Remember when conservative women didn’t have to be hot? Pre-Palin, pre-Anne Coulter, we used to have conservative grand dames like Margaret Thatcher and Madeleine Albright. Sure, they were evil, but they were an evil you could respect; they used their brains for bad purposes, but you never doubted that they had them. In a world where the choices for women who want to get anywhere in public life are 1) be twice as good as a man at the same job or 2) serve as window dressing while making it clear that you don’t know enough to threaten anyone, it seems pretty clear to me that choice #1 is to be preferred, even if the job getting done is dismantling the welfare state.
This morning I found myself wondering what the Madelein Albrights of today are thinking about the choice of Palin for Republican VP. Not the ‘gee, she’s just like me’ social conservative women-on-the-street we keep hearing from, but the Ivy League policy-wonk conservative women who could enter into the fine points of the 1967 Israeli-Palestine war at the drop of a hat. Because if I were a brainy, iron-lady old-school female conservative I would be pissed. I would be thinking: you insisted that I become a sexless overachieving robot, and then the first woman you actually choose is an intellectual lightweight who trumpets her lack of qualifications and gets by on her putative sex appeal? You insisted I be able to play and win against international all stars, and then you put a fucking cheerleader in the big leagues? I feel betrayed by my country when I think about McCain’s choice, and I have never given a drop of myself to the Republican party; the iron ladies have given their lives and this is what they get?
In fact, there are a few Republican woman at the wonderful Women Against Sarah Palin blog but certainly not many. And of course there is no chance that Condaleeza Rice–another conservative woman in the iron-lady mold, and an heir to Albright’s Secretary of State mantle–would ever criticize her party, though her notoriously luke-warm statement regarding Palin’s foreign policy experience suggests a certain level of discomfort. But probably such women are really well schooled at dismissing any uncomfortable feelings their party raises in them. And so Condaleeze Rice, with her PhD and her concert pianist skills, will go down in history as the woman who paved the way for a criminal and useless war, while Palin, with her lipstick and her happy ignorance of the foreign policy Rice spent her twenties studying, gets to be the first woman on a Republican presidential ticket. I can almost bring myself to feel sorry for Rice. But then again, if she wanted justice, she joined the wrong party in the first place.