FARAI CHIDEYA, host:
From NPR News, this is News & Notes. I'm Farai Chideya.
One journalist says some women hate Governor Sarah Palin because she's hot or embarrassing or both. And we've got another one of those presidential debates coming up. We've got these stories and more on our Bloggers' Roundtable. We've got Shaun King, who blogs at shauninthecity.com, Patrice Yursick, who blogs at afrobell.com, and Eric Brown, who writes at detnews.com. Welcome all.
Ms. PATRICE YURSICK (Blogger, Afrobella.com): Hi.
Mr. SHAUN KING (Blogger, ShaunInTheCity.com): Hi.
Mr. ERIC BROWN (Blogger, DetNews.com): Hey, Farai.
CHIDEYA: So, journalist Belinda Luscombe wrote a piece about Sarah Palin. She is a Time Magazine reporter and it's called, "Why Some Women Hate Sarah Palin." She argues that women don't hate Sarah Palin necessarily because of her politics. She says, quote, "Women are weapons-grade haters. Hillary Clinton knows it. Palin knows it, too. When women get their hate on they don't just dislike or find disfavor with or sort of not really appreciate, they loathe deeply, richly, sustainingly." Patrice, that's a lot of load on women's backs. What do you think? Is this how we roll? Is this really how we roll?
Ms. YURSICK: I would like to think that women build a case rather than just loathe instantly, so I think that, you know, I think the Time Magazine piece was meant to be pretty humorous. There are some truths there and I think there are really, really strong passionate feelings for and against Sarah Palin. And there's some serious reasons to - I think hate is a strong word - but for me, there's some serious reasons to dislike her that go with her policies.
CHIDEYA: Give me an example.
Ms. YURSICK: I mean, I think there's some people who have the perception that adding a woman to the GOP ticket made it the automatic correct choice for female voters, but the person at the top of the ticket, John McCain, voted against the Equal Pay Act, you know. A lot of Sarah Palin's policies go directly against many of the most hard-fought achievements for women's rights. And as an animal lover, her policies really frighten me.
CHIDEYA: Now Eric, when you think about the gender politics of this race, I mean like the racial politics of this race they've been so amazingly convoluted. So, you have a woman who's the frontrunner for the Democrats who's a former first lady, who then goes on to be criticized for everything from her stance on healthcare to her pantsuits. And who is believed to be loved by some women and hated by others. And then at the last minute you get a Republican vice-presidential nominee who is criticized for everything from her child rearing to the way that she winks during debates. What is going on here? And are women going to come out better in the end? Women as leaders - going to come out better in the end after this election?
Mr. BROWN: I think a lot of it has to do with who the women were. No one really knew Sarah Palin up until now, so now they're just now getting to know her. And what they don't like about her has nothing to do with her being a woman, per se. I think it has a lot more to do with her issues, her agenda, and her being contradictory to what John McCain is about. I mean, how can a woman go and say she's a part of the ticket when he is someone that does not even approve of equal pay? So, she automatically becomes someone that feels the same way he does and I think that's what it's more about. As far as Hillary Clinton, I mean, she has this big group of women that was all about her. They didn't even care about her policy. They were supporting her only because she was a woman. So, I don't think it's as bad with her - or was with her - as it is with Palin. I think Palin is disliked for other reasons.
CHIDEYA: All right. I want to actually move on to something that happened on the campaign trail. Basically, Sarah Palin was out this weekend and she said, quote, "There's a place in hell reserved for women who don't support other women." Let's see how that comment is turned into whatever it's turned into in tomorrow's papers. And she was quoting Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. First of all, she got the quote slightly wrong.
Mr. BROWN: Right.
CHIDEYA: And then she got Madeleine Albright on her case. The former secretary of state then released something saying, though I'm flattered that Governor Palin has chosen to cite me as a source of wisdom, what I said had nothing to do with politics. This is yet another example of McCain and Palin distorting the truth and all the more reason to remember that this campaign is not about gender. She goes on and on and then says she supports Obama-Biden. So Shaun, who won that round?
