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We all know the question by now. Can Michelle Obama get women to vote for her historic hubby? I have an answer for that — yes, to a certain extent.
Let’s be honest. If you are serious about the issues that have been the hallmarks of the feminist movement — equal pay for equal work; family leave; reproductive rights; Affirmative Action; issues that affect women and children; etc. — you’re suicidal if you’re not voting Obama-Biden. Yet I constantly see Geraldine “Gerry” Ferraro on FOX News, usually on Hannity & Colmes, and I often wonder what the hell is going on with her? Every renowned feminist and former Hillary Clinton supporter has come around to Barack Obama, seeing him as their best bet to push these issues.
But Gerry’s still on H&C, empathetic towards Republican Vice Presidential nominee Sarah Palin’s “plight,” battling sexism. Every now and then she’ll mention that Palin is the antithesis to everything she ever stood for, but that doesn’t stop her from relishing in her nomination and reliving her own failed attempt to be the first female veep.
Ferraro wrote the following for the FOX Forum blog late August:
It’s going to be a very interesting campaign. I must say that several months ago I said that it would be great if there was a woman on the ticket — that I felt that John McCain would have to pick someone, especially if Hillary was the nominee. But without Hillary being the nominee it’s really quite equally as important because people are looking for a smart campaign and I think this might do it.
There are a lot of women who are disaffected by how Hillary was treated by the media, by how she was treated by the Obama campaign, by how she was treated by the Democratic National Committee — [Democratic party chairman] Howard Dean not speaking up when sexism raised its ugly head in the media. They’ll be looking to see what happens now.
She’s still bringing up those Operation Chaos agitators, PUMA, and it’s September. They’ve been all but neutralized as a petty stunt. Yet I still remember her words from May when she was talking like a broken arrow, a rogue, Joe Lieberman in a dress.
But Gerry isn’t the woman CNN is talking about. They’re talking about Jane Doe, women who don’t call themselves feminists but sure seem to like Title IX and “Well Woman’s Check Ups” and birth control covered by the insurance. These are women who care about their children, health care and education. Single moms and working mothers — those are the women Michelle is supposed to charm.
CNN argues that Michelle is not a counter-weight to Palin. But I’d argue that Palin is the counterweight to Michelle. Michelle’s been on the trail almost as long as her husband, almost two years now, growing as a speaker and persuader. Like the lawyer she is, she takes to her husband’s case for the presidency like a prosecutor, then reinforces that she’s down-to-earth, that her family is solid and normal.
That she and her husband understand the needs of women.
This is the opposite of the dish Palin serves. She’s all “grrrl” power and no substance. The resume on women is thin, with her hometown charging victims for rape kits when she was mayor. She’s not arguing for womens’ rights. She’s arguing for the ovary crowd to do one for the “team” and vote McCain-Palin.
In some ways, Palin would be better off running as a candidate’s spouse instead of the number two. While she has the attack dog in “maybe is real, maybe it’s Maybelline” act down pat, she is mostly McCain’s cheerleader, doing what is difficult for the more reserved Cindy McCain.
Palin is the rallier, the booster, the energizer. She’s also the circus, sideshow and main event on the Republican ticket, over shadowing a presidential candidate few Republicans were enthused about (but will vote for him anyway). Captivating a media who only desires her more as they watch her fumble through even in the softest of softball interviews.
She’s so good at distracting the press they’ve hardly noticed the fact that Democratic Vice Presidential Nominee Joe Biden sometimes sounds like a mad man.
But through the work of Michelle reaching out to women, Biden reaching out to blue collar and rural voters and Barack energizing the base, the young, the brown, the educated and the hopeful, the trio should have a shot at steering some of these wayward, former Democrats home.
And thousands of volunteers and staff working on the ground doesn’t hurt either.
But nothing’s going to be closed until November.
Maybe by then Gerry Ferraro will start thinking with her brain and not her furious gut. Barack has picked up the feminist flag and is flying it. We all have to make compromises.