Friday, August 29, 2008

Kathleen asks: How dumb do they think we are?

I'm late posting today, and I have to confess, I've been dithering. Dog days of summer, State Fair bloat, Labor Day lull, and a major political party is about to descend on the Twin Cities. Dare I post my real thoughts for the day?

Do I dare ask this question?

Think. Think again. Okay, the answer is yes, I dare. The question is: How dumb do they think we are?

By we, I mean women. And here's why I ask.

Yes, I watched the final night of the convention last night. Okay, I tuned in every night. I'm a political junkie of late--what can I say? After the last of the confetti falls and the last streamer sails, I turn to the Daily Show (second go-round) and I'm sort of half in, half out, and along comes a commercial that is so ridiculous, I'm thinking it's a spoof. It's a woman selling a product called ExtenZe. "For that very special part of the male anatomy." You can be larger, she says. And I'm chuckling at the rest of the pitch. When Jon Stewart comes back on, I realize that it was no spoof. It was a real commercial.

I know what you're thinking, especially those who know me pretty well. (Seriously, Kathleen?) But, yes, I've seen a couple of "male enhancement" ads. The guy with the big smile and the cheery whistle who's "livin' large"--yeah, I thought that was a joke at first, too--but this one seemed so silly that I expected Rob Riggle to pop up somewhere (pun not intended but noted after the fact) with a big gun punch line. He didn't. They were serious.

So this morning I sit down to blog about what I did this summer. But frankly, I didn't do much. And then I hear the announcement coming from the TeeVee. A woman has been chosen. For all the disaffected Hillary supporters out there, this one's for you. Not the top prize, but the second slot. Just a heartbeat away.

Huh? Sarah who?

Okay, yeah, I've heard of her. Barely. Here's what offends me. Do the powers-that-be in the political back rooms actually think that the women who supported Hillary for president did so just because she was a woman? And do they think that those supporters will flock to the other ticket simply because it now boasts a woman, and that any woman will do?

How dumb do they think we are?

What, you might ask, does that have to do with the aforementioned commercial? I thought it was a joke. I was pretty dumb, wasn't I? I actually had to Google ExtenZe before composing this post. Not only is it really for sale, but it's listed on a bunch of scam sites. Apparently I'm not quite as dumb as some. It is a joke, but I guess somebody's buying it. And I doubt too many of those somebodies are female.

Maybe I'm way off the mark here, but I get the feeling that the powers who put the packages together intending to sell to women are due for a wake-up call. We're a whole lot more than the sum of our body parts. Don't holler "Fetch girl" and throw us a bone. They want a woman, give them a woman. First, do no harm. So how about...Sarah Who?

We finally got the vote 88 years ago. Hey, we were ready the day the Constitution was ratified. We have differing opinions on any issue you can name, but the presence, size, or lack of a penis on a candidate isn't going to be the deciding factor for most--dare I say any?--female voters these days. The pundits keep talking about "the Obama brand" and "the McCain brand." And how can the packagers make that brand appeal to "the Hillary supporter" and "impact the women's vote"?

Good grief, Charlie Brown. Get a clue. Look to the part of the anatomy that decides. That would be the brain.

So I ask you: Just how dumb do they think we are?

(With apologies to Sarah Who? She's not the one I'm talking about when I say they.)


Betina Krahn said...

Kathy, I had a very different reaction to it all. I was sorry to hear at 7:30 this morning that Tim Pawlenty was out of the VP pool-- I was kinda pulling for him. (Yeah. I'm not a Republican, but I have sentimental ties to anything Minnesotan.) I shuddered to think of some of the others, so I was stunned to find that McCain actually went outside the almighty beltway to pick somebody interesting.

Wow. I was really impressed with her first speech and was surprised that the old boy network (Washington in general)would serioiusly field such a candidate. It's sort of blown the entire election into a fascinating race! Either way it goes, we're in for some history-making changes.

And yes, it may have been a little cynical of them to think they might be able to pull in the Hilary supporters with just "any woman". . . but then, they have to anknowledge the phenomenal job she did of desensitizing us to the notion of a woman president or VP. Before she ran, a lot of people thought a woman didn't have a chance at those offices. Now it's clear that women are on the political scene to stay.

