So this week, Barack Obama is learning a hard lesson -- that people are too freakin' touchy and easy to offend. He made what I sincerely believe was an innocent comment. In discussing the spin that the McCain-Palin camp is trying to put on their record, he said, "You can put lipstick on a pig, but it's still a pig." I heard that comment and my reaction was a little chuckle -- not because I made the connection between lipstick and Sarah Palin (and therefore jumped to the conclusion that he was calling Sarah Palin a pig) -- but rather because that phrase always makes me chuckle because it makes me imagine one of my childhood idols, the legendary Miss Piggy. I mean, seriously, that pig was a riot because no matter how glamorous she thought she was, she was still a pig!
It's not like Barack Obama made this expression up. It's a common expression -- one that McCain himself used just a year ago to describe the health care plan of a Democratic rival. That Democratic rival? Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton? Did Hillary and her camp throw a fit and accuse McCain of being sexist? No. Suddenly, because of her stupid hockey mom-pit bull "joke" (I use quotes because is it seriously that funny?), Sarah Palin has somehow trademarked lipstick?
I have a hard time believing that Barack Obama, a man who has dealt with a lot of bigotry in his life, would stoop so low as to actually call (or more accurately imply) that his rival is a pig. I think he has more sensitivity and class than that. I also think that he's smart enough to know that if he were to intentionally make that analogy that he would be crucified. Remember, too, that he has to face Michelle every night, and I don't see that kind of remark flying by her. Rather he used an expression in an attempt to seem more "like us" and didn't make the connection that everyone else jumped to right away -- that it would be seen as a comment on Palin.
Again, though, I grow concerned about the tone of this election. It seems incredibly counterproductive to me to have a female vice presidential candidate on the ticket, to trumpet her as a harbinger of change, and then demand that she be treated with kid gloves -- kid gloves that would be nowhere in sight if she were a man. This kind of double standard does not help the cause of women but rather only further highlights our "otherness" rather than accepting us as equals. If we want to play with the boys, we gotta be ready to be treated like the boys. It may suck, some really lousy things may get said, but that's, sadly, part of the game. There may be lipstick on this pig we call politics, but it's really still just a pig.
No offense, Sarah.