September 2, 2008

EDITOR'S NOTE: Untying the GOP sex paradox

Like you, my first act upon learning that Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin was John McCain’s pick for vice president was a Google search. It was important, both professionally and personally, to locate nude pictures of the foxy brunette — or, at worst, something featuring negligee. 

Finding instead a dated headshot, some full-clothes action shots and a battery of relatively intellectual arguments about gender in which I cannot feign interest, I became curious: If you’re a septuagenarian whose damaged-reptile physique even your vicious abuse story cannot eclipse, why would you choose as your VP a rather stunning woman who is 0.61 times your age and a national sex fantasy in waiting? 

More to the point, why is the party that views sex as a degrading, unnatural abomination that can only end in pain about to nominate Xena the Warrior Princess as its Number Two? 

On the surface, choosing the 44-year-old Palin — whose limited political experience and love for guns, creationism and using her political power to exercise a family grudge (see page 10) should scare the shit out of everyone — is a transparent political gimmick, a low-rent attempt to usurp Obama’s youth advantage. 

But the more insidious idea is that McCain chose Palin to pull the Hillary vote. You know, because apparently in Republican America, women — not the headstrong, feminist types, but the dumber, less interested Hillary housewives who constitute the majority — will vote for a woman simply because of her vagina. 

Not only does this clash with the fact that Palin, an avid outdoorswoman who eats moose, is a mother of five with a daily grind approximately 28 times more difficult than yours (read: strong woman), it ignores her own political reality: Palin is anti-choice in all scenarios and remains an ardent supporter of abstinence-only sex education — a lesson her 17-year-old daughter, who is five months pregnant, failed to heed. 

For his part, her running mate has opposed equal-pay legislation — most recently, he skipped a vote on the Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, then said he wouldn’t have voted for the bill to remove time limits on when an employee can sue for pay discrimination, dismissing it as a lawsuit trap. In April, discussing the bill with a crowd in eastern Kentucky, McCain said education and training are more important for working women than equal pay. 

One must assume that the majority of Hillary voters will ultimately dispense of the personalities involved and return to their core issues, which include women’s rights. 

A gimmick like this should only work on what Rachel Maddow recently stamped the “post-rational” voter, the person who refuses issue parallels between Obama and Clinton in favor of the latter’s vagina. 

Paradoxically,

Republicans can’t use sex in elections because most of them are afraid of it. Bush showed in 2004 that the base is way to the political right, Christian and, in a lot of cases, evangelical. These are the people who came out in record numbers to vote against gay marriage. They are naïve enough to think Republicans would give up their best election issue — abortion — by stacking a Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade. They believe the best way to teach horny American teens about sex is to scare them into not having it, which has led to an increase in teen pregnancy. 

These are the people who equate sex with shame and humiliation, something to be confined to a bathroom stall or behind your wife’s back. When America sees these two on a stage together every day for the next two months, the predominant curiosity will be, “Jesus, who is that creepy sex offender behind Sarah Palin?” 

In other words, don’t forget your roots. Most of what’s on a digital screen at any given time in America can be related to 1) sex, or 2) our irrational fear of it. The Internet is the preeminent porn instrument — an utterly private tool and the cradle of our civilization. Its importance to our society is easily explained: We — particularly us dudes — require an intense, sometimes elaborate fantasy in daily life, often having to do with sex, so we think about something other than what’s in front of us, which can be quite the bore. 

Given this, I congratulate Republicans for a risky political maneuver: They’re returning sex to presidential politics, admitting both that it happens and that it should be part of the national discourse. 

The last time that happened, the party of the Rich Old White Man — closet porn-abuser profile number one — was impeaching Bill Clinton for lying about wrangling a blowjob in the only house most American taxpayers can still afford.