Why is Palin winning over white women?

Obviously she is someone ... they'd want to run a 10K race with?

Published September 10, 2008 8:10PM (EDT)

Because you haven't read enough about Sarah Palin today, Politico has posted an interesting open forum that asks, "Why are white women flocking to McCain-Palin and will it last?" Quoting a wide range of individuals, from Republican and Democratic strategists to congressman, academics and policy experts, the forum retreads most of the now-mundane arguments for and against Palin. However, there were a few perspectives on the Republican vice-presidential candidate I hadn't seen before that, to say the least, caught my attention.

First, there's Tennessee Rep. Marsha Blackburn, who writes, "Working women have the common experience of being passed over for a younger, less experienced, male who was supposed to be the great new talent." Now, perhaps I'm confused, but Sarah Palin was passed over for what, exactly? Blackburn must be referencing Hillary Clinton's failed run for the Democratic presidential nomination against that "great new talent," Barack Obama -- but that only makes the statement more illogical. Again, Hillary is a Democrat and a pro-choice one at that. So is Blackburn suggesting that any woman's experience is equivalent to any other's?

Then, there's Connecticut Rep. Chris Shays, who claimed, "as a working mother of five, women know [Palin's] up for just about any challenge." Hmm, "challenge" seems like an odd, understated way to describe the duties of the vice president. (Shay's statement also has a misplaced modifier, but that's another discussion.) And while I respect the demands of motherhood, I don't hear anyone making the claim that because Barack Obama is a father of two, he is therefore qualified to be president.

But I've been wrong before, so I went to a trusted source for advice. Like most people, I have a mother, and shockingly, when I asked her whether being a mother made her qualified to be leader of the free world, she gave me her typical "I can't believe someone so stupid could be my son" sigh of exasperation, angrily said, "No," and told me she had to get back to work.

Left with nothing more than a dial tone, I returned to Politico's forum and found what had to be my favorite quote. Amity Shlaes, a columnist, bestselling author and senior fellow in economic history at the Council on Foreign Relations, writes, "Women want to have fun with other women. Palin seems like someone you would run a 10K with. Sure, she has troubles, but she wouldn't spend the whole run griping about them. There is something anti-therapeutic about her that is deeply attractive."

Now, I have to admit that at first read, Shlaes' statement left me absolutely baffled. Over the years, various girlfriends have told me countless times that I don't "get women," and after assessing my reaction to Shlaes' quote, I was thinking they must be right. See, in my Neanderthal straight male brain, Shlaes' statement seemed astonishingly sexist: Women merely want the second most powerful person in the world to be someone they could imagine attending a spinning class with? Did the presidential election somehow become an episode of "Sex and the City" while I was sleeping?

To clear up my confusion, I asked Broadsheet's very own Sarah Hepola, an expert on all things women, if Shlaes' assertion was true. Her response: "Yes. I want a vice president I can have a pillow fight with." Well, everything is clear now. Sarah Palin certainly seems like the right choice for women.

By Vincent Rossmeier

Vincent Rossmeier is an editorial assistant at Salon.

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