Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson notes that Spike Lee has taken to “grandiloquently divid[ing] American history into two epochs, “B.B.” and “A.B.” – Before Barack and After Barack.” With John McCain’s selection of AK Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate, Obama went from making history to being history in the span of 12 hours.

The announcement was like a giant fly swatter that killed Obama’s buzz.

No one was talking about Obama’s Big Speech on Friday, and the “change” he promised – the well-worn liberal litany every Dem candidate has trotted out in every nomination speech in The Stiletto’s living memory – seemed so same-old, same old.

[Check out this snarkilicious send-up of a typical convention speech by New York Times columnist David Brooks: “One path before us leads to the past, and the extinction of the human race. The other path leads to the future, when we will all be dead. We must choose wisely.”]

The day McCain announced his choice of running mate happened to be his 72nd birthday, and on that day he gave American women the gift of a path to the White House.

A quarter century separates McCain and Obama, but the older man showed himself to be the more daring, unconventional and forward-thinking of the two. Significantly, only McCain was man enough to choose a woman – an impressive woman – to be his running mate. If Obama – who has not scrupled to refrain from engaging in sexism and ageism, even while hurling unfounded accusations of racism against opponents – thought this campaign was going to be about Red Bull vs. Geritol, McCain showed him he’s got another thing coming.

Dems, Media: Dismissive, Misogynistic

The Obama campaign’s self-revealing gut reaction was to denigrate Palin through its surrogates. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said that “her lack of experience makes the thought of her assuming the presidency troubling.” (The Stiletto will leave it to Palin to make her case for herself, but it’s somehow not “troubling” for an inexperienced man to assume the presidency, eh, Chuckie-Poo? Mind telling the women of America why?)

But a second politically correct response was issued by Obama and running mate, Joe Biden, when a wiser head realized that sexist attacks on Palin are not going to win the hearts and minds of the roughly 15 percent of deeply disaffected Hillary supporters whose votes they need:

We send our congratulations to Gov. Sarah Palin and her family on her designation as the Republican nominee for vice president. It is yet another encouraging sign that old barriers are falling in our politics. While we obviously have differences over how best to lead this country forward, Gov. Palin is an admirable person and will add a compelling new voice to this campaign.

Many political reporters, pundits and editorial page writers were also dismissive, and The Weekly Standard’s Matthew Continetti nicely skewers them before explaining the genius behind McCain’s thought processes:

The country is at war. The economy is in shambles. The Republican Party is weaker than it has been in decades. So whom does John McCain choose as his vice presidential nominee? A former beauty queen turned governor from Alaska. …

What on earth was Mr. McCain thinking?

Here’s what: The only way for him to win this election is to break with the national Republican Party. Mr. McCain needs to recast the party in his own image: anticorruption, pro-reform and fiscally and socially conservative. …

By picking Ms. Palin, he has signaled that he will campaign against the Republicans in Congress, too.

Case in point, the WaPo’s Gene Weingarten, who moderated a discussion on “Sarah Palin: Disastrous stumble or monstrous gaffe?” (The Stiletto’s not kidding; those were the two choices):

He gets nothing electorally from someone in a small, already Republican state. … [E]ven disaffected Hillary supporters will not stomach an ardent right-to-lifer. … [S]he has just made it impossible for McCain to ever criticize Obama’s lack of experience.

Let’s leave aside the fact that DE is a small, already Dem state with the same number of votes in the Electoral College as AK, which didn’t stop Obama from tapping Biden as his running mate. The Wall Street Journal demolishes the argument that Palin’s perceived lack of experience makes it impossible for McCain to use that line of attack against Obama:

Governor Palin’s credentials as an agent of reform exceed Barack Obama’s. Mr. Obama rose through the Chicago Democratic machine without a peep of push-back. Alaska’s politics are deeply inbred and backed by energy-industry money. Mr. Obama slid past the kind of forces that Mrs. Palin took head on. This is one reason her selection – despite its campaign risks – seems to have been so well received by Republicans yesterday. They are looking for a new generation of leaders.

