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Former Ms. Editor Claims “Sarah Palin’s a Brainiac”

Elaine Lafferty, formerly the editor-in-chief of Ms. Magazine, now a McCain campaign consultant, asserts that Sarah Palin is super-smart:

Now by “smart,” I don’t refer to a person who is wily or calculating or nimble in the way of certain talented athletes who we admire but suspect don’t really have serious brains in their skulls. I mean, instead, a mind that is thoughtful, curious, with a discernable pattern of associative thinking and insight. Palin asks questions, and probes linkages and logic that bring to mind a quirky law professor I once had. Palin is more than a “quick study”; I’d heard rumors around the campaign of her photographic memory and, frankly, I watched it in action. She sees. She processes. She questions, and only then, she acts. What is often called her “confidence” is actually a rarity in national politics: I saw a woman who knows exactly who she is.

The thing is, we feminists know exactly who Sarah Palin is, too. That’s why we don’t support her. 

According to Lafferty, Palin is the victim of elitist "inside the beltway feminists" who hate Palin because she’s anti-choice and pro-hunting. It’s true that most feminists reject Palin and her reactionary politics. This isn’t some arbitrary prejudice. Feminists shouldn’t support a woman who wants to take away our basic rights

Like a lot of McCain partisans invoking sexism, Lafferty is arguing with a straw man. As far as most of Palin’s critics are concerned, the problem is not that Palin lacks native intelligence, but rather that she lacks knowledge, experience, and moral fiber. It’s hardly sexist to say so.

Maybe the public is even less tolerant of Palin’s pretensions to competence than it would be of an equally ignorant male candidate. If so, that’s a sad commentary on male privilege, not Sarah Palin.

Palin still doesn’t know what a vice president does.  

Palin has been governor of Alaska for less than two years. During this time, she accepted thousands of dollars in state per diem money for staying home. In her short time in office she has become embroiled in two major ethics scandals. She abused her power to fire the public safety commissioner who wouldn’t can her ex-brother-in-law. She also made the state pay thousands of dollars in travel costs for her children to events where they hadn’t been invited and ordered that the paperwork be amended after the fact to cover her ass. 

For the definitive Lafferty takedown, see Megan of Jezebel.

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Lindsay Beyerstein

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