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The Women of '08
Palin, Clinton

Sarah Palin, Hillary Clinton

Sarah Palin’s debut on the national stage has grabbed America’s attention — and, many would say, stolen the show.

In the process, she’s also sparked new debates over gender and sexism. Here is a strong, conservative woman, a working mother, vowing to take on Washington.

But Ms. Palin wasn’t the first this season to take on the “good ol’ boys.” Before Sarah, there was Hillary, storming the citadel in colorful pantsuits. And let’s not forget Michelle Obama, and Cindy McCain, each navigating symbolic minefields of gender, family, and politics.

This hour, On Point: We hear women’s views on the women of ’08.

You can join the conversation. Are Sarah, Hillary, and Michelle the role models you’re looking for? What do they tell us about where the women’s movement stands today? Tell us what you think.

Guests:

Joining us from Seattle, Washington, is Sandra Tsing Loh. She’s a writer, performer, and NPR commentator, and her new book is “Mother on Fire: A True Motherf%#$@ Story About Parenting!” She writes regularly for The Atlantic Monthly, where her most recent essay, “I Choose My Choice!,” looked at sisterhood, empowerment, and working moms.

And joining us from Albany, New York, is Debra Dickerson. She’s a contributing writer for Mother Jones and author of “The End of Blackness: Returning the Souls of Black Folk to their Rightful Owners” and the memoir “An American Story.”

And with us from New York is Kay Hymowitz, senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, contributing editor for City Journal, and author of “Marriage and Caste in America: Separate and Unequal Families in a Post-Marital Age” and “Liberation’s Children: Parents and Kids in a Postmodern Age.”

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  • Peter Nelson

    The traditional, misogynist view of women was that they were trivial and superficial – consigned to beauty contests, fluttering eyelashes and charming conversation, and given to emotional excess while the men took care of the serious, substantial and weighty matters of the world.

    I thought we were past that.

    But there is no denying in this post-newspaper age of TV “journalism”, “infotainment”, and conventions-as-staged-spectacle, that political culture has become dumbed-down. Politics has, in fact, become the same exercise in superficiality and emotional excess once regarded as the domain of women.

    So only the optimist would interpret the growing presence of women on the national political stage as a sign of advance. A more jaded view is that politics is no longer regarded as substantial and weighty enough to be men-only. Instead it’s just another beauty pageant with a minimal talent portion thrown in.

  • Patrick

    To preface my question, i believe that it is in the interest of the Republican Party to make this presidential election about something other than the accountability of their party for the policies of the Bush administration and their party’s proposed policy responses to current issues facing the country.

    I would like to know to what extent your guests are concerned that a focus on gender in this election cycle has been used to obfuscate gender neutral questions of experience/preparedness and of policy position. Further, what can candidates do to protect themselves from accusations of misogynism/”playing the gender card” or “beating up on the female candidate” while attacking the shortcomings of their policy credentials and positions?

  • DebinMadison

    I agree Peter.
    And I won’t be surprised, unfortunately, to see Cindy McCain and Sarah Palin staging a wet t-shirt contest for party unity. Trophy girls for the GOP chiming in as the water hits them from chin down, “This one is for the Gipper”.

  • Jennifer Bleiker Murphy

    As a Smith College graduate, and an ardent feminist, I am horrified that so many people (especially women) are impressed by Sarah Palin because (italics) she is female. If anyone looks beyond her gender, there is nothing terribly impressive about her.

    There is no question that Governor Palin is polished and extremely good at public speaking and speech delivery, however, haven’t we progressed enough to look beyond skin-deep at people — including women? How the press and the public failed to do anything more than a cursory look at her experience and actions (i.e. lack of professional ethics) is atrocious and shameful?

  • Lucy Felllowes

    In discussing marriage equality and feminism, please point out that in the Palin marriage, the husband is free to take a leave from his job to help in the home.

    If two parents must work full time, what help does Sarah Palin offer in child-care benefits and choices?

    PLEASE address this on air this hour if possible.

    Many thanks; great program.

  • http://jgeigerphoto.com Jonathan

    Sounds like I’m listening to “The View” – how awful!

  • Beth-Anne M.

    Peter, I partly agree with your analysis. However, it’s become clear that post Nixon the Republican party has moved away from intelligence to celebrity. Democrats on the other hand have continued to pick their candidates based on IQ and scholastic achievement. Compare the Democratic candidates vs. Republicans during this past primary.

    Obama and Clinton: both worked hard to get into intellectually difficult colleges and law programs. Both graduated at the top of their classes.

    McCain and Palin: are being glorified as the best of the Republican party. McCain graduated 5th from the bottom out of a class of 899. Although Palin was a great basketball player in high school, she earned a college scholarship from a beauty pageant. She went through 5 party schools before finally getting a degree in Journalism from U. of Idaho.

    The country unfortunately has bought the Republican PR machine which says that we should elect presidents that we can have a beer with or who are “just like us”. It used to be that only the smartest, most elite (as in an elitely-trained army), person in our country is trusted to lead us. People who are not “just like us” or our best-friend.

    *************************************
    Re: comments made by your guests, no one cared about Gov. Palin’s family issues. Like all Republicans, SHE brought her family as being part of her POLITICAL PLATFORM. She brought her poor 4-month old for show-and-tell regarding her position on abortion. She presented her CV as a “hockey mom” and a “PTA mom”, a person against teaching sex-education in schools. This is what SHE presented to all of us as part of her qualification for being V.P.

    So when she is then questioned about these “political issues” she cries sexism? Furthermore, no one is allowed to question her judgment on the above issues.

  • Peter Nelson

    As a Smith College graduate, and an ardent feminist, I am horrified that so many people (especially women) are impressed by Sarah Palin because (italics) she is female.

    But as a Smith College graduate and feminist you have no basis for such horror. Surely you cannot be unaware that those two attributes place you well beyond the pale of American political culture.

    As a self-identified member of the coastal intellectual “elite”, myself, I remain nonplussed by my peers’ naiveté on these matters. I’m perplexed by how it is that people who have had every possible exposure to the best educations and a range of cosmopolitan views can remain so unaware of how very different they are from the rest of American culture. I’m different but at least I know it.

    Modern American political culture is essentially about iconography and referents. And there is no denying that Sarah Palin is about as iconic as it gets for a vast sweep of conservative Americans. If you had replaced “horrified” with “resigned” your posting would make more sense to me.

  • Joanna Drzewieniecki

    All in all, I think it is very good for women that it is becoming more and more normal for women to be political candidates and office holders on the highest level. Since the barriers have been broken down, it is inevitable that there are all kinds of women in politics. Nothing odd about that. When women fought to be able to participate on an equal footing, they made a serious mistake if they thought that only progressive women would participate. Doesn’t work that way.
    Of course, since our society is in an unfinished process of change both sexism and racism continue to be factors in elections and society as a whole.
    As for Palin, what is most scary is that it is acceptable to have a vice presidential candidate with so little national and international experience. Finally, when it comes to being an assertive spouse of a political candidate, that is a difficult role for anyone (just look at Bill Clinton!!).

  • Abigail Lytton-Jean

    On your show you mention ambition and that Palin has set herself up as a ‘community servant’ and contrasted a somewhat negative image of Clinton as being ambitious and ‘in it for herself’.

