You had to know this was coming. McCain campaign surrogate and former HP chief Carly Fiorina has called Tina Fey’s portrayal of Sarah Palin “disrespectful” and “sexist.”
Well, let’s be fair here. Fiorina didn’t exactly say that Tina Fey was sexist. She said that the skit “continues the line of argument that is disrespectful in the extreme, and yes, I would say, sexist in the sense that just because Sarah Palin has different views than Hillary Clinton does not mean that she lacks substance.”
If we can do this reasoning the generous favor of taking it seriously for a moment…
…suppose we concede that the only reason the skit portrayed Palin as lacking substance is that she disagrees with Clinton. Even if totally true, how would that be sexist? Unfair, maybe. Hypocritical, perhaps. But the only way to get to a charge of sexism is to assume this point is true—a stretch—and then that this kind of argument is only made against women—another stretch. (Because, you know, campaigns never disparage the substance of their male opponents.)
At this point you’re at least two stretches from actual sexism. But while it’s basically funny to even have this discussion about an SNL skit—really, Fiorina’s been doing this long enough that she should have known this does her candidate no good—there’s a serious point. Which is that the reason to create controversies over media sexism is to be able to categorize any attack as sexist. Fiorina was simply following what has become almost robotic practice the past couple weeks.
So when I say that Fiorina continues a line of argument that is idiotic, I hope you’ll understand that I’m not saying…
[Update: By the way, in other pop-politics news, I strongly recommend Aaron Barnhart's post today about Jay Leno as the real TV threat to Palin.]