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Tea Party lady loyalty trumps experience and reason…

September 17, 2010 by  
Filed under News, Politics, Weekly Columns

( What does one do with a woman who routinely obsesses about masturbation, drag queens, fetishes, Madonna and Britney Spears, nude sunbathing, psychics, freak dancing, and Lord of the Ring’s author J.R.R. Tolkien? Answer: You make them a Republican Senate candidate.

The woman in question with the prurient interest in kinky sexuality and off beat subjects is Christine O’Donnell the newly crowned Republican senate candidate in Delaware. But O’Donnell’s not alone among GOP women with fringe ideas that are wildly popular with thousands of voters.

Nevada GOP nominee Sharron Angle has also ladled out her share of eyebrow-raising zingers on AIDS, wearing the color black, and abortion. But the wackiness hasn’t hurt them one bit, in fact it’s added to their allure. And with the generous backing of ring mistress Sarah Palin and Tea Party factions their political stock has soared through the roof.

The checklist of the Palin backed, ultra conservative, white (or non-black) women that have exploded on the national scene grow daily. In addition to O’Donnell, and Angle, there’s California Republican senatorial nominee Carly Fiorina, California gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman, and South Carolina gubernatorial nominee Nikki Haley. They have been able to say and do things that male and black female candidates and incumbents would get laughed out of the gate for.

Former New York Senate GOP nominee Rick Lazio got a taste of how gender now reigns in politics when he faced then-Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton during their 2000 debate and demanded she sign a pledge. The outrage that followed insured a Clinton landslide win.

There are really not one but two double standards operating with the smash political success of Palin and the Tea Party conservative white women who are rewriting the book on gender and politics. One is that they are women, and even when they sound like loonies, they still keep their head above the political fray. That was much in evidence when Palin hit the scene in 2008.

There was much talk that the media was sexist, dismissive, and employed a gender double standard in pounding her. There was a deep tinge of that in its Palin bash. McCain and top GOP operatives stood that on its head and screamed loudly about it. This alerted millions to the possibility that Palin was treated unfairly solely because she’s a woman. Palin padded the gender advantage when she shrewdly told Katie Couric that she didn’t think the media was sexist.

When Palin absolved it of any gender wrong doing it had to be on its best behavior, and on an occasion put on a good face on her.

It also meant that her VP rival Joe Biden had to step even more gingerly around her. If he made to aggressive an attack on her it would have stirred the anger and resentment that Palin was being dogged because she’s a woman. Biden avoided like the plague making any personal digs against her for her real and perceived towering inadequacies on foreign policy and the economy. That let her off the hook from having to undergo too deep a probe into her woeful inexperience on these issues.

Palin had yet another edge to her gender double edged sword. Women make up the majority of voters. They are sensitive to any real or perceived insensitive male verbal cues especially when the target is another female opponent. Also, in countless surveys, polls, and anecdotal conversations, women say they are less likely to stay up on political issues than men, and are more likely to vote for a candidate based on personal likes or dislikes than men.

The other double standard is race. Black male or female candidates and incumbents know that they are under an intense media and public looking glass. One gaffe, misstep, or slip verbally, and they will be the endless subject of ridicule, jabs, and attacks. One need look no further than a woman who holds no office, but is the most visible and known black female public figure in America, first lady Michelle Obama.

The personal barrage against her for everything from her looks to shopping to her travel to alleged political condescending remarks she made have been non-step, and almost as vicious as those on President Obama. There is no comparable legion of websites, bloggers, and talk jocks that have turned bashing O’Donnell, Angle and Palin into virtual cottage industries as they have with Michelle.

When O’Donnell speaks at the ultra conservative Family Research Council’s Values Summit confab in Washington D.C., she will be accorded near rock star press and public attention and the dreamy eyed adulation of thousands. Like her mentor Palin, no matter what inanity that comes out of her mouth will be deemed eminently quotable, and even treated with a level of dignity and respect. This will just be further proof that gender, that is when rightwing white women are the gender, in politics now can trump race and even reason.

Written By Earl Ofari Hutchinson

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