Friday, August 29, 2008

Oops. Palin is very Much a Right-wing Repubican by Norman Markowitz

In my last blog post I succumbed to a danger that historians often
succumb to--I repeated conventional wisdom that Palin was not
"especially" a right-wing Republican. But she is a paladin(no pun
intended) of the religious "new right" who likes to cultivate the
image of a "maverick" that John McCain has embraced. For McCain, she
is both a female Dan Quayle(a non entity to be brought on the ticket
to attract specific groups of voters) and also a sort of rightwing
Republican "unity" candidate, combining the secular rightwing with the
religious rightwing.
Like McCain, Palin cultivates the image of an "anti-corruption"
reformer. Like McCain she in her two years as Governor of Alaska has
supported uncritically the oil companies and other big businesses who
see Alaska the way prospectors saw it in the gold rush. Her
environmental record is lousy. Like McCain's anti-corruption
posturing and record of support for figures like Charles Keating, the
major figure in the multi-billion dollar Savings and Loan Scandal of
the Reagan era, Palin has led a party in Alaska which this week
renominated Ted Stevens, the U.S. Senator under federal indictment,
for the Senate.

But Palin's major plus for McCain is that she is an anti-reproductive
rights woman, who the clerical right will turn into a heroine.
Reproductive rights, including the right to terminate pregnancies, was
and is a major issue of the women's rights movement. Palin, who in
her first address to the press, sought to piggy back off Hillary
Clinton, is as much an example of the advance of women's rights as
Clarence Thomas is of Civil Rights.

Without the gains made by the movements, Palin, like Thomas, would not
be where she is. But Palin, like Thomas on civil rights, has nothing
to do with the ideals and policies which motivated the women who
fought for and gained a presidential commission chaired by Eleanor
Roosevelt on the status of women in the Kennedy years, fought for and
gained inclusion in the civil rights legislation of the Johnson years,
fought for and gained through organizations like the National
Organization for Women, state and federal protections for women's
rights under law, in employment, and in education, along with the
legal right to choose to have an abortion.
As is often true in history, Palin is a product of partial but
significance progressive change who stands as both a road block to
continued progressive change and an instrument of those who have
sought to reverse progressive change in women's rights over the last
thirty years.
I hope someone asks Palin where she stands on the Equal Rights
Amendment. On Affirmative Action protections for women. I can
imagine her positions, but they should be put on the record.

As a final point, Palin is the wife of an army sniper who received the
Purple Heart for wounds he suffered from a roadside bomb in Iraq.
McCain, whatever the issue, somehow finds a way to get back to combat.
Norman Markowitz