I thought it was amazing and sort of revolutionary of her to give a shout-out to Hilary the way she did during her speech. . . referring to the fact that she put "18,000,000 cracks in the glass ceiling of politics for women".

I'm psyched!

Michele Hauf said...

Wow. I gotta pay more attention to the tube! I had no idea. And now I'm just sort of snickering as I ponder this choice. Hee. Here I was worried the Obama had slipped up with his choice of Vice P and that McCain could win by default. But seriously? Yeah, how stupid do they think we are?

I missed the speech last night! I'm so bummed about that. A piece of history, actually. I wonder if it's on YouTube? I must go look!

Playground Monitor said...

Apparently they think we're very dumb. Even the DH is saying "WTF?" over the nod to Palin.

Someone once said "For a woman to be successful, she has to be twice as smart and work twice as hard as a man - fortunately, that's not very difficult."

I agree. We're not nearly as dumb as they think. And because I'm southern to boot, some people automatically assume my IQ is half what it really is. Uh hello. We're not all rednecks in trailer parks.

Oh don't get me started...


P.S. Is the purpose of ExtenZe so men will have a bigger brain to use? ;-)

Helen Brenna said...

I had the VERY same reaction, Kathy. And I'm gonna leave it at that.

Alicia Clarke said...

I had two different reactions. One was that they nommed a woman to balance out the whole black candidate thing. The second was what you said -- they thought they could woo the Hilary supporters by putting a woman on the ticket.


The McCain camp blasted Obama for not having foreign experience and then they add a woman who only knows about childbirth and fishing. Or maybe they think being governor of Alaska IS foreign experience. When the Olympics were in Atlanta, initial ticket sales were to US citizens only. A man from New Mexico called and was denied tickets because according to the woman who answered the sales phone, he wasn't from the US. Sheesh.

catslady said...

AMEN! And of course we all know he likes them younger but of course anyone would be younger. Voting just because they are female or black is just as bad (almost)as voting for some old white guy. Let's please hope we can finally pick someone for what they believe and stand for and what they bring to the office - a shocking notion I know.

Lori said...

Or maybe they think being governor of Alaska IS foreign experience
LMAO! Funny :)

As a daily viewer of the Daily Show, I am very familiar with Extenze. I like the commercials with 'Bob' and his graphs - (his pointer sags - poor 'Bob').

Anywhoo... I posted about this as well on my blog. I've been reading about it all day on the Blogosphere. Interesting choice.

I just wonder how long it will be till they make her have a makeover. The hair simply won't do, LOL!

Kathleen Eagle said...

Betina, I think they decided against Pawlenty because he was about as exciting as a plate of lefse. Let's face it, Tim Pawlenty is no Jesse Ventura.

Here's how far off the radar we are: Wolf Blitzer just announced that he was rep[orting "live from the Xcel center in St. Paul, Missouri."

Kathleen Eagle said...

Lori, that's exactly what I said when they showed several pictures of her after the announcement. Maybe her bad hair days are over. But they haven't done anything with Cindy McCain's hair.

Ladies, we have some excellent stylists here in the Twin Cities!

Sean and Anna said...

I'm just really glad that I wasn't the only person with this reaction. My very first thought was "Do they expect us to buy that?". McCain is such a *bleep* and I am appalled that he thinks we don't realize what his thought process was, or maybe it's lack of thought process. I don't fault Palin and my comments do not reflect her ability because I don't know much about her... yet. I'm sure that in the next few days I will know all about her favorite foods, the exact number of times she snuck out as a kid, and how she tips when out to eat. My comments stem from the belief that McCain is not the person for this job and his actions demonstrate that. The fact that he thinks voters choose based on race or gender is sad. I really don't like that they think we're stupid. It's also sad that they believe elections are more about "brands" and less about issues.

Anonymous said...

As someone who literally cried when Hillary was treated like a dirty carpet first by Howard Dean, then by the media, and then by the Democratic party, I was NOT thrilled by McCain's choice. I was behind Hillary NOT because she has a "hoo-haa" and breasts. I was for her because she is SMART and would have made an wonderful president. I agreed with her on so many issue.

