In August, 2008, John McCain was looking for a quick fix to turn his campaign around. He saw Barack Obama was black, Hilary Clinton was a woman and a woman almost beat the black man to the brass ring. But, in his assessment, Hilary was too much of a man to be a woman candidate, which is why she lost.
“If I can install a woman that was a woman, then I can scoop up the female vote, get the conservative males to vote for her… I mean me, and whoosh, right into the White House.”
The plan didn’t work for a lot of reasons, but not because that reasoning was flawed. It was the objective, superficial observation of a reality that is fast becoming what America is. John McCain hit it dead on, only he was probably four years too early.
Smart and thoughtful is out; quick and single-focused is in. Newspapers with their page after page of boring news are out; Twitter with its fast-paced, unconfirmed news bytes is in. And when you need sales, dip into quick, cheap stereotypes to sell stuff, like JC Penney and their Beware of the Dog House Web site. Because it looks like gender stereotypes are back on their way in again.
There’s a reason Mad Men is so popular. We’re seeing an increase of hot, young “conservative” women who espouse traditional-gender value roles, a large pool of emasculated momma’s boys who fantasize about living the playboy life of Don Draper and an even larger pool of older white Americans who see their country’s history rapidly fading away. The election of a black president was all the proof they needed to see a country driving itself over a cliff.
And along comes a plain-speakin’ women who looks hot in red, has five kids, a powerful job but doesn’t think or read too deeply. She’s just the right mix of hot and stupid for men to swoon and the right mix of mom and powerful executive for women to admire.
Sarah Palin may be what Americans want in 2012; a quick, easy fix for what ails us. Not too strong, not too deep, nothing that makes us think a whole lot or work too hard. With that, I have every confidence Sarah Palin will deliver.
Palin 2012. When stuff just gets too complicated.