Manisha Sinha: Sarah Palin and the Betrayal of American Women

Roundup: Historians' Take

The emergence of Sarah Palin as the Vice Presidential Republican candidate is one of the biggest acts of betrayal against women in American history. In a transparent and cynical ploy to appeal to women's votes, John McCain has picked an anti-women's rights woman candidate. The worst part is that both his gutter tactics and playing "identity" politics of the obvious kind seems to be working. White women as a group have shifted from Obama to McCain. It is about time that the press, leading women in the country and Obama's supporters reveal the true record of the McCain-Palin ticket on women's issues.

McCain's selection of a political light weight like Palin is not only politically opportunistic but reveals his extremely poor judgment in the first important decision taken by him as the Republican nominee for President. Clearly, he is the one who puts politics and winning the Presidency before his country, a lie that he projected on to his far more worthy opponent. Ms. Palin's gender and her ability to mouth one-liners do not excuse the personal and political scandals that have already marred her selection or her complete ignorance of most international and domestic issues. It is a slap on the face of most American women to have one of their worst rather than one of their best represent them at the highest levels of government.

The place to begin in judging the McCain-Palin ticket is John McCain's views on women before his shameful and hypocritical reincarnation as the candidate for American women. All we know about McCain on women's issues is that he has opposed equal pay for equal work and the right to choose. He tells horrible "jokes" about rape, abandoned his first wife when she was physically incapacitated and publicly called Cindy McCain a word that rhymes with "punt." A man who disrespects his wives, first and second, cannot respect any woman. In an open and brazen attempt to appeal to women, one now finds McCain on "The View" and Rachel Ray's cooking show. His philandering days as a navy pilot and his improper relations with a female lobbyist lie forgotten. Whatever heroics McCain may have performed in Vietnam, he is no knight in shining armor. When it comes to women, he is downright dishonorable, personally and politically.

Perhaps it is only natural that McCain would pick a woman like Sarah Palin, who has opposed every single woman's issue, as his Vice Presidential nominee. Palin is anti-choice but demands the right to privacy and choice for her family. The pregnancy of her underage daughter is a legitimate issue when she is against sex education in public schools and when the McCain-Palin ticket falsely accuses Senator Obama of promoting sex education for kindergartners! As Mayor, she forced victims of rape to pay for their state medical examination and is against abortion even in the case of rape or incest. She not only fails the test of feminism but of common human decency.

Palin is probably the worst breed of conservative women since southern white slaveholding women defended slavery as a positive good and opposed the women's rights movement as heretical for allegedly overturning both God's and nature's plans for women. Her religious fundamentalism, often mistaken for spirituality, makes her the perfect historical heir to these women rather than Abraham Lincoln, whose legacy she had the temerity to evoke. Lincoln was a religious skeptic who came to believe that the Civil War was divine judgment on the nation for its sin of slavery. Does Palin believe that? As a proponent of Biblical literalism, she should probably defend slavery as an institution sanctioned by God. In fact, what better way to honor Lincoln's legacy on racial emancipation and black rights than inaugurate a gifted African American man as President on the bicentennial of his birth and repudiate the man who refused to honor Martin Luther King, Jr. and the long struggle for equal rights in this country.

On nearly every issue, Palin's positions reveal both her inability and unwillingness to grasp basic facts and her unseemly pride in proclaiming her ignorance. She wants to ban books that don't follow her religious beliefs from town libraries, despite a USA Today report to the contrary, and wants "creationism" taught in our schools. The fact that she would want to ban any book is reminiscent of Nazi censorship and burning of books. She dismisses global warming as a myth not created by human activity and is unable to accept the theory of evolution. Her anti-intellectual and anti-scientific mentality reflects her college experience in no less than six different schools in the space of five years. She is actually a nice complement to McCain, who graduated near the bottom of the naval academy, and Bush, whose poor record as a student is well known. The ability to see Russia from Alaska is touted as her foreign policy expertise rather than her complete lack of knowledge about the Bush doctrine of pre-emptive war. It is not the liberal intelligentsia that Republicans rail against but intelligence itself. Mockery and distortion (forgetting the Biblical injunctions against lying and "do unto others..."), is all that the gun toting and trigger happy McCain-Palin ticket have to offer against their infinitely more talented and intelligent opponent.