Obama can only talk about change. Palin has a proven track record she can point to. The reaction of alternate delegate Christie Craig to the announcement was not uncommon. “The [Democratic] ticket is all about making history, but our ticket is about leadership experience and making history, so we sort of kill two birds with one stone,” she tells the WaPo.

Moving The Goalposts When A Woman Takes The Field

This preposterous proposition was penned by a presumably straight-faced – opinionmeister at The Times:

Governor Palin’s lack of experience, especially in national security and foreign affairs, raises immediate questions about how prepared she is to potentially succeed to the presidency. That really is the only criterion for judging a candidate for vice president [emphasis, The Stiletto].

Um, no. Here’s a nice explanation from Wikipedia of the political calculus that normally goes into a presidential candidate’s veep selection:

Often, the presidential nominee will name a vice presidential candidate who will bring geographic or ideological balance to the ticket or appeal to a particular constituency. The vice presidential candidate might also be chosen on the basis of traits the presidential candidate is perceived to lack, or on the basis of name recognition. Popular runners-up in the presidential nomination process are commonly considered, to foster party unity.

The ultimate goal of vice presidential candidate selection is to help and not hurt the party’s chances of getting elected. An overly dynamic selection can backfire by outshining the presidential candidate. A classic example of this came in 1988, when Democratic candidate Michael Dukakis chose experienced Texas Senator Lloyd Bentsen as his running mate.

Foreign policy expertise has never been a requirement for the second banana job. But after Putin’s invasion of Georgia, Obama was forced to use national security experience as his sole criterion for selecting a veep because he is spectacularly unprepared for the office he seeks. McCain is ready to lead on Day One, so he has the luxury of shaking up the race by not choosing a male Washington insider.

Obama needs a mentor, and his choice of Biden serves only to move his own ambition forward. McCain is in a position to be a mentor, and his choice of Palin moves the political hopes and dreams of American women forward.

What Women Want?

The WaPo’s editorial board is skeptical that Palin will help McCain make inroads into the women’s vote:

McCain can say he is giving voters a chance to make history by electing the first woman to be vice president. He is also hoping Ms. Palin’s down-to-earth “hockey mom” persona will appeal to those working-class Democrats, especially women, who voted for Sen. Hillary Clinton in the primary – though many supporters of abortion rights may be insulted by that proposition.

Ah, but many of Hillary’s supporters are insulted by the Dem party leadership taking their votes for granted, betting they would submissively support a man who is far less qualified then their candidate. In contrast, McCain has made it clear that he is going to fight for the votes of women. What’s “insulting” about that?

Karen O’Connor, director of the Women and Politics Institute at American University, demands to know: “If 18 million votes is not enough, what does it take in the Democratic Party to get a woman on the ticket?” And here’s what commenter “powerchick” wrote in response to Weingarten’s stumble-or-gaffe query:

I am a disenfranchised supporter of HRC and a registered Democrat. BUT I just contributed to the McCain campaign and I am voting for him in November. I may even volunteer – a cheap ploy to attract the female vote? Maybe but at the end of the day, the Republican party is closer to putting a woman in the executive branch than the Dems. Ask yourself, what has the Democratic party done for women really?

Several women across the political spectrum interviewed by The Journal feel they now have a personal stake in this election. Republican pollster Kellyanne Conway tells The Journal that Palin helps 20-something conservative women “relate” to McCain and that they think of this ticket as being “their Geraldine Ferraro moment.”

And for some women, at least, abortion rights is no longer the “third rail” of politics it’s been for the past 30 years. Amy Siskind, a major Democrat Party fundraiser, Hillary Clinton supporter and a co-founder of the non-partisan women’s political action group The New Agenda is voting for a Repub for the first time in her life. She tells The Journal, “Roe v. Wade has been used for a long time to control women politically. I don’t think that’s the case anymore. I’m not the only one, I’m sure, who has decided to back [Sen. McCain] now.”

