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Sarah's Steel Ones > Letters

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I appreciated both Amy Alexander's and Patricia William's piece about Sarah Palin. What Gloria Steinam's position paper, NOW's pronouncements and feminists' claims of being "insulted" do not understand is precisely this visceral appeal of the woman. Indeed, when I was watching Palin's convention speech, she reminded of my favorite democratic "ballsy" women: Anne Richards and Molly Ivins. If there is one thing I learned growing up in Texas, it is this: never underestimate the woman with the up-do. Richards and Ivins could dish out the snarkiness with the same kind of humor and populist mischief that Palin did in her speech, and we Democrats loved them for it.

However, what both articles miss, I believe, is the fact not of Palin's emotional but her political appeal. Though I abhor Palin's policies, I, like many women I know, feel betrayed by the lack of support Clinton received from the left, from the Democratic party, and in the end, from Barak Obama himself when he did not choose her as his running mate. What a ticket it could have been. Truly historic--a coming together of two movements that have, for too long, been separate and at odds with one another. When Obama did not pick Clinton, her female supporters felt that the candidate did not value them as a demographic, that he did not care about their issues, and that it foretold at least four more years of traditional masculine political images, resulting in the diminution of the cultural and political status of women.

The notion that Palin would provide some kind of real corrective to the imminent disappearance of a strong woman from the political stage is not irrational. This alone is not reason enough to vote for her. But the fact of her political appeal must be acknowledged.

rachel devlin

Tulane University<br />New Orleans, lA

Sep 19 2008 - 2:43pm

Web Letter

This is the strangest article that I have ever read in defense of women, or femaleness. She has balls and she wants to overturn Roe v. Wade so that women can submit themselves to being baby factories no matter the situation or circumstances? and this qualifies her as a steel-balled lady, according to a woman? Wow! She stood up to Charlie Gibson? How? He asked her about the Bush doctrine and she didn't have a clue. Instead of saying I don't know what the Bush doctrine is, what is it, Charlie? she answers, "His world view?" The lady is a pathological liar. This falls in the category of sniper fire.


Caribou, ME

Sep 18 2008 - 8:26pm

Web Letter

I really appreciated this article. It is a rare thing (particularly in an election year) to hear complimentary things said about someone when the writer does agree with her subject. The author clearly stated how she did not fall in line with Gov. Palin, yet this did not stop her from admiring certain aspects of the VP nominee. In a time when all too many people unduly conflate moral worth and political affiliation, it was refreshing to see genuine respect paid to an opponent.

Timothy Padgett

Chicago, IL

Sep 16 2008 - 7:29pm

Web Letter

I think some would call this piece "putting pitbull on a lipstick."

David Schneider

The Boy Bedlam Review<br />New York, NY

Sep 16 2008 - 6:14pm

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I am highly offended by this article. First, I find the term "ballsy" to be particularly offensive. Given the pain, discomfort, and threat to life that women have endured, from the beginning of time, to continue the species, I think we only have to look to our own anatomy for a strength metaphor.

Second, when I look at Sarah Palin, I don't see confidence; I see ruthlessness. She has no qualms repeating the same lies over and over again. She seeks to impose her own extreme theocratic views on all women. Unlike Alexander, I cannot separate her politics from her character.

No, I can't see Sarah Palin as a role model for my daughters. When it comes to women "juggling" children and career, we tend to act as if mothers are somehow in two places at once. Relying on others to care for your family doesn't make you a hero. It just makes you someone who made a choice. Sarah Palin took extreme risks with the birth of her youngest child, choosing to give a speech after she was leaking amniotic fluid, and then spending many hours traveling, before finally getting to a hospital. Then she went back to work after three days. This is not the model I want my daughters to follow. I'm all for women having the choice to work. But to quote Oprah Winfrey: "You can have it all, you just can't have it all at the same time."

Amy Fried

Rockville, MD

Sep 15 2008 - 1:44pm

Web Letter

Manifest Destiny is simply imperialist ideology that yielded destructive acts of early US violence perpetrated against people, animals and all else that stood between "rightful proprietors" and their treasure. This arrogant belief still exists and is brutally unleashed by imperial armies and global corporations on behalf of ruling classes against all living things that reside in resource-rich regions (e.g., Iraq, the Amazon, the ocean, etc.). So to say that Sarah Palin has "transported us back to the era of Manifest Destiny" because of her rugged "can do" persona is revealing and of great concern.

It is revealing because it forces one to question whether strength is found in the politics of one's gender performance or in one's ability to speak truth to power and act against dangerous beliefs such as Manifest Destiny. I think contradictions and hypocrisies are exactly what informed populations use to assess candidates. Demonstrated by her apologetic support of the Bush doctrine and imperial "blunders," it is evident that she does not possess the strength to stand up for what is just. I don't think feminism is on trial for the support of Mrs. Palin; rather, I think those who claim to care about women's struggle have to think hard on whether to consume this gendered image being sold.