This Palin woman and I have only our sexual orientation and female physical characteristics. Philosophically, we are polar opposites. I had told myself I would wait until I knew who McCain's running mate was before I made my decision on who to vote for. Sigh. Hello rock and hard place.

Fiona said...

I explained the veep choice to my teenaged son and he said, "They don't REALLY think you'll vote for her & McCain just because she's woman, do they?"

Come on, folks (GOP powers that be) I won't vote for or against someone based on the color of their skin or their compliment of body parts. Believe it or not, I read about the positions of candidates and choose based on the, what do you call them? oh, yeah, issues!

Kathleen Eagle said...

If you missed Samantha Bee on The Daily Show tonight, tune in on the web. She sums it up as only Sam Bee can.

Wow. Guess they a common nerve with this ploy, and it ain't the one in our lovely lady parts.

Anonymous said...

McCain isn't the maverick he purports to be either. I wonder who helped him make his choice? Bush? The choice is an insult to anyone with any intelligence!

These last eight years have been such an eye opener for me. I voted for Hillary in the primaries here in Mississippi.

The media's treatment of Hillary during the primaries was very demeaning. They wouldn't have treated a man like that and didn't.


Kathleen Eagle said...

Linda, I agree that this is a question of judgment. Never mind issues. Making a choice like this is a calculated risk, and the calculation adds up to putting the country at risk. When you say that you are looking for someone, first and foremost, who is ready to step into the presidency and you choose someone like this, yikes!

In my lifetime there have been 2 presidents who stepped into the office as vice president. (Truman was already president when I was born, but that counts.) So it can happen any time. In recent memory we've had at least 3 vice presidents who were scary to me for different reasons--that would be Agnew, Quail, and Cheney. I can't imagine a responsible, serious candidate making a choice like this. (Not limited to the GOP--I can't imagine John Edwards--whom I liked as a prospective president--doing what he did in the position he was in (family betrayal is another issue)but maybe he wasn't serious about his candidacy?)

And to think they expect to get enough women to go along simply because there's a woman on the ticket. Insulting. In June she said she didn't know what a VP does! Colbert and Stewart should have a field day with that interview.

Choosing a candidate for VP this way no more "breaks the glass ceiling" than choosing a poor student is a breakthrough for underachievers.

Kylie said...

Kathleen, were you lurking in my living room last night, LOL? Because you have articulated my EXACT remarks to my husband (in perhaps a louder than normal contrast to my usual dulcet tones)!

That the Republicans put a woman on their ticket is noteworthy. The cynical side of me says she's clearly a token, but still it's ground breaking. Other than that, the whole ploy is so offensive to women that I was practically foaming at the mouth at the political spin.

Seriously? They think we're so stupid that we vote by gender rather than philosophy and beliefs? That all we care about is getting a vajajay in the White House? Do they not read the polls, which say women are the last to make up their minds and care most about economy and social issues?

Such thinking actually cancels out the historical frame of this selection. Because it reeks of paternalistic cynicism, a 'let's give the little women something to get excited about before we shoo them back into the kitchen' attitude.

Whatever your political affiliation, you'll make up your mind about who you'll support based on the issues. This selection underscores Obama's remark that McCain just doesn't get it.

He sure as heck doesn't 'get' us.

Anonymous said...

Let's face it-men don't think women can lead when in fact, we lead them in so many ways that they don't even realize it. At least, my husband doesn't.
I think it will come down to the issues-women really are for a good economy, less taxes, cheaper gas, and a strong foreign policy just to name a few. That is what the President and his cabinet will decide for we Americans. It isn't just his job-it relys on many, many others.
And who is to say a woman can't lead us-think of some of the world's great leaders who were women-Golda Meir, Margaret Thatcher, Mother Teresa, and Queen Elizabeth. And I think Condi Rice has represtented not only the United States but women so well So I say-GO Sarah, GO GIRL


Kathleen Eagle said...

What you said, Kylie. Absolutely. Paternalistic cynicism.

McCain's answer to the possibility that he might be offered the VP spot years ago is so telling. He doesn't get history either. And the idea that she understands the roles of wife, mother, home economist, PTA member and "hockey mom" doesn't help. I understand those roles, too. I'm no good with firearms or fishing rods, but I have more education than Sarah Who? And Hillary and I are almost exactly the same age. But if anyone asked me to run for VP, I'd have sense enough to turn them down.

