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Making the glass ceiling crack-proof


The most intense guy in America today must certainly be David Axelrod. He's obliged to keep his intensity to himself, but he knows this much:

Not only did his candidate deliver the most memorable political speech of the past thirty-five years, his candidate's opponent followed it up with the announcement of a veritable unknown with no political legacy or mechanism outside of her own home state.

It is very hard to appraise what kind of vote-getting history Sarah Palin has mustered to date because she hasn't really had any kind of vote-getting history whatsoever. But to put it in some perspective: the Mayor of San Jose got more votes in his last election (117,394) than Sarah Palin did in hers (114,697). This is not exactly a Hillary Clinton or a Dick Cheney or a Lyndon Johnson or a Geraldine Ferraro whom McCain has added to his ticket.

America will likely be very confused, and likely even a little troubled, by Governor Palin. She is the kind of political entity that is very specific to small-town Alaska: she lip-synchs libertarianism to appease Alaska's pot-smokers and men in trees, but is deeply Republican where it counts.

Sarah Palin has tried marijuana when it was legal in her state, but professes not to like it. She says she has gay and lesbian friends, but she is as against gay marriage as she is anti-choice. She shoots moose to kill, she drives snowmobiles; her husband is a champion in this eco-unfriendly "sport."

Her administration is under investigation for abuse of power: she may have fired someone who wouldn't fire someone on her orders to. In a small state like Alaska, this barely rates inquiry, but in the national sphere, it will be far larger.

Her oldest son is, like Biden's son, heading to Iraq this fall. Her youngest, an infant, has Down Syndrome; genetic testing had determined his condition in the womb. Deciding to bear and love this child will be pitched as testimony to her steadfast character. But it will also, very quietly, remind the majority of women voters, who support the right to choose in overwhelming numbers, why maintaining a right to choose is so important in the first place. Just as the nation is trying so hard to get past the phoney Republican culture wars and find sincere ways to make abortion less frequent while keeping it safe, Sarah Palin represents yet another battlefront.

Unlike Hillary or most other notable Democratic women who have fought the good fight all their lives for women's rights, she is not a crusader for women's rights at all, but a beneficiary of them---and she seems only interested to turn the clock back.

Anti-choice, completely inexperienced in national politics, running over the environment, anti-progressive marriage: only John McCain could find a woman somewhere in America who not only loves perserving the glass ceiling over women's heads but who actually wants to repair the 18,000,000 cracks Hillary so recently put in it.


For all the efforts of blogs and print to make political campaigns look like horse races, they are really more like chess games, where the winner will be the candidate with the best-staked position, and the one who makes, famously, the least critical mistake. The selection of Palin, already characterized as a "Hail Mary", is obviously not one from a position of strength, but one of weakness; it has blown McCain's weaker position so wide open, in fact, and presents Axelrod with so many options, that you can bet the master Democratic strategist will now sit on the clock for a little while, taking a long look, contemplating the next sequence of cornerning moves.