    What is so wrong with that?? This is a huge double standard!! The world of business/politics/leadership etc has always rewarded the men that are the most ambitious. However, women that are ambitious leaders are seen as power hungry and should be avoided.

    Equality of the sexes will never make progress until this fundamental aspect of success is accessible to women.

  • Sojourner

    Of all the substantive discussions which need to continue around the Palin candidacy, On Point has chosen to focus on an issue of minor consequence relative to the concerns of most Americans. This program would be a yawner for a second hour slot; it has no place in a Monday morning first hour position where listeners are hungry for a discussion of importance and relevance after a weekend of post convention campaigning.

  • Brinna Sands

    The issue is not how Sarah Palin is going to manage with all her children, but does she have the qualities and world view and abilities we want in a VP? It is sexist to ask the question in the first place.

  • Holly Allen

    Is no one else appalled about the fact that Cindy McCain is a liar about being “her father’s only child”?! She has a half sister and I think it’s disgusting that Cindy acts as though this woman doesn’t exist.
    Holly

  • Quintin Smith

    I take a more broad philosophical view of Palin. Her nomination for Vice President problematizes feminist viewpoints in a way that has been underrepresented in mass media. Palin represents the notion that there is a ‘conservative feminist’ option for a person to identify with. The notion that women are capable and equal is not solely the realm of liberal or progressive thought in todays society. Notions of the right to be a “stay at home mom” or to hold conservative views on abortion without sacrificing womens reproductive freedoms in form or sex education, birth control availability etc have always been an undercurrent in feminist thought, yet because equality for women has always been considered a liberal ideology, has been glazed over. Just as there were divisions within the Black civil rights movement, there are divisions within the women’s movement and the complexities of those divisions needs to be part of the public discussion. Feminism is not monolithic, a key framework in the argument of the women’s movement. To discredit Palin’s vice presidency on biased political leanings does a disservice to the complex and evolving movement and shows a lack of understanding of a fundamental tenet of feminism. Pessimistic and realist viewpoints aside, Palin represents an evolving notion of 21st century feminism. I may not agree with her stance but I applaud her achievement.

  • Erika Munson

    I am a stay-at-home mother of five and Obama supporter who is dismayed at the tendency that the Palin conversation has to descend into yet another round of culture wars. The issue of whether or not Palin should stay home with her kids should be off the table. We all know this is an incredibly personal decision. Furthermore I don’t think the assumption that everyone who comes from a small town is stupid, or making snarky comments about Palin’s choice of names for her children is going to help us get undecided voters thinking about whether Palin has enough experience to be a heartbeat away from Commander-in-Chief, and which ticket has the most to offer families.

  • Eric

    I agree with Dan and Sojourner. Much of the conversation thus far has been extremely petty.

  • Peter Nelson

    Peter, I partly agree with your analysis. However, it’s become clear that post Nixon the Republican party has moved away from intelligence to celebrity. Democrats on the other hand have continued to pick their candidates based on IQ and scholastic achievement. Compare the Democratic candidates vs. Republicans during this past primary.

    I agree that this is true, but I don’t think that’s the basis of their appeal to their followers, except as I describe below.

    The Democratic convention, Obama’s rock-star image, Hillary Clinton’s co-sponsorship of a flag-burning amendment and tossing back Jack Daniels in a bar, not to mention the visceral appeal that Bill Clinton had for many on the left (despite the fact that his actual policies were mostly center-right) all attest that the Democrats can play the same image-and-emotion game as the GOP.

    Being an east-coast, Subaru-driving, tree-hugging intellectual “elite” myself (most of my friends are Democrats or liberals, and they’re all college-educated (usually post-graduate)), I haven’t noticed my peers’ approach to politics is much more sophisticated. Obama’s education is noted as a positive attribute for them in much the same iconic way that McCain’s service in the military is to Republicans – more of a signifier of “PLU” (he’s People Like Us) than anything else.

  • Melanie Dexter

    Did I really just hear an hour discussion of “women’s issues” and never hear the word “abortion”? Sarah Palin believes 14-year-olds should be forced to bear their rapists’ babies, and yet demands that we respect her daughter’s “choice” and “privacy”. She is an extremist in her anti-woman views. This fact is not erased by her own possession of ovaries.

  • Linda Hanson

    The disappointing quality of this discussion is symptomatic of why women are still second rate despite 30-40 years of gradual equality based on law. For instance, the commentator who makes shallow, sarcastic, and nasty, personal comments punctuated by silly, hysterical giggles, rather than intelligent considered views on the subject of women’s positions and hopes in society. Why do women too often want to bring down other women rather than support them? This was not supposed to be a program of bitchy side swipes at women who don’t share your views, it was supposed to be a program discussing women’s position in the world. Grow up girlies.

    By the way I’m a white woman of a certain age who didn’t finish high school, but I did have a very successful career in a man’s world and brought up 3 children. I did have it all, but not at once. I had a career first and then motherhood.

    I arranged my morning to listen to this program because I hoped it would address the difficulties women face whilst trying to live a modern life in a modern world. Yes, it probably is legitimate to ask who is going to look after Sarah Paliln’s children, but shouldn’t that question not also be asked of the men too? Or does it only apply to women?

  • Beth-Anne M.

    Re: Government bail-out of Fanny and Freddie

    Jane,
    If our tax-dollars are paying for the bailout we have the right to DENY the fired CEO’s a multi-million severance pay. The reporter wasn’t specific regarding this topic. Does congress has a say on this or is it left to Pres. Bush?

  • Susan Wozniak

    I am unhappy with the Palin pick for several reasons: she is against abortion in any shape and form; she is for guns; she disbelieves the man-made aspect of global warming; she brought forth the notion of banning and censoring books.

    I am unhappy that she has five children in an overcrowded world. When I was in college, the concept of Zero Population Growth emerged. To have more than two children is literally to rob the children of others of natural resources and more.

    By extension, I am unhappy with the other Republican women whose lives and professed values impact the American public. Chief among them is Cindy Lou Hensley McCain. She made a statement on television that John was attracted to her because he sensed that she would be a good wife and mother.

    John met Cindy Lou while he was married to, and living with, Carol Shepp McCain, who was and who remained a good wife and mother. While McCain was a prisoner of war, Carol was undergoing her own ordeal. In some ways lucky to have survived an automobile accident, Carol was left disfigured and four inches shorter. When the returning “hero” saw his wife, rather than helping and supporting her through good times and bad, he began a series of affairs, culminating in his affair with Cindy Lou Hensley. He applied for a license to marry her before his divorce was final.

    Any woman who has an affair with a married man is ex officio a bad wife and mother and person. I am, needless to say, very left of center.

    I find Republicans to be whitened sepulchers. Nancy Reagan made “just say no” her rallying cry and Sarah Palin follows in her footsteps and so opposes sex education. However, both Reagan and Palin were pregnant before their weddings.

  • Christine Thomas

    I’ve been dialing in to a line that’s busy since the conversation touched on the “woman in the supermarket” image that Palin evokes. I’d like to parse this issue in terms of domestic work on the one hand and intellectual work on the other.

    As a person that has worked hard to join the “talking classes” through committing more than a decade of my life to graduate education (the first in my family to do so) while at the same time (like every human being) keeping a household running, caring for family members, I think this point is essential.