Aaron Modica

Oakland, CA

Sep 15 2008 - 5:11am

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I don't know why I bother to read The Nation, but reading the smug nonsense of liberal progressives hearkens me back to the days of censorship at the Politburo. How can people who have been so consistently wrong on nearly every issue be so condescendingly certain of everything they say? One reason could be that they only talk to one another. And it's not a rational exercise; politics to a liberal progressive is about as heartfelt as the "hip" place to go on vacation and the newest fashionable restaurant. Dostoyevesky had your number back in the nineteenth century, and there's really nothing more I can add here. But if it wasn't for liberal progressives, I suppose people that actually have jobs and go to work to try keep society going need to be reminded of what would happen if they just sat around bitching like a bunch of wrinkly teen-agers all day--in fact, like the editorial staff at The Nation! It truly would surprise me if you actually printed this letter, since it's pretty much a one-party system you have in your universe. But I did want you to know that people other than the faithful do read your magazine, as awful as it can be at times. Please try not to whine so much.

Gavin Simmons

New York, NY

Sep 14 2008 - 10:12pm

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Finally! An opinion piece that can actually acknowledge that Sarah Palin is an impressive person with some compelling qualities! This is why I read The Nation. I'm a conservative Republican, but I appreciate the intellectual honesty that is in greater supply at this publication than the mainstream media.

I believe in open, honest discourse... and potentially agreeing to disagree on occasion. Hurling hysterical slurs at Sarah Palin has been one of the most illiberal, intolerant and intellectually dishonest things I've ever seen the Left do. For example, the "Sarah Palin is an insult to women" comment (one of the most commonly used slurs), begs the question: which women? Liberal women? Democratic women? Feminist women? On the evidence, it's not insulting white women, who now favor McCain/Palin by a wide margin over Obama/Biden. So... is that "feminine majority" somehow not "feminist"? Not "real women" either?

When the left, which bills itself as more enlightened and intellectual, engages in such smears of broad swaths of Americans, it discredits itself and ends the conversation. Unfortunately for liberals, Middle America is just that--in the middle, and in need of persuasion (left or right). Love or hate Sarah Palin, you have correctly identified that she projects a positive, confident view of life, family and country, and liberal smears do little to refocus attention away from that and onto specific policy questions.

I'm an Ivy League grad myself, and I would think that my fellow liberal alums would have the intelligence and intellectual honesty to appreciate that it doesn't matter how correct you may be on the issues if you can't persuade others of your views. And insulting those you wish to persuade is absolutely counter to the liberal ideal of vigorous discourse, and calls into question the very intelligence of those who fancy themselves highly educated and intelligent. Why would a coastal elite write an op-ed piece of hysterical claims ("Sarah Palin is basically a man"), and then be surprised when Middle America reacts strongly and negatively to that. (Alternatively, maybe it's secretly a--perverse--compliment, along the lines of the male politicians during the Democratic primary that claimed that Hillary had more balls than Obama?) Sarah Palin is a woman. She is a strong woman (seriously--she drubbed the Republican establishment in Alaska). She is a feminist, according to some definitions of feminism (not just the orthodox, liberal definition that demands adherance to the unlimited abortion stricture). She doesn't agree with liberals on very many things. Imagine that--a different opinion!

You're on to something. Too bad so many of your fellow writers would rather have a shriek-fest with themselves than a persuasive conversation with America.

David Fisher

Denver, CO

Sep 14 2008 - 2:05pm

Web Letter

Ms. Alexander's sheepish respect for Sarah Palin's ballsiness is understandable, but also tells us much about the decay in the American feminist movement, divested as it has been of its radical roots.

Part of Sarah Palin's appeal is that she has bested the big boys at their own game, but this is not new to many countries that have elected women leaders, for good or ill. No one doubts the triumph of her will either, whether on the court in high school or as a controversial mayor in sleepy Wasilla. She has come a long way, but to what end? Anyone who promotes "girl power" should ask themselves whether this includes the brutal gunning down of defenseless animals from the air, or excuses doing much the same to human beings in other countries. Indeed, the photoshopped picture of Palin's head on top of a guntoting American-flag-bikini-clad woman unintentionally speaks volumes about the degeneration of commercialized American feminism where empowerment has come to represent the deployment of sexual power to use and abuse others as well as yourself, as opposed to true equality and a more peaceable, compassionate world.

What makes Palin's wingnut particularly hard to crack is the fact that Barack Obama has also relied heavily on his biography to give a progressive sheen to his vaguely centrist policies and endless genuflection to Washington elites. Palin has done much the same thing, effectively deploying her family and even its secrets to earn sympathy from Middle American voters, while advancing extremist social and environmental positions and enthusiastically embracing a neocon foreign policy agenda. Sadly, all this deflection serves only to perpetuate the rule of money power in this country to the very end of the Republic.

Rajiv Rawat

Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, Canada

Sep 14 2008 - 1:55pm

Web Letter

To Amy Alexander: XOXOXO! I don't share your politics either, but that does not prevent me from appreciating your acknowledgement of Govenor Palin's intestinal fortitude, determination and conviction. It is so refreshing after reading a lot of other women's opinions. Feminist organizations and icons seem to be the most condescending and illogical, to say the least.

I respect and love you, Amy. You are my sister-from-another-mother.

Judy Jacob

Choctaw, OK

Sep 14 2008 - 12:56pm

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