I was supposed to be taking this week off from Mommy Track'd – you know, Labor Day and all – but then John McCain went and insulted me, and I’m just not the type who can take an insult lying down. So here I am, laboring away at my computer on a holiday weekend.
I watched the Democratic National Convention this past week with tears in my eyes almost the whole time. The first night, when Ted Kennedy spoke, I cried because of his strength, and his determination, but also because of his frailty, and the inescapable fact that one day soon, he and everything that he represents as a Kennedy, will be just another chapter of history. On the second night, when Hillary gave the speech of her career, I cried because of her grace, and because of an opportunity lost, and because of all that could have been. The next night, when Joe Biden took the stage, I cried for his tragedy, but I also cried for his triumphs. His love for and commitment to his children, his dedication to his constituency, and the sheer joy in his face as he reveled in the moment that he so clearly has always wanted. And then, on Thursday, when Barack Obama accepted the nomination, and delivered the speech that one commentator called “a symphony,” I cried for myself, and for every person in America who thought they would never live to see this day. But I also cried because of what he said, and how he said it, and how inspired it made me feel, and because I really do believe that he can change America, for the better. And at the end, when his family joined him on stage, and they looked just like a modern-day version of Camelot; when I realized that the Kennedy-era might not be coming to a close after all, but is instead being updated and reinvented for the times we live in now; when it all seemed to come full-circle…well, of course, I cried some more. And then I woke up Friday morning, and I saw that John McCain had picked Sarah Palin, Governor of Alaska, to be his running mate. And I laughed.
It makes sense why John McCain would pick a woman for a running mate. For one thing, it allows him to have a “historical” campaign, too. And of course, if you’re going to try to go after all of those still-undecided, bitter, Hillary Clinton supporters, what better way to woo them than with another woman who can fulfill the dream they thought they’d lost? But for me, that’s where the logic ends. Because the only thing that Sarah Palin and Hillary Clinton have in common is that they both have vaginas. I mean, is John McCain serious? He thinks he can woo Hillary voters with a pro-life, gun-toting, anti-gay hockey mom whose political resume includes the PTA? Please. If John McCain really wanted to make history, there were a lot of women he could have chosen. Kay Bailey Hutchinson, of Texas. Christine Todd Whitman, of New Jersey. Even Carly Fiorina of Hewlett Packard or Meg Whitman of e-Bay would have been better choices. But instead, he chose a woman who couldn’t be less experienced. He chose a woman whom nobody has heard of. He chose a woman whom many will find it difficult to take seriously in an international, or even a national, arena.
I don’t care if Sarah Palin is a working mother. I don’t care if she has a newborn at home, or if her story is compelling or not. I don’t even care about what her politics are (okay, I do, but that is not the point of this post). But I do care that she isn’t qualified for the job, and I care that if John McCain wins, it will be a hollow victory. Because when the woman who finally breaks that glass ceiling does it, I want it to be on her own merit, and because the voters of this country believe in her, and in her ability as a leader. I don’t want it to be because she’s riding on the coat tails of an old white guy who’s using her as a political ploy. If John McCain wins this election, it will be meaningless for women. There will always be an asterisk next to her name, a wave of the hand, an air of dismissal. I wasn’t planning to vote for John McCain anyway, but as a former Hillary supporter, his choice of a running mate does not even give me the slightest bit of pause. All it does, is make me laugh.