The damage John McCain's baldfaced sexism and Sarah Palin's cocktail waitress act have done to American feminism has yet to be fully assessed. Palin has actually forced me to realize that, however much I despise Hillary Clinton, I have never doubted her professionalism and capacity to fight and win on her own terms in a male-dominated world by meeting and exceeding the standards of any male counterpart. (It was not her fault she ran against the political genius of his generation.) I cannot even imagine her winking and flirting on stage, although the New Hampshire tears were a bit of a stunt.
Thatcher remains the standard. She was not above using feminine wiles in charming individuals; but in public, in debate, in the Commons, she beat men at their own game, using nothing but knowledge, forensics, expertise, argument and courage.
From Thatcher to Palin is not a slide downwards for conservative women. It's a free-fall. And McCain did it.
I call major bullshit. I would be absolutely shocked if Andrew Sullivan has not attributed Hillary Clinton's success in part to Bill's coattails, as I hear many people doing in discussions of her merit. Guess what, male politicians benefit from nepotism as well--why is it suddenly a problem when it's a woman? Oh, right, she doesn't belong there.
And I love his description of Thatcher. Feminine wiles to charm individuals in (it is implied) not-public? Take that like a step further and then think about it real hard. Lovely, Sully. I'm sure Thatcher would be delighted with your assessment.
His larger point about Palin's winking and flirting is true. But I will be so damned glad when this election is over and the constant spewing of sexism from the media and almost all other directions aimed at any and all women in politics at least slows down to more normal levels.