Sunday, September 07, 2008

Falling off the "Bridge to Nowhere"

Concerned Americans are worried that John McCain's V.P. choice, Sarah Palin, may snare enough women voters, particularly from among Hillary Clinton supporters, to deliver the White House to the Republican Party in the November election. While the possibility exists, it is remote and likely to get remoter as Election Day approaches.

To suggest that women will vote for Palin because she is a woman is an insult to all women. Gender issues may make headlines but is never the deciding factor in any election. "McCain must think we are idiots," was a refrain heard from Clinton camp around the country.

With soaring prices of essentials and lack of affordable healthcare for millions of Americans, suggesting that voters will line up for Palin because she "electrified" a partisan crowd with a prepared speech is condescension at its worst.

Critics and commentators invariably underestimate the sturdy commonsense and the fundamental fairness of ordinary Americans. The average American can distinguish between style and substance with a clarity he or she is rarely given credit for. Palin's speech did not sway voters whose elemental concerns - food, housing, job, healthcare - the governor of Alaska found too lowbrow to mention in her speech. Her mocking, sarcastic remarks on Barack Obama may have drawn laughs at the convention laugh but outside, it angered and alienated many Americans.

Right-wing outlets like The Wall Street Journal and Fox News would have us believe that a single speech written for her by Republican operatives has magically transformed Sister Sarah into a combination of Margaret Thatcher, Joan of Arc and Laura Ingalls. This is laughable. Americans are not only not falling for it, they are finding it breathtakingly arrogant and offensive.

McCain's choice of Sarah Palin ("a bridge to nowhere", in the words of columnist Ellen Goodman) was a cynical and ruthless attempt to grab women voters. The ploy has failed even if the polls show a temporary surge for McCain-Palin. There will be a new dawn in America on November 5 and Democrats will be cheering.

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