Sarah Palin and Mommy Wars 2.0

Wed, September 3, 2008

Moms & Politics

Sarah Palin’s nomination as the GOP VP nominee has brought the Mommy Wars discussion back into the media. I just have to ask, do we really need to go there?

No matter what you think of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin’s politics, I thought she had to at least be given credit for being an accomplished working mother of five.

Looks like I was wrong.

It didn’t take long for the critique to start — how can she be a good mother to five children, including a special needs baby, and be vice president at the same time? Isn’t that impossible?

Funny how no one would ask that question if the candidate’s name was “Sam” Palin and he was a father in the same set of circumstances (not including a run for the title of Miss Alaska, of course!)

The decisions of motherhood today are not easy. There will always be things we have to give up or compromise on depending on how things are going with our families on any given day. I don’t like that, but that’s how it is.

I was supposed to travel to the Democratic National Convention last week, but decided for a variety of reasons that the turmoil of being away from home the week before school started for my eight-year-old daughter would be counter-productive. If timing and circumstances were different, I would have made a different decision.

Every mother struggles with situations like that. Under slightly different circumstances, I would have made a different call, but do I want someone telling me that I’m either a bad mommy or a bad professional because of that decision or the amount of time that went into coming to this latest compromise plan?

If Sarah Palin ends up moving to Washington in January, how long will it take before many start judging her based on how much time she’s spending with the kids or whether she made cupcakes for her youngest daughter’s classroom?

There are plenty of things we have to talk about when it comes to Sarah Palin — her stance on abstinence-only sex education, why she cut funding for a program for young mothers in her state, and how we can possibly trust that someone with her experience could competently step into the duties of President, just for starters. The one thing we should not be tossing into the mix is whether she is qualified to be vice president because she still has young children to tend to.

No need to fan the mommy wars flames that I had hoped were becoming dying embers. There are plenty of other substantive reasons to find for believing she shouldn’t be John McCain’s understudy.

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23 Responses to “Sarah Palin and Mommy Wars 2.0”

  1. Diana Says:

    You know, under different circumstances I might say this was a good thing. Bring the Mommy Wars to a head on a large public platform, duke them out and move on but I truly do not believe Sarah Palin is the woman capable of being at the center of that. She’s too extreme to unite women so it’ll only get ugly.

    I once thought Michelle Obama could do it, but after her DNC speech, I’m not so confident.

  2. Dorothy Says:

    These are difficult times and determining who is ready is not simple. However, not looking at her brief record in politics and instead focusing on her unique situation is where I am.

    I’m hoping all the emotions we have will be her tools while making decisions for our country and our families. Can we really do any worse considering how we are viewed currently with the old boys club?

    Let’s give her a much harder can our lives be living in the US today? Other countries consider us bullies..our dollar continues to decline and our children’s drop out rate in school is on the increase. Who’s in the hen house now and how quickly can we get them out….?

    Dorothy from grammology

  3. Jozet at Halushki Says:

    If this becomes a Mommy War, I’m going to side with Mommies who choose their own way every time. I’ve been in the trenches for this for 10 years and there is no more disenfranchised group of women than mothers. Unrepresented and wrongly stereotyped by feminists, by government, by media. If that’s who she’s made to represent, this will be slaughter up until polling day.

  4. Karen Says:

    yes, I can only vote once so I don’t need any extraneous reasons – reasons that actual distract from the real ones – to not change my vote.

  5. Mom101 Says:

    I’m not entirely sure that a man under similar circumstances is beyond scrutiny. I recall a certain John Edwards getting crap for hitting the campaign train “when his wife needed him.”

    It’s all hopelessly partisan.

  6. Kelly O Says:

    I was just wondering this morning when someone was going to slam her as a working mom who neglected her daughter and now look what’s happened, pregnant at 17. *sigh* The Mommy Wars are excruciatingly tedious.

  7. gunfighter1 Says:

    are less about Palin’s choces for her family as long as no laws are broken (I’m a cop, I think like that). I’m married (14 years last July) to a strong, exceptionally smart, fiercely independent career woman/working mother, so I have no beefs about her doing the career/family thing.

    I happen to believe that there is enough political/experience/judgement/issues information to shredd McCain/Palin without going the mommy wars route… unless of course, Palin decides that she is going to run on “mommyhood”, which would make her fair game.

  8. anniegirl1138 Says:

    This is sadly no surprise.

  9. Jozet at Halushki Says:

    Let me predict the spin (and I haven’t perused any articles online or otherwise yet this morning):

    Like the men and women who are called to service in defending our country, men and women whose families must also make sacrifices in extraordinary times, Sarah Palin is called to service and has accepted with the support and love of her family. She and her family are only doing that which we are asking of those families also in service.

