Michael Joseph Gross for Vanity Fair: "Sarah Palin the Sound and the Fury."
It's terrible for a couple of reasons. One, because Sarah Palin is the worst. Except, and two, she's the worst for reasons that aren't even in this article.
No, she's not the worst because she's a bad tipper and reportedly has the unmitigated temerity to have loud fights with her husband. And she's not the worst just because she politicks with the mendacious, aw-shucks, insufferably affected demeanor that's been a central part of conservative identity politics since Ronald Reagan's carefully blushed cheeks. She's not even the worst because she, like pretty much every other politician who's angling for the presidency (not that that makes it right), consorts with political operatives who do shady things like set up questionable payment schemes for her speaking engagements.
She's the worst because she's an anti-choice, pro-abstinence, anti-socialized healthcare, anti-social safety net, pro-social Darwinism conservative asshole, just another self-proclaimed bootstrapper who belittles feminists and their advocacy for the programs and policies that help marginalized women and girls, who trades on being a rightwing token while demeaning the very activism that has afforded her the public platform on which she brazenly basks in the luxury of her disdain.
Gross' article, however, amounts to very little but "Sarah Palin is the worst because she's in politics...and is A WOMAN."
Sure, it's covert sexism. Gross doesn't talk about her boobs or use identifiable misogynist epithets to describe her, but it's sexism nevertheless, as the (frequently dislikable) habits of many major politicians, of both parties, are used to build the case that Palin is remarkably awful. But there is nothing particularly remarkable about a politician who requires family members get permission to grant interviews. Nor about a politician who ambitiously trades favors and ruthlessly gets people fired who cross hir. Nor about a politician who acts like an entitled ass.
What makes this article the worst thing I've read all day is the fact that most of what's in it is the sort of shit that is considered (rightly or wrongly) the mundane business of doing politics, and yet is somehow ZOMG SHOCKING when done by Sarah Palin.
Monika Bauerlein, the co-editor of Mother Jones, tweeted: "I didn't think anything could make me rear up in Sarah Palin's defense, but this VF profile is close."
It's a sentiment I share.
I remain constantly infuriated at the number of pieces written about Sarah Palin that compel feminist/womanist women to come to her defense, or, at minimum, point out the absurdity of the coverage. (Bauerlein also tweeted: "'Sarah, these aides say, seemed comforted by having the children around, and she seemed lonely when they were gone.' Truly a monster.") To have feminist writers mock the paucity of legitimate criticisms in a hit piece on Palin can't have been the point.
And yet here we are again.
I will continue to defend Sarah Palin against misogynist smears not because I endorse her or her politics, but because that's how feminism works.
But I'd prefer not to be obliged in the first place.
[Related Reading: Same Boat; Grab a Paddle, Sarah Palin Sexism Watch, Part 28, On Choice, Parity for Palin.]