This lipstick on a pig thing is just so laughably ridiculous, I almost can’t believe the media is running with it. Last night CNN was running in the background and I overheard a discussion — lead by the supremely disappointing Campbell Brown — all about the subtle sexism of this remark by Obama. (I’d like to know where CNN’s concern for sexism was when Hillary Clinton was on the campaign trail ….)
An editorial in this morning’s Washington Post has the best take on this topic:
IT’S HARD to think of a presidential campaign with a wider chasm between the seriousness of the issues confronting the country and the triviality, so far anyway, of the political discourse. On a day when the Congressional Budget Office warned of looming deficits and a grim economic outlook, when the stock market faltered even in the wake of the government’s rescue of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, when President Bush discussed the road ahead in Iraq and Afghanistan, on what did the campaign of Sen. John McCain spend its energy? A conference call to denounce Sen. Barack Obama for using the phrase “lipstick on a pig” and a new television ad accusing the Democrat of wanting to teach kindergartners about sex before they learn to read.
Mr. Obama’s supposedly offending remark was not only not offensive — it also was not directed at Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin. “The other side, suddenly, they’re saying ‘we’re for change too,’ ” Mr. Obama said. “You can put lipstick on a pig. It’s still a pig.” With a woman on the ticket, apparently all references to cosmetics — or pork of the non-bridge variety, for that matter — are forbidden. “Sen. Obama owes Gov. Palin an apology,” sniffed former Massachusetts governor Jane Swift. “Calling a very prominent female governor of one of our states a pig is not exactly what we want to see.” No matter that Mr. McCain used the lipstick-on-a-pig phrase himself, referring to (female) Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton‘s health-care plan, or that (female) former McCain aide Torie Clarke wrote a book with that title. In the heat of a campaign, operatives will pounce on any misstep and play to the referees over any arguable foul. We understand that, and certainly the Obama campaign has not been above such tactics. But this cynical use of the gender card is unusually silly.
And I just love the outrageous nerve of the Republicans in all of this. Page one of Torie Clarke’s book, Lipstick on a Pig talks about none other than … Charles Keating! You remember Charles Keating, don’t you? Even though John McCain would like you to forget that McCain is one of the Keating Five — 5 senators who were involved in helping Keating during the savings and loans scandal of the 1980s?