John McCain's cowardice

He's hiding his empty economic program behind Fightin' Sarah Palin's skirts -- while calling all criticism of Palin sexist.

Published September 10, 2008 9:05PM (EDT)

Glenn Greenwald did the best job possible running down this ridiculous faux-controversy about Barack Obama using the term "lipstick on a pig," but I can't leave it alone. I'm talking about it on MSNBC's "Hardball" today.

Maybe most outrageous, McCain himself has used the term several times, most recently talking about Hillary Clinton's healthcare plan. "I think they put some lipstick on a pig, but it's still a pig," he said last year. Was he being sexist? Where was the condemnation back then?

Second, Obama wasn't even talking about Palin when he made the remark; he was talking about McCain's empty economic program. Which sure enough looks like lipstick on a pig, to me.

But the most despicable thing about this campaign of faux-outrage is the GOP's sad double standard about Sarah Palin's treatment. Let me first say: One thing I like about Sarah Palin is her toughness. As I've already written, she can throw a punch, and she can take a punch. She glories in the "pit bull" role the vice-presidential nominee often plays. And yet the cynical McCain campaign is trying to erect a defense shield around her using the tackiest kind of victim feminism. Palin herself should tell her cowardly handlers to knock it off; she's woman enough to stand up for herself. (Oh, except then she might have to talk to the press, and we know she's not quite woman enough for that, at least not yet.)

Like Glenn, I think Obama made a real start at self-defense today, finally, proclaiming "spare me the false outrage" and "enough is enough" with Rovian attacks. I hope he keeps fighting back. McCain and Palin know their campaign is dead in the water if the race is on the issues, so they're trying to gin up phony controversies and keep Obama on his heels. I'm glad to see him standing up for himself today, and I look forward to more of it.

By Joan Walsh

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2008 Elections