Complex Rhetorical Times

I watched the ladies on The View duke it out this morning over Sarah Palin. Walters, Goldberg, and Behar struggled to support their questioning of Palin to the conservative Hasselbeck, who in turn roundly defended her candidate.

At issue: the conflict between Palin’s duties as vice president and her role as mother of five minor children, including an infant with Down’s Syndrome. Walters, Goldberg, and Behar argued that the conflict was a valid issue.

Hasselbeck accused her democratic cohort of anti-feminism. No one, she argued, is asking about Barack Obama’s work-life balance. While Obama as a father is a pivotal part of his public image, Hasselbeck is right: no one is asking him how he will make time for his young children.

Of course, Walters, Goldberg, and Behar had a point too. Palin’s status as a mother, and the really inevitable fact that the vice-presidency will take up much of her time, is an issue. She’s a social conservative. Isn’t her most important job to be a good mother, according to the mores that she embraces, and the mores that propelled her to the vice-presidency in the first place?

In other words, what should be scrutinized is not her mothering skills but her possible hypocrisy.

This fact seemed lost on all of the women on The View, as they tried to account for several identities at once—mother, Republican, feminist, social conservative—and failed miserably.

One thing Goldberg and the ladies at The View had all right: these are some complicated rhetorical times.



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Filed under election 2008

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