Alaska Governor Sarah Palin’s speech at the Republican National Convention tonight was electrifying, eloquent, and appropriately tough.

At long last, someone had the guts to drop the political correctness and point out that Barack Obama, while smart and eloquent, does not have the experience to be president. Electing him would be a particularly irresponsible gamble in these dangerous times. To quote Governor Palin, “This world of threats and danger … is not just a community and it does not need an organizer.” The man has never led anything other than an admittedly very impressive campaign, but to paraphrase Hillary Clinton, “Since when has running for President been a qualification for being president?” Add to that the likelihood that, given the way Senator Obama was anointed by the DNC to speak at the Democratic National Convention while still a state legislator, I can’t help but wonder to what extent he is truly the one running his campaign.

That is speculation, and I admit it is an impressive campaign. It has hypnotized fully half of all Americans to avoid the fact, articulated tonight by Rudy Giuliani, that Barack Obama “is the least qualified candidate to run for President in the past 100 years.” During his time in the U.S. Senate, he has not been a leader in passing any significant legislation. Despite his claims to be a moderate and a uniter, he has not reached across the aisle and worked with Republicans to pass any bipartisan legislation. Ever.

A final thought about Governor Palin’s speech tonight: what a rich irony that she was attacked this week by feminists (feminists!) who questioned whether she could manage to be Vice President and a good mother.

Clearly a champion multi-tasker, the woman has accomplished so much on her own steam–going from self-described “hockey Mom” to mayor of a small town to wildly popular and effective governor of Alaska.

One of the feminist movement’s most substantive arguments–at least to me–is that feminism is individualism. It’s about realizing one’s potential and not being limited by stereotypes and biased thinking of the sort that dulls an individual’s spark and limits his/her contribution by intoning that girls, say, can’t be funny or boys can’t be nurturing.

Has anyone ever personally witnessed a more touching example of what is best about this feminist/individualist creed than Governor Palin, her husband (First Dude) Todd Palin and their children on that stage tonight? Seeing Mr. Palin, a full-time Dad, hold 4-month-old Trig, what “feminist” critic could fail to be moved and humbled?

In showing that a strong man can embrace the role of nurturer with his whole heart and the bulk of his time and energy (Mr. Palin is a stay-at-home father), he is a great masculine role model. And in fighting for transparency in government and peace through strength, Governor Palin is a great feminine role model.

Was not the realization of such dynamic, individual human potential–along with respect for women’s human rights–among the most fundamental goals of the feminist movement?

Despite his shortcomings as a candidate for leader of the free world, I think Barack Obama deserves recognition for consistently striking a positive, humanistic tone that has made his candidacy about more than grievance. Am I alone in thinking that this campaign season may mark the start of a movement away from the limiting politics of racial/gender grievance and the beginning of a trend toward a politics–and a culture–that champions the power of the individual to forge a unique destiny and build an individualistic life? Maybe that’s some of the change we need.

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