Women today with something to offer society need to stand up and speak up. After all, women have a particular interest in issues – such as child care, family leave, reproductive choice, earning a competitive wage, and even achieving peace in the world–that are less compelling to men. When they stand together, women will cross party lines to pass policies and legislation as a critical mass with a unified voice. In political life, women are the majority of voters [1] but the undecided voters are more important—women over 35, moms and active grannies, middle-aged voters, those with kids who live in suburban and rural areas. So it’s understandable that the Republicans would seize on someone like Sarah Palin to speak to that demographic and hopefully unite them. After all, a woman is a woman is a woman, right? Her meteoric rise and fall as a media darling is fascinating to behold.

Republican journalist Peggy Noonan wrote more critically about her once Palin resigned her governorship and began her entrée into broadcasting.

In television interviews she was out of her depth in a shallow pool. She was limited in her ability to explain and defend her positions, and sometimes in knowing them. She couldn’t say what she read because she didn’t read anything. She was utterly unconcerned by all this and seemed in fact rather proud of it: It was evidence of her authenticity…. Her presentation up to the end has been scattered, illogical, manipulative and self-referential to the point of self-reverence. “I’m not wired that way,” “I’m not a quitter,” “I’m standing up for our values.” I’m, I’m, I’m. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/07/10/peggy-noonan-goes-off-on_n_229564.html


As a coach to executives who want to develop charisma at the podium, I’m very aware that 93% of all communication is non-verbal. When she is really, really, really disgusted, she will sneer at anyone who criticizes her or her evangelical, conservative perspective. Watch for the curled lip when she begins a disdainful diatribe.  I’m turned off by a mocking attitude in general in life, and coach my clients to take the high road, even when they engage in charged debates. What you say today can come back to haunt you later even when you know what you’re talking about. But mockery of others is galling when the speaker has little intellectual capital and substantive knowledge about national and international affairs to offer listeners.

Whatever we need in our fractionated society these days, it isn’t someone who encourages divisiveness. When Palin took the stage in Arizona at a Tea Party meeting, she looked downright mischievous when she said, “Commonsense Conservatives & lovers of America: “Don’t Retreat, Instead – RELOAD!”  At Tea Party events, Time magazine reported on the ugly tone with placards and T-shirts reading “Send Obuma (sic) Back to Kenya,” and “Pelosi Is the White House’s New Monica” — and Palin made no effort at censure.[2]

Palin used to be someone whom many critics – even staunch Republicans- wouldn’t take seriously but she’s gained traction. I’m reminded of the film “The Fly” in which Jeff Goldblum’s experiment goes horribly wrong and Geena Davis’ character warns us to “Be afraid. Be very afraid.”


[1]According to Susan Carroll, PhD, of Rutgers Center for the Study of Women in Politics.

[2] http://www.time.com/time/politics/article/0,8599,1976073,00.html

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