Palin, Hillary & Sexism

John McCain recently selected Sarah Palin as his running mate. This move, as many have suggested, seems to be calculated to win over the Hillary Clinton supporters who are not pleased with Obama being the Democrats’ candidate.This situation is both politcally and philosophically interesting.

This morning CNN featured a segment on woman voters, Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin. In the course of the segment there was an interesting discussion about the reasons why some former Hillary Clinton supporters are now supporting Palin (and hence McCain).

One of the main reasons given was the assertion that the Democrats are sexist and acted in a sexist manner. Presumably, the claim is that Obama  (as Geraldine Ferraro asserted) won simply because he is a man and Hillary lost simply because she is a woman.

If this claim is true, then the Democrats would have acted in a sexist manner. After all, to accept or reject someone as a political candidate solely on the basis of sex would be a sexist act. In this case, turning against the Democrats in response to their sexism would be the right thing to do-assuming, of course, that sexism is wrong and that misdeeds should be punished. Thus, the former Hillary Clinton supporters who are opposed to sexism would presumably be right to turn their support to McCain.

This, naturally enough, assumes that McCain chose Palin not just because she is a woman, but because of her qualifications. Picking her just because she is a woman would, of course, be a sexist act. While it would be an act of positive sexism (benefiting rather than harming the target) it would still be sexism.

If it can be shown that the Democrats acted in a sexist manner and McCain acted in a non-sexist manner, then it would be reasonable for those opposed to sexism to back McCain-at least on this point.  There is, if course, also the matter of whether Obama should be held accounatable for the alleged sexism of the Democrats who voted for him, but this raises a matter beyond the scope of this essay.

However, if the Democrats did not act in a sexist manner or McCain acted in a sexist manner, then it would not be reasonable for those opposed to sexism to select McCain over Obama on this point.

I do not think that the majority of Democrats made their choice on the basis of sexism. While it is true that the man was chosen over the woman, to assume that this must be sexism would itself be a prejudiced judgment. What would be needed would be clear evidence that the main factor in Hillary Clinton’s defeat and Obama’s victory was sex. This evidence simply seems to be lacking for this claim. However, should such evidence be made available, I would change my view.

A second reason for former Hillary Clinton supporters to now back Palin is that she is a woman. It certainly cannot be that the former Hillary Clinton supporters are drawn to Palin because of her political views. This is because Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin hold opposing political views. Hillary Clinton is well known for being a pro-choice and anti-gun liberal. Sarah Palin is know well known for being a pro-life and pro-gun conservative. Oversimplifying things, Hillary Clinton exemplifies the American left and Sarah Palin exemplifies the American right (at least in mainstream politics). Hence, it would be wildly implausible to claim that Palin is attracting former Hillary Clinton supporters because she has similar views.

Those who decide to support Palin simply because she is a woman would, obviously enough, be acting in a sexist manner (more or less by definition). It would be rather ironic if those who claim the Democrats are sexist supported Palin because she is woman. They would be replying to sexism with more sexism, which hardly seems to be the right thing to do.

Of course, those who have switched to Palin could argue that they are serving a greater social good. By supporting McCain because he selected a woman as his running mate they could claim that they are helping women in some manner. They might argue that if a woman became Vice President, then the social conditions would improve for American women and this would be a good thing. Thus, they must vote in (seemingly) sexist manner in order to destroy sexism.

Of course, people who support Obama can make a similar sort of argument about race, thus creating a bit of a moral quandry for those who oppose both sexism and racism. No doubt some Democrats are now wishing it was an Obama-Clinton ticket rather that an Obama-Biden ticket.

Leave a comment ?


  1. Tammy Lynn
    September 2, 2008 at 4:36 pm

    Barack Sexist charge, With Cnn & Msnbc

    There is Proof out there I know first Hand, that Obama Campaign & Barack & Michelle Obama, them self, are making CNN & Msnbc, Thrash
    Palin & Her Family,
    Obama Campaign heard Quarter, emails and faxs going around, From Both Michelle & Barack,
    To attack Sarah Palin on her Experience and Family Values, many sources right now confirming ties Between Cnn & Msnbc,. to the Barack Obama camp,
    One Source in side Obama Head Quarters in Illinois one chief obama staffer claim that, He heard Barack telling them have Cnn & Msnbc, to thrash her and thrash her Hard, Let me worry if it Sexist or not, Msnbc & Cnn are Paid assets, and owe us, That is a quot

  2. America ranks 68th. in the world for women in national political office. Rwanda is no.1. I think it’s a safe assumption that sexism plays a part in this statistic.