In the most brazen instance of political plagiarism, McCain and Palin have been happily lifting Obama's words, ideas and slogans. Pretending to be a reformer, Palin is guilty of firing a state official for refusing to fire her former brother in law, revealing the worst kind of corruption and cronyism. Accepting per diem payments from the state treasury while she was at home, spinning lies about her opposition to the "bridge to nowhere," selling the Governor's jet on ebay and firing the Governor's cook will not make her a reformer. Moderates and independents should be aware that Palin is a right wing, fundamentalist Republican and her selection proves that the McCain-Palin ticket is neither independent nor maverick. Most American women ought to be smarter than this blatant attempt to make them vote for an anti-woman candidate simply because she is a woman.

The Republicans will distract us to death with manufactured small issues like lipstick because they want to divert attention from their dismal eight year record of failure on every front. It is the height of irony to have the most sexist ticket in recent presidential history cry sexism. If American women want to continue the Republican record of economic disaster and international disrepute, they should vote McCain-Palin. They are wrong on Iraq, wrong on the economy, wrong on the environment and wrong on women's issues. If women want to vote for a ticket that will undo every gain made on women's rights in the past few decades they should vote McCain-Palin.

It is also time for leading American women, progressive women, Democratic women and their supporters to speak out more forcefully against the McCain-Palin charade. (Sign the Women against Palin petition started recently.) As one who has been a long time admirer of the Clintons but a supporter of Obama this election cycle, I was disappointed that recently in Florida Hillary missed a golden opportunity to rally white women behind Obama by not taking on Palin explicitly. Her surrogates like the historian Sean Wilentz in a Time magazine article have been worse, repeating the canards and manufactured talking points of the McCain campaign. Hillary and her supporters need to do much more to address the stalking horse of Palin's candidacy. In fact all those feminists who strongly supported Hillary should now call Palin out. Otherwise, many women will vote for Palin believing they are advancing the cause of women in politics when precisely the opposite is true. American women have been betrayed and their leaders ought to take note.

Read entire article at Huffington Post (Blog)

comments powered by Disqus

More Comments:

Lorraine Paul - 10/6/2008

I think I've stumbled upon three very nasty gossipping people who have just lost the respect of the few colleagues who still held it towards them!

Lorraine Paul - 10/6/2008

I think I've stumbled upon three very nasty gossipping people who have just lost the respect of the few colleagues who still held it towards them!

William Jackson Ray - 9/29/2008

I'm sorry, but did I stumble upon the History News Network or the "Obama for President" website? Sinha, you've left the fold of true historians... go rant someplace else.

Andrew Pennachio - 9/22/2008

Why the explanation? Did you feel challenged and a bit insecure? Your adolescent history lesson applied to this person’s tirade and the fact that you felt it necessary to explain for her is pretty sad unless it mitigates some of your inner turmoil. If the latter is the case, I suggest that you be an observer since a relevant participant you’re not.

Andrew Pennachio - 9/22/2008

Give me a break. She certainly has the right and SO DO I.

Critiquer, critique they self.

Eugene Clough - 9/22/2008

Ms. Sinha is entitled to her opinion, but for many, the betrayal of American women began with the 1973 Supreme Court decision declaring mothers could kill their unborn babies up until the moment of birth. Ms. Sina's opinion piece is just one relatively innocuous, if slightly overheated, consequence of that decision.

Harry Blackmun's Roe v. Wade opinion has, ever since its publication, held the nation in an uproar over the killing of the unborn.

"The Constitution does not explicitly mention any right of privacy. In a line of decisions, however . . . the Court has recognized that a right of personal privacy . . . does exist . . . in the penumbras of the Bill of Rights. . . ."

His slack and unscholarly argument will forever be a perfect example of Constitutional law poorly reasoned and poorly expressed.

