Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Whose Pig, Whose Lipstick

No, Barack Obama did not call Sarah Palin a pig.

The first McCain truthsquadding telephone call is taking place right now, and ex-MA Gov. Jane Swift is complaining about an idiom Barack Obama used today:

Obama poked fun of McCain and Palin’s new “change” mantra.
“You can put lipstick on a pig,” he said as the crowd cheered. “It’s still a pig.”
“You can wrap an old fish in a piece of paper called change. It’s still gonna stink.”
“We’ve had enough of the same old thing.”

Suddenly, common analogies are sexist?

As Jake Tapper notes, he used a phrase that John McCain used to describe Hillary Clinton’s health care proposal last year, and no one accused McCain of calling her a pig. At least publicly.

Last October, asked about Sen. Hillary Clinton’s health care plan, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., was blunt.

McCain said Clinton’s proposal was “eerily” similar to the ill-fated plan she devised in 1993.

“I think they put some lipstick on a pig,” he said, “but it’s still a pig.”

A common expression, right?

McCain surely wasn’t calling Clinton a pig.

After all, McCain’s former press secretary, Torie Clarke, wrote a book called “Lipstick on a Pig: Winning in the No-Spin Era.”

Elizabeth Edwards told some health journalists that McCain’s health care plan was like “painting lipstick on a pig.”

Tonight Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., said of McCain painting himself as a change agent, “You know, you can put lipstick on a pig, but it’s still a pig.”

The crowd rose and applauded.

(Some of them no doubt were thinking he may have been in some way alluding to Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin’s ad lib during her vice presidential nomination acceptance speech last week, “What’s the difference between a hockey mom and a pit bull? Lipstick.”)


Why should anyone believe McCain didn’t mean it about Hillary Clinton, but Obama meant it about Palin?

It seems to me we should have one rule. If Obama was calling Palin a pig, then McCain was calling Hillary Clinton one. If McCain wasn’t, then Obama wasn’t.

Oh, c’mon, Jake; they’re Republicans. Having it both ways is the only way they do it: promote sexism in one breath, then whine about it — when it isn’t there — in the next.

(Some of my fellow bloggers think Jake Tapper is enabling the McCain campaign’s interpretation of the Palin=pig meme…not to mention mind-reading the Obama audience. I think, however, his last paragraphs make it clear he’s not; he’s calling them out for trying to spin it that way.)