Mr. KING: Well, I guess I give that round to Madeleine Albright. I mean, I think the challenge is you'll even hear conservative commentators like Shaun Hannity now try to call Sarah Palin a feminist or a womanist. And when people really evaluate her stance and the views that she holds, that just doesn't really hold up. And so I think a lot of women are really angry that Sarah Palin is trying to come in as kind of a pseudo-feminist, but it doesn't really match up. And so when you really hold her record to that stance, it really frustrates women, including people like Madeleine Albright.
CHIDEYA: I mean, do you think that it's just simply one of these things where, you know, politics is a rough and tumble sport and Sarah Palin's just got to do what she's got to do? Whether or not...
Mr. KING: Absolutely. Absolutely. Yeah. Absolutely. I mean, she's going to come at it strong and rough. So, I think the problem on some levels is there are so few women in politics at this level that Sarah Palin, even though I disagree with so many of her views, she is coming under some sexism and some scrutiny because she is dealing with things from her clothes and the winks and the way she sounds in a way that you just don't see even with Biden or Obama or McCain. And so she's going to have to be tough to even overcome some of those things.
Mr. BROWN: But there's a reason she's coming under scrutiny. I mean, come on, she's on Katie Couric and Charles Gibson coming across as if she doesn't have a brain cell in her head. And then she goes before a national audience at a debate and she just talks about speaking points and not answering questions.
Ms. YURSICK: And she performs with the camera, and the winking. It's just...
Mr. BROWN: The winking, I mean, come on.
CHIDEYA: Well, let's talk a little bit about policy. Where do you think - because I want to transition us into the debate preview for tomorrow. But on policy, is there anything that you've learned over the past few days as there was the vice-presidential debate that you felt that either Senator Biden or Governor Palin really made a point of clarifying for you? Because I think one of the things that happens is a lot of times we talk and as we were just talking about meta-politics, like how people portray themselves and all that. But on a level of policy, what was clarified for you? Or reiterated in a way that you felt this was a strong point, you know, over the course of the debates or around the debates? Patrice?
Ms. YURSICK: I mean, specifically in this last debate? I would say it wasn't really a game changer for me. I did not walk away from that debate feeling that I learned anything new about Sarah Palin's policies or where she really stood. I felt that she - you know, it was a performance for her base and it didn't reach me as somebody who was, you know, on the other side of her beliefs.
CHIDEYA: But what about her or Senator Biden? I mean, even if it wasn't something new, what do you think that she was really emphasizing or he was really emphasizing? What do you think their main selling point was on a policy level?
Ms. YURSICK: I mean, I guess Biden, for me - I think a lot of what he had to say was about - I got a real sense of professionalism and experience from him and knowledge. And from her, I think she was kind of more trading on being folksy and personality. So I mean, I really can't say there was any one policy point that she made that really - oh that made me change my mind about what Sarah Palin had to say. It didn't work.
CHIDEYA: Shaun or Eric? Did either of you get a strong policy, a bit of knowledge or wisdom from the past couple of days?
Mr. KING: Sure. Absolutely. I think particularly in the debate and even in these past few days, the differences between the Obama-Biden and McCain-Palin perspective on Iraq and Afghanistan is very, very clear. I mean, I think Palin kind of made it clear that she is still kind of toeing the McCain line of staying in Iraq if not indefinitely, for a long time and that pulling out is a defeat. She's against the timeline. Whereas Biden, even those he's had some votes to the contrary, made it clear that he was in full support of Obama's plan of putting in place a timeline for withdrawal. And I think that's a huge issue, and even though it's kind of taken a backseat with the economy the way it's going right now, and even today, I think that issue is something that some voters are going to go to the polls and vote based on their differences on that issue alone.
