Didn't the GOP used to claim that (in theory) they're the ones that care about merit, and about earning what you get?
I think one part of the GOP's political game of picking Sarah Palin was to scare Democrats into crying "Experience matters!" so that the GOP can respond by saying "Then pick McCain!" But the thing is that -- between Obama and Palin -- it's more than just a question of who has the most experience.
Barack Obama is a skilled negotiator and a highly intelligent person. He's the sort of person who can step back and observe how things work, can come up with new and insightful analysis of problems and their solutions, and write write a couple of (very accessible) books explaining his ideas. Sarah Palin is the sort of person who can be trained to recite talking points (whether they're relevant or not, without grasping the underlying concepts), which is a great skill for a T.V.-soundbyte-oriented election, but not so useful in a president. (Note: I know it's McSame who's a the top of the ticket, but Palin is running for Prez too as long as she's the understudy to Mr. One-Foot-in-the-Grave.)
Yet, if I point this out, I'll be blasted as an "elitist." Because not every Tom, Dick, and Harry can be smart like Barack Obama.
But haven't we had enough "Hey, I'm as dumb as you!" populism?
Obama has leadership skills and talent, and it shouldn't be "elitist" to suggest that such things are necessary to be an effective president. You're not paying Joe and Jane Average a compliment by saying that they can't deal with voting for someone who has relevant leadership/diplomatic skills that the average person doesn't have. Joe and Jane Average may not have exactly the same skill set as Obama, but they're capable of being qualified for their own jobs, and if they're proud of that, then they should expect no less from the President.
Now let's take another look at merit (or lack thereof) from Feministing (hat tip MoF):
For many Boomer women, the primary sexist experience of their lives is: "Those men gave the job to that guy instead of me, even though I am more qualified and/or have more seniority."
For many Gen X women like myself (and Palin is Gen X) the primary sexist experience is: "Those men gave the job to that clueless chick instead of me, because the boss thinks she's hot and/or will be a yes-man with no ideas of her own."
If, for some Boomer women, Obama's win over Hillary represents the guy they lost the promotion to, Palin's selection plays the same role for Gen X women. We've seen it: first the incompetent yet babelicious woman is promoted over her head, then the boss orders the attention of the entire team/department/etc. to focus on ensuring that "we" shield her from "mistakes" (or worse, we get blamed for her mistakes). Palin reminds us of when we got screwed by this sort of bullshit. And it shows in voters' response to her.
Really...? That's Gen-X's primary experience with sexism? Having to put up with a bimbo at work?
Not, say... getting viewed (and dismissed) by your colleagues who decide that you must be unqualified, incompetent eye-candy? Including (supposedly) "feminist" colleagues?!
Now, I don't want to be too hard on the authors of Feministing (since they got this quote from another blog, hence may not agree with it). I don't agree with it. I'm sorely tempted to go over there and post the following comment:
I totally agree with you about having to cover for all the incompetent bimbos at work that the boss just hires to flirt with him. Sadly, these bimbos keep getting promoted over real, qualified working men like me and my buddies. I've seen it over and over. Women use their sex appeal all the time to get unfairly promoted in jobs where women are just naturally less qualified.
I would love to watch the sh*tstorm that would rain down on me if I wrote that. (I can't, of course, since I'm not a guy.)
Yet, somehow it's "feminist" for a woman to say the same thing: to promote the stereotype of the incompetent bimbo who's had an unfair advantage at work. That's what you're saying when you say it's a typical gen-X woman's "primary sexist experience": having to deal with incompetent bimbos must be a pretty widespread problem!
As opposed to, say, having to deal with the incompetent guy who gets an unending string of unfair advantages, screws things up for his colleagues, and gets repeatedly protected and shielded from the consequences of his mistakes, because of being an admiral's son (hat tip Pz), or for having other connections. I guess rich white guys getting this kind of treatment is par for the course -- not worthy of the same scorn.
"The unqualified person got hired over me because of some unfair advantage!" Yep, it's something that really does (objectively) happen. Yet, too often this interpretation is in the eye of the beholder. Whenever you don't get something you believe you deserve, that's the first knee-jerk interpretation. As feminists, we shouldn't be encouraging women to seek out "blame the bimbo" as some sort of typically feminist interpretation to look around for as soon as things go awry. Everybody who is competing against an attractive woman at work (men and women alike) are vigilantly on the lookout for any unfair advantage she gets and will hate her for it, and she typically gets her punishment soon enough without "feminists" deciding that it's a major feminist issue to bash her and bring her down. (Keep in mind that an affair with the boss is far more likely to get a woman fired than promoted, despite the "sleeping your way to the top" stereotype.)
I agree with Feministing that this is a generational thing though. Think of the film Nine to Five. Remember how the other women stood in solidarity with the (unfairly advantaged and unfairly mistreated) babe? Instead of thinking it's their feminist duty to bash her? Those were the days. Nowadays "crab-bucket Feminism" (feminists bolstering their own position by pulling other women down) is the rule, not the exception (thanks MoJo for the term).
Feminists have learned (correctly) that women shouldn't be expected to be beautiful to be considered valuable and successful. But unfortunately many feminists have taken this a step further to the point where it's considered "feminist" to promote the prejudice that a woman who is beautiful or sexy is probably a brainwashed, exploited airhead. Now what about the woman who earned her position through merit yet all of her colleagues (male and female) keep assuming she must be just eye candy? Who should she turn to for help? Clearly not the current generation of "feminists"...
About Sarah Palin?
Yep, she's a beauty pageant winner, and that's a big part of why she's on the ticket. Like Dan Quayle who got unfairly promoted because of his looks and McCain and G.W.B. who got unfair advantages through family connections. Let's insist on merit and qualfication all around for both men and women in all lines of work.
But, feminists, let's not jump up and grab this as a golden opportunity to bolster the standard prejudices against women in the workplace. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and your own colleagues may wrongly be making these same assumptions about you.