November 30, 2010 / Opportunity

Sarah Palin vs. the 1990s


The opinions expressed herein are those of the author, and not necessarily those of The New Agenda. This article was cross-posted from Speaker of the House at The Stir. The author blogs at PunditMom.

Sarah Palin is out to get the 1990s.  At least that’s what I have to assume from some cultural references she’s trotted out in her new book, America By Heart.

According to excerpts from the book, she’s got it in for Hillary Clinton and fictional newswoman Murphy Brown, two female icons of the 1990s. But why is Palin going all Back to the Future as she’s plotting her 2012 strategy — whatever that may be?

In Sarah Palin’s twenty-first century world, her daughter and single mom Bristol and fictional single mom Juno are rock stars to be put on a conservative pedestal — underage girls who find themselves single and pregnant, but decide to deliver their babies — Bristol keeping her baby and Juno placing hers for adoption — rather than have abortions. Somehow, they are champions for her conservative version of womanhood.

Palin does a sharp 180 in her book when she invokes fictional 1990s television mom Murphy Brown — who also found herself single, pregnant, and decided to keep her baby rather than have an abortion or place her child for adoption, but for some reason Palin doesn’t believe that Murphy is a role model for today’s young women.

This leaves me scratching my head a bit, since their stories are essentially the same, except for the fact that Bristol and Juno were high school kids when they got knocked up, with little means to support their babies, while Murphy was an accomplished professional who could more than afford to take care of her child without having to rely on her parents for support. If Murphy Brown had been an actual person, that is.

As for Hillary Clinton, Palin famously praised her in 2008 for those 18 million cracks in the glass ceiling and making it possible for voters to believe that women, including Palin herself, could be on a presidential ticket. But now the former Alaska governor and Fox News celebrity is trash-talking the current Secretary of State for her 1992 remarks that she wasn’t Tammy Wynette standing by her man or staying home to do the cookie-baking for her then school-aged daughter Chelsea when her husband was running for President.

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So what is so threatening to Palin about these icons of the 1990s, a decade that brought us Seinfeld, Friends, and “The Rachel?” Well, the 1990s also gave rise to real girl power, third-wave feminism and women taking control of their lives in ways in which motherhood wasn’t necessarily the first order of business. And that idea is completely at odds with her whole mama grizzly political strategy.

Palin clearly believes if she can convince the country that her version of combining ambition and motherhood is somehow better than a decades-old, culturally accepted portrayal of motherhood that she paints as liberal, then maybe, just maybe, she can land whatever position it is she’s after in 2012.

The thing is this — no woman likes to be judged on how she creates her own version of motherhood.  And there are still plenty of Murphys and Hillarys just trying to raise their kids and put dinner on the table without someone else judging them. So Palin might want to tread lightly as she implements this new chapter in her quest for stardom, political and otherwise, because it’s got the word ‘backfire’ written all over it.

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  • BevWKY

    You know, if this was posted in the comments, I would treat it as coming from a concern troll. Or worse.


    Because it doesn’t even quote directly from the book itself and relies on questionable references at best.

    You want to talk about the issues she raised? Show us what she actually said. Then I’ll comment.

  • That video of Hillary seems almost surreal. Wow oh wow has she evolved as a political figure!

    Joanne – I concur as an org one of the things we struggle with is, as I once wrote over at MORE, having a ceasefire in the mommy wars. I don’t think women have figured this one out at all and feminism left it by the road side. I’ve thought it was one of the shortcomings – got us the right to work, then left us with the guilt either way.

    We’ve written about this extensively here -we are always open for ideas. Unity of women is a central premise of what we stand for and this is a battle line (stay-at-home vs. working moms)!

  • yttik

    I think people should read the book, not just read the hype about an excerpt taken out of context from Palin’s book.

    I’ve been a feminist for many decades and I didn’t think Palin was attacking Hillary at all. In fact, she praises her and says she’s somebody she admires. Her comments were about pop culture of the 90’s and how it relates to feminism today.

  • Bes

    Looks like another hysterical liberal micro dissection and distortion of Palin. I will put Palin’s book on my reading list but I don’t believe anything “the other side” says about what she says or means or thinks anymore. I need to see her undistorted quotes in some sort of context. Sarah is a “live and let live” person as opposed to the people who criticize her for not conforming to their views of feminism. I have really been enjoying Sarah’s show. For once some real people and a real family trying to raise real teens on the idiot tube.

