Maybe the PUMA movement has some life in it after all. Following a three-day stretch in which the media attacked Sarah Palin for the quality of her motherhood, even Democrats have seen enough. Politico notes that some have started pushing back against the media for its sexist approach to covering this woman in politics, including one top-ranking member of Hillary Clinton’s campaign team:
Sarah Palin found some unlikely allies Wednesday as leading academics and even former top aides to Hillary Rodham Clinton endorsed the Republican charge that John McCain’s running mate has been subject to a sexist double standard by the news media and Democrats.
Georgetown University professor Deborah Tannen, who has written best-selling books on gender differences, said she agrees with complaints that Palin skeptics — including prominent voices in the news media — have crossed a line by speculating about whether the Alaska governor is neglecting her family in pursuit of national office.
“What we’re dealing with now, there’s nothing subtle about it,” said Tannen. “We’re dealing with the assumption that child-rearing is the job of women and not men. Is it sexist? Yes.”
“There’s no way those questions would be asked of a male candidate,” said Howard Wolfson a former top strategist for Clinton’s presidential campaign.
Wolfson was no mid-level flunky for Hillary. He was one of the campaign’s most visible executives, spending plenty of time courting the media. He got a perspective on the sexism that he saw, perhaps both real and imagined, and he sees a pattern repeating — and maybe even less covert than with Hillary.
Will this create a backlash? The sexism of the media certainly helped stoke the fires that created the rift between Hillary supporters and the Obama campaign. If a rerun does anything, it will remind these same voters of the Obama campaign’s silence in the face of these attacks. And so far, although Obama warned people off from attacking the Palin children, they have said nothing about the audacity of questioning Palin’s mothering skills.
This sends a more subtle message, too. Hillary’s aides certainly came to Palin’s defense rather quickly. They could just as easily have waited to make this point on November 5th. The media attacks certainly help Obama, at least in the short run, to define Palin as some sort of denizen of the double-wides. If they put a stop to that by getting vocal in the early stages of this media mauling, does that signal Hillary supporters to continue rejecting Obama?