    Lurking behind the charges of elitism of public figures like Clinton, is the discounting of the intellectual work of woman in fields where they have had to work twice as hard as men to prove themselves, Many of us born in 1970 took this calling to enter the academic bastions of male authority not simply as a opportunity, for class mobility, but as an imperative to make use this opportunity as a woman.

    Now a woman like Palin, who has “moved up” by remaining in the mode of the dutiful middle class wife and mother, never challenging women’s access to the routes that men have always have at their disposal (major universities and professional schools), is taking up the hypocritical rhetoric of (wealthy) Republicans. Suddenly my hard work and the challenges I have faced in breaking through the Ivy league gates is simply a sign of my elitism. Hilary Clinton, who had to work harder than her husband and every other male colleague in law school, is “hard to like” even by women who have faced similar challenges.

    Furthermore, now as a partner in a same-sex relationship, I am here to say that the balance of and respect for domestic labor in a family does not get any easier when both partners are women. Coming from where I do, from generations of women have worked alongside their men, on farms, in service stations, while also putting food on the table and raising their children with a faith foundation and opportunities to get more education then their mothers had, I think the division between intellectual and domestic labor is the problem.

    I think ultimately the division between domestic and intellectual labor is the fundamental tool of maintaining the class system as it stands: the higher up you go the further apart you must keep them. The middle class does this within the family along gender lines and the upper class does this by hiring other men and women to do the less valued work.

    The feminist intellectuals who I have taken as my role models, poets like Audre Lorde and June Jordan, go a lot farther than the much quoted Betty Friedan in challenging this bifurcation, simply in the work of poetry which of necessity must join the life of the body and the mind and in the work of life between women in which the labor of both must be valued.

    Walking Our Boundaries, Audre Lorde

    This first bright day has broken
    the back of winter.
    We rise from war
    to walk across the earth
    around our house
    both stunned that sun can shine so brightly
    after all our pain
    Cautiously we inspect our joint holding.
    A part of last year’s garden still stands
    bracken
    one tough missed okra pod clings to the vine
    a parody of fruit cold-hard and swollen
    underfoot
    one rotting shingle
    is becoming loam.

    I take your hand beside the compost heap
    glad to be alive and still
    with you
    we talk of ordinary articles
    with relief
    while we peer upward
    each half-afraid
    there will be no tight buds started
    on our ancient apple tree
    so badly damaged by last winter’s storm
    knowing
    it does not pay to cherish symbols
    when the substance
    lies so close at hand
    waiting to be held
    your hand
    falls off the apple bark
    like casual fire
    along my back
    my shoulders are dead leaves
    waiting to be burned
    to life.

  • Peter Nelson

    Palin represents the notion that there is a ‘conservative feminist’ option for a person to identify with. The notion that women are capable and equal is not solely the realm of liberal or progressive thought in todays society.

    This is an insightful point.

    One of my complaints about the conservatives has been that they just hand entire topics over to the liberals. I’m an environmentalist and I also think every American should have access to good health care regardless of their economic circumstances. But the environment and health-care are seen as “liberal” issues because the right has never taken them seriously. McCain’s health care plan clearly benefits only the well, and well-to-do, for example.

    The result of this is that the debate on those issues presents us with only one set of options – the conservatives are no-shows.

    So I do applaud the GOP for at least presenting a competitive view of what it means to be a feminist, because I think it will enrich the discussion.

    The issue of whether or not Palin should stay home with her kids should be off the table. We all know this is an incredibly personal decision.

    It may be a personal decision, but it is, after all, a person we’re electing to office. So the way they make decisions provides insight into their character. I think it should be on the table for the same reason the amorous adventures of Bill Clinton, John Edwards, and Eliot Spitzer should be used to provide insights about them.

    And frankly, with Palin’s thin resume, we need to use all the data we can get about her.

  • Joanna Drzewieniecki

    Peter, I also know I am different from the majority of Americans in terms of education and international experience but for just this reason I know that in most of the democracies of the world people do not usually vote for a president who is like them in terms of not knowing much! In most democracies, there is still a high value placed on education, knowledge, and experience. Still, there is a lot of common sense in the U.S. (as everywhere), so we will see what prevails – issues or identification with specific candidates or….

  • Gail Montany

    As an independent voter and thinker, a loyal listener and a working mother, I was disappointed at the tone your guests set today. Though some great points were started and touched on (due in no small part to the efforts of Jane Clayson), any impact they may have had on the ongoing dialogue this nation needs to have on the subject of working women was neutralized by either mamby-pamby apologetic preamble or angry, dismissive statements like “[Sarah Palin] was such a cynical choice …” I was particularly appalled and puzzled at the snickering when Cindy McCain’s name was brought up. This topic deserves a more thoughtful and brave panel than the one you served up today. Your listeners deserve better!

  • Jennifer Bleiker Murphy

    “As a self-identified member of the coastal intellectual “elite”, myself, I remain nonplussed by my peers’ naiveté on these matters. I’m perplexed by how it is that people who have had every possible exposure to the best educations and a range of cosmopolitan views can remain so unaware of how very different they are from the rest of American culture. I’m different but at least I know it.” – Peter

    The frightening thing Peter, is that while I realize my education and choice of college set me apart from the “norm,” what I find so discouraging is that education people, like those as guests on this particular show can so easily confuse one’s gender with intelligence and ability. If I were speaking of folks unlike me (such as those who did not or could not go to college), your point might be valid, albeit a bit condescending.

    However, what I referred to as leaving me “horrified” is that other women – with more academic degrees than I hold – who are so impressed by Governor Palin, and it seems as though it is for nothing more than her gender. I will not be “resigned” to such thinking, or the sloppy work done by the press to educate the common reader or listener on what Palin’s record shows: poor judgment and unprofessionalism, which equals a sad choice for a Vice President.

  • Sojourner

    Agree with Eric and Dan that a relevant discussion around gender and sexism could have been produced; trying to wrap it in the topical mantle of Palin and inviting Sandra Tsing Loh to be the lead panelist were both lapses in judgment and I’m struggling to accept Jane Clayson’s moderation as being contributory or even sound…

  • Peter Nelson

    I think ultimately the division between domestic and intellectual labor is the fundamental tool of maintaining the class system as it stands: the higher up you go the further apart you must keep them. The middle class does this within the family along gender lines and the upper class does this by hiring other men and women to do the less valued work.

    I think you’ll have to make a better case for this. I took time off last week from my day-job as an engineer in order to do landscape and construction work around my home, and to cook and bake some of the harvest we have this time of year from our garden and apple and pear trees. I like doing those things just as much as engineering (I also paint and write poetry)

    If you think physical work is undervalued, try hiring a carpenter – we’re currently having some skilled carpentry done around the house and getting quotes and so far they all make more than I do. (incidentally, so does my wife, who also works in high-tech)

    I think wages reflect what the market will bear. Higher paid people are doing something that’s harder to find talent in, and lower-paid people are doing things where either demand is low or positions are easy to fill. If an English major working at Barnes and Noble resents the fact that NFL running backs make millions of dollars a year and she’s making $7/hour, this does not reflect the fact that we value physical labor more than intellectual labor – it reflects supply and demand.

  • Peter Nelson

    However, what I referred to as leaving me “horrified” is that other women – with more academic degrees than I hold – who are so impressed by Governor Palin, and it seems as though it is for nothing more than her gender.