So regardless of who wins in the 2008 elections, one can be sure that its outcome will decide little about the betrayal of American women. But Ms. Sinha may gain some insight into who agrees with her opinions by examining the number and gender of voters who vote for the McCain/Palin ticket.

Andrew Pennachio - 9/22/2008

It's true but no surprise. She would better fit-in at Columbia University but Amherst also has spiraled into that abyss where these individuals learn to stifle honest discussion.

Andrew Pennachio - 9/22/2008

Does your reply mean that you agree with Manisha Sinha? Otherwise it seems to be a non-sequitur.

Andrew Pennachio - 9/22/2008

What are her qualifications when compared to those of the Presidential Candidate?

As I read Manisha Sinha's tirade all I see is another individual attempting to play something of substance armed with a one string guitar; no high note no low notes no harmony and totally without SUBSTANCE.

The cause of women can only be advanced by the individual. Ms Sinha's ability to advance is only limited by her own self confidence or the lack thereof.

Sinha's invective and woman of like thinking are straight out of the 80's and all must have arrived on the same mode of transportation.

In closing, I wonder what soon to be Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni would have as a response to your one dimensional diatribe?

Susan Aiello - 9/22/2008

Sinha's blog is an unbelievable piece of dishonesty, trickery and disillusionment.
In revealing "the true record" of the McCain-Palin ticket, Sinha is blatantly dishonest.
Yes, McCain left his firt wife. Lots of people leave their spouses. Are we supposed to believe that this is evil or "against women"? Do we really know that McCain called Cindy the "c" word? I don't. Did Sinha rail against sexual predator Bill Clinton? I doubt it.
Sinha states that Gov. Palin is a "religious fundamentalist", and that her faith is not spiritual. Palin is far from a fundamentalist, always stating that her beliefs are he own personal choices. We have seen no evidence of her wanting to force her beliefs on others. There are different versions of the "book banning" incident, you know. Sinha chooses to believe that Palin tried to ban books, others in Alaska say differently.
Palin is NOT against sex ed in schools; she stated once that she would like to see abstinence ed. also included in sex ed.
Sinha states that Palin "is guilty of firing" an official because he wouldn't fire her ex-brother-in law.
This is blatantly false. The case is under investigation, and it is difficult to believe that Sinha does not know this.
I doubt that Sinha has even researched what happened with the "Bridge to Nowhere".
To say that Palin as VP is "a slap on the the face to most women" is absurd. Liberal feminists perceive Palin as an insult to themselves and to their beliefs and agendas. They hate it that a woman who is not from their fold, not in their control, has made it on her own without their help, because it proves that their movement has out-lasted a need, and that women don't need them.
For Sinha to assume that McCain chose Palin simply to pull in women's votes is extremely naive. Palin appeals to the Republican base, women in general, and to blue-collar independents (including men). McCain knew exactly what he was doing.
Sinha's blog reveals an appalling lack of research, and is packed with small-mindedness, intolerance and bigotry.
I looked Sinha up, and read that she holds a Ph.D. and is an Amherst professor. Pleace, tell me it's not true.

Virginia Harris - 9/19/2008

Let's Hear It for the Ladies Who Brought Us the 19th Amendment and the Women's Vote!

Senator Clinton and Governor Palin are proof that women can and do diverge on important issues.

Thanks to the success of the suffragettes, women have voices and choices.

But most people are totally in the dark about HOW the suffragettes won votes for women, and what life was REALLY like for women before they did.

“The Privilege of Voting” is an exciting, new FREE e-mail series that reveals ALL that happened to set the stage for women to finally win the vote.

It's shocking, sometimes heartbreaking, very inspiring and ALL true!

Powerful suffragettes Alice Paul and Emmeline Pankhurst are featured, along with First Lady Edith Wilson (who opposed votes for women), and TWO gorgeous presidential mistresses.

It’s rocky road to the ballot box, but in the end, women WIN! Exciting, sequential episodes with lots of historical photos are great to read on coffeebreaks, or anytime.

I hope you will subscribe, and share this opportunity with others.

It’s free at