Overheard conversation blip yesterday, from a couple.  The woman said the phrase, “Yes, but not in such a tokenistic way.”  And I knew exactly what topic they were discussing.

The bottom line seems to be that John McCain bought the media narrative, backed up by some polling somewhere over-studied to an nth degree, that a significant number of disaffected Hillary Clinton supporters ready to be picked up with pure simple Identity Politics.  Such was the situation with the advertisement endorsement from a former Clinton delegate, and such was the floating of a “pro-choice” candidate — generally accepted as softening up a possible Joseph Lieberman (reportedly who he wanted to pick, reportedly nixed by Rove) or Tom Ridge pick.

But McCain had to pick someone “pro-life”, “solidly” so mind you.  So, Woman.  “Pro-life”.  Sarah Palin.  It seems to be as simple as that.  This is supposed to excite the base and skim off the margins of not totally reconciled Hillary Clinton supporters.  Sarah Palin was not a total surprise, and yes a total surprise.  Which is to say she was at the end of all those “wild card” picks in candidate listings, but at the end for a reason.  And, more importantly, she was featured in the recent “jib jab” animated web-video, which was a semi-prominent news-story in the generally parochial Alaska media.

In a past life, I heard the argument from Clinton supporters, at the end of the nomination, rumored to be a demand from Clinton herself to Obama but such was one of those rumors that looks easily transferred from one’s butt, that Obama could not pick a different woman because the message would be something to the effect of: America is ready for a female president, just not that one.  This struck me a pity, probably electorally a sort of strait-jacket for Obama — as such some fairly substantial qualified Democratic women were never really seriously considered.  But if this logic is at work, what am I supposed to make of Sarah Palin?

The comparison is being made to Geraldine Ferraro — indeed, by Sarah Palin herself within her praise for Hillary Clinton and evocation of the “18 million dents in the ceiling” line.  This item of pandering strikes me as a misfire, not least of which nobody cares about Ferraro, but also historically even by the logic of Mondale’s selection — partially hope to rejumble the hopeless political picture but also a case of “If I’m not going to win I’ll at least make some history here”– Ferraro did not make any sense — a parody of affirmative action, and I don’t know what Democratic women there were at the time, but I do believe there were a few more substantial than her.

At the end of the day I see a lot of simply paternalistic attitude in the coming election cycle — if she were a man she would be treated like Dan Quayle, but now we’re just sort of going to be dismissing her, with a floating parade of jabs (not from the campaign, mind you) harking back to her beauty queen days and her status as “America’s Hottest Governor”.  Did McCain select her because she wants to get in her pants?  This cannot be good for the cause of women’s rights, as it leaves me wondering — When is the first seriously considered woman going to nominated to a presidential ticket?

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