    I didn’t have the impression that it was her gender, alone, that they were impressed with. I had the impression that it was the totality of her – moose-hunting, mother-of-five, etc. My point was that these are iconic to a huge swath of Americans.

    I’m a gardener and one thing I’ve learned is that you cannot grow a plant if you don’t have the right conditions – the right soil chemistry, moisture, drainage, and sunlight. What US progressives just can’t seem to grasp is that the cultural “soil” in the US is just not right for growing progressive ideas.

    Many posters today have expressed regret at the lightweight tone of the conversation – the snickering and giggling and attention to irrelevant superficialities. I’m not being self-congratulatory when I point out that before the show even started I mentioned this in my initial posting. The point is this: we need to drop the naivete and stop being shocked at the nature of US political culture. It is what it is.

  • elaine

    The show today made me wonder how and why the guest speakers were chosen. They were not ready. They had not developed the narrative that listeners have come to expect on “On Point” and sorely need, however “in process” they may be with their thoughts at this moment. Particularly distressing was the self-proclaimed feminist who pandered to her more right-leaning counterpart, called certain women “monsters” and in general trashed the advances of the feminist movement. I refuse to believe this is the best you could do with commentators on this critical topic. I vote for a retake on the subject of gender and leadership in the current presidential election.

  • Randy Hinton

    I was horrified by the childish, unprofessional, partisan and sexist attitude by your guests this morning. I turned on the radio in the middle of the show and so I missed the name of your guest but when the host brought up Cindy McCain, one of your guests laughed derisively and said she could not comment “without getting into trouble.” Whoever this person is has no business as a serious commentator and should not be considered as a future guest. There is no place for this type of personal attack on the spouse of a presidential candidate. Cindy McCain is wealthy, yes, because she runs a successful multi-million dollar business employing hundreds of working you people you claim to care about. She is also a true philanthropist having traveled multiple times to countries in Africa and to developing nations elsewhere. She has spent her own time and money and traveled personally to dangerous parts of the world to help people in real need and even adopted a daughter, Bridgette, from Bangladesh. To reduce such a person to nearly a pretty millionaire that might not hurt McCain too badly is really disgusting.

    Meanwhile, I noticed the loving way in which Michelle Obama was portrayed as Barrack’s “equal” and a strong, accomplished woman etc. Michelle Obama seems to be those things indeed, but your contemptuous dismissal of Cindy McCain only shows your true bias and serves to prove the accusation that large portions of the press are simply aching to get Obama elected rather than objectively reporting so the people can decide.

    Finally, the host of today’s show, sitting in for Tom Ashbrook should also be ashamed. Admittedly, the host cannot control what guests will say or do but it is incumbent on the host to challenge guests and ask them to explain and prove their points of view. Instead, the host was nearly giggling with the guest commentator herself.

    Very badly done. Very unprofessional. I support my local NPR station because I value the typically in depth approach to a wide range of subjects. This morning’s show makes me reconsider, not because I hear views with which I may disagree, but because it makes me wonder if what I’m hearing on other NPR programs is just as biased but better hidden.

    I would greatly appreciate your response.
    Randy Hinton

  • Peter Nelson

    So, rather than discussing what needs to be changed about the conversation and pointing out what flaws exist, instead we should just lie back and accept it?

    Where did I say that?

    My point was that the tone of the conversation simply confirmed my earlier comments about US political culture.

    You might be able to change the conversation with different guests and a host determined to keep it at a high level. It’s unlikely that you can change US political culture.

  • Christine Thomas

    Peter, I appreciate that you took the day off to landscape and bake and that you like to do these things, but the labor I am speaking of is *domestic* labor, which is not done on a day off, but every day to sustain a household, labor that is not professionalized in a certainly well-paid trade in other sectors of the economy.

    My point is that “what the market will bear” is a function of how we value and gender labor. Women who become carpenters, electricians, lawyers, or scholars of ancient languages are entering guilds, guilds that have always been male, and the intellectual or physical labor of which has a higher monetary value. In either case, when women set out to acquire the specialized knowledge that supposedly sets this work apart, they are crossing over into territory in which they must prove that they are better than their gender.

  • Peter Nelson

    If our tax-dollars are paying for the bailout we have the right to DENY the fired CEO’s a multi-million severance pay.

    Not necessarily – it depends on what’s in their contract.

    But more broadly, this represents the nationalization of two major companies. When someone like Hugo Chavez does this the Bush administration correctly calls it socialism, which it is – socialism is when the government owns businesses.

    But for a Republican, capitalistic, free-market administration to nationalize two major companies is the exact opposite of everything they allegedly stand for, philosophically. It’s really quite extraordinary. Ironically, share prices in the two companies fell about 90% in response to the announcement as of this writing, which means that common shareholders will probably fare worse under Bush’s nationalization than under Chavez’s.

    I don’t own stock in either company – infact I own stock in BAC, which, like most financials is up sharply today, so I should be happy.

    But how can I be happy when taxpayers are in this deal to the tune of $100 billion? Or when the Bush administration has apparently repudiated its core belief in free markets? One good thing – this should give Obama ammunition to question McCain’s belief that free markets can fix healthcare. Obama can use all the help he can get – today’s polls show a huge boost for McCain.

  • Peter Nelson

    Peter, I appreciate that you took the day off to landscape and bake and that you like to do these things, but the labor I am speaking of is *domestic* labor,

    1. Landscaping and baking are domestic labor.

    2. The everyday domestic labor (laundry, cooking meals, shopping, etc) is just stuff we all have to do to live. Everyone makes their own arrangements in this regard, but it’s absurd to suggest that women must bear a disproportionate amount of it. If you want to eat you have to cook; if you want clean clothes you have to launder them; if you don’t want to eat off of dirty dishes you have to wash them (or at least fill and empty the dishwasher). In my case I cook at least as many meals as my wife (we’re both good cooks) and I’m sure I do more of the laundry and grocery shopping.

    In the case of couples where one member does more of the domestic work this is something that he/she has agreed to.

    when women set out to acquire the specialized knowledge that supposedly sets this work apart, they are crossing over into territory in which they must prove that they are better than their gender.

    This might have been true in the 1970′s but I work in engineering, which is a traditionally male field and we’re so short of skilled people that it would be stupid of us to set some artificial barrier like that to attracting or retaining women. My big beef with US women is that they don’t major in science and engineering in college. For some reason this does not seem to be true in Asia because a larger portion of the Indian and Chinese engineers we hire are women than the Americans.

    Likewise, my wife and I are currently trying to hire carpenters and others to do various renovations at our house. Such workers are so busy we’re having a hard time even getting quotes, so it would be self defeating if we set the bar any higher for a woman. (not that we’ve ever actually seen a female carpenter)

  • P. Winkle

    Peter: Christine Thomas’ comment about the labor division/hierarchy is well-supported by economic history. It has long been the case that manual labor, however well or poorly paid, divides us socially. It is generally true, whether it is true for you or not, that historically, the wealthy have hired it done (partly as a form of conspicuous consumption), and the poor have assigned it to the women in the home.

    Yes, this is less true for today’s middle class. In many cases because to maintain that middle class lifestyle, women simply cannot stay home and do it all. Even so, it is demonstrably not yet the case that working mates share domestic duties equally or that the unequal division is completely and mutually satisfactory to both partners. Life is full of trade offs. The fact that they exist does not make them fair or equitable. Like politics, they just are. Until we change them.