  3. No doubt some Democrats are now wishing it was an Obama-Clinton ticket rather that an Obama-Biden ticket.

    Now meaning now that McCain has picked a woman as his running mate? Well I’m not, for one. (Mind you, I’m not a Democrat, either. A liberal, but not a Democrat.) I don’t much admire Clinton, and the way she campaigned made me admire her a good deal less.

    Of course, people who support Obama can make a similar sort of argument about race

    Yeah but we can also make it about gender. Obama’s a lot more likely to improve conditions for women than Palin is.

  4. As a Clintonista, I simply feel insulted by the suggestion I would vote for McCain-Palin because they have a woman on the ticket. I think that’s the feeling of many of us (I know a bunch). Palin’s a train wreck of a candidate, and would be a disaster for women (and in lots of other ways). The very idea of her makes me nearly ill–a woman who would make it illegal for women to choose abortion even in the case of rape and incest. Her pregnant daughter is a taste of what she’d impose on all teenagers faced with unplanned pregnancies. And we’re suppose to think she represents “change”! Right…change back to the dark ages.

    I was much enamored of the idea of the first female president, but Hillary’s gender was never more than a plus. I was for her because she’s great–on the issues, intelligence, preparedness, etc. But I’m quite capable of moving on. Biden was a strategic choice, and possibly a good one. He’s impressed me so far.

  5. It seems to me that just as I would not use the word “racist” to refer to someone who supports issues or causes which favor racial equality, I would not use the word “sexist” to designate someone, of either gender, who supports feminist issues, and Obama certainly supports those issues more than Ms. Palin.
    Of course, it is always possible that a group such as feminists for genital mutilation, Jews for Hitler or blacks for segregation is invented, but objectively (to use a good old Marxist term) genital mutilation does not favor women (nor do so-called pro-life policies); Hitler did not favor the Jews; and segregation does not favor blacks. Another useful Marxist term is “false consciousness”: that is, an oppressed group, say, women or blacks, instead of struggling (another Marxist term) for its objective interests, struggles against them. Ms. Palin is a living monument to false consciousness. My thanks to good old Karl.

  6. I am insulted that Mc Cain and the Republican party would dare to think anyone who supported Hillary Clinton would support Sarah Palin.
    I question Mc Cain’s sanity. Is he senile? We have had eight long years of lies and corruption shoved down our throats. Enough is enough.

  7. Who Destroyed Palin? The Media or Herself?

    1. There was no particular need for outside sources to deconstruct Palin-as-President. She carries within herself her own destruction, as will become apparent if and when she ever speaks to the press.

    2. She has used her gender to her own advantage during her meteoric political rise by assiduously constructing the image of the moose-eating, hockey-playing, gun-toting Super Mom who don’t take shit from nobody, while still being a girlie-girl when it fit her need. It was her choice.

    3. Although I find it reprehensible that some in the liberal media found it necessary to plaster photos of the daughter and her hapless boyfriend on their homepages, I blame not them (the media), but Palin herself. THIS IS POLITICS 2008, like it or not. Palin should have anticipated the media reaction to some of her “family,” issues, and declined McCain’s invitation out of concern for her family’s privacy. She’s only 44, not 72. She’s got time.

    4. Virtually everything uncovered and reported over the last four days regarding the alien quantity, Sarah Palin, has been true. Hard, raw, brutal, concrete facts. Hard to argue with facts.

    5. Is the coverage sexist? That’s the most difficult, and subjective, question to answer. Had, for example, a 44-year-old widowed male with 5 children, who had relentlessly thumped the drums of Family Values–as Palin has done– to get himself elected to similar offices be discovered to have presided over a typical dysfunctional family, we he be subjected to the scorn and ridicule that Palin has had to endure thus far? I think he’d be ripped to shreds.

    5a. Finally, Hillary as an example: Hillary never made the foundation of her campaigns the fact that she was a wifey and mommy. She was, but that was incidental in her case. Palin, on the other hand, has emphasized the mommy/wifey-ness angle, she’s pandered to the Religious Right on that issue, and espouses grossly anti-feminist views on all the hot button “women’s” issues.

    The public destruction of Sarah Palin is sad; even more so is the humiliation of the two young people, innocents both.
    Those two young people are pure victims, but they are not victims of the media—they are victims of Sarah Palin’s blind ambition.

  8. Has 8 years of Bush modified the abortion on demand regime that obtains now in America? I thought that the Supreme Court and the packing thereof was the central factor in any change that might come about. So it is disingenuous to suggest that Palin might have any input unless you are suggesting that she is going to turn her bear rifle on a liberal judge. Yes the packing is likely to go in a definite direction should she get in but that wouldn’t end abortion in America. No the battle has moved on. Singer was right.

