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Can a Mom Rule?

Sarah, Todd and Trig Palin

AP Photo/Al Grillo

What do you think of this? It's from a new PAC, WomenCount, whose founder was a big Hillary supporter: "We will defend Sarah Palin against misogynist smears not because we like her or support her, but because that's how feminism works."

Here's the rest of an email from WomenCount:

It started Friday afternoon with John Roberts on CNN, and then in a slow build over the weekend it became clear what the leading sexist charge would be against Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin: Is it appropriate for her to accept the vice presidential nomination given the magnitude of her current family responsibilities?

The question came not just from members of the media but also from voters around the country who wrote in to news organizations and on blogs.

The obvious retort is whether anyone would ask the same question of the father of a four-month-old with Down Syndrome and a pregnant teenager. We think not.

Radio talk host Ed Schultz on CNN Monday night took things even further by declaring that Palin would not be able to focus on her job given her family distractions.

And Washington Post columnist Sally Quinn wrote: "Of course, women can be good mothers and have careers at the same time. I've done both. Other women in public office have children ... but ... a mother's role is different from a father's."

The message? Sarah Palin: bad mother.

On that count we have no doubt these accusations would never be made about a man. In that sense, Sally Quinn is right — and that's why things have got to change.

The very notion that Sarah Palin should not have accepted this nomination because she is a mother with demanding challenges underscores just how far we have to go.

Throughout the weekend, we have been asked about WomenCount's views on Sarah Palin as the Republican nominee. It is important to distinguish between the broader issue of sexism and the ideology of an individual. WomenCount was born of the passion its founders had for Hillary Clinton's clear view of social issues and progressive values. We cannot pretend that Governor Palin meets any standard of progressive politics or social values.

Regardless of the candidates' ideology, we will work to stamp out sexism when we see it on the campaign trail. To paraphrase the words of one blogger who said it best over the weekend: We will defend Sarah Palin against misogynist smears not because we like her or support her, but because that's how feminism works."

Do you think the attacks against Sarah Palin are sexist?What do mothers, grandmothers and moms-to-be think? Can a mom rule?



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I think that she needs to stay home and take care of that infant and those wild teenage girls and stop acting like the devoted, loving mom.

Sent by Mary Ellen | 2:37 PM | 9-8-2008

First, I am a middle- aged, middle-class, woman with a master's degree. Politically I am an Independent, I value my right to choose in ever area and do not want to be locked into any certain ideology. During my graduate studies I wrote many research and thesis papers on feminism and I am a staunch women's rights advocate. I am also a mother of two children who are now young adults. My career sailed with the ebb and flow of my family life, I chose to put my family at the helm of my life through it all. Of course, every woman has a right to choose what is best for her and I will always defend that right, however I am also a realist. With the right to choose comes responsibility -the ability to respond thus I am aware of my own human limitations and the crucial need to set boundaries in my personal and professional life. Governor Palin said in her speech "Children with special needs inspire a very, very special love." No doubt about that, but she omitted they also require a lot of time, attention and sacrifice from BOTH parents. I speak from experience, my son was born with a birth defect and I put my career on hold and my husband had to use many family leave days to help care for our son especially during the first four years of his life, in addition, we needed my mother-in-law's support because two parents weren't even enough at times. Both my husband and I had to make sacrifices in our professional lives so we could put our son's developmental needs at the top of our priority list, taking him to various therapies and working with him at home was a full time job in itself, there was no job on earth that could have lured me to work outside my home at that time. Today, my husband and I have a very strong bond with our son, even with all the challenges we faced I would not have traded that time in my life for anything. Our daughter is now an Occupational Therapist and works with pre-school children who have autism, Down's and other congenital abnormalities, she tells me early intervention and parental involvement in therapy insures a better future for these kids. This has proved true for my son, he has overcome many difficulties in his life with the aid of various therapies and parents who teamed together to diligently implement these therapies at home. He has exceeded all medical and educational expectations and is a functional adult who has embarked on his own career. McCain even admitted in his speech "the pleasures of family life can seem like a brief holiday from the crowded calendar of our nation's business." Being a parent of a special needs child, a pregnant teen, and three other children requires more than a "brief holiday". As I said earlier, I am a staunch woman's rights advocate but I'm also a realist. I also strongly disagree that my view is "sexist" and am offended that my opinion would be labeled as "misogyny". This applies to men also as indicated on "The Reality-Based Community" blog bio of a professor and author, "Until three years ago, he had hobbies that included chess, swimming, movies, history, and English and American literature. Now, he is the proud father of a three-year-old son." If any other male politician was facing the same challenges in his family I would definitely be questioning his decision to put his career before the immediate pressing needs of his family. Also if Governor Palin was not facing such serious family issues I would have a different view. I do not think she is a "bad mother" as suggested in the above email, I have no idea what kind of mother she is but I do disagree with her values. My opinion is not based on a political agenda, feminist theory or rhetoric it is based on my own personal experience. I think every voter evaluates candidates based on their priorities and values. I care deeply about our country, the needs of my fellow citizens, my own rights and duties as a citizen and believe strongly in community service but if I were in Governor Palin's shoes I would be holding a sign saying 'Family First', her decision to join the campaign at this time in her life may be in line with her values but it conflicts with my values and that is a legitimate issue for me to consider when choosing the next president. While special interest groups may disagree, I defend my right to have an opinion and value my freedom to express it publicly

