It’s so inspiring to see a woman out on the campaign trail who has had such a historic impact on feminism, helping to recast outmoded assumptions about women.
Yes, Sarah Palin, I’m giving you a shout-out.
Before Palin, if a woman flamed out in a spectacular fashion, it was considered an X through the X chromosome. If Billie Jean King lost to Bobby Riggs, women would be seen as second-class athletes. If Geraldine Ferraro seemed unfit for the White House, all women might be judged incapable.
But when Palin turned out to be utterly unqualified and unintelligible, spouting her own special Yoda-like language, it did not reflect poorly on women as a whole — only on her and John McCain. What the hell were you thinking, Senator?
Palin was back in the news last month after her Iowa endorsement of Donald Trump (the man who viciously mocked her former running mate’s war record).
Ordinarily, you have to tread gingerly in critiquing a working woman on her mothering skills. But Palin’s brawling brood runs so wild around the state she once governed, in a way that is so contrary to her evangelistic, sanctimonious homilies on family values, that it seems only Christian to advise her to study the Obamas to see what exceptional parenting looks like.
Her oldest son, Track, was a kid with a temper before he served in Iraq for a year, conveniently shipping off in the fall of 2008 as his mother began her hockey-mom spiel. The 26-year-old was arrested Monday on an assault charge, accused of punching his girlfriend in the face and kicking her during an alcohol-fueled argument at the Palins’ home in Wasilla, Alaska. His girlfriend told the police that he was also waving around an AR-15 assault rifle.
Instead of just admitting that her family is a mess, Palin has exhibited Trump-like swagger, conjuring a story in an attempt to gin up the crowd and occlude her son’s behavior.
At a speech in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Palin, charged President Barack Obama with a lack of “respect” for veterans and suggested that Track had post-traumatic stress disorder and became “hardened,” implying this is what led to the incident prompting his arrest.
Outraged vets urged Palin not to reduce PTSD to a political “chew toy,” as one put it, or to excuse domestic violence by citing the disorder.
The rattlebrained Palin has reversed her Iraq position, so that now her stance somehow matches Trump’s consistent and prescient one against the Iraq invasion.
When she saw Track off to Iraq in 2008, she echoed W.’s specious argument, calling the war a “righteous cause” to avenge “the enemies who planned and carried out” 9/11.
But in her endorsement of Trump, she praised Rand Paul, who thinks we should have left Saddam Hussein in place, and argued that America should stop “footin’ the bill” for oil-rich nations and “their squirmishes that have been going on for centuries, where they’re fightin’ each other and yellin’ ‘Allah akbar,’ calling jihad on each other’s heads forever and ever.”
Hillary Clinton is presenting herself as the embodiment of women, an American Marianne, pushing her gender in an all-for-one-one-for-all, now-or-never way. She’s even campaigning this week in Iowa with Billie Jean King. Women should support her because if she founders, it will be bad for women.
But Palin has done us a favor by proving that a woman can stumble, babble incoherently on stage and spew snide garbage, and it isn’t a blot on the female copybook. It’s all on her.
Can I get a hallelujah?•
Dowd is a New York Times columnist. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.