    Singer: “The pro-life groups were right about one thing, the location of the baby inside or outside the womb cannot make much of a moral difference. We cannot coherently hold it is alright to kill a fetus a week before birth, but as soon as the baby is born everything must be done to keep it alive. The solution, however,” said Singer, “is not to accept the pro-life view that the fetus is a human being with the same moral status as yours or mine. The solution is the very opposite, to abandon the idea that all human life is of equal worth.”

    But not puppy dogs. That would be wrong.

  9. If McCain-Palin win, almost certainly the supreme court gets new justices who overturn Roe v. Wade , which will mean states can prohibit abortions. Some certainly will.

    I’ve never bought the idea that “it’s my body” is the whole story. If the fetus really were a person, “it’s my body” wouldn’t be enough to justify abortion (contrary to Thompson’s famous violinist argument). But hoards of perfectly reasonable people don’t see the fetus that way. Especially at the earliest stages, it is a “grey area” entity that elicits different judgments from equally reasonable people. Considering that intedeterminacy, who’s “take” on the fetus ought to be in the driver’s seat? Should the pregnant woman’s own perspective take precedence? In a word, yes.

    But sure, “it’s my body” isn’t everything. There is increasing evidence that a fetus feels pain well before the end of pregnancy. People also ought to be aware that a fetus is just about fully formed by 4-5 months. These things are relevant to decision-making. Personally, I can see limiting late abortions. (Singer, shminger…he’s wrong about some things.)

  10. George Bush hired Condeleeza Rice. Look how well that bit of positive sexism worked out.

  11. “the abortion on demand regime that obtains now in America?”

    Not true. There are great swathes of the US where abortion is entirely unavailable, partly because intimidation has caused doctors to stop providing it. It is not the case that there is only one factor influencing the availability of abortion in the US and that that one factor is the Supreme Court.

  12. Yes, but things can get worse. Abortion providers have been intimidated out of business in many states. We’re talking one provider in an entire state. (I know of no state with less than one.) But with McCain-Palin in control, and liberal justices close to retirement, we really will lose that one provider. You’ll have to travel to a more liberal state to get an abortion, and that will not be feasible for many girls and women.

  13. Of course. I’m just disagreeing with the smug claim that there is an ‘abortion on demand regime’ in the US. I wish there were, but there isn’t.

    And of course it is already the case that girls and women in many places have to travel vast – unfeasible – distances to get an abortion.

  14. I think traveling across state lines is especially tricky. In Texas I believe there’s actually a law on the books about adults taking unrelated minors across state lines to get an abortion. So an adult could help an unrelated minor get from west Texas to Austin, but not from west Texas to (say) Louisiana. If abortion becomes illegal in Texas, which I should think it will under McCain-Palin, it will make a bad situation worse.

    But yes–it’s ridiculous to think the US is a place where abortion is easily available. Yes in some places, no in many others. The pro-life folks have had much success in chipping away at reproductive rights. Plus (to add to the insanity) they’ve also had much success at making sex education unavailable. Abstinence education is all you’ll get in a lot of places. More of that, and worse, under McCain-Palin.

  15. God I’d forgotten about the crossing state lines nonsense. Arrggh.

    Yeah abstinence only; good thinking; so you get pregnant teenagers who can’t get abortions, so you wreck the lives of girls before they’re old enough to think straight. What a brilliant way to arrange things.

  16. It’s so appalling it’s almost funny.

  17. Here’s the thing Ophelia and Jean, in strict logic and no better place for that than here,if abortion on demand is available anywhere in America it’s available in America.

    So now it seems that it’s a voting matter which is a good thing if you believe in democracy. Should it be ring fenced from the ‘profanum vulgus’ because it’s not safe to leave it with them or set in stone like the right to bear arms? Those that descry absolutism have little pockets of it themselves. This election is turning into some sort of mini-series.

  18. Michael: It’s easier to get an abortion in Cuba than in the U.S., just to give one example.

    As to democracy, I said above that criticisms of democracy, that it allows demagogues to come to power, go back to Plato. I don’t believe so much in democracy myself, but, as has been said before, it’s preferable to the other alternatives. Democracy certainly does have its drawbacks. Even Hitler was elected.

  19. “So now it seems that it’s a voting matter which is a good thing if you believe in democracy. ”

    If democracy means total strangers can vote about what I do with my body, than give me something other than democracy.

  20. I don’t believe in democracy. I believe in constitutional democracy, and if it’s a constitutional democracy that denies me basic rights, I don’t believe in that either.

  21. Also – there’s a difference between “the abortion on demand regime that obtains now in America” and “abortion on demand is available in America”.

