"There is a special place in hell for women who do not help other women," former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright once remarked.
Where, then, are the liberal women when it comes to Alaska Governor Sarah Palin?
Palin became the first woman to grace a Republican ticket on Friday, August 29, when Senator John McCain selected her as his running mate. The following day, a diarist at the mainstream left-wing Daily Kos (Barack Obama himself appeared as a Kos diarist back in 2005) suggested without any evidence whatsoever that Sarah Palin's son, Trig, recently born and with Down syndrome, was birthed not by Palin but by her daughter. Andrew Sullivan of The Atlantic jumped on the bandwagon, demanding that the McCain campaign release Trig's medical records.
The rumor, of course, was demonstrably false -- Kos took down the post. Sullivan, however, stubbornly claimed that the questions about Palin's pregnancy were legitimate. And certain deranged leftist bloggers continue to speculate that Palin wore a padded suit in order to disguise her supposed non-pregnancy.
On Monday, September 1, Palin released the news that her 17-year-old daughter, Bristol, was pregnant, and that she would have the baby and marry the father. To Barack Obama's credit, he quickly condemned the focus on Bristol's pregnancy, noting that he was born when his mother was 18. But that made little difference to his followers. The left was already trembling with new paroxysms of delight. They immediately blamed Palin for her daughter's pregnancy.
"Sarah Palin opposes programs that teach teenagers anything about contraception," complained Ruth Marcus of the Washington Post. Max Blumenthal of The Nation obnoxiously wrote, "Could Bristol Palin have benefited from the sex education and contraceptives the GOP seeks to deny to public school students?" The New York Times writes that some wonder if Palin should have stayed out of politics in order to raise her family: "With five children, including an infant with Down syndrome and, as the country learned Monday, a pregnant 17-year-old, Ms. Palin has set off a fierce argument among women about whether there are enough hours in the day for her to take on the vice presidency, and whether she is right to try." A few commentators on the left have written that Palin should have told Bristol to consider abortion.
There is no question that the left's attachment to both the Trig Palin non-story and the Bristol Palin story are dramatic examples of sexism. Attacking a female politician's pregnancy without any evidence -- accusing her of lying about her own baby -- is simply sickening. Exposing a female politician's 17-year-old pregnant daughter and then implying that the politician is an unfit mother and should have stayed at home to tend to the children is simply discriminatory. Liberal women should feel free to oppose Palin's candidacy on policy grounds -- but they have the moral obligation to defend Palin from such sexist attacks.
When Palin accepted McCain's offer, she thanked Hillary Clinton for her breakthrough candidacy. Where is Hillary Clinton, defending Palin against such blatant sexism? After all, Clinton recognizes that sexism remains a prevalent force in American politics, saying: "The manifestation of some of the sexism that has gone on in this campaign is somehow more respectable, or at least more accepted, and ... there should be equal rejection of the sexism and the racism when it raises its ugly head." How about rejecting sexism when it raises its ugly head, Senator Clinton?
Where is Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House? "I'm a victim of sexism myself all the time," Pelosi recently stated. How about confronting sexism in its tracks, Madam Speaker?
Where is Katie Couric? "Like [Hillary] or not, one of the great lessons of that campaign is the continued -- and accepted -- role of sexism in American life, particularly in the media," Couric stated about Hillary's failed presidential bid. How about standing up against the continued role of sexism in American life with regard to a vice presidential nominee, Katie?
The Democrats' support of women's rights, it seems, is restricted only to the most convenient political situation: liberal women versus white males. When it's liberal women versus black males -- see Clinton vs. Obama -- the left dumps women's rights in favor of racial gains. When it's conservative women versus anybody, the left ignores women's rights completely.
For Sarah Palin, according to the left, it's back to the kitchen and the minivan. And for liberal women who sit by idly as Palin is excoriated for her gender, there's a special place in hell. At least according to Madeleine Albright. Who, so far, has said nothing.