Thursday, October 2, 2008

Just a little somethin' somethin'

Sarah Palin did not look like a complete idiot tonight like I expected she would. Sure, she obviously avoided answering questions. But she’s not the first politician to dodge questions. She just tends to do it less artfully.

I was sad it wasn’t the trainwreck I wanted. That would have been awesome, really. But we’re into the general election and general elections are not about extremes. General elections are about staying as middle of the road as you can to woo over the undecided in your party without alienating the undecided in the other party. A train wreck would have been fun to blog about because bloggers blog about things that bother them, more often than not.

But Sarah Palin didn’t bother me as much as I expected her to (especially given her blunders with Couric recently). Obviously there are things that DO bother me surrounding this debate, as I am blogging about it, so I’ll just get to it.

1.) “She looked charming. She looked engaging. He looked professorial.” (This was a quote from some CNN pundit said right after the debate during their “analysis”)
No one can deny that in an age of fast information and television, image is important. For some image is everything. Pam Anderson has capitalized on this. If she had a nickel for every time she purposely capitalized on her image she could fill one hundred of her pre-breast-reduction bras. (I guess though she really does have a nickel for every time she has done this.) I guess my beef is…should (or does) image really matter in an arena where intellect and wit are supposed to take precedent?

I think, unfortunately, the answer is: Yes. Yes. Image fucking matters. More than it should. It might be nice to have, at least, a few pundits or “journalists” who realize this as well. Especially since they deliver the news and I’m forced to listen to them when I watch news networks.

But I’m sure McCain’s camp realized that image is everything when their VP pick can’t articulate answers to fairly simple questions to one of network TV’s pseudo-journalists. I think they were hoping for a 1960 Nixon-Kennedy sort of debate. I think they were really hoping that the audience would be wooed by her womanly charms and forget that she dodged answering questions.

We can’t ignore looks anymore than we can ignore gender or race in this election, but two of the three above actually have social significance.

2.) Using your gender to your advantage is okay, but it’s not okay for those who don’t take advantage of their gender to point out when gender is playing a part of their campaign. This is: Sarah Palin v. Hillary Clinton
Palin winked. She batted her eyes. She gave coy little smiles. She did all but flip her damn hair. But the “analysis” says she “connected” to the people. Whether it was an act or not (I would argue that it was) she played into gender stereotypes and it seems to have had a positive impact on her image.

Prior to this debate, there was lots of discussion about how this debate would be difficult for Biden. He couldn’t be too hard on her or too lax on her for fear of repercussion. It was a lose-lose situation. But there was actually discussion about how he would handle the idea of her being a woman. Politicians should be asexual. We should care simply about their brains and their mouth…and sometimes the disconnect between the two. The rest is just detail. We shouldn’t care about their hairstyle, their gut, their genitalia, or their suits. But I guess this goes back to being an image-is-everything issue.

It should be noted, that I never recall this conversation happening when Hillary Clinton participated in primary debates. There were talks about gender. This was an election of many firsts and she put several million cracks in the glass ceiling. These talks also centered around her emotions (mainly when she cried) but mostly they (American voting public and media pundits) reamed her for acting like a woman. When she cried, they asked: is she really strong enough? Because Hillary ran a formidable campaign and was a formidable opponent with, arguably, several masculine personality traits she was berated for not being woman enough. In reality, she just didn’t adhere to the feminine qualities that are naturally more appealing to cover and more appealing to a gender polarized society.

I guess, ultimately, both of these issues are really just one issue: image is everything. Femininity is a part of a woman’s issue or the lack of certain feminine qualities defines her image. Only one feminine quality is appealing to a viewing voting public and it’s pundits and that’s how a woman looks. It’s how she portrays herself. She must be nice to look at, bat her eyes, smile coyly and she’s in. If she doesn’t, she’ll find herself out.

Then again, she was the VP pick just because she had a vagina.


Mogge said...

Her winking kind of unnerved me. It was so inappropriate.

My biggest beef with Palin is that she explicitly said she wouldn't be responding to the questions as posed by the moderator.

It reminded me of an SGA election in high school. She was trying to glide through with pep, flirtiness and disrespect of the system.

Ryan said...

EXACTLY. I completely agree with your last paragraph. Well, I agree with your entire comment, but you catch my drift.

I got very upset this morning when a few people said they thought Palin came out on top. To which I replied: "Just because she didn't look like a fool like she has recently in interviews does NOT mean she came out on top. To me, the person who won the debate is the one who ACTUALLY answered the questions and gave supporting facts to back their points up. And that was NOT Palin."