  22. I prefer to think of America as a constitutional republic myself. We choose people to make sensible decisions for us, since we can’t all possibly be expected to be aware of all the factors and choose when it comes to everything that goes on. One can hope.

  23. Keith McGuinness

    FredrickBernanke: “3. Although I find it reprehensible that some in the liberal media found it necessary to plaster photos of the daughter and her hapless boyfriend on their homepages, I blame not them (the media), but Palin herself. THIS IS POLITICS 2008, like it or not.”

    BUT it should NOT be “politics 2008”.

    And the media, and everyone else who is complicit in it, IS certainly to blame.

    If Palin did not expect this, then she was certainly naive but that doesn’t make it her fault.

    (Note I’m neither in, nor from, the US.)

  24. I may not know a representative cross section of women, but every woman with who I have ever conversed about the subject, a goodly number of women, has had an abortion, many of them illegal abortions in unpleasant conditions. The alternative was an unwanted child, generally a child who the woman could not provide for economically.

  25. “If Palin did not expect this, then she was certainly naive but that doesn’t make it her fault.”

    Possibly not naive. Possibly, Palin has a huge sense of entitlement that makes her think she is “above all that,” the exception to the rules, a person who can be pro-life AND shoot at polar bears from a helicopter. She wouldn’t be the first conservative Republican to think this way, would she?

  26. I think it’s shooting wolves from helicopters, isn’t it? The good governor just wants polar bears to die off in their shrinking habitats. I’m not sure if she’s actually a polar bear hunter, but she’s certainly a brown bear hunter. Love the way her office couch is draped with what’s left of one. She is my hero. (Alright…I’ll stop. Sarah Palin is starting to ruin my concentration.)

  27. I think it keeps changing. Next week it will be shooting moose from a private jet while breastfeeding her Down’s Syndrome baby.
    And yes, she is distracting. But not in a good way. I think it’s a combination of her great cheekbones, flawless application of lipstick and the outright audacity of McCain to nominate someone so frighteningly ill-equipped.

  28. From a casting point of view, Palin was a good choice. McCain has a good eye. She’ll win him votes, more than one of the usual suspects would have.

  29. Tree, I think you’ve got it just about right. Who wouldn’t love a pitbull in lipstick, as she put it last night? Don’t get me started on the cheekbones… Sigh. I’m counting on the Obama magic to start kicking in again. Please, somebody, do something.

  30. She has a good aim too. ‘Styrofoam columns’, ‘Mayor of a small town without the responsibility’, just the clips I saw. Handsome family. This is not an airhead, beauty queen Annie Oakley. Democrats be afraid, be very afraid. It will be interesting to see how they respond. As Amos was saying re the Bradley effect unless Obama is 7-10% ahead in the polls at closing he will probably lose. Prediction: Obama will move from Change to some new hook with barb and bite.

  31. Not to denigrate her (honestly, I would NEVER do that), but she had a great speech writer–Matthew Scully. The thing is, a speech writer’s task is normally to put a speaker’s ideas into words. As much as I hate to say it (really, really…), I don’t think that was the case. The woman’s a local politician (though granted, Alaska’s a big place). All signs are that she does not have her own ideas about national and foreign policy issues. So clever speech (sytrofoam columns…very good) and great delivery…but…I’m looking forward to the moment when we get to hear her speak impromptu.

    Speaking of Matthew Scully. He’s the author of a great, great book on animals (Dominion) with a scathing chapter about big game hunters. It must be giving him indigestion to make this happy hunter look so good.

  32. Interesting about Matthew Scully.
    If you get a chance, check out Alternet, they have lots of information on Sarah Palin.

  33. Sarah doesn’t need to know that Baghdad is the capital of Iraq. She’s not there to show off her ideas. All the voters interested in ideas, the ones who read up about what the candidates’ positions are on global warming, Iraq or tax policy, have already made up their minds on who they will vote for. She’s a character, an attractive one, and McCain is betting that she will attract, besides the far-right who already vote Republican anyway, those who find her “simpática”, a tough broad (if that expression is still in use) who they would like to get to know, a lady who will speak her mind (never mind if there are brillant or coherent ideas in that mind) to the phonies in Washington. Biden, on the other hand, doesn’t seem like a good choice. Caroline Kennedy was a better option for Obama, in my opinion. The rest of this election is going to be conducted by on a symbolic level, not an issues level.

  34. Matthew you and your sharp tongue are going to hell. Like your mother, god rest her, said – if you can’t say something nice you may as well get paid for it.

  35. I know this isn’t the first time we are being sold a candidate, using crass aggressive advertising techniques to make sure we buy what we don’t need. But Rove seemed to bring the marketing style to a new level. Apple and Geico seem pathetically gentle compared to this stuff. I haven’t watched the last few days because I’m gagging on all the crap being shoved in my face, down my throat, up my ….well, you get the idea.

