ST. PAUL -- "The Republican Party will not stand by while Gov. (Sarah) Palin is subjected to sexist attacks," Carly Fiorina, the former head of Hewlett-Packard and constant McCain booster, told a press conference at the Republican National Convention Wednesday. "I don't believe American women are going to stand for it either."
Flanked by a cadre of GOP women, Fiorina observed that "every one of us" has been dismissed as "a show horse not a workhorse."
Has there been sexism in the coverage of McCain's choice of running mate? Absolutely. Newspapers would never run stories asking whether a father can fulfill his parental and official duties as vice president. And the scrutiny of Palin's hair has been far more severe than that of Joe Biden's reputed hair plugs.
That said, the Palin pile-on is the result of much more than sexism. The political press corps' lack of familiarity with Palin, the liberal bent endemic to this profession, the sheer surprise that Palin was McCain's pick, the public's curiosity about the political newcomer, the fact that 15,000 journalists were eager to write compelling copy -- all of these were contributing factors.
Like much in life, the reaction to Palin is complicated. To attribute the whole can of worms to sexism is a mistake. The GOP is not the victimhood party; it is not the party of grievances, but the party of overcoming grievances. It's the party that can boast, as Palin did Wednesday night, "Do you know the difference between a hockey mom and a pit bull? Lipstick."
At the Fiorina-led press conference, Camp McCain came perilously close to crossing the line into the land of whining and recriminations. The land of losers.
It's one thing to be justifiably angry, it's another to be self-destructive.
Or as Palin herself told Newsweek in response to Team Hillary's charges of sexist media coverage, "When I hear a statement like that coming from a woman candidate with any kind of perceived whine about that excess criticism, or maybe a sharper microscope put on her, I think, 'Man, that doesn't do us any good, women in politics, or women in general, trying to progress this country.'"
And: "I don't think it bodes well for her, a statement like that."
It dilutes the message.
Thus, it was refreshing to see Hawaii Gov. Linda Lingle take on those who argue that governing Alaska is just small change. Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani followed by comparing Palin's experience -- deemed insufficient to qualify her as a running mate -- with that of Barack Obama, who began running for the White House after two years in the U.S. Senate.
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