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On Sarah Palin

Some rare insight from a columnist who I usually disagree with, the Gazette’s Janet Bagnall:

Palin is a true-blue representative of her party. She is a lifetime member of the National Rifle Association and against gay marriage. Her opposition to abortion extends to cases of rape and incest. The women who backed Hillary Clinton’s historic run for the nomination for presidency don’t generally ascribe to those values.

[ . . . ]

Tokenism is an insult, an insidious one whose effects are difficult to erase over time. People will forget that there were other options on the Republican table, capable, long-serving, proven women like Senator Olympia Snowe of Maine and Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas – and that McCain ignored them in favour of doing something headline-grabbing. That effect is already starting to wear off. A CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll this week found, “Three quarters of all voters think McCain chose a female running mate specifically because he thought adding a woman to the Republican ticket would help him win in November.”

And that, in a nutshell, is the problem with the otherwise politically-savvy selection of Palin. Choosing a candidate solely because she’s a woman is no better than systematically denying opportunities to qualified people because they are women.

And while McCain no doubt sees Palin’s stance on issues like abortion and gun control as qualifications, not drawbacks, given the socially conservative voters he’s trying to attract, the fact remains that Palin is much less qualified than the myriad other choices that McCain had – of both genders. She was chosen for her youth (to contrast McCain’s age) and her gender, proving that tokenism is no better than discrimination, after all.

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