Like many Americans, I was struck by the humor and grace of Palin’s joke about the difference between hockey moms and bulldogs being lipstick; I really did laugh out loud at that one, even titled my post-VP acceptance speech post “Lipstick on a Bulldog.” And now there’s a flurry of controversy about Obama making the following comment:
The biggest complaint is, of course, the connection to the Palin lipstick comment last week; people on the right are accusing Obama of sexism in making this comment, in the perceived implication that Palin is a pig (in lipstick) rather than a bulldog. Or maybe some kind of bulldog-pig hybrid?
Maybe I’m going soft in my old age, but I honestly don’t believe that Obama is sexist (racist, almost certainly, but sexist? likely not), and I don’t think that this comment was intended to smear Governor Palin. The poor man has been a stuttering, stammering mess since the RNC, and I think he was just flustered and called up an unfortunate but very trite cliche, a cliche that McCain himself has used and that anyone of a certain age in America has at least heard (if not used).
And yes, sure, Obama has been making some serious missteps of late (notably in engaging the VP candidate on the opposing ticket, a thing we just don’t do in presidential races, that’s why McCain needed his bulldog in lipstick in the first place, to take on Obama’s bulldog VP nominee), and he’s been very defensive in light of Palin’s remarks during her acceptance speech, but is he really so green as to make an intentional direct connection between her and a pig? When I put it like that, I kind of think so, actually: he’s been acting very green (in the new to the game, not in the environmental, sense) lately. But his inexperience is not the issue in this case; at least I don’t think so. I think, and the context of the comment affirms, that he was bashing McCain’s policies, linking them to President Bush’s. The president, if anyone, is the pig to Obama; the comment is about policy, so I’m thinking he’s talking about . . . um, policy and not people (or one person in particular). That’s not to say I don’t think he’s intelligent enough to incorporate that echo of Palin’s speech, I do think he is; I just don’t think that was his intent here.
Heck, I almost feel sorry him these days; watching him sink to the level of an interview with Bill O’Reilly (a thing he’d never have done if things were going well for him), watching him spin and twist in the wake of Palin’s acceptance of the VP spot on the republican ballot, watching him lower himself time and again as he compares her (frankly) superior experience to his own . . . maybe my defense of this comment is partly one of pity? Maybe. But at the end of the day, I just don’t think he’s stupid enough to intentionally call Sarah Palin a pig (in any round about way) and open himself up to the cries of sexism that have ensued, that almost anyone could have predicted would ensue–anyone who hasn’t been the media’s darling these past too many months, anyway.