    At this point I’m ready for a king or queen. Elizabeth doesn’t advertise herself or her cohorts, does she? And if the queen doesn’t quite work out, there’s a simple tradition for solving that problem. Something on the order of drowning puppies. Dare I think it? Queen Hilary? YES. And then Chelsea, who’s the best of princesses. I saw her, heard her. She’d make a fine successor to her mother’s throne.

  36. Tree: “Possibly not naive. Possibly, Palin has a huge sense of entitlement that makes her think she is ‘above all that,’ the exception to the rules, a person who can be pro-life AND shoot at polar bears from a helicopter.”

    …and possibly she doesn’t have a “huge sense of entitlement”.

    “She wouldn’t be the first conservative Republican to think this way, would she?”

    But first we would need to know whether or not she does think this way.

    And we would also have to acknowledge that people on the political Left and Right think themselves “the exception to the rules”.

    Please note that I do not agree with several of her opinions (eg abortion) BUT so much of the attack on her that I have seen, including here, is largely “ad hominem”.

  37. Me: “And we would also have to acknowledge that people on the political Left and Right think themselves “the exception to the rules”.

    Oops! That should be “..some people on the political Left and Right…”

  38. When the candidates present themselves as so many hominem (I don’t know the plural) and not their ideas and plans, what else can you attack? As someone here said, it’s all cult cult cult of the wretched personalities. An exchange of ideas would be welcome.

  39. Keith: There is a lot of idiocy on the political right and on the political left. Finally, one has to choose one of them, neither of them being entirely logical, coherent or even honest. I suppose that one could refuse to choose, which is, as I am not the first person to say, another way of choosing. I choose the left.

  40. Amos, I think it does matter whether SP has her own ideas, simply because it speaks to her preparedness. Someone who has never given serious thought to national and foreign policy is not ready to be VP, let alone next to a 72 year old president. I have the impression she doesn’t have ideas on Iraq, health care, etc. etc., because she’s actually said as much in interviews. Asked about Iraq not long ago, she said she was too busy being governor to think about it. Plus, she was a small town mayor as of 2 years ago. There is just zilch in her biography to suggest readiness to run this country. 1/3 of VPs actually do become president, so it’s important.

  41. From what I’ve read about Sarah Palin, and from what I’ve observed of her speech and behavior, she is someone with a huge sense of entitlement.
    Furthermore, the fact that she made a choice to have five children yet refuses women their own reproductive rights and choices says to me she has a huge sense of entitlement.

  42. Salvation is clear to me. I would like to see Obama announce his planned appointments. Hilary as secretary of state would be a puck blow behind the knees of Palin. Gore in a big environment post, maybe even a new cabinet position, would be a Bisquit in the Basket. How about Moore as a Backliner. Wear your Jill, Sarah, this can be a Line Brawl tonight. Not for a Meat Wagon like you and not a game for Puck Bunnies, either.

  43. Huh. I’ve been thinking *Bill* Clinton would make a good secretary of state (though I have a little fantasy that Obama will appoint Anthony Appiah…which is probably not terribly likely). I’m not sure why Hillary Clinton would seem a logical choice for sec of state. BC has a lot of international good will built up; that’s not true of HC.

  44. Jean: Perhaps I did not express myself clearly. I think that Sarah’s lack of ideas is immensely important (I’ve made clear that I support Obama), but that she was picked to appeal to those voters who don’t care about her lack of general culture and even to those voters who sees her ignorance as a plus (the anti-elitist discourse). Hence, her lack of ideas may win her votes, not mine (although I’m not a U.S. voter).

  45. Ophelia: of course the best choice for the job is Bill, but that’s not what politics is all about. This move would be called Backchecking in Palin’s game vocabulary. Cross-checking is legal in politics if not hockey.

  46. Wait a second. If we’re going to adopt Palin-speak, we need hockey terms, but also gun talk. She’s a “pistol packing” hockey mom, said Cindy McCain last night. Love the RNC crowd, by the way–the way they chant “USA, USA” and “Drill, baby drill.” Obama’s cabinet picks…now there’s a cheerful topic.

  47. Amartya Sen as Treasury Sec, that’s the other part of my fantasy.

    A pistol packing hockey mom – godalfuckingmighty.

  48. Anthony Appiah and Amartya Sen…very nice, but may we put Martha Nussbaum somewhere? Maybe secretary of education?

    But wait…pistol packing hockey mom with lipstick. It makes all the difference in the world.