    Ms. Thomas’ other point, that women have to do twice as much to be considered half as good, is not diminished by the fact that carpenters don’t come cheap. It is good to hear that women engineers are being welcomed where you work. It is not, however, clear to young women that they are welcome in such fields or that pursuing careers in science and math does not, still to this day, make them unattractive nerds. Although women like Danica McKellar (Math Doesn’t Suck and Kiss My Math) are working hard to change that image.

    When I look around, I still see men choosing men when given the option when hiring and promoting. I do see women moving up in the ranks in fields traditionally dominated by men, but men choosing women as their second in command, or for any role that is clearly a stepping stone to the top ranks, is still rare. In fact, a man I know well and respect greatly, after being promoted, actually kept his former position open for years and hired a young man fresh out of college to assist him in a lower level position. Why? The top candidates for promotion are both women, but there are also several men who would take great offense and create problems.

    In every case I see where women do move up, they are either stellar performers, well ahead of their male counterparts, or they have some connection that helps get them ahead–not that there’s anything inherently wrong with having connections. But the gender connection for men is a given. Women have to have something else. One way I’ve seen a good move happen for women is when an incompetent man is finally removed from his position and the woman who was second in command and had been propping the organization up was finally promoted. In these cases, the wrong person was promoted in the first place. And in these cases, the man first chose was part of the larger male peer group.

    I’ve been able to move up without connections and without following a man who failed, so this is not sour grapes. Simply an observation from where I sit in a large organization that has historically been and remains dominated by men.

  • Peter Nelson

    Peter: Christine Thomas’ comment about the labor division/hierarchy is well-supported by economic history. It has long been the case that manual labor, however well or poorly paid, divides us socially.
    I agree that historically, manual labor and intellectual labor represented a socioeconomic divide. But this was just as true for men as women. So I’m not sure what the gender connection you’re drawing to this is.

    In many cases because to maintain that middle class lifestyle, women simply cannot stay home and do it all. Even so, it is demonstrably not yet the case that working mates share domestic duties equally or that the unequal division is completely and mutually satisfactory to both partners.

    But again, it’s not clear what this has to do with gender issues. My wife probably wishes I took more of an interest in the landscape and deck design of our house (instead of just the physical labor)(her day job is a designer so she’s good at it), and I wish she would take more interest in managing our family investments, but neither of these have gender significance.

    My view is that most of the gender-restrictions in 21st century US couples are self-imposed. I do know several college-educated white collar/professional full-time working couples where, somehow, the woman ends up doing more of the domestic work when she gets home. IMO this is her choice.

    If hubby never cooks dinner then get a fridge magnet and write his initials on one side and hers on the other. When someone makes dinner, flip it so the other person knows the next night it’s their turn. Be firm but be willing to negotiate – I do laundry, my wife folds towels, for instance. If both partners work full time there is NO reason domestic chores shouldn’t be 50:50.

    We’ve been married for 23 years and we wed in our 30′s after years of independent living so we each already knew how to keep house. Domestic work is NOT gender specific.

  • jeff

    Listening to these women is why I sometime dislike liberals and why the rest of the country who is not does as well. A little to self serving and to much giggling.

    There are serious issues here to deal with, two words; Supreme Court.

    Moose hunting, being a hockey mom, PTA mom and whatever else Sarah Palin does has nothing to do with being qualified for the VP slot. Except for her roles in government.

    Focus on McCain, focus on McCain.

    It is interesting how anti-feminist she is and how she has hijacked this image.

    She is a zealot, she does not believe in global warming, she like all Republicans thing they can drill our way out of the problems we have. How wrong they are.

    However they most likely will win the election in the fall and if that is what Americans want this is what the deserve.

  • Joe B.

    Rush Limbaugh, the face and voice of modern day conservatism, is a huge Sarah Palin supporter. Limbaugh also refers to Sarah Palin as a “Babe”. My question is, women are making noteworthy advancements, but is society as a whole really taking women seriously?

  • Tracy

    I don’t care if Sarah Palin is female, a soccer mom, has a pregnant daughter, or can shoot her gun…I would never vote for her because she’s a religious right conservative. I don’t vote because someone is male or female…and I don’t think most people voting in this year’s election really care either. Voters will primarily fall along party lines, and it will be a close election because of that.

    Hillary Clinton didn’t have my vote because I felt she was too closely related to the old guard, and Barack Obama seemed a fresher alternative…I didn’t want another round of Clintons in the White House.

    As for Michelle Obama, I think she is a great example of women today, juggling career and family. It was ridiculous that she was criticized for commenting about Barack’s socks being left on the floor – she’s a confident working mother struggling with child care issues for her young children, and is more in touch with the majority of women in this country than someone like Cindy McCain or Sarah Palin.

  • Poppa150

    My! Aren’t you gals having fun with the likes of Cindy McCain! I am amazed that you are able to take quick licks from your saucers of cream and still stay in the conversation or, as we say, “on point.”

    A quick review of Mrs. McCain’s achievements will convince you that it’s posible to be rich,and a babe, and a couageous contributor to this planet.

  • Lisa B.

    I’ve been listening to On Point every day since the show’s inception. This was the most facile discussion I have ever heard on a show whose debates I usually find stimulating and challenging. Everyone involved should be ashamed, but in particular I must ask: was Sandra Tsing Loh stoned? How else to explain the non-sequitirs and the inappropriate giggling?

    I agree with the comments that none of these women seemed prepared for this discussion. I’ve often found Jane Clayson to be an ineffective moderator (particularly in comparison with the superb Tom Ashbrook), but she hit a new low today.

    I want that hour of my life back.

  • bdbd

    Jane — Before you call Sarah Palin a “maverick” you ought to do your homework. Your readers deserve more than your parroting the McCain campaign’s talking points.

  • jeff

    McCain is a ‘maverick’, nice sound bite. That’s all it is.
    He’s a Republican and a pretty far right one at that.

    Palin farther to the right than he is.

    Today’s show was a huge disappointment in that so little was touched on.

    The public school argument was absurd. The Obama’s can now afford to give their children what they did not have. Why should this matter.

    It’s so typical for a bleeding hart liberal to say something like this, that they should make showcase of the kids.

    Did it not ever occur to these people that there are no private schools in this part of Alaska.

  • Liminal1

    “A quick review of Mrs. McCain’s achievements will convince you that it’s posible to be rich,and a babe, and a couageous contributor to this planet.”… …not to mention a dope fiend too. But who am I to talk twenty-five years into recovery this month.

    With the “Women of 08”; drop the so-called conservative feminist bomb Sarah into the mix and we’re off and running to the culture wars again, but obviously they never that far away. I guess we were just more concerned with an unjustifiable war and occupation, the face of terrorism still at large somewhere between Pakistan and Afghanistan and closer to home a collapsing economy. How profoundly effect of Karl; he’s even got “us” progressives condescending to each other. And because of a hockey mom, the pit-bull with lipstick

    I wonder if a more productive discussion might have been about how Obama and McCain each respectively reflect a “feminist” agenda, be that progressive or regressive? I refuse to use the word conservative here because I believe in conserving things like: everybody’s right to choose individually their reproductive life and health, the environment for future generations to enjoy, American jobs in the United States. So let’s keep the focus where it needs to be, not on the sideshow spectacle.

