Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The politics of sexism.

Why is it ok for Michele Bachmann to be wrong about the most basic facts concerning our founding fathers, while claiming to be a constitutional purist and running as a Tea Party Republican, the group that literally drapes itself in the constitution, while at the same time pushing to repeal and change many of it's amendments, as well as add completely unnecessary new ones?

Why is it ok for Sarah Palin to be wrong about almost every historical and constitutional fact she opens her mouth to yap about?  Why is it ok for her to say things that are just flat out untrue about our history, foreign policy and the political system in general?

Why is it ok for these two women - one of them a #2 front runner in the Republican presidential primary and the other, inexplicably still a part of the national Republican political conversation, despite the very obvious fact that she's little more than a fame-seeking snake oil salesman, using every ounce of her scant political credibility just to promote herself and capitalize financially - to just be so consistently dumb about the history of our nation, dumb about the constitution they claim to hold sacred, dumb about the original intent of our founding fathers and just dumb about their political ideology in general?

With Palin, ironically, I get it.  She can be a dummy because she was never serious in the first place.  I mean, she lost the run for the white house as John McCain's VP pick, quit her job as Governor of Alaska 2 years in, bailed on her nationwide "I swear I'm not testing the waters for a presidential run in this garish, red white and eww, cheap political symbolism-laden bus, I'm really on a family vacation!  All families roll like this, duh!  My kids?  Oh I don't know where they are, back on the bus still I guess, hey can all you cameras get me in this crowd?" tour and still made a movie called "The Undefeated".  What serious political candidate has that much "CHUTS-PAH" as Bachmann would say?  So, ok, Palin gets to be an idiot, politically, because nobody takes her seriously anymore, politically or otherwise.  Not that it's right, but hey, as long as she's not going to be on the ballot, she can say any dumb thing she wants, it's a free country.

Bachmann, on the other hand, is on the ballot.  She's on the ballot and she thinks an 8-year old boy was a founding father, that he served as a secretary to his dad and fought in the Revolutionary War.

She thinks our country was founded as a Christian nation - as do many other mis-informed or intentionally dishonest GOP politicians.

She believes in a vast, homosexual agenda to "force" children to become gay.

She has spouted off McCarthy-era anti-American rhetoric, clearly without even realizing the impact that those hearings had on the American people and our national fabric.

She cites outrageous, completely false statistics about a "large segment" of the scientific community believing in intelligent design.

She blames the swine flu on Jimmy Carter, when the first outbreak happened under Nixon's presidency, and either way it wasn't political in the first place, it's was a freaking FLU VIRUS.

She believes the founding fathers ended slavery.

Speaking of slavery, she believes that if black people were still slaves, they would have a higher rate of two-parent households than they do now.

She doesn't believe carbon dioxide is harmful and claims there's "not even one study" that can prove it's a harmful gas.

She believes eliminating the minimum wage would end unemployment, because we could simply put everyone in the country to work at "whatever pay level".

The list, literally, goes on and on and on and on...  Do a google search on Michele Bachmann quotes and you may or may not be amazed at the sheer number of factually incorrect, latently bigoted and homophobic or just outright silly things this woman has said over and over throughout her career. 

So, I have to ask, why do these women get a pass on being so politically ignorant, while running for political office?  I mean, if you were applying for a job as a veterinarian and you thought dogs laid eggs, would you expect to be one of the leading candidates for the job?  If you applied to be a cook and couldn't boil water without burning it, would you expect to be the #2 contender?  So why does Bachmann get to run for president, be the #2 front runner, while lacking basic knowledge of our history and constitution - two of the things she constantly stakes claim to as being an expert on?  I mean, she would lose the U.S. History category of "Are You Smarter Than A 5th Grader"!  Yet, there she is, on TV every night, moving up in the polls, edging ever closer to that GOP nomination.

Remember when Dan Quayle couldn't spell "potato"?  Remember how the critics bashed him for it?  Remember the jokes?  On Saturday Night Live, they had a boy play him, instead of one of the cast.  He was belittled to the point of being a caricature, and all because of two dumb things he did.  One was spelling potato with an "e" at the end, and the other was for saying Murphy Brown was ruining our country by glamorizing single motherhood.  Can you imagine if he would have said the founding fathers ended slavery?  If he would have claimed 8-year old John Q. Adams was a founding father and Revolutionary?  If he would have called for a modern McCarthyism?

And what about GW Bush?  Oh, the critics and comics love to portray him as an idiot, don't they?  "Strategery!"  They love to make fun of the words he mis-pronounced and everyone has a good laugh about it.  But, let Michele Bachmann go on TV and say "CHUTS-PAH" and if you dare to say one word about it, the right-wing pitbulls will be all over you, calling you a sexist!

And that's where it all starts to make sense, even as it makes less sense than ever.

The reason Palin and Bachmann get a pass on being idiots is because they're women!  That's gotta make you feel good, right ladies?  But it's not just that they're women, it's that they're marginally attractive, conservative women.  See, Hilary Clinton would never be allowed to say even half the dumb shit that has spewed out of Bachmann or Palin's mouth, she would be drummed right off the stage.  But, tone down the sharpness, put on a nice outfit with some girlish accessories, ramp up the soccer mom rhetoric and you can be a historical and constitutional moron and still lead the polls.  And the best part about it is, if anyone dares to criticize you for being completely incompetent and unfit to hold the position for which you are running they're the ones who are being sexist!  It's so diabolical, it's genius!