CHIDEYA: I want to go through each of you and ask the fabulous question, what would you ask if you were allowed to ask a question in tomorrow's town hall style debate? Because this is going to be moderated by NBC's Tom Brokaw. There's been a lot of attack ads, you know, politics between Senators Obama and McCain. So, I'm going to start with you, Patrice. If you were there in the room tomorrow night, what would you ask?
Ms. YURSICK: I guess I would probably want to ask John McCain, I know that he came out against using really negative smears in some of his - you know in his campaign ads, and he said specifically that Revered Wright was not going to be an issue that was on the table. However, Sarah Palin went to the New York Times, I think it was today or yesterday, and made statements about Reverend Wright. So, does that not go directly against what he said his campaign was going to do? And by speaking out, is she representing his campaign or does he have a problem with that?
CHIDEYA: All right. Well Eric, what about you, what would ask?
Mr. BROWN: I would simply ask John McCain, does he know what the issues are? Because he seems to flip-flop on almost everything. He last week say he didn't think there was an economic issue facing this country. Then he went on to kind of change his stance as related to the war. So, what is it about the issues that you feel are important to the American people?
CHIDEYA: Shaun, what do you think?
Mr. KING: Absolutely. Well, since we had two kind of questions posed to McCain, I think I would pose a question to Obama. And I would love to give him a chance, since it's already in the news, and he only addressed it kind of slightly with Hillary in a Hillary Clinton debate. I would ask Obama to clarify his relationship with Bill Ayers, and then give any perspective into any impact or influence that that would have on him today. I think he could very easily put that to rest if he had an opportunity to address it, and I really could guess that might be asked tomorrow.
CHIDEYA: Overall, do you think people are going to be looking more for style than substance? We're going - first of all we're going to take a break in a second, but just quickly, Patrice, do you think people are looking for more style or substance in this upcoming debate?
Ms. YURSICK: I think this debate is going to be very special and people are looking for a game changer. I personally hope to see less winking, and I think that style has worked in the past. So I mean I think the smart candidate would have a balance between style and substance, because I think that people do want to see a little bit of personality, they do want to see a little bit of a show and make these issues like come alive in that way. Although he really needs to stick to what people - you know, the real issues of the campaign. It needs to be serious and not undercut by performing.
CHIDEYA: All right guys. Well, hang on with us, we're going to take a quick break and then come back with more of the Bloggers' Roundtable.
This is News & Notes. I'm Farai Chideya. We are back with our Bloggers' Roundtable with Eric Brown of the Detroit News, Patrice Yursick of afrobella.com, and Shaun King, who blogs at shauninthecity.com.
So guys, I'm going to have us jump right in with another topic that's related to politics, but you know, viral video has been so important this time around. People are sending around comedy, and people are sending around all sorts of crazy stuff. But there's a very serious video from the secretary treasurer of the AFL-CIO labor union Richard Trumka. He's giving a very impassioned speech against racism and in support of Barack Obama. Let's take a listen.
Mr. RICHARD TRUMKA (Secretary Treasurer, AFL-CIO): We can't tapdance around the fact that there's a lot of folks out there just like that woman, and a lot of them are good union people. They just can't get past the idea that there's something wrong with voting for a black man. Well those of us who know better can't afford to sit silently or look the other way while it's happening.
(Soundbite of crowd clapping)
CHIDEYA: Shaun, he went on, I've seen his full clip, and he goes on for several minutes and really takes people to task for not facing their own racism. Do you think coming from a working-class white man in the labor movement that this is really going to make a difference?
Mr. KING: Absolutely, I think it has made a difference. And you know, the funny thing is that speech was actually given several months ago, and it just picked up steam because when it really got covered. Garr Reynolds and his blog Presentation Zen covered it, and that really helped pick it up as well.
