She’s a Pittsburgh Girl

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.

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  • Claire

    This is the best column of Tom Purcell’s that I’ve read.

  • GaryT

    It’s interesting that self-proclaimed feminists oppose a female as VP.
    I would think that if they were truly feminists then they would be excited, as Tom says, that we have a woman on the ticket. Yet they are all more excited about 2 guys on the democratic party than 1 woman VP on the Republican ticket.

    These feminists don’t like Palin because she disagrees with the liberal point of view on just about everything. Which gets me wondering: if “feminists” believe that liberal ideology is what defines them (as opposed to say, promoting women), then what is the difference between feminism and liberalism? They seem to me to be one and the same. Perhaps we don’t need the term “feminist” anymore, since it is redundant with “liberal”.

  • Patrick

    Subpoenas to be issued for theTroopergate probe: The Alaska Legislature is hastening its ethics investigation into Gov. Sarah Palin’s firing of her public safety commissioner, making it far more likely it will be completed before November’s election. – ” I think it’s important that the results of this investigation be known to the American people before voting,” Palin has launched a delaying tactic to put back any decision-making in the ethics probe.
    There is a growing credibility gap between what Sarah Palin says and what the facts are, between what she says she did and what the record shows she did, – highlighting her record on the so-called “bridge to nowhere.” Palin claims to have blocked an expensive federally funded project to build a bridge linking Ketchikan, a town of around 7,600 people, to an airport on the nearby island of Gravina. “I told Congress thanks but no thanks for that bridge to nowhere up in Alaska,” she has told cheering supporters at the Republican National Convention, at a rally in Ohio this week, and again in Virginia on Wednesday.
    A myth: “Sarah Palin never told Congress, ‘thanks, but no thanks’. In fact, she never told Congress anything — the appropriations process for the bridge happened before she became governor,” he said. And although most of the earmarks for the project — which involved more than one bridge and a road — were removed, On the same day that dozens of news organizations have exposed Governor Palin’s phony “bridge to nowhere” claim as a ‘naked lie, “I told Congress thanks but no thanks for that bridge to nowhere up in Alaska. If our state wanted a bridge we were going to build it ourselves,” Palin told the cheering crowds. She subsequently retained the Federal Funds she received. Alaska received “every cent of its application.”
    What about her association with the group that wants to make Alaska an Independent Country of which her husband was a member (unpatriotic?) In 2005, Palin wished them a “successful and Inspiring Convention”
    McCain and his running mate have also come under fire for saying that Palin sold the Governor’s private jet on eBay and made a profit. She did try to sell it on eBay but failed. The Legislature then ended up getting rid of it through other channels and at a loss; with a pending claim for $50,000.00
    While Palin has cut by more than half the amount of special funding Alaska requested from the federal government, Alaska nonetheless still asks for more money per capita than any other state in the nation, according to an analysis in the Anchorage Daily News. The paper reported that Palin has requested nearly 750 million dollars in earmarks in the two years she has been Governor, which equates to about 1,100 dollars per person.
    She also hired a lobbyist and traveled to Washington annually while acting as Mayor of tiny Wasilla and brought 27 million dollars in earmarks to the town of 6,300 (?), the paper reported.
    Obama’s requests total about 932 million in his three years as an Illinois Senator, or around 76 dollars per Illinois resident. An analysis by the Anchorage Daily News found that Palin has requested nearly 750 million dollars in earmarks in the two years she has been governor, which equates to about 1,100 dollars per Alaskan.
    In the latest of allegations about the first-term Alaska Governor, the Washington Post reported that Palin had billed state taxpayers for 312 nights spent in her own home during her first 19 months in office!

  • Cooky642

    Okay, Patrick: enough! Your “cut and paste” approach is already grating on my nerves. In the Disney movie, BAMBI, Thumper the rabbit’s mother instructs him sternly, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all”. My advice to you is, if you can’t say something ORIGINAL, don’t say anything at all!

    To GaryT: no, you don’t hear (or need) the word “feminist” any more, because a better one has replaced it: “femininazi”. Perhaps we could coin a new word? How about “liberalnazi”?

    To Mr. Purcell: I have to agree with Claire: best ever! This is the best review I’ve seen yet of how Mrs. Palin’s “hit it out of the park” Convention speech made me feel.

  • guitarmom

    Patrick — I’m sorry to repeat myself, but since you’ve posted the same message in three places, I’ll post my response to you again here.

    It seems that you’re criticizing Governor/Mayor Palin for doing her job. As governor, and as mayor, it was her job to lobby for appropriate federal funding for her constituents.

    As for the amount of money she successfully brought to Alaska from the federal government, we have to recognize that Alaska has unique challenges. A Medicaid recipient in Illinois might need a short ambulance ride to the hospital; an Alaska resident with the same injury will often require a plane ride.

    Perhaps instead of looking at dollars per capita from Washington, we should look at dollars per square mile. By that measure, Alaska would look downright miserly.

    Further, let’s not rely on innuendo. Does the per diem that Sarah Palin “billed state taxpayers for” require that she stay at the Governor’s residence, or might it reimburse the Governor for travelling to and from her family home? Unless we know the details, it’s not a valid criticism.

    Let’s also look at what Sarah Palin did and didn’t say at the Republican National Convention:
    -She said she stopped the Bridge to Nowhere, she didn’t say she returned the money. The question is, did she put the money to better use?
    -She said she “put” the jet on eBay, she didn’t say that’s where it sold. Her line was funny, not untruthful. The question is, does that $50,000 loss you mention take into account depreciation and operating costs?

    Bottom line, the criticisms I’ve heard of Governor Palin fall into the category of “It depends on how you look at it.” So far, nothing illegal, immoral or corrupt has been proven about her.

  • CatholicsFirst

    Cooky, you said “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.”

    Then you start throwing around nazi???

    I understand that liberals may not agree with us on every issue. But to compare other Americans to nazis is really a sin!

  • mkochan

    Why don’t we see how some Americans compare to Nazis — then we will know if it is a sin or not.

    Nazis wanted to exterminate “useless eaters” and so they set about “euthanizing” the disabled. Some Americnas think that disabled children are rightly killed in the womb.

    Nazis, in order not to “waste” the disabled and those they were killing for ethnic reasons, made them the subject of medical experimentation. Some Americans think we should not “waste” the “extra” embryos created during IVF and so we should experiment on them. (McCain is on the wrong side of this, although he is not a liberal.)

    So have I sinned because I just compared some of my fellow Americans to Nazis? No and it would be silly to say so.