Consider Bill Mahr, who has drawn a ration of Fox News-manufactured heat recently for two episodes where he bashed Palin and Bachmann for being idiots.  In those episodes, as in ALL of Bill Mahr's shows, the jokes are harsh, cynical, biting and don't pull any punches.  He and his panel tore into Bachmann and Palin the same way they've torn into Bush, Romney, Rick Santorum, Anthony Weiner, and countless other male politicians.  The difference this time is that, after they beat up on Bachmann and Palin, Fox News's favorite "Captain Save a Hoe", Sean Hannity rushed to the defense of the two women, accusing Mahr of being sexist and calling for HBO to reprimand him.  In his next show, Mahr responded to the Fox Nation criticism by saying it's not sexist to call people idiots who just happen to be women.  He said, quote: "It's not about them having breasts, it's about them being boobs."  Hannity played that clip, ended it right after that statement, and then spouted off: "So, is HBO going to ignore Mahr's sexist remarks, or will they reprimand him for them?" before turning it over to his panel, which consisted only of two women, for discussion.

Of course HBO isn't going to "reprimand" Bill Mahr.  They knew what they were getting when they hired him.  They also appear to be intelligent enough to understand that, when a guy says "It's not about sexism, it's about the fact that these are two idiots, and they just happen to also be women." that it's a statement that can be taken at face value.  But, even though Bill is right in his statement, he's wrong that it isn't about them being women, because it absolutely is.  However, it's not HIM that's being sexist, it's the people who feel that they need to rush to the defense of these women every time anyone says anything mean about them.

It's the new face of sexism in politics.  It's no longer "You aren't good enough because you're a woman", now it's "You don't have to be as good, because you're a woman!"

Bachmann gets away with not having the social studies and constitutional education of a 10-year old, even while running for the party who wraps itself in the constitution like a security blanket, because she's a woman.

Sarah Palin gets to run around the country acting like "The Kardashians Go to Washington" and visiting historical landmarks and leaving without even the most basic knowledge about what she just looked at, because she's a woman.

Guys like Bill Mahr get blasted by the Fox News machine, the right-wing talking heads and the other usual suspects for calling out this obvious hypocrisy and double-standard, because he's being a big ol' meanie to the poor, defenseless women!

Now, I'm no political expert.  I went to one, 2-day workshop on how political campaigns are run.  I learned just enough to give me the tools to decide if I wanted to pursue politics further or not, and the basic framework of what to do should I choose in the affirmative.  I do not claim to have more insight, knowledge or experience than professional campaign managers and the folks who get paid the big bucks to make people like Michele Bachmann still come across as politically viable, despite all of her obvious intellectual shortcomings.  What I DO know, however, is that the person who conducted this workshop was one of those people.  She worked on dozens of successful political campaigns, from congressional to senatorial to gubernatorial races, and was even tapped by GW Bush to help with his campaign, an offer she declined so that she could continue traveling around the country giving her workshop to aspiring political candidates.  So, when she gave us sage advice about running for office, it behooved us to listen well, and I remember what she said.

"Politics is a tough game.  You need a thick skin.  You need to be prepared to have every word you say twisted and used against you.  You need to be prepared for your opponents to put words in your mouth, accuse you of holding beliefs you don't have and marginalizing your platform.  You need to be able to take unrelenting abuse, not just from your opponent, but from the press and media.  You need to be able to handle constant criticism of your every move.  You need to be prepared to have every word you say picked apart and scrutinized for anything that can be used against you.  If you're not prepared to deal with all that and still keep a smile on your face, still keep that energy level high and still get out there like a professional every step of the way, then you aren't ready for politics."

I think of those words when I see guys like Sean Hannity leaping over crowds of people to get between Michele Bachmann and those mean-spirited criticisms from guys like Bill Mahr.  When I see the men of the GOP dive in front of Bachmann and Palin like they're taking the verbal bullets for them.  I see how the right-wing media coddles these women, hold them to a much lower standard than anyone else in politics and lowers the bar for them to a ridiculous level.  I think about how a woman just instructed me, less than a week ago, on how you had to be tough to make it in this business, and you had to be prepared to take the heat or else get out of the kitchen.  If you can't handle Bill Mahr, how are you going to handle international negotiations with countries who practice Sharia Law?  If you can't handle Bill Mahr, how are you going to handle Mahmoud Ahmadinejad?

What's more sexist?  Giving a woman the same ration of shit that you give a man, or saying "Stop giving her so much shit, can't you see she's a woman!?"

You don't have to keep reaching for that glass ceiling, Michele, the Republicans are working hard to lower it for you more and more each day, because they know how clumsy you ladies are with ladders...

1 comment:

  1. Always amusing with Hannity how much smug, self-righteousness ("smugma," if you will) he excretes over how "poorly" Republican women are treated.

    He and his cronies of course have no problem lobbing incredibly sexist comments towards Hillary Clinton and Nancy Pelosi.

    Or defending comments made by other right-wing cave-trolls. Ted Nugent, for example, called Clinton a "worthless bitch" (same rant where he said Obama should suck on a machine gun, incidentally). Hannity, when asked if he would disavow Nugent, said "No, I like Ted Nugent. He's a friend of mine."

    Limbaugh is the epitome of the misogynistic pig. There's a list of chauvinistic comments he's spewed a mile long out there. No one on Fox news seems to be calling him out, either.

    Part of it, naturally, is the right-wing base is absolutely terrified of intelligent women. And Bachmann and Palin make perfect little empty-headed soccer-mom marionettes.