Thursday, September 04, 2008

The Truth about Pit Bulls and Lipstick

by Cody Lyon

Pit bulls with lipstick aren't an especially pretty sight. In more harsh terms, they smell of oxymorons, sort of wolves in sheep's clothing.

At this week's Republican Convention in St Paul Minnesota, Senator John McCain's new running mate Sarah Palin said “the difference between a hockey mom and a pit bull” was “lipstick.”

Now it's not that pit bulls themselves aren't lovely canines, when they are given love, and trained properly by caring owners. These pooches can be truly some of the most affectionate animals around

But with her lipstick on a terrier analogy, Republican Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin set the house on fire at the GOP Convention after pontificating her resume, revealing some of her private and public persona to a curious nation by charming the audience, even introducing her family in the more personal eagerly anticipated getting to know you portion of the speech heard round the country.

But then the lipstick came off and the ideological pit bull stepped up to bat as Palin tossed out some classic right wing red meat into the Republican "pound" by lashing out at the "elite" media, Washington insiders, her opponents record's and with an an almost deceitful fashion, utilizing her sisterhood to reach out to women voters by vaguely implying she had co-opted Senator Hillary Clinton's role as the new "woman candidate."

It was and is politics at its most clever. It is also politics at its most misleading at least as far as women's and other social issues are concerned.

Still, according to a number of Republican spokespeople and pundits, much of the vetting, curiosity, criticism and shock over Senator John McCain's politically crafty pick of Palin is simply media hype that has its roots in sexism.

But, that's when the Republicans walk right into the land of the ridiculous by participating in a political system gone awry that has seen an epidemic of kitchen table issues going on the back burner while image and pre-packaged selfish identity political sell tactics command the front and center of political discourse.

As for sexist media coverage, there is no valid comparison between the treatment dished out on Hillary Clinton and the miniscule reportage on Governor Sarah Palin. The media and the people of America practically just met the Alaska Governor. Clinton, on the other hand, has seen her record, rhetoric, other assorted baggage and even her pantsuits picked clean by the press, much of which, covertly expressed its disdain of anything Clinton with shrill tactics that called into question character and motive, thus, at least in part, contributing to one of the boldest political derailments in American history.

In Governor Palin's case, it might appear sexist when some question whether this Mother of five will have time for her children as vice President. True as well, some have made fun of her pistol packin, assault rife shootin NRA endorsement, echoes of the Democratic Primary Annie Oakley snip by Obama a few months ago when Hillary talked about going hunting, Yes, there will be unfair attention paid to Palin's children's private lives, an area that should be off limits since, in fact, it's really nobody's business but her and her family's and how the Palin's handle their affairs doesn't really affect most American's elderly parents social security checks or whether or not their child goes to a good school.

Of course, there will be those, like the many individuals who will not vote for Obama because of his race, or in fact those who didn't vote for Hillary because of her gender, who might avoid casting a ballot for a ticket that could potentially lead to a female President, a nugget of sad commentary on a still maturing nation. But, really, that's all irrelevant in the grand scope of potential tangible change considering the fact that one positive that will result from the outcome of this race will be, no matter what the narrow minded wish, a historic first will be seen in the White House in January.

Still, as we've seen throughout this election process, the power of self identity politics is alive and well and it is in part a reaction to our collective struggles with racial prejudices and a continuing culture of sexism. More unfortunate, is the power it possesses over an electorate that at times appears to lose site of what is truly at hand in this race to Pennsylvania Avenue.


Could it actually be a sign of pervasive sexism, that a woman candidate believes that in order to win her party's approval she must prove she's tough enough to run a nation by invoking analogous machismo by holding up a dog with a less than gentle reputation as an example of her strength? Is Palin and her party's attempt to elevate her into a tomboyish tough love Mom with conservative virtues a party that deep down, at least appears to be complacent with a woman knowing her place in the grand political game of the true powers that be in the western world? While it might be true, that the Republican party claims to be a party that endorses a stronger philosophy of individual responsibility, does the scent of hypocrisy not waif through the minds of millions of women who recognize it is also a party that would deny them the right to choose?

Perhaps on a more basic level it might be worth considering the pit bull and lipstick analogy. Like any dog, a pit bull depends on its owner and trainer for guidance. As most people know, there have been countless news reports over recent years detailing pit bull owners who have bred and trained the dogs for cruel and vicious fighting matches. Usually, the dogs in question were seen as mere objects used by cruel, self serving owners who engaged in inhumane treatment all for victory in the dog fight ring, regardless of the cost to the animal itself.

On the day after the speech, New York City tabloid headlines were screaming pit bull with lipstick. But, there is a more important story about Governor Palin's politically clever line and her party. Palin, like any other up and coming political figure has been trained, mentored and has let it be known that she subscribes to an Party ideology that has for the most part been responsible for one of saddest, most selfish economic, disastrous foreign policy reigns of our century. The results have led to one of the most destructive collective psychological downturns that this country has ever seen. Albeit hard to accurately measure, American's are not happy with the direction the nation is now heading. Gloom is in the air as an occasional news report or perhaps more revealing, a casual conversation at the grocery store details heartache and struggle, perhaps Americans witness a foreclosure sign on a neighbor's home, maybe the reality comes in the form of a knock on the door from a military officer with bad news regarding a loved one who bravely followed orders from a commander in chief who's administration now appears to have engaged in the most sinful form of deceit.

No matter how much lipstick one applies on the conditions and philosophy, facts bubble forth. And, once weaved together, those facts are very telling. And, it is imperative that voters do their homework and look beyond the makeup of both parties and understand what is at stake here.

Regardless of Sarah Palin's gender, her charisma or any questions on negatives and positives regarding her ability to lead, there are greater, more stark choices in this election. In the end, despite the historic change our nation will witness with the election of either of these tickets, sexism, racism and all the prejudicial and reactionary baggage that comes with it will continue to poison our society. But, putting "lipstick" on Party ideology that endorses policy that has led us to what could be called the miserable place so much of our nation finds itself in today, only threatens the realistic changes that government can indeed make in all American's lives.

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