Sent by Ali Harrod | 2:04 PM | 9-9-2008

The moms of 4 month olds I know are mostly still up all night, sleep deprived, stressed out and trying to get past the PPD stage. Maybe Mrs. Palin has more home support than the moms I know, maybe her older children are helping out, maybe Dad is doing all the work... the point is we don't know. If she thinks she can handle the job and her family, who are we to say she can't?

I'm personally voting for Obama, but that was decided long before Palin came on the scene.

Oh, and yes, I would ask the same of a male candidate with a special needs 4 month old, and I'd trust they could do the job if they said they could.

Sent by Julie | 2:41 PM | 9-9-2008

Is it sexist? Of course it isn't. She's an under qualified politician for the national stage. She's run her state for less than 2 years following questionable ethical practices, and lies. And, she thrust her family into the lime-light in order to appeal to the conservative right-wing religious base of the republican party.

So, do I think that the media informing the US public about the possible next VP is sexist? Absolutely not. Do I think that Rove politics perpetuates the perception that asking tough questions is sexist? Absolutely. There is no other way for them to sidestep questions to which they have no answers.

Sent by Clinton | 3:08 PM | 9-9-2008

As a mother of three children under the age of 8, a wife, and a pediatric physical therapist, I do think that a mom can rule and rule well. Do I think that anyone, a motherfor father of 5, one being a special needs infant, can rule? Maybe. Do I think Palin should? No.
As someone who has worked with countless special needs children, both in home and clinical settings, I have seen firsthand the toll that a special needs infant can take on a family. The amount of time, energy, money that must go into supporting the various needs of a special needs infant can be mind-boggling. As your listener so aptly stated above, the job of caring for a special needs child is too big for one person to handle, often two, thus resulting in the large number of divorces seen among the families of children with special needs.
Sarah Palin is young, and has the time ahead of her to run for national office. I am one who truly believes in honoring the seasons of our lives, and have done so in my own life, working a limited part-time schedule so that I can be home with my children as much as possible. I hope to one day be able to do more in my field. But I have chosen to put my career on a temporary hold for a time. This is something that both women and men must consider when they decide to have children. It is about choice, and I beleive that Palin has chosen to place work over her family at a time when it seems that perhaps family should come first. Would I think differently if her son were five years older, and time had been given to work through some of the tough issues that lie ahead for him? Yes, I would like to think so. Perhaps then I would see a woman who has judged wisely in the timing of her decisions and has truly worked to really balance work and family, instead of someone who pays lipservice to the special interest groups, gaining votes at the expense of a child.

Sent by Andrea Myane | 3:34 PM | 9-9-2008

"Do you think the attacks against Sarah Palin are sexist?"

No, I think the Republican Party has spent the last three decades being staunchly, virulently, and disgustingly sexist. This is just their chickens finally coming home to roost.

This is the party of Phyllis Schlafly, who once famously said, "Feminism is doomed to failure because it is based on an attempt to repeal and restructure human nature."

Human nature according to Phyllis being, you see: men do the important work, and women with five children (one with "special needs" as we will be told with ever-increasing shrillness as November approaches), stay home and keep things tidy and prepare to perform their "wifely duties".

