Smart Alecs and Mavericks

A "soccer mom" caricature

A “soccer mom” caricature

Or a few words on the vice-presidential debate.

Having mentioned my previous lack of interest in American politics, I felt the need to dispell the rumour and make a few brief comments on the latest debate. After all, as I said last time, who America choses for president will affect us all, and the election is now creeping up on us quite fast, so it’s best to stay informed!

I was quite surprised to hear that there was also a debate organised for the candidates running for vice-president (hereon referred to as VP) of the White House, as in European elections (or at least the ones I have experienced), this does not happen. However I can see the importance of doing so, in particular since the debate over the capabilities of Joe Biden and Sarah Palin has been almost as big as the one over the presidential candidates themselves. At a glance, the choice of VPs may seem puzzling to a few. For example, a lot of people will wonder why on earth Barack Obama did not choose Hilary Clinton as his VP. And indeed, it would have seemed a judicious choice: a woman, and an African American running for the white house, both a first in American history! They would have taken the election by storm, being sure to win! But I’m sure that Barack Obama had his reasons for not choosing Hilary even if he did find her a remarkable concurrent, and preferred to settle for Joe Biden instead. I never liked Hilary much anyway, she was always a bit too much of a ‘powerfrau’ anyway…

And so it is that McCain “stole” the idea of having a woman at his side in the presidential race, and nominated Sarah Palin. At first I thought that this was a great idea and that he would be sure to win over many votes by doing this, in particular with the soccer moms. But I found out soon enough, along with all of America and most of the rest of the world, what a bad idea Palin was. Well, that may sound harsh I suppose, but her many blunders really do make one wonder…

Now I suppose you are wondering what, as a woman, my take on this might be. Interestingly enough, I don’t think that the issue of there being a woman in power at the White House bothers me. Don’t get me wrong, I do think that by all means women should be allowed to compete for such positions, that we should be allowed equal standing, granted equal respect and admiration. We can also do the job just as well as any man can and these prejudices must be got rid of. However, I do not agree with what I might liberally call “pulling out the woman card”. Which is why I think it is quite wise that Obama did not nominate Hilary just because she’s a woman and for the sake of keeping the women’s vote, same as I do not thing nominating Sarah Palin was a winning decision just because she’s a woman too.

But let’s get to the debate. Overall,it seemed to me to be a repeat of the presidential one: back stabing and finger pointing. In my opinion this deflects from the questions that they are asked, (and hardly ever answer directly), and also deflects from the original purpose of the debate: to show and highlight their differences rather than to highlight the opposition’s repeated failures.

A couple of brief points on the debate which in all honesty did not capture my attention that much. For a start, Palin immediately starts by using the “mom and family card” which I disliked. It’s not an outright objection to the card itself, just to the fact that she used it in her first answer. It seemed as though that was the only argument she knew or had, and felt like it lacked seriousness as an opening statement. A point I found amusing was when she mentioned Americans needing something “new and fresh” when McCain is, as critics have not failed to point out, quite old for his job, and they are both Republicans which would most definitely not be something new from the past 8 years!

One final point to be made on Palin is when, towards the end of the debate she mentions the fact that terrorists and people considered dangerous for the Americans “hate America and our freedom, our democracy, as well as our respect for women’s rights” (this is not an exact quote). I would like to ask first of all, whether she has ever stopped to wonder why these people may feel such hatred towards the United States, or whether she simply cannot understand it, so completely is she blindly besotted and absorbed by the country. Second of all I would like to point out that these people’s hatred has nothing to do with Americans being free or enjoying democracy or respecting women’s rights. It is a common misconception that these people (purposefully vague) are “backward” and frown upon democracy and such things. Once again I refer you back to Rashid Khalidi, I mentioned in a previous post, and even further back to Edward Said, to enlighten you on Westerner’s attitudes towards other civilizations.

I won’t say much else on the debate since all being said it wasn’t much of a debate after all, but more of a back stabbing contest. This is highly disappointing and also slightly alarming. If they cannot debate, what can they do? Maybe they should return to university, join the debating society, and try again!

Apologies for focusing solely on Palin, no harm intended, simply that I was more interested to observe her considering all the criticism she had lately received.

You can find the transcript and video on the New York Times here.

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