  • Peter Nelson

    I wonder if a more productive discussion might have been about how Obama and McCain each respectively reflect a “feminist” agenda, be that progressive or regressive? I refuse to use the word conservative here because I believe in conserving things like: everybody’s right to choose individually their reproductive life and health, the environment for future generations to enjoy, American jobs in the United States. So let’s keep the focus where it needs to be, not on the sideshow spectacle.

    I second this, or third it or fourth it or whatever. I think we have something close to a consensus on this forum that On Point really blew it with this show and we need a re-do on this topic with guests who are capable of a serious discussion and a host dedicated to moderating such a discussion.

  • Poppa150

    Taking a risk here:

    Like that for the blacks, the table has been set for womyn. Excessive chat about their need for a “progressive” agenda is a distraction.

    Overcome, ladies. You can do it.

  • rod

    I found the show tonight to be annoying and depressing. Funny you didn’t throw in Nancy Pelosi – she’s two chicken bones away. Better luck next time.

  • Tina

    I was appalled at the 3 guests’ lack of ability to articulate their thoughts, their constant avoidance of strong assertions, and their digressions into overlapping banter.

    I would also like to add to the interpretation of Palin’s use of the phrase “servant’s heart.” This has a CHRISTIAN undertone to it. Obviously, Palin’s entire speech was crafted rhetorically to appeal to men and Christians, not just conservative women. Christian men are going crazy over her and it’s not just because of her looks, it was her rhetoric designed to catch them up.

  • Sam

    I won’t deny that I’m a conservative and to some extent couldn’t help but feel a certain warmth inside hearing a self proclaimed liberal feminist mocking Gloria Steinem. My own views are shaped in no small part by my mother who was an intelligent confident women who could have been anything she wanted to be but she chose to stay at home and raise myself along with my three other siblings. She didn’t view her choice as some sort of burden but an amazing privilege.

    As to this guy who seems to be posting the same thing over and over again about the education of the candidates. As someone has gone to four colleges and took five years to complete their undergraduate while finishing in the top 15% of their graduating class and going on to law school, I can’t help but thinking that you’re arguments sound incredibly classist. Not all Americans have the resources or opportunity to go to an ivy league school for four years and concentrate fully on their studies. Also…uh..umm…should we talk about the educational ‘accomplishments’ of Joe Biden.

    Finally, John McCain he called his first marriage the greatest moral failure of his life and has since been married to Cindy McCain for almost three decades. If McCain was running for most moral man in the United States he would lose in a land slide but he’s not give the man a little forgiveness.

  • Ryan

    I agree with Rod. A waste of an hour of my life. A little rich on the opinion and light on the analysis. I’ll hope for better next time.

  • Emma Taylor

    As a single parent, feminist, professional and an independent voter I am appalled with the choice of women you had on your show and the comments they made about a successful woman, they all sounded jealous and threatened by Sarah Palin. This is why we are where we are, wake up and smell the roses!

  • Christopher J

    The idea of “conservative feminism” seems more to point us to a place beyond which these words start losing their meaning.

    Conservatives are often not conservative in any traditional sense, which is sort of ironic.

    The Republican party today is the party of Bush, Limbaugh, Rove, and DeLay. It has as much to do with the “party of ideas” it impersonates as the economy has with a squirrel.

    “Corporatism” is a better word, and it has no central tenet or guiding “principles.” Corporatism expresses contempt for government and governing. That contempt helps rationalize using the government to defend the narrow interests of a small minority of wealthy people, but there is nothing like a philosophy behind it.

    The past eight years has seen the transfer of a trillion dollars from the middle to the upper class.

    The war, the fight against “terror,” the phony patriotism, the moronic grammar: it was all a diversion. That transfer of wealth is what it’s all been about.

    Believe it. Sarah Palin is a fairly entertaining puppet. You people can pick over the details of her weird life all you want. Rove wouldn’t have it any other way.

    When elections are about policy, Democrats win.

    When elections are about culture, Republicans win.

  • Peter Nelson

    My own views are shaped in no small part by my mother who was an intelligent confident women who could have been anything she wanted to be but she chose to stay at home and raise myself along with my three other siblings.

    I would certainly encourage Governor Palin to be a stay-at-home mom.

    As to this guy who seems to be posting the same thing over and over again about the education of the candidates. As someone has gone to four colleges and took five years to complete their undergraduate while finishing in the top 15% of their graduating class and going on to law school, I can’t help but thinking that you’re arguments sound incredibly classist.

    Yes, the liberals are really ruining our schools. For example, in many colleges all those black history and women’s studies courses have forced them to scrap basic English classes where they teach personal pronouns and possessive adjectives.

    If McCain was running for most moral man in the United States he would lose in a land slide but he’s not give the man a little forgiveness.

    I think the President should be, if not the most moral man, then at least a moral beacon. I’m fed up with Presidents of both parties who set bad moral examples. I certainly take into account the moral qualities of candidates I vote for.

    When elections are about policy, Democrats win.

    When elections are about culture, Republicans win.

    The latest polls show that Palin gave McCain a huge boost, especially among white women, and McCain seems to be in the lead overall in several polls. So I guess, by your analysis. it’s about culture.

    But human beings are social animals – we’re wired up to act and respond socially. Much recent research shows that a huge portion of our brain growth between early hominids and us was in areas associated with social processing. Also research by Leda Cosmides and John Tooby at UCSB show that basically we translate things into social terms before evaluating them. So my guess is that elections do not turn on culture or policy – they turn on personality.

  • Sam

    “I would certainly encourage Governor Palin to be a stay-at-home mom”

    And you would be qualified to make this assessment because you are….Palin’s husband, mom, child, pastor, best-friend, career adviser?

    “Yes, the liberals are really ruining our schools. For example, in many colleges all those black history and women’s studies courses have forced them to scrap basic English classes where they teach personal pronouns and possessive adjectives.”

    I don’t know if these comments are supposed to be ironic or serious but at any rate I do not agree with them nor do they address what I had to say in any relevant way.

    I believe that women should have all the rights, privileges, and opportunities that men do. That said I find upper class feminist who try to push for women’s rights by castigating women as ‘servants’ who choose not to have a substantial career many of whom came from lower classes and did not have the career and educational opportunities that those said feminist had to be well more than a little off putting.

  • jeff

    Sam your talking about me. My arguments sound incredibly classist? No my statement was not about class, but how these people performed in college.

    I posted on the educational differences because they are huge and speak to how McCain and Obama think deal with the issues we now face in this country.

    First your wrong, Obama did not have the financial luxery to go to college for 4 years, he worked and he was smart. He won scholarships and so on.

    Obama came from the middle class. McCain is from the upper middle class.

    It’s funny how McCain’s privileged background and the fact that he was accepted into the Naval Academy because of the legacy of his father does not seem to bother conservatives. Double standard based on false information about Obama. The right keep trying to change the subject by painting Obama as elite.

    Biden by his own admission was a lazy student and was below average to average in college and law school.
    He, like Dick Cheney had deferments during the Viet Nam war.

    I’m not a big fan of Bidden myself, he voted for the new bankruptcy laws that hurt middle classes he keeps saying he wants to help.