Okay, I'm not as pretty as Sarah ? and I don't have as many kids. Well, I do if you count live-in grandkids.

Oh, and I nursed babies while I was working, but nurse a 4-mo-old while you're running for VP? Wow. Still, being supermom isn't top on my list of qualifications for prez any more than being superdad is.

I think, therefore I am woman.

Kathleen Eagle said...

Joy, I absolutely agree with you that a woman can lead us. Elizabeth I was one of the best. Granted, she wasn't elected, but she didn't come out of nowhere.

I don't even say that Sarah couldn't be a good leader. My problem is with McCain and whoever advised him to put her on the ticket based on one face-to-face and a couple of conservative proclivities that, imo, don't mean a hill of beans as far as national interests and security. There were more qualified Republicans who happen to be women whom he could have chosen if he wanted to break that glass ceiling. I just don't think that's what it was about.

Elaine Lindsey said...

I was listening to liberal talk radio yesterday (yes, it does exist on XM satellite radio) and they were having a field day with callers. One woman called in to say as an evangelical Christian she was thrilled over Palin's nomination and she couldn't wait for the Palin-Biden debate. The radio commentator said he couldn't wait either, but for different reasons. Biden, with decades of political experience and Senate committee leadership under his belt, is going to eat Palin alive. My husband told me he wants to watch for the sheer entertainment value -- kind of like the old Jim and Tammy Bakker shows.

Another caller said the McCain camp should just go ahead and tell the printers to have the campaign signs read "McCain & Vagina" and be done with it, cause that's what it basically amounts to.

I simply cannot envision a Democratic woman who is so upset that Hilary wasn't nominated that she'll vote for a pro-life, card-carrying-NRA member. I just can't see it.

Anonymous said...

Kathleen is assuming McCain picked his VP choice, Palin, merely because she is a woman and Hillary voters, will automatically fall for her or as Eagle states . . . "For all the disaffected Hillary supporters out there, this one's for you". . . .

. . .But perhaps she is more qualified than Kathleen Eagle thinks. Maybe Palin is worth hearing out first.

The fact that she is one heartbeat away from the Presidency also has to be considered in light of Obama would be NO heartbeats AWAY from the presidency. Honestly as Hillary pointed out, Obama too is very inexperienced. Obama has ZERO executive office experience and at least Palin has both legislative AND executive office experience - and in a state that borders Russia. I’m not saying Obama needs to have this level of experience (which he lacks) to be President incidentally. I’m just saying hear her out.

When Hillary pointed to Obama’s lack of experience he said “change” is what is needed in Washington. Then he goes out and picks a guy who is a verbose professional politician who has been in the Senate since the early 70s. All this is fine by the way. You seem to ignore many of these things.

Perhaps it would be the reasonable thing to do to listen to her before making prejudgments about her.

I don’t need you telling me who I need to vote for or WHY I should or shouldn’t vote for this or that candidate. I don’t need you telling me what issues I need to consider or not consider. That is MY privilege as a voter.

Your opinions sound small and bigoted and I am not impressed.

Elaine Lindsey said...

Oh... I see you had a drive-by by a radical right fun-damn-mentalist. They're such fun.

Catherine Avril Morris said...

Kathleen, thank you for this great and timely post. I completely agree, and have been saying the same thing (great minds...!). It's just offensive that anyone, media, politician or otherwise, would think Clinton had such support simply because of her two X chromosomes. Ha! I wish people supported women in positions of power simply because they're female! Too often, the exact opposite is true.

Kathleen Eagle said...

Ah, yes, Elaine, they're the risk we take when we blog about a topic that has political over-under tones.

I'm not telling anyone how to cast her vote. We often talk about women's concerns here, and during a time when the airwaves are saturated with politics, there's bound to be spillover. We try to keep it mostly light here in the convertible, but we do get serious sometimes, and the responses are always interesting and though-provoking. No exception here.

Admittedly when I posted I was reacting to an announcement from my own gut level. (Notice I don't say "shooting from the hip." Lord knows I'd be shooting wide.) What makes blogging so much fun is comparing guts in a safe environment. You run your flag up the pole and see if anyone salutes. Those who don't get to say why, and you get to think about it.

