Some folks are befuddled by who Republican vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin is. I know exactly who she is. She’s a “Pittsburgh girl.”
Maybe I better explain.
Palin embodies everything feminists have been asking for — she really does “have it all.” She’s a wife, a working mom and the most powerful woman in her state — yet she’s got feminine poise (as reflected in this bumper sticker: “Coldest State. Hottest Governor.”)
Palin’s husband is also what feminists have been asking for. He works part time to support her career and nurture the kids — yet he’s masculine and self-assured (Alaskans call him the “First Dude.”)
You’d think in a truly progressive society folks would set aside their politics for a moment to celebrate real equality in action (just as folks praised Hillary for being the first female presidential candidate and Barack for being the first black).
But that didn’t happen, of course.
The same folks who argued for years that there are few differences between males and females — we were just socialized to think there are, you see — are suddenly singing the opposite tune.
Somehow — with a straight face — they are now arguing that moms are expected to take on the lion’s share of the family burdens and that by becoming the VP candidate Palin is turning her back on hers.
What’s worse, to some, is that conservative folks aren’t responding the way they’re supposed to.
Conservatives are supposed to prefer their women barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen. But they’re 100 percent behind Palin — especially the old, white conservative fellows who are speculating that, eight years hence, a more experienced Palin just might have a shot at the highest office in the land.
The first female president a Republican?
Such a thought has to be maddening to those whose carefully constructed image of “Neanderthal” conservatives is being shattered by simple reality. Such folks can’t get a bead on who and what Palin is, so let me take a stab at it.
As I said, she’s a “Pittsburgh girl.”
I was born and raised in Pittsburgh, a down-to-earth blue-collar town. Like so many places in America, it is the land of big hearts and common sense. If your car breaks down, expect a couple dozen people to stop and help you.
It’s a place where neighborhoods are tightly knit and families even tighter. It’s a place filled with genuine people who are concerned for their relatives, friends and neighbors — and especially their country.
Folks in Pittsburgh are sitting around dinner tables and on their front porches talking about the future of this country. Their ideas may be different — arguments may get heated — but they’re trying to work this election out, trying to do what is right.
Palin resonates with such folks, who have sisters, mothers and wives just like her — authentic, honest, attentive women who will fight tooth and nail to do what is best for their kids, neighbors and communities.
Unlike some ambitious politicians who need the constant affection and reassurance of the public — politicians who say “don’t you know who I am?” when waiters in trendy restaurants fail to give them the best seat — you get the sense Palin couldn’t care less about such things.
It’s early yet and we’re just beginning to know fully who she is, but I offer a bit of advice to her opposition. It’s probably not a good idea to underestimate her (like or hate her politics, she hit it out of the park at the convention).
I wouldn’t attempt to portray her as a bimbo or an inexperienced lightweight or a religious-right wacko. Most of all, I’d avoid dragging her family into the fight.
I’ve been in the unfortunate position of opposing a Pittsburgh girl now and then. The outcome has never been pretty.
When prompted, a Pittsburgh girl will reach into your belly and rip out your guts before you have a chance to blink.
And she’ll do it with a smile on her face and not a hair out of place.