  49. Bill as Secretary of State? Yikes! He had a horrible foreign policy.

  50. Has anybody ever considered the democratic deficit involved in appointing a cabinet that has not been elected by anyone? This is a first principles
    question. Have any of you Americans ever given that a moments thought? Has it ever come up in sociology at school? Really believing that your system is under God absolves you from inquiry no doubt.

  51. All of you seem to think this has something to do with democratic whatever and who’s best for the job, even sociological consequences. We’re talking salesmanship here and nothing else. What are they wearing? What’s their sport? A good midwestern accent trumps New England. High IQ stinks of elitism. A ticket for DUI?, a pregnant daughter (whose bed partner said on MySpace that he didn’t want kids), kinda messy hair and sexy eye glasses, my next door neighbor. Yay! Not just Republicans, either. I went to see Obama; the crowd gave him some football chants and he fed on it.

    Has anyone pictured for just a moment Sarah Barracuda sitting with an emir of Saudi Arabia discussing – umm what could they possibly say to each other?

    I repeat: these new lows in the tactics to win the presidential trophy is making a royalist out of me.

  52. No, Michael Reidy, we Americans have never given anything a moment’s thought. Yes of course we all believe our system is under God and we never inquire into first principles questions or any other kind. Jeezis. Have you pompous pricks ever stopped to think about what you’re saying? No, the pledge of allegiance to Pompous Prickhood rules that out, ‘no doubt.’

  53. cough

    Jean, I had Sunstein as AG and Nussbaum sure enough at HEW – but then I realized that Obama would probably be discouraged from appointing ‘too many’ academics so I took the two that make me slaver the most.

  54. Wow Michael. You’ve opened my American eyes. I must now march to Washington and demand change. Thank you, Michael Reidy, you’re a true hero. Statues will be erected in your honor.

  55. If I may add to the clamor–

    Michael, The US is the greatest country in the world. “USA, USA!” Nuthin’ wrong with our system. It’s perfect.

    (Er, isn’t the cabinet a bunch of advisors without independent power? Are you tellin’ me the PM in the UK doesn’t have the equivalent?)

    Ophelia, I guess you’re right. It might even be in the constitution–two academics max in cabinet. By all means, not three philosophers. (They’d probably get into long, drawn out chats about the causal efficacy of moral properties, or what have you.)

  56. (I think in the UK the cabinet is made up of MPs – so it is in a sense elected – or rather, made up of people who have been elected.)

  57. Michael: Actually, that the cabinet is not elected is a feature of all presidential systems, in contrast to parliamentary systems. In Chile, unlike in the U.S., cabinet ministers are not even approved by congress. They are named by the president and can be dismissed by the president without a warning of five minutes. Both presidential and parliamentary systems have their advantages and drawbacks. When there a lot of political parties, as in Chile, at least 5, maybe 6 or 7, major ones and several more minor ones, which form weak coalitions in congress, a parliamentary system can lead to political instability.

  58. Tree:
    Another crack like that and the puppy gets it.
    Not a good thing. The level of backheeling to U.S. president’s backers if found in the 3rd. world is called corruption. Consider the Iraq contracts. Not that the Dems will be any different. Spoils of office. Last year in Britain there was the scandal of the ‘cash for questions’. An American would be puzzled. Hey that’s normal.

    I’m haunted by the epithet ‘leader of the Free World’ that I heard at the R.N.C.

  59. No, Michael Reidy, we Americans have never given anything a moment’s thought. Yes of course we all believe our system is under God and we never inquire into first principles questions or any other kind. Jeezis. Have you pompous pricks ever stopped to think about what you’re saying? No, the pledge of allegiance to Pompous Prickhood rules that out, ‘no doubt.’

    How deictic.

  60. That took me a couple moments to get, M.R.. Very good. Well said.

  61. Michael: A quick glance at the Transparency International statistics doesn’t show any correlation between a nation having a parliamentary or a presidential form of government and the level of corruption. The U.S. with a presidential system is number 20; Chile with a strong presidential system is number 22; Israel with a parliamentary system is 30; and Italy with a parliamentary system is number 41. The U.K. is number 12. A bit of corruption, in my opinion, isn’t the world’s biggest problem. The messianic tendency (the leader of the free world, with God on its side, etc.) in U.S. policy, which you mention, is much more dangerous than a corrupt traffic cop in Mexico City. Hopefully, Obama, with a father from Kenya and a childhood in Indonesia, is much more aware than most U.S. leaders that the solar system does not revolve around the United States.

  62. michael, it wasn’t meant to be deictic, it was meant to be insulting. What was yours meant to be?

    “An American would be puzzled. Hey that’s normal.”

    Hey not all Americans think corruption is normal.

    Swap ‘black’ or ‘woman’ for all this sneering generalization and see how clever it looks.

