August 04, 2009
Kirsten Powers, the photogenic FOX News regular and New York Post syndicated columnist (who says neocon favorites can”t have it all?) has been fuming lately about the evil chauvinists who have been going after Sarah Palin. Like several other FOX regulars, Kirsten wants a “summit on sexism“ to deal with attacks on the sometime Alaska governor. Powers explains: “I”m no fan of the former governor, but as a life-long feminist, I can”t ignore the endless stream of sexism directed at her.”
Although a feminist and left-leaning Democrat, Kirsten is on board with FOX commentators who believe that what the feminist movement has accomplished during the last several decades will be endangered if the media are allowed to go on belittling Sarah Palin. It is, of course, predictable that the faux conservatives and GOP hacks who fill FOX 24/7 should be saying such things. These people have treated Sarah as their pride and joy; nor do they show any reservations about draping themselves in the banner of Betty Friedan and Gloria Steinem, to push their heroine into the presidency or to point out the egg on the faces of Sarah’s Democratic detractors. But in any case it is far more amusing to hear establishment conservatives complaining about reversals in the feminist cause than to notice that the leftist media make sexist comments about politically incorrect women.
Kirsten, however, complicates matters by raising two other issues. One, she insists that the attempts by the media to focus on Sarah as a “bimbo” ignores her demonstrated brilliance as a politician, as evidenced by her “charisma and ability to connect with the average American.” Although running down Sarah as a “bimbo,” to whatever extent this has been done, is hitting below the belt, it is far from evident that she is the world-class politician Kirsten describes. McCain picked her as a running mate when he was trying to attract both feminists (disposed Hillary voters) and the Religious Right to his ticket. Sarah came out of a relatively obscure political post, one that she would still be holding, if not for certain lucky breaks. The leftist media decided to savage her because she was an anti-abortion Christian, whereupon the neoconservatives and Religious Right establishments rallied to her for mostly different reasons. The neocons liked her gibberish about spreading American democracy and her fervent Zionism; the Religious Right approved of her stand on abortion while ignoring her statements about the need for tight government-enforcement of anti-discrimination laws for women. As for her brilliance as a politician, this may be the only time in my life that I can unconditionally support the judgment of Richard Lowry and David Frum, that Palin’s idea of political discourse is interspersing sound-bites with “Youbetcha.”
Two, Kirsten is annoyed by the “profoundly juvenile” habit of “adult men in the media” paying undue attention to “hot chicks.” If this practice is continued, she observes, the media may think it’s alright to “argue for sexism.” Kirsten reminds us, lest we forget, that “racism is wrong and so is sexism.” The problem with this is that it may justify my perpetration of an argumentum ad hominem. Is Kirsten blind to the fact that one of the reasons she’s so often on FOX is that she’s very nice to look at? Needless to say, if she were a paleo and not a left-liberal, she”d have no job talking on the channel run by her employers. But as an exceedingly attractive feminist and Obamaite, she does enjoy an intrinsic advantage relative to others of her establishment persuasion. That may in fact be the reason that she’s featured on FOX more often than a former Clinton advisor and aging feminist heavy-hitter Susan Estrich. In this age of telegenic celebrity, Kirsten is making the most of her natural advantages. She got her foot in to the door because of her good looks but has endeared herself to her neocon patrons by saying what they want to hear.
In both respects she resembles Sarah Palin.