She is hardly alone, The Times reports:

At the very least, Ms. Palin’s selection unleashes gender as a live issue again, just when Democrats thought they had it under control. …

[Kim Hoover is] troubled by Ms. Palin’s opposition to abortion rights. But … she felt betrayed by pro-choice groups, and in particular politicians like Senators Claire McCaskill of Missouri and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, who were helped into office by pro-choice groups like Emily’s List but came out early to support Mr. Obama over Mrs. Clinton, despite her being the first viable pro-choice woman to run for president.

Ms. Hoover has stopped giving to Emily’s List as a result. “It doesn’t make sense to me that, frankly, Emily’s List didn’t hold them accountable for having been elected on that platform but then not supporting that platform,” she said. “The setback for the pro-choice movement is almost deserved.”

Twenty-four years elapsed between the first woman being nominated by a major party to run for vice president and the second, but instead of supporting Palin in what may well be a successful run to occupy an office in the West Wing of the White House, NOW PAC Chair Kim Gandy objects that she’s not the “right woman,” because she is pro-life.

Rhetoric Vs. Reality

It’s one thing for a male candidate to be pro-life and quite another for a female candidate – especially one who has made the gut-wrenching decision not to abort a child with a serious birth defect. As Los Angeles Times columnist Tim Rutten notes: “Palin can raise the abortion question with an authority no candidate for national office has ever had.” And since being a blue collar wife and a mother of five who has accepted the challenge of raising a child with Down Syndrome did not  stop Palin from actualizing her full potential as a woman, it’s specious for NOW to equate “women’s rights” exclusively in terms of “abortion rights.”

Poised to make history, in her first remarks (video) as McCain’s running mate, Palin gave props to her trailblazing Dem sisters Geraldine Ferraro and Hillary Clinton:

I can’t begin this great effort without honoring the achievements of Geraldine Ferraro in 1984, and, of course, Sen. Hillary Clinton, who showed such determination and grace in her presidential campaign.

It was rightly noted in Denver this week that Hillary left 18 million cracks in the highest, hardest glass ceiling in America. But it turns out the women of America aren’t finished yet, and we can shatter that glass ceiling once and for all.

Clinton supporter Sherry Morrison, 46, a medical billing executive who lives in Roanoke, VA, tells the WaPo that she is jumping on the McCain-Palin bandwagon. She said Palin’s speech was “a wink and a nod to the Hillary supporters. It was, ‘Hey, if the Democrats are too stupid to break that glass ceiling, we will do it for them.’”

Feminist author Camille Paglia gives the speech a thumbs up, “We may be seeing the first woman president. As a Democrat, I am reeling. That was the best political speech I have ever seen delivered by an American woman politician. Palin is as tough as nails,” she tells The Times of London.

But New York Times columnist Gail Collins is already envisioning Biden practicing his “drop-dead line” for the vice presidential debate he will have with Palin: “I know Hillary Clinton. Hillary Clinton is a friend of mine, and governor, you’re no Hillary Clinton.” To which the obvious rejoinder is: “And neither is Barack Obama.”

For his part, WaPo columnist Colbert King thinks Morrison, Siskind and other women like them are “shortsighted” and committing “an act of political suicide” by voting for the McCain-Palin ticket.

Oh, really? Women are quite clearly fed up with being relegated to the roles of cheerleaders and helpmeets, of being the “good girls” who obey Daddy. This is bigger than Hillary, the Democrat party or abortion. This isn’t suicide, this is a revolution.

Note: The Stiletto writes about politics and other stuff at The Stiletto Blog, chosen an Official Honoree in the Political Blogs category by the judges of the 12th Annual Webby Awards (the Oscars of the online universe) along with CNN Political Ticker, Swampland (Time magazine) and The Caucus (The New York Times).

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