    At the same time, she’s not really being called to Iraq for an extended tour of duty and will be with her family. At the same time, her son will be away. She can speak from both fronts.

    The Republicans were crazy like foxes on this.

  10. gunfighter1 Says:

    Crazy like foxes only as far as it goes, Jozet. I think it will end in failure for them… it comes across as a nakedly desperate move.

  11. Laura Says:

    she may very likely not end up being our veep in 2009 but it is very sad to see some of the most progressive minded folks set themselves and us back decades when they question her fitness to do the job she is running for based on the fact she has a large family to raise and special circumstances going on in her life including the care of a child with special and developmental needs. she needs to be home? i like your point about how it would be different ishe was a he. no one would have batted an eye because in the progressively thinking 21st century everyone knows the mom should be raising the 5 kids and taking the special needs child to all the doc appointments and therapies. it’s her job…of course my hubs right now is gritting his teeth over that assumption.
    my favorite suggestion today was comment from another blog where the person (presumably a young mother herself) stated she should not be tapped for this job because in her post-partum state she is incapable of making executive decisions.

  12. Jozet at Halushki Says:

    Gunfighter –

    The Republicans have proven that they can put some guy in a suit, push him down the aisle, and get him elected. Twice. Counting VP Dan Quayle, three times. They may not do a good job with governing, but I don’t underestimate their savvy on running a campaign.

    That’s not to underestimate Obama’s campaign, either, but again, this entire election season has been so much about emotion to the point that we’re still talking to and about and chastising and explaining things to angry Hillary supporters, etc. and the Repubs were watching carefully. Again, not that anyone was expecting Hillary supporters to see Palin as a stand-in. But they knew that there is still that amorphous unpinnable high emotion running just below the surface and they are tapping it.

    I won’t say anything more about this sort of meta-debate/campaign. I just needed to get my thoughts out there as folks are discussing it. Here in central PA, land of embittered deer hunters, I’m still not getting a good read. I see as many Ron Paul signs as anything.

  13. ohslowburn Says:

    I agree with Mom101 – I think it is partisan.

    Also, the whole Mommy Wars thing with Sarah Palin is just silly to me. Even – and especially – if she becomes another Dick Cheney, she’s going to have a staff and tons of help. It’s not like she’s going to be rushing from cabinet meetings to the store to buy groceries in a rush for dinner. Honestly. The whole working mom in the White House thing is such a non-starter to me.

    Yes yes, she blackberried three days after the kid with Downs was born. Know what? If that gave her a measure of control over her world at a time when there’s typically no control other than the next feed/diaper change, so be it. I remember checking email when I didn’t have to some three days after my kid was born because it was a break from the otherwise all consuming infant.

    Plus he was her fifth. Maybe she knew something about managing the hormones that I should find out….hmmmmm…….

    Really, I mostly care that this person who I totally disagree with might win and be able to influence policy.

  14. Jozet at Halushki Says:

    Thoughts on this?

    Do you read this as a spin on the teen program slashing or a clarification?

  15. Jeni Says:

    Sarah Palin is a pawn, added only to try to assuage some disgruntled Hilary fans, in my opinion. Ok, many could/would say I feel that way simply because I just don’t like McCain -probably true too. But the Mommy issues, childcare and careers and the like -does anyone in their right mind really think this is an issue from someone on her level -status, income, etc? How difficult will it be for her to enlist more than adequate child care for her younguns? Really now, be honest -she probably has a nanny, maid, cook -whatever -to manage that aspect of her life already. Her issues sure don’t begin to compare to those of the average mother who has to work to help support her family or who is the main support for everything within a family and many of those women have more than 2.5 children and a dog with a little house and white picket fence, if you get my drift. Totally unrealistic to try to use her as an example there. The issues with her daughter -sheesh, they can happen in ANY family, with or without sex ed classes, good or bad parenting, etc., etc. What cracks me up with the media and others and their evaluations of the candidates is that Obama (their opinions here) has no “executive” expertise and Palin has oh so much of that doesn’t she as former mayor of a town of what, 9,000 and now governor of a state with a population much smaller than many of our major cities in the country. It’s all comparing apples to oranges. I would think that being a U.S. Senator plus a state senator prior to that would qualify one as having some kind of “executive” type experience, wouldn’t it? Or are CEOs, Governors, etc., the only ones who qualify in that respect.
    For my vote -which she and McCain will never get -she is very unqualified to even have been considered for the VP position.