    “Have any of you blacks ever given that a moments thought? Really believing that your system is under God absolves you from inquiry no doubt.”

  63. “A bit of corruption, in my opinion, isn’t the world’s biggest problem.”

    Not the world’s biggest, no, but certainly right up there. And in the US (and other places) it’s hardly just ‘a bit’ – it’s corporations writing their own regulations. It’s legislators deeply beholden to the people who financed their campaigns. It’s Bill Clinton telling rich donors that their money shouldn’t buy them legislation but it should buy them access. The level of corruption in the US goes way beyond traffic cops. (Besides, corrupt cops *are* a problem, for reasons that surely ought to be obvious.)

  64. Palin is so “middle America” (NRA; elk hunter; soccer mom; activist; person of integrity) and astoundingly capable as a person–it would be sexist to say “as a woman,” because she’s a capable person–that it makes me wonder how McCain suddenly got so smart and picked her?

  65. Ophelia: You’re probably going to hate me for this, but just as you get sensitive when someone generalizes or ridicules Americans, people with a Muslim background tend to be sensitive about criticisms of their culture, especially when they perceive a mocking tone or even what they consider to be unwarranted generalizations. I’m not a Stoic sage myself: although I’m an atheist who has not entered a synagogue since the last time my parents forced me to enter one, almost 50 years ago, generalizations about the Jews or sneering comments about Judaism make my blood boil. Look at yourself in the mirror, please, before you put me down or find 11 logic flaws in my reasoning. Thank you.

  66. Michael, maybe I should add this under all my comments?

    “No animals were hurt from the sarcasm of this comment.”

  67. Er, I don’t think it was loyalty to our great country that made Ophelia react unpositively, but the belief MR had said something way out in left field. But I will be bet all the money in the world she’s capable of responding for herself.

    Be nice to puppies.

  68. amos…when I look in the mirror what am I supposed to look for? Someone who makes generalizations about ‘the Jews’? I don’t think so.

    I tell you what. Find a place where I’ve said something along the lines of

    “Have any of you Muslims/Jews/Christians/whatever ever given that a moments thought? Really believing that your system is under God absolves you from inquiry no doubt.”

    and I’ll grovel. But you won’t be able to. I don’t talk to people that way, and I don’t much like the implication that I do.

  69. Ophelia:
    Your response demonstrated by its crude offensiveness that you were not prepared to make a thoughtful response. Now you’re in umbrage mode and I sense the shadow of your handbag over me like the sword of Damocles. Come back with some solid information and that will put me in my box.

  70. michael:

    As I said, I didn’t make a ‘thoughtful response’ to your ridiculous comment because I didn’t intend to; I intended to respond to a st of stupid scattershot insults with an insult. What makes you think your comment deserved a ”thoughtful response’ ?

    My handbag is it. Anything else? Hormones? Tits? Lipstick? High heels? Tampax? Any other synecdoche for femaleness?

  71. That’s a challenge, Ophelia. How about booty, boobs, NOT muffins or chitlins, but cookies?, fingernails (as in: get your fingernails into). Actually, your synecdoches were excellent and it’s hard to add to them. A bee in your bonnet pales next to PMS. I’ve left out the best one. Tree, can you add the p word? I’m too wussy to type it here.

  72. Ophelia:
    A woman calling a man a prick is assault with a deadly handbag.
    Jean for instance was not aware that the British cabinet is composed of elected M.P.s. I presume that she’s more than averagely informed so my question was ostensibly valid. If you have nothing more to add that couldn’t be put on a placard with a big felt tip then we should leave it.

  73. I confess I didn’t know…but I’m not uncritical of the US, and if I were it wouldn’t be because I think of it as a nation “under God”…which is perhaps the bit of your comment that got everybody going. “Really believing that your system is under God absolves you from inquiry no doubt.” Please, nobody stop the name-calling. It’s distracting me from rummaging through liberal blog for nasty tidbits about Sarah Palin.

  74. Because all the candidates have been presented as personalities with stories and carefully chosen wardrobes and because none of the candidates seems to have been chosen for their ideas and intentions about governing, I’m beginning to view them in a new light. Not who I want for president and vice-prez, but who I would invite to a party. No doubt (and I’m serious) my first choice is Huckabee. I can’t imagine a Botox face in my house, so that leaves out Madame McCain. No dominatrix here, so no Sarah Barracuda. Bill and Chelsea, please come. Hilary, you too. Obama, even though I’ll vote for you I think you’d be a bore here. Much prefer John Dean. Carter can come if he promises not to have wicked covetous thoughts in our presence.

