The Thinking 

Palin Calls Traditionalists “Neanderthals”

November 6, 2010


A READER wrote in earlier this week about Sarah Palin’s appearance with Geraldine Ferraro on Fox News. I have just seen the clip. Never has Palin so passionately stated her opposition to the traditional family. The issue of whether mothers work outside the home is “petty little superficial meaningless,” she says with characteristic eloquence. “Neanderthals” consider it important.  Palin says she cheered Ferraro when she ran for vice president, as if every female candidate feels automatic solidarity with any other female candidate. How “great for our nation” it was that Ferraro ran. Golly gee willickers. The supposedly pro-life, small-government Palin applauds the efforts of someone with an entirely different political philosophy simply because she is a woman.

Palin makes the ridiculous claim that Ferraro faced as much stinging criticism as she faced in 2008, seemingly oblivious to the barrage of liberal vitriol toward her as a female conservative. Invoking the ghosts of feminism past, Palin says:

“And Geraldine has also been grossly attacked back in ‘84, and I remember, um, as a young college student watching what it was that you were going through and knowing that a.) and more power to you for busting that glass ceiling you know and standing on the shoulders of Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Susan B. Anthony, and others who had come before you, of course, so many years ago. And, then you busting through and then the opportunity that I and other woman following you have, have been able to seize. That’s just been wonderful. It’s been great for our nation, it’s been so good.

But, yeah, it kind of seems, Geraldine that some things haven’t changed. There are still the Neanderthals out there, who pick on the petty little superficial meaningless things like looks, like whether you can or can’t work outside of the home if you have small children. All those type of things where I would so hope that at some point, uh, those Neanderthals, will evolve into something a bit more, um, with it, a bit more modern, and a bit more understanding that, yeah, woman can accomplish much…”



                                                                                                                                  — Comments —

Izzy Lyman writes:

If looks aren’t important why does Palin spend so much time on her hair, make-up, working-out, etc.? She’s hardly a Betty-Friedan style feminist in her personal appearance.

Jesse Powell writes:

In looking for a silver lining in Palin’s outrageous statements I do find it interesting that Sarah Palin is attacking family values conservatives so viciously. Calling people who advocate motherhood “Neandertheals” is straight feminism, even radical feminism, and surely Palin knows that a part of her natural support base consists of precisely the kind of social conservatives she is condemning.  So why would Palin condemn and attack a part of her own natural support base? Because they are attacking her and questioning the appropriateness of her, as the mother of a special needs 2 year old and another child under 10, being so active and prominent in the political realm. 

Palin is viciously attacking a part of her own support base as a means of bolstering her legitimacy and getting her critics on the right to “shut up” on the family values issues she in her personal life is flouting. It reminds me of Christine O’Donnell accusing her former employer, a socially conservative organization, of discriminating against her because she’s a woman, going so far as threatening to sue that employer in court for money damages. It is another case of a high-profile conservative Republican woman candidate viciously attacking a natural political ally because of their concerns about women taking on prominent public roles. 

The silver lining, the good news in all of this, is that there are enough social conservatives questioning the appropriateness of women in high public office to make these women candidates squirm and rebel against the “oppression” their own supporters are imposing upon them. To me this is a good and encouraging sign. 

One final comment, it shows bad character for women like Sarah Palin and Christine O’Donnell to attack the principles that social conservatives wary of their candidacies uphold just because those principles are inconvenient for their personal ambitions as women. They are placing their own personal glory and power above principle and the ethics that affect us all.

Laura writes:

Your insight into the psychology behind Palin’s comments, and her strange effort to align herself with the female Democratic majority, strikes me as true. I was surprised by the passion with which she spoke. It seemed defensive. If Palin runs for president, she apparently will be dodging these social conservatives and belittling them. 


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