When you see this speech, his passion and the response from 15,000 people that are there watching it, it had a real impact on those people. Those people then went to their cities, their states, their jobs, and I am convinced that you couldn't have been there and heard that speech and not been moved. I saw people crying, people up on their feet, and it was almost an exclusively white crowd.
And so I think when you hear that speech, and see that the McCain campaign has moved out of Michigan, that Obama is tied up in places like Ohio and Virginia, you have to wonder, what impact did that speech - and the organization of the Obama campaign to follow up on things like that - what impact has that had? And I think you would have to conclude it had a big impact.
CHIDEYA: Patrice, I had an interesting experience this weekend. First of all, everyone's in racial confession mode, everybody feels, I don't - sometimes I'm like that's a good thing, and sometimes I'm like not so good. We're just basically you know, and we've talked about this before on the show. Sometimes people just come up to you and confess their racial issues. But I had one of those moments where I was in a cab and there was an Iranian immigrant cab driver. And he basically said I didn't like Obama, and then I realized that I was really jealous of him, why was his life so good and my life wasn't? And then once I realized that I was jealous of him, and, you know, how could a black man go so far? And I was jealous based on that, I could let go of it, and now I can vote for him. I was like, wow, that's a lot of information. Patrice, you know, first of all, have you ever been the participant in a racial confession? And secondly, what do you think of a statement like the one that that gentleman made to me?
Ms. YURSICK: That's an amazing statement, I mean that's therapy time for him, and you're stuck in the back of his cab. I have had that before, and I think there are people who are looking to have conversations that we've been avoiding for years. And I think that this particular election cycle is bringing up feelings and thoughts that people have tried to bury and whitewash, and it's a remarkable time that we're living in right now, I really think so.
And I just wanted to get back to the speech, I was absolutely blown away by that speech. It was so brave and so honest, and to see, you know, a white man of that age and of his, you know, working background say something that I know would resonate in the black community, and has been felt in the black community for so long, it was amazing. It was absolutely amazing. And I think, you know may be through speeches like that, and through having conversations like what you had in the cab with this gentleman, you know, people are really starting to examine why they feel the way they feel about certain people and why they make the judgments that they make.
Mr. KING: Let me make a quick point about the racial confessions, Farai. Because I am just blown away by the fact that people constantly refer to him as a black man. Do we forget that one of his parents was white? If he had more European features, how would this race be about? Would it have been over with at the June 3rd? Because as long as we allow people to just constantly call him a black man, that gives people a chance, an opportunity to display their racial prejudices.
CHIDEYA: But isn't he for all intents and purposes processed as a black man in this political race?
Mr. KING: Only because we have allowed that to take place. I mean, if he had more European features, what would we be saying about Barack Obama, or if his name was Richard Smith?
CHIDEYA: No, I mean I think it's a question that comes up a lot. But do you think - I mean do you think at this point in time, maybe I'm wrong, but Shaun do you think that there's any question although that - he has - he's definitely - it's not an either or, you can be black and bi-racial. But do you think that there's any question, Shaun, that he's being processed in the public lens as a black man?
Mr. KING: No, not at all. And in some ways it's a self-designation that Barack Obama has made, and it's a designation that, good or bad, most bi-racial people in this country classify themselves as one or the other. And generally, if you are black and white in this country for decades, for hundreds of years even, that means you're going to be processed and classified as an African-American. So I think people, though, know that underneath the surface there is this story, and I think that plays in places like Colorado, and New Mexico, and California. People know that even though there's this kind of common designation of Barack Obama as a black man, that there's more to him than meets the eye.
CHIDEYA: All right. Well, there's a lot more to talk about, but no more time. Thanks guys.
ALL: Thank you.
CHIDEYA: That was Shaun King who blogs at shauninthecity.com he joined us from the studios of Georgia Public Broadcasting in Atlanta. Patrice Yursick, who blogs at afrobella.com. She joined us from WLRN in Miami. And Eric Brown who blogs for the Detroit News, he joined us from WEMU in Detroit.