"So what?", you say, "the Republican Party has come a long way since Phyllis!" OK, fine. Then PROVE IT. First by disenshrining her and every other Republican that ever spewed misogyny to steal an election. Secondly, vote with the rest of us to resurrect and pass ERA. Thirdly, vote with the rest of us to secure reproductive rights so women *aren't* forced to make unfair tradeoffs between family and personal success that men don't have to.

Do those things, and THEN we'll let your belipsticked dog off her chain. Do those things, and THEN we'll talk about not grilling her with the same sort of twisted logic Republicans have always revelled in before.

But not bloody well until.

You know, I find it truly amazing that not only have the Republicans been able to find African-American candidates who will stand up and fight against what's best for African-Americans, they've now found a woman who will do everything she can to bring misogyny to the Oval Office. And suddenly her *opponents* are the woman-haters?

Sent by Kasreyn | 5:30 PM | 9-9-2008

Re Sarah Palin: asking her tough questions is not the issue. Asking appropriate questions IS the issue.

I do not hear or see Joe Biden being asked questions about his daughters, ergo, Sarah Palin should not be asked.

I don't know who Joe Biden is married to. But I know a lot now about Tod Palin.

Media People! you are asking the wrong questions. What we really need to know is whether Palin's rhetoric and her voting record reflect each other. Does she actually vote for or against what she claims? We voters need to know this information, not whether she can field dress a moose...field dress a deer....or field dress a chicken!

I don't care what she feeds her family or at what time. I do care about what she proposes for the people here in the USA who have little food, NO medical insurance, and/or substandard living conditions. Does she want a nuclear reactor in every state? What is her stand on the nuclear waste we have buried in NM and NV? Is she willing to bury nuclear waste in AK?

Is she willing to go to the wall to support alternative forms of car fuel; will she take on auto manufacturers who have been dragging their excuses behind them for 35 YEARS!

How has she voted on Social Security issues? How has she voted on military issues? Is she a Dove or a Hawk? Prove it with full disclosure of her voting record.

TELL US THE ISSUES THAT MATTER...I don't care if Bristol is pregnant! I care about the 28,000 births of babies [of unmarried mothers] that are born every year in the United States, and how we are going to educate those babies?...AND THEIR [often] TEENAGE MOTHERS! I don't care if Palin wore a beauty queen's crown...does she understand that the VP job involves no crown...and no glory? Does she drag up her accomplishments as a mother, queen, PTO member? Or does she stick to discussing real political issues and her stand on them?

NO one is asking if Joe Biden can perform the duties of the VP should the Dems win in stop asking if Palin can. She doesn't act or talk like a woman who will fold under pressure.

by the way, I have traditionally voted Democrat....but the unexpected Republican pair is food for thought.

Sent by Melanie McDowell | 10:44 PM | 9-9-2008

My mother managed to hold a full time job in which she traveled often, and raise a son by herself, with a little help from her parents. Gov. Palin has four other children and a husband to help her out, so I think the home front is taken care of. Don't these people think the rest of her family will step up their responsibility to help Mom become Vice President of the United States? This question implies that Mom must do all the cleaning, watch the children all the time, and be there for every boo-boo and minor accomplishment. I think the question is not only sexist, but ignorant of how a family works together. Her children are not all infants and toddlers. The older children can certainly help with some of the responsibility, and husbands do a lot more housework nowadays than they did in the '50s.

Can the media PLEASE quit reporting on trivial BS and get to the meat and potatoes issues? Can we ask Gov. Palin how she feels about the rapid melting of her state and her policies to speed it up? Can we ask her why she kept the earmarked money to build a road to the "Bridge to Nowhere", even after the bridge plan was scrapped? Can we ask her why she continually lies about Sen. Obama's record, and stretches the truth on her own record?

Sent by Geoffrey Waller | 8:46 AM | 9-10-2008

Is it fair to discuss her family? Of course it is, and she started it. Sarah Palin can not trot out her new baby and pregnant daughter as examples of her public opinion on the right to life and then expect them to be off limits for public discussion.

If she becomes vice president, she will certainly have the resources available to provide for her kids, including the probability her husband will stay at home. It is just a question of how much parenting she is willing to delegate to others.

Sent by Erik | 12:40 PM | 9-10-2008