  16. Susan Getgood Says:

    I'm just dis-illusioned by the whole thing. I'm a lifelong Democrat, and don't see my vote going any other way in Nov. but both parties are putting on a pretty disappointing performance here IMO. I agree with the commenter above, the GOP are crazy like foxes & this is no different. What better way to stir up the shit — a young inexperienced VP candidate opens the door to criticizing Obama's lack of experience. Add in a dose of the mommy wars, as Joanne, says, and we get a nice distraction from all the things in the GOP platform that are anti-woman's rights.

    Makes me sick. I don't like Sarah Palin's politics, but we aren't discussing those much are we….

    You know my feelings on what our party has done this year. We aren't much better.

  17. coffeequeen Says:

    Amen. I was recently interviewed for an article on Palin, and I refused to say anything negative about her as a working mother. I had plenty to say about her politics, but the paper wasn’t interested in those opinions. Sure enough, I picked up the article, and it was full of the kinds of remarks I refused to make. Frustrating….

  18. ChefSara Says:

    I agree 100%. While we’ll never know for sure, I’m pretty convinced that the criticism leveled against Gov Palin would not be there if she were a he. I also agree that her family/work/balance choices are really not an issue. There are so many other legitimate reasons to question her selection, why resort to this?

    Her positions on abortion, creationism, sex ed, guns, energy/environment etc. are reasons for me not to like her. The weird ethical issues surrounding her time as governor are reasons not to trust her. The lack of vetting of her and the very reckless and transparently political nature of her selection as VP nominee are BIG reasons (as if I needed more) to not trust John McCain as Pres. None of those have anything to do with her as a mom (working or otherwise), her daughter, her husband, etc.

  19. Anonymous Says:

    I agree, her daughter’s pregnancy does not determine whether she could or could not be VP or President. I do pause when I hear that she went back to work 3 days after baby Trig was born, I just could not do that unless I had to work for food. Still, that does not mean she could not be a good VP or President. It is the issues that ultimately have value for me. I disagree with her yelling out how she said “no thanks to the bridge to nowhere”, only to find that she did support it but due to not enought money to pay for it she dumped the project but keep the Federal funding. That is simple dishonesty. Already, the campaign is trying to “stall” the Trooper-Gate investigation until after the election. Why are they so eager to delay that when the report is due to come out at end of October? Why not help speed it up so Palin could have her good name reinstated? It makes me wonder if Palin is hiding something. They say she is a REFORMER but she was mayor of a small town that had ZERO debt when she started her terms but then left the small town with $20 million in debt. She tried to fire a Librarian who would not pull books from the shelf because Palin did not like the “content”, that smells of censorship. I just have major concerns. Would a woman be great, sure, but I don’t want a woman who ends up being a “poor” representation of women in general. We’ve come to far. One day of vetting is just not enough for me. Hillary, Obama and McCain have undergone extreme vetting from the press and the campaigns for a year or more. I think Palin should be treated no different, and scrutiny of her past is not something that can be done in a one time interview. Especially being she could end up our President. A fun, lively personality is not enough, I wait to hear how she holds up under unscripted interviews. That will say much more.

  20. Maia Says:

    I had an interesting discussion with my own mom about this today. I feel pretty strongly that the criticism of her parenting is unfair and, as Mom101 said, partisan. My mom (who was, by turns, both a SAHM and a working mother), though, said she feels that Palin invites it by claiming to be “just a hockey mom.” Really, she hasn’t been a hockey mom for a long time — she’s been a full-time politician for years. (If she were a man, of course, she wouldn’t be getting this criticism of her parenting — on the other hand, if she were a man, she wouldn’t be be able to play the PTA card.) But she plays up her “hockey mom” cred to appeal to family values voters. My mom said the source of her frustration is that Palin seems to want to have it both ways.

    If she were a man, her parenting wouldn’t be called into question. On the other hand, if she were a Democrat, it would be open season on her pregnant daughter. I wish we were above all of it. Let’s talk about the fact that Phyllis Schlafly honored her last night. Now that’s worth talking about.

  21. Andrea Says:

    I agree that her parenting skills are a non-issue. And if she were a man they would not have even been mentioned. However, if she were a man, she would have never been chosen. No man with that short of a resume would have even been considered. He would have been laughed off the stage. And I do believe that Palin played the PTA/hockey mom card first!

  22. PunditMom Says:

    I think with all things related to a candidate who is a mother, someone will always find some way to spin it as a negative. Maybe some day that will change.

  23. Sandy Says:

    Agree with everything you’ve said. Personally, I would like to know why a woman who has young children has to account to the general public as to how those children are cared for. No one asks this of a man because the answer is always obvious – his wife, irrespective of whether she works or not, takes care of them.

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