Friday, September 5, 2008

An Open Letter to Sarah Palin

My friend Scott (he's one of the good guys) posted this on his Facebook page and I just have to share it with you.

Feel free to distribute it as you like.

Hello All,

I just can't refrain from sharing this piece with you which I wrote this morning after Sarah Pallin's appalling speech last night! I was so outraged by her smarmy sarcasm! This piece has just been picked up by Women's Feature Service, a syndicate to which I regularly contribute, so I am prohibited from submitting it to major dailies. However, feel free to share as widely as you'd like!

Elayne Clift
PO Box 299
Saxtons River, Vt 05154 USA
802-869-2686/fax 2687


Okay, you did it. You hoodwinked your party and a lot of other Americans too, I suspect, with your cheerleader’s charm and your finger-waving fervor. You got yourself called “Hottest VP.” Some say you “knocked it out of the park.” Well, I think you should be knocked out of the park, Sarah, and here’s why.

First, your hypocrisy is astounding. How can you possibly say that something like an unplanned pregnancy is a personal matter deserving of privacy? Doesn’t every woman who grapples with a painful abortion decision deserve the same privacy? What rock have you been living under that enables you to advocate for abstinence-only sex education when you can’t even teach that dubious value to your own daughter? Why do you speak of love and support for children (including the unborn) when your party refuses to legislate policies that would offer them decent healthcare and early childhood education and provide their mothers with a modicum of support, including paid maternity leave?

You are a selfish woman, Sarah, with dubious priorities. “J’accuse”, as writer Emile Zola wrote -- but you must pardon me for exposing my elitist education -- because as a mother myself, I cannot fathom how you would subject a teenage daughter in trouble to the kind of public scrutiny she now must endure in the interest of your own ambitions. At the risk of sounding like a failed feminist, I must also say that being the mother of a special needs child too, I just don’t get how you can abdicate the desperately important advocacy and monitoring that will be required in these first years of your son’s life. (I know your husband is deeply involved and responsible, but believe me, Sarah, no one does it like a mom.) As you said yourself, “Children with special needs inspire special love.” Where is your special love, Sarah? Family values, I might remind you, are not just a set of lofty ideals wrapped in grandiose rhetoric; they involve making hard choices in the best interest of everyone in the family.

By now many people are finding you either mean-spirited or remarkably ignorant. I think you are both. Nothing revealed these characteristics so much or so shockingly as your attack (and Rudy Guliani’s) on community organizing. “I guess a small town mayor is sort of like a ‘community organizer’ except that you have actual responsibilities,” you said. Don’t you get it, Sarah? Community organizing is what your beloved faith-based charities do! Community organizing by women all around this country is what happened in the 1970s and 80s to enable you to be taken seriously as a candidate for vice president, and to stand, God forbid, a heartbeat away from being the CEO of the most powerful country on earth. Community organizing is what got us the Americans with Disabilities Act which will serve your son well as he matures. I will never, ever, forgive you, Sarah, for your snide, sarcastic, demeaning, despicable disrespect for one of America’s finer traditions – or for your surly attacks on the media, America’s Fourth Estate and a pillar of any democracy.

Your much anticipated coming out party was billed as a way for all of us to get to know who you are. Well, Sarah, I know who you are. You are the bully in the sandbox, the teenager who thinks she can get her way by being flirtatious, the adult who thinks she can get by without doing the hard work and get ahead without paying much dues, the politician who believes that lies are more expedient than facts. I know who you are, Sarah, and I don’t like or trust you. I find you duplicitous, shallow, insulting and frighteningly retro – all qualities I am terrified to contemplate in a V.P. or a president.

For the record, by the way, here are just a few reasons, reported by the Associated Press, that I find you duplicitous and dishonest:

• You said you had protected taxpayers by vetoing wasteful spending but the truth is that as mayor of Wasilla you hired a lobbyist and went to Washington every year to support earmarks for the town totaling $27 million. Since you’ve been governor Alaska has requested nearly $750 million in special federal funding, the largest per capital request in the country. And that Bridge to Nowhere? You only dropped the idea after it was ridiculed nationally.

• You accused Barack Obama of never having authored a major law or reform, “not even in the state senate.” The fact is that as a new senator Mr. Obama worked in a bipartisan way to pass federal legislation, now law, that helped intercept illegal shipments of WMDs and made it harder to stockpile conventional weapons. He also co-sponsored major ethics reform legislation.

• You falsely accuse Mr. Obama of planning to raise all kinds of taxes without fully sharing his complete and complex tax plan. In reality, just for starters, the McCain-Palin plan would raise taxes for middle income taxpayers by 3% while the Obama-Biden plan would provide $80 billion in tax breaks, mainly for poor workers and the elderly.

• You and Mr. McCain continue to inflate your experience and role as governor in a state that ranks 47th in terms of population. For example, you may be in charge of your state’s national guard, but your authority does not include calling those guards into actual military service. (Alaska has one of the smallest state guards in the country, by the way.) Contrary to what John McCain has claimed, you do not have national security as one of your primary responsibilities.

Sarah, Sarah, Sarah. Even your own political pundits, Peggy Noonan and Mike Murphy, were caught by a live mike calling your speech “political [expletive]” and bemoaning the fact that “It’s over.” Honey, I’m afraid that as the truth keeps surfacing and folks get beyond your being a “hotty,” and when you must finally respond to the press on the Sunday morning talk shows or at press conferences, and when the spotlight shines down upon you as you debate your formidable, experienced opponent you will no longer be the toast of your party. You will simply be toast. And that’s something I wouldn’t find hard to swallow at all.

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Elayne Clift writes about women, politics and social issues from Saxtons River, Vt.

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