  • Peter Nelson

    And you would be qualified to make this assessment because you are….Palin’s husband, mom, child, pastor, best-friend, career adviser?

    Voter and citizen. I think Palin is a religious extremist who is on record as saying that the Iraq war is a mission from God, and so is the oil pipeline and that she thinks the Governor’s office should be used to promote God’s will. Someone like that belongs at home, not in government.

    Her attitudes show a failure to grasp why we have separation of church and state in the US. Palin would probably be happier in a place like Iran where her well-oiled style of theocracy seems to be more appropriate.

  • Sam

    “Sam your talking about me. My arguments sound incredibly classist? No my statement was not about class, but how these people performed in college.

    I posted on the educational differences because they are huge and speak to how McCain and Obama think deal with the issues we now face in this country.

    First your wrong, Obama did not have the financial luxery to go to college for 4 years, he worked and he was smart. He won scholarships and so on.

    Obama came from the middle class. McCain is from the upper middle class.

    It’s funny how McCain’s privileged background and the fact that he was accepted into the Naval Academy because of the legacy of his father does not seem to bother conservatives. Double standard based on false information about Obama. The right keep trying to change the subject by painting Obama as elite.

    Biden by his own admission was a lazy student and was below average to average in college and law school.
    He, like Dick Cheney had deferments during the Viet Nam war.

    I’m not a big fan of Bidden myself, he voted for the new bankruptcy laws that hurt middle classes he keeps saying he wants to help.”-Jeff

    I wasn’t referring to Obama, I was merely stating that I don’t think the fact that Mrs. Palin went to five schools and took more than four years to graduate necessarily says anything about her quality as a student in of itself and yes if you think it does that is in my opinion classist. As for McCain neither one of us can say with any degree of certainty that he was or wasn’t qualified to be in the naval academy which does not primarily test ones academic abilities as much as it does their fitness for command.

  • jeff

    Voter and citizen. I think Palin is a religious extremist who is on record as saying that the Iraq war is a mission from God, and so is the oil pipeline and that she thinks the Governor’s office should be used to promote God’s will. Someone like that belongs at home, not in government.

    Her attitudes show a failure to grasp why we have separation of church and state in the US. Palin would probably be happier in a place like Iran where her well-oiled style of theocracy seems to be more appropriate.

    I agree, she’s the smiling zealot. However she is entitled to run for office.

    The Religious right love her because they see her as a way to get to the presidency. They, the Religious right want this country to be a theocracy and this person seems to them to be one more step in that direction.

    She’s dangerous and her statements on all the issues facing this country on energy and global warming are scary.

    Her own state is starting to feel the effects of global warming and she denies it. From permafrost that is starting to melt to island’s that are sinking due to the rising water table.

  • Paula

    This segment was truly disappointing. As a daily listener, I can honestly say that it was the most vacuous discussion I have heard. I came away thinking: what a shame – a missed opportunity to present some tough but balanced information (indeed facts instead of manufactured baloney) about a very important issue.” It was an opportunity for individuals (particularly women) to comment with insight and intelligence about what is at stake for the country if the Republicans win the election this time around. Americans are being sold a bill of goods with Sarah Palin, and the sad point is that far too many people are buying it. The enthusiasm for Sarach Palin demonstrates exactly how strong the cult pf personality has become in the minds of the voting public. In many cases whom one votes for could be decided easily and without much mental effort simply by reading an article in People magazine or listening to a few minutes of a Fox News (sic) program shortly before entering the voting booth. Rovians understand this and are exploiting it to the max. Unfortunately this panel did nothing to help listeners who might have been duped by the Madison Avenue packaging of the Republican vp pick to see what’s at stake if McCain-Palin are voted into office. I’m terrified to think that the Republicans might actually win in November and I’m doing my part to see that it doesn’t happen. In general, the media establishment is being sucked in by Palin’s handlers and they’re giving her the proverbial pass. Thoughtful voters need solid, forceful information about this candidate and the potential threat that her views pose to our country. I hope the editors/programmers of On Point will try again, this time with commentators who have something of substance to add to the discussion.

  • Sam

    “Voter and citizen. I think Palin is a religious extremist who is on record as saying that the Iraq war is a mission from God, and so is the oil pipeline and that she thinks the Governor’s office should be used to promote God’s will. Someone like that belongs at home, not in government.

    Her attitudes show a failure to grasp why we have separation of church and state in the US. Palin would probably be happier in a place like Iran where her well-oiled style of theocracy seems to be more appropriate.”-PN

    I shouldn’t respond to such trolling but I will. There are definitely legitimate reasons why one could object to Mrs. Palin as a political candidate and even though I’m a Republican I am not sure I would vote for her for president myself. I however do not think its legitimate to not vote for Palin because you personally think she can’t handle the rigors of a home life and political campaign or to assess how she should live her life.

  • Peter Nelson

    I though I made it clear that my objection to Governor Palin had nothing to do with work-family balance, but instead was because i regard her to be a religious extremist.

    I agree that the fact that she has young children is an invalid reason to reject her. You never hear people complaining about male candidates having young children at home. I’m sure Mr Palin is perfectly capable of managing things on the home front. I frankly think that the assumptions made on both ends of the political spectrum that, somehow, childcare is the domain of women is bogus. It reminds me of Kaiser Wilhelm’s doctrine (later echoed by the NAZIs) of “Kinder, Küche, Kirche”.

  • jeff

    Palin is turning out to be a phony when it comes to talking about cutting government spending and waste.
    Read today’s Washington Post on what she charged the tax payers of Alaska. One fun item was her daughter Bristol’s $707 a day hotel for trip she took to New York City with her mother.

    I think this points right back to McCain and his teams lack of vetting here.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/09/08/AR2008090803088.html?hpid=topnews

  • Poppa150

    I have gotten myself on a Forum where people write the word “classist” with no shame or sense of irony whatever.

    Jeez.

  • jeff

    However if the polls keep going the way it is, Obama is going to lose. Which is amazing given the economic state of the nation and all the other issues.

    We do get what we deserve.

  • jeff

    Here is some more interesting facts on Alaskonomics:
    Like I said she is a hypocrite and a phony.

    http://www.time.com/time/politics/article/0,8599,1839724,00.html

  • Carol

    I found this conversation petty and reeking of a double standard. When talking about Sarah’s children, you are overlooking that two are leaving the family home for military service and marriage.

    This is truly the Red State Feminists against the Blue State Feminists. I wish your guests could have been more tolerant of of the Reds. They have just as much right to their views as the Blues!

  • Jim Hill

    “But Ms. Palin wasn’t the first this season to take on the “good ol’ boys.” Before Sarah, there was Hillary, storming the citadel in colorful pantsuits”

    So deeply ingrained into our collective cultural sub-conscious is the conformity demanded by gender-role stereotypes, that even in this assumably impartial journalistic treatment of issues, an individual who happens to be female who aspires to take an influential place among other influential individuals is painted as being engaged in subversive war of the sexes. And the combatant’s individual and unique attributes are colored as secondary to their fashion (uniform)choices.