So my ladybrain said, "Huh?" and my gut roiled, and my fingers did the walking to tell you why. Lots of agreement, some disagreement, all very interesting.

And since it's a holiday weekend, I'm on top for another day. More comments welcome. I'll keep checking in.

Thanks, guys! Great minds are ever open.

Elaine Lindsey said...

And now we find out her 17 year old daughter is pregnant out of wedlock. How very conservative. I guess it happens in all families, but it just seems so... oh what's the word? hypocritical? ... when it happens to a right winger.

Kathleen Eagle said...

Elaine, what bothers me is the focus on drilling in the ANWR. I think that's another reason for the pick, and for years I've been writing e-mail after letter after telegram opposing that. Surely we can still afford to protect what little we have left of natural places. But Palin has already made her agenda clear on that score.

Elaine Lindsey said...

You'd think that a country as full of smart people as the US of A could figure out how to extract oil without destroying the land. Alaska's oil and natural gas reserves are the only reason we made it a state to begin with. Too bad we can't generate energy from cold and mosquitoes, because Alaska has plenty of that.

catslady said...

Oh, I just have to say something about the person who ended with "Your opinions sound small and bigoted and I am not impressed." Someone called anonymous doesn't really get an opinion and I'm not impressed!

Cindy Gerard said...

I've been off the grid for a bit so I'm just coming back to all this news, consequently, I'm chiming in late. Was I shocked to hear McCain's choice for a running mate? Absolutely. Am I dubious? Somewhat. But I'd like to hear more about Sarah Palin and I'd like to think we would all have open minds before discounting her as merely - oh gee, what was the word someone used? a vagina? But wait (she says with a smile for her liberal friends) the majority opinion of this post is that only the GOP is active in the political ploy game. Okay, buddy girls - who's being naive here??
Anyhoo... I luvs a lively political debate and welcome all opinions - even yours Kim :o) - BUT, as a woman who did not have the opportunity (timing is sometimes everything) to earn a college degree (let alone any advanced degrees), I feel a bit like the puppy who got in the way of the foot when Palin's educational level comes into question. Some of the most intelligent and savvy women I know are not highly educated and last I knew patriotism did not necessarily equate to a string of letters behind one's name - and let's face it - anyone who would subject themselves to the political spotlight has to be a patriot - or a masochist - so score one point for all involved on that count.
Left? Right? Whatever. State your piece. Someone said earlier ... "Let's please hope we can finally pick someone for what they believe and stand for and what they bring to the office."
Can't argue with that. Don't want to, but can we really say, a mere few days after the announcement that Palin is in the mix, that she can't be that someone any more than we could have said it about Hillary ? And don't dredge up the 'experience' argument again or I'll have to point out a bit about B.O.'s lack there of :o)
Bottom line - I'm going to wait and see how this all plays out because, yes, as Kathleen states, we need to look toward the part of the anatomy that decides - the brain - not the vagina which - and celebrate the fact that a vibrant, intelligent American who happens to be a woman has been thrown into the mix.

Kathleen Eagle said...

Cindy, I'm so glad you chimed in. I'm interested not only in what the candidate says but in what leads people I respect to choose and support a candidate. More than anything, we writers are students of human nature.

I disagree with the notion that running for office is necessarily indicative of patriotism any more than earning a degree might be. I don't take candidates at face (or any other anatomical aspect) value, and I've been doing due diligence ever since the Palin name came up. You have to check out all the claims these people make. It's like creating a character. There are so many layers to their stories.

You know, I do think this topic holds a lot of interest for writers, especially now that we're being fed the notion that the "narrative" is all-important to the voter these days.

I know what you mean about feeling like a puppy getting in the way of the foot. When they start talking about "Harvard elitists" I kinda feel that, too. I come from a hard-working middle class family, and I was only able to attend one of "those" colleges on scholarship. It was a wonderful experience academically, which was what I was looking for.

And I really felt the bite of the pit bull when community organizers were denigrated. When you get involved with a community that is collectively trying to figure out how to turn itself around, you learn a lot about what it takes to affect change. It's hard work, and a mind that sees everything in black and white probably isn't up to the task.

But I'm looking at the actions behind the words and the claims these candidates make. That's the way I build character(s).