Monday, September 8, 2008

Palin attacks show hypocrisy, sexism

I like Jimmy Carter.

I didn't always agree with him, but Jimmy Carter was a breath of fresh air at a time when the nation was weary of the Watergate scandal.

Jimmy Carter was the "man from Plains" -- his truly small (population 637) town in Georgia -- who served one term as Georgia's governor before seeking the Democratic presidential nomination. Carter also served three years in the state senate.

It was hard not to like Jimmy Carter. He was folksy, down-to-earth, carried his own luggage, had a colorful family (remember "Billy Beer" named after Jimmy's brother?) and often stayed with ordinary families during his 1976 presidential campaign.

The nation ate it up, falling in love with the humble small-town peanut farmer. The national media didn't go on a witch-hunt and, in fact, the imperfections of Jimmy Carter and his family became almost a source of national pride. In short, they were media darlings.

On a personal level, how could I not like a guy who (literally) bought me a beer?

Fast forward 32 years.

Sarah Palin is in her first term as Alaska's governor. Her approval rating hovers between 80-90%. She served two terms as mayor of Wasilla, a fast-growing Anchorage suburb which is more than ten times larger than Plains, Ga. Previously she was on the city council and also served as oil and gas commissioner. Like Jimmy Carter, she's seen by many as "one of us" and, also like Jimmy Carter, presents herself as a "Washington outsider."

But instead of the media love-fest Jimmy Carter enjoyed, Sarah Palin has been subjected to microscopic hyperscrutiny which questions everything from her ability to govern (her public service resume rivals candidate Carter's -- and she's not running for president) to being a good parent.

Could this be because she's a woman? Could this be because she's a Republican? Could this be because she has the audacity to be a conservative Republican woman?

Certainly the media has its job to do and rightfully should investigate the qualifications of the candidates. But it's a huge leap from legitimate investigation and reporting to a thinly-veiled witch hunt.

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