    “I thought we were past that.”
    Posted by Peter Nelson, on September 8th, 2008 at 8:26 am EDT

    Come on Peter, I think you’re smarter than that. You may have hoped we were past it or that we could get past it, but I think you probably know we are not. And maybe we will never be past allowing superficial and relatively minor differences between us determine to a lage extent the way we perceive others. Prejudice may just be a result of the frailty of human nature. If we try to pretend it can somehow be overcome through intellectual enlightenment, then we may just be living in real-world denial. I believe prejudice is when we allow our initial preceptions of others to be colored by those superficial differences and their stereotypes. The ‘isms’ sexism, racism, ageism and all the rest are the result of allowing those imperfect impressions to determine our actions. Prejudice in action, if you will. We can’t hope to come close to overcoming the latter if we won’t admit to the former.

  • John Byrnes

    I listened to the program and thought it was very biased and impolite. There
    was not one person representing the non liberal view. Wouldn’t it be fair and more interesting to have one different opinion and to some discourse.

    I thought that it was very impolite and cowardly for the guests to snicker and sneer at the Republican candidate and to laugh at Cindy McCain.

  • jeff

    Cindy McCain? Why do you think she’s being kept in the background so much. She wore $300,000 outfits while McCain was talking about how make the working stiffs life better.

    She’s no Eleanor Roosevelt that’s for sure.

  • Christopher J

    Peter Nelson –

    My Philosophy 100 teacher taught his students never to compare an opponent in a political debate to a Nazi. Once you compare someone to a Nazi, he said, you’ve lost your argument.

    People who question Palin’s personal situation need to be very respectful, very civil, and very cautious.

    However, I would argue that it is legitimate to ask questions about her personal life. We’re talking about a person who may have access to nuclear missile launch codes in a few months.

    Sarah Palin *gave birth* a few months ago. This is a big deal. It certainly does not disqualify her from anything, but it is not blood and soil fascism to be curious about how this might affect her on the job.

    If Michelle Obama had given birth recently, and if the Obama’s had a daughter who was pregnant before the age of 18, I am going to go out on a limb here and guess people would be talking about it.

    Personally, I’d like to know what kind of person shoots wolves from an airplane. That sort of revolting, disrespectful behavior disqualifies her, in my opinion, let alone her family.

    I agree with other critics of this show. It seemed a little cushy and gushy.

  • Susan GB

    This was one of the most discouraging shows I ever heard on NPR; I was quite unprepared to hear whoever the speaker who denigrated Cindy McCain. The WHOLE POINT of the feminist movement was to give women and, yes, men also, choice in how to best fulfill their lives to the best of their lights. If they don’t choose the cackling person’s politics it does not mean feminism is “dead”. It means people don’t make a choice approved by this cackling person, who was quite disrespectful.

    Hillary Clinton in office does not make sexism go away. Sarah Palin would not promote policies that would favorable to anyone earning under 5 million dollars.

    Whoever gets into office- there are real issues, core to both men and women including the economy, global warming, the devastation of jobs, poor heath care access, support of women in the work place and day care is what we need to focus on. How will the next president help our country and our world? How will they help women? I did not hear this

  • Manny

    Hillary is a role model, has my respect and admiration. Michell has my respect and support.
    I consider Sara Pailn an emabrressment! A woman who preaches what she can not even implement and her kids can not practice. A flip flopper. Someone who would say anythig to promot herself!
    Cindy McCain is so out of touch and too rich!

  • Peter Nelson

    My Philosophy 100 teacher taught his students never to compare an opponent in a political debate to a Nazi. Once you compare someone to a Nazi, he said, you’ve lost your argument.

    I didn’t – I quoted Kaiser Wilhelm. I only mentioned the NAZIs because the average American thinks that the phrase originated with them, to the extent that the average American even knows enough European history to recognize it.

    Anyway, your philosophy teacher sounds lame – there are plenty of perfectly reasonable comparisons to make to NAZIs – they provode lots of useful and appropriate object lessons. Anyway, you or your philosophy teacher are probably thinking of Godwin’s Law, which doesn’t apply here.

  • jeff

    Still Peter Christopher J has a point.
    We have been vilifying this women and while I have to agree that I loath everything she stands for, this is not going to win the election.

    For some reason I keep thinking of Louisiana governor Huey Long. She reminds me of him which is a bit ironic as he was democrat. But she uses the same type of populist rhetoric and is potentially dangerous as he was.

    I don’t like how her husband is always in on meetings.
    How people who want access to her in the governor’s office sometimes befriend him.

  • Christopher

    Say what you want about me, Peter Nelson, but my philosophy teacher was not lame.

    His point was that people tend to USE the Nazis when it is completely unnecessary, and he was right. It’s a lazy form of argumentation.

    Obviously there are exceptions. The point you were trying to make, however, was not one of them.

    By the way, my philosophy teacher was never a prig. Can’t say the same for you.

  • jeff

    I agree given the weight of the word nazis and the historical context of it (them); it seems to me that unless Sarah Palin is found out to be a member of a White Supremest group she is very far from being a nazi on any level.

    I think your philosophy teacher was correct.
    One should not use nazi out of context.
    I have noticed that am guilty of doing this sometimes myself, I’ll have to check myself.

    I would say she is a kind of zealot. She does seem to have traits that are more in keeping with this kind of ideology.

  • Dave

    I would add my voice to those who have already expressed disappointment with this specific broadcast.

    Typically, when I think of NPR, what comes to mind are shows where intelligent people have taken the time to do their homework, and bring more light than heat to a subject. A prime example of this would be listening to Dr. Chartock & Mario Cuomo on Capitol Connections – although I didn’t always agree with their perspective, it was still compelling listening.

    Given the above, I was extremely disappointed in the superficially judgemental & dismissive manner which Cindy McCain was treated during this particular ‘On Point’ show. All the talk about her clothing, but not one word uttered about the fact that she had the goodness in her heart to adopt a child in need.

    ****

    Please don’t allow NPR to given up their unique contribution to public discourse, and instead lower themselves to compete with the likes of The View, Bill Maher, or Keith Olbermann…who seem to prefer to shed more heat than light on any given topic.

    Last but not least, anyone who has the opportunity to broadcast on the NPR system should keep in mind the sheer size of the carbon footprint of the hundreds (thousands?) of transmitters carrying their message, (I’m sure that the aggregate power consumption is in the megawatt range!) …and this fact alone should spur them to really prepare for any & all on-air time.
    It’s the right thing to do.

  • kookimebux

    Hello. And Bye. :)

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Ukrainian forces guard a checkpoint in the town of Mariupol, eastern Ukraine, Thursday, Aug. 28, 2014. Ukraine's president Petro Poroshenko called an emergency meeting of the nation's security council and canceled a foreign trip Thursday, declaring that "Russian forces have entered Ukraine," as concerns grew about the opening of a new front in the conflict.  (AP)

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Aug 29, 2014
Beyoncé performs at the 2014 MTV Music Video Awards on Sunday, August 24, 2014 in Inglewood, California. (Getty)

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Aug 29, 2014
Ukrainian forces guard a checkpoint in the town of Mariupol, eastern Ukraine, Thursday, Aug. 28, 2014. Ukraine's president Petro Poroshenko called an emergency meeting of the nation's security council and canceled a foreign trip Thursday, declaring that "Russian forces have entered Ukraine," as concerns grew about the opening of a new front in the conflict.  (AP)

War moves over Syria, Ukraine. Burger King moves to Canada. Nine-year-olds and Uzis. Our weekly news roundtable goes behind the headlines.

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