  75. michael:

    I didn’t call you a prick; I substituted your insulting broad brush ‘you Americans’ into another stupid generic ‘you’. I don’t know anything about you (and unlike you I don’t assume I know anything about you) so I didn’t say ‘you British’ or ‘you Australians’ or ‘you Remulackians’ but went with ‘you pompous pricks’ instead. You have a point; pompous gits would have been a better choice.

  76. I’m not sure it’s a good idea to mix and match words so wantonly. While I think Michael’s initial comment is snarky and not worthy of intellectual debate, as proven by the “pompous prick” retort, it was at least specific.
    And I will admit he has a point because most Americans, or maybe I should say the loudest, are morons when it comes to politics and many other issues.
    And of course, to me at least, there is the obvious goes-without-saying idea that being “under God” is total crap.
    But there is a huge difference between “you Americans” and “you Jews” (choose your word).
    This ain’t mad libs.
    By “swapping out words” to point out a generalization is in itself a generalization because there is the erroneous and damaging underlying assumption that we are all equal and one comment for one groups serves all groups.
    Also, by demanding someone swap their words to say something different is a crappy, politically correct way to force one’s views onto another and try to control what they are saying.

  77. rtk, I would if I could but I’m at work and have probably pushed my luck by quoting pompus prick.

  78. I will admit he has a point because most Americans, or maybe I should say the loudest, are morons when it comes to politics and many other issues.

    But that ‘because’ doesn’t work because that wasn’t michael’s point. He used the second person pronoun, so he was addressing the Americans here. It’s not reasonable to translate ‘you Americans are morons’ as ‘many Americans are morons.’

    It’s always a good idea to be very careful when using the word ‘you’ in that way – unless of course one wants to piss off one’s interlocutors.

  79. I rather like the idea of using verbs wantonly. It feels quite reckless, rather daring, actually. As in: You Irish are like so full of potatoes! Totally. Yes, I hope that interlocutor (you know who you are!) feels seriously pissed off.

  80. My obsession with Sarah Palin continues at my personal blog today, fyi. Will add link.

  81. Thanks for completely missing my point.

  82. Sorry. I did try, but I wasn’t sure what it was.

  83. Who? Me? I didn’t intend to. I just liked putting wanton and verbs together. I generally add wanton to rougher material. Didn’t mean to be obnoxious.

  84. “Has anybody ever considered the democratic deficit involved in appointing a cabinet that has not been elected by anyone? This is a first principles question. Have any of you Americans ever given that a moments thought? Has it ever come up in sociology at school? Really believing that your system is under God absolves you from inquiry no doubt.”

    We actually have a democratic republic here in the United States of America, not a democracy. They taught me that in school.

    They also taught me (by way of our rather lame “Pledge of Allegiance”) that the system is under God, but I could tell that was just a goofy conservative cultural throwback. You know . . . like how Great Britain has a divinely sanctioned and inspired monarch.

  85. I prefer wantons in soup.

    Don’t understand the point? Are you serious?

  86. I was sort of quoting you: “I’m not sure it’s a good idea to mix and match words so wantonly.” Just playing with the idea of wanton words, so I wouldn’t call that particularly serious. Yes wantons (sic) in soup are very good.

  87. Jean: I tried to post on your blog about Sarah and motherhood, but found it impossible. Is that just my computer ineptness? I recall posting on your blog in the past. In any case, I suspect that Sarah doesn’t change the diapers.

  88. Amos, Thanks for telling me…I think I turned comments off a while back (for some reason I don’t remember) and forgot all about it. No wonder nobody’s commented for a long time!

    If I may contribute to the previous discussion–God bless America and wanton soup.

  89. “But not puppy dogs. That would be wrong.”

    Singer a little difficult for you to grasp, Mr. Reidy?

    Shouldn’t you be out saving skin cells (scratched from a divine human nose of course, not the useless hide of a slaughter house cow).

  90. Sorry for the confusion, rtk. I should have been more specific. My first sentence was for you the second was for Ophelia.
    Oddly enough, I don’t recall ever writing the word wanton in a sentence! LOL I kinda like it, though!

  91. I meant, writing wanton BEFORE that earlier comment. Sheesh, I gotta work on being more specific or something.

  92. And lest I, too, be misunderstood, I can easily countenance the wanton use of verbs – even adverbs – on a philosophy blog, but to see adjectives tossed about promiscuously is so disconcerting, it simply ruins my day. There, I’ve said it. Sorry if I’ve stepped on any toes. Mea culpa and all that.

  93. I think Sarah Palin is trolling for the kind of people, especially women, that are described in Between Jesus and Tthe Market; The EMOTIONS That Matter in Right Wing America by Linda Kintz—the Amazon reviews are good.

    It is one of the scariest books that I have read.

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