  • Bes – there is nothing hysterical about this piece. There has been a whole lot written about the passage in Sarah’s new book which is critical of Hillary. We thought that Joanne’s piece is the most insightful in getting at the underlying issue – the 90s battle of stay-at-home vs. working moms – as opposed to making it a battle of Sarah vs. Hillary. I wish this para had been phrased differently in the book!

  • Amy, first thanks for inviting me to post here at The New Agenda. I do want to make clear what I was — and was not — trying to do with my thoughts.

    This piece isn’t about being anti-Palin. I am not a supporter of her political views, but I have long been outspoken about how she’s been treated unfairly in the media in terms of sexism. Similarly, I think we have to be able to question underlying motivations of all politicians in what they say, write and do, rather taking things at face value.

    For me, it was curious that someone like Palin would with her words take us back to that old ‘good mom vs. bad mom’ meme by looking at extremely comparable situations and pronouncing different outlooks on them.

    There is no doubt my politics are left of center, but I am not hysterical nor am I distorting what Palin said. I just believe it’s important to be able to have an actual discussion on things that raise questions, rather than merely lobbing attacks at one another because we support different views or candidates.

  • yttik

    “There has been a whole lot written about the passage in Sarah’s new book which is critical of Hillary.”

    Yes, but on what planet is it fair and reasonable to do a book review about a book that somebody hasn’t even read?

  • Bes

    Ok If this is a fair review then what the hell did Sarah write? Where are the quotes? I haven’t read the book and I don’t listen to what the Corporate Media has to say about Sarah so I don’t even know what the exact statements are that are being referred to.

    That said I do like reading different perspectives. I’m thinking I will go out and buy one of those electronic readers this week as my house is over run with book piles and If I had one of those things I could probably just stay home and down load the books I want without trying to find a parking place at the mall. Also I could take a bunch of books on holiday with me without taking a thirty pound pile of dead trees with me. Still it might be a few weeks before I get around to reading Sarah’s new book.

  • Henrietta

    I love this article. I have spent a good deal of my time these past two years defending Palin from sexist attacks. So I was disheartened to read this passage as well as Palin’s commentary on fictional t.v. character Murphy Brown. Palin has received a lot of flack for being a working Mom of 5 kids. I would think she would be able to understand where the bit in Hillary’s decades old comment came from. We all know that Hillary was constantly being criticized for not being a fade-into-the-background sort of 1st lady.

    Palin has become a leader in conservative feminism and as such, I think she needs to beware of such divisive language. It doesn’t do anyone any good and although Palin’s commentary is retro in many ways, the mommy wars are alive and thriving. Women today are often terribly judgmental about other women’s domestic and work choices and honestly, it’s very hurtful. I have overheard working mom’s in coffee shops bantering away at how being a stay-at-home mom is a waste of brain power and a waste of an education. I have heard stay-at-home moms talk about how staying home “is the only way” to raise children. It’s really awful and does nothing to develop honest dialogue between moms. Nothing is easy when it comes to raising families and it would be great if women could just share and compare notes and help each other. What Palin wrote in her book does not inspire such dialogue and will certainly put many moms on the defensive.

    Hopefully, the sort of critique that is in this article will inspire Palin to disengage from the Mommy wars and approach the topic more inclusively and with less judgment.

  • Again, this wasn’t a book review. This was a commentary on Palin’s comments about the 1990s.

  • Janis

    Hillary Clinton has been paying for that stupid cookie baking comment long enough. Attention, insecure housewives: speaking as a knitting, quilting, crocheting, and cookie-baking Hillary fan, GET OVER IT.

  • yttik

    “This was a commentary on Palin’s comments about the 1990s.”

    Her comments from her book, right? So this is an opinion piece based on other commentaries from other people about a book none of them have read either?

    Which part did you think was an attack on Hillary? The part were she praises her and says she admires her? Or were your sensibilities really offended by the part where she says, some of us at the time wanted to say, but Hillary, we like to bake cookies.

    Ewww, yep, that’s some serious nastiness there. What a vicious attack on Hillary, “some of us want to bake cookies.” Gosh, Sarah Palin practically scratched Hillary’s eyes out. Video at 11.

  • Bes

    I still have no idea exactly what Palin said so how can what Sarah said be discussed? If you are discussing this article you are discussing the authors impression of what Sarah said and frankly there are Liberals who make their living purposefully misinterpreting Palin.

    Did she simply acknowledge there is a mommy war going on? Because I was a stay at home mom for 17 years and I had a working women call up and tell me she had to use my car seat immediately because her husband drove off with theirs and SHE had to go to work, I had working women drive by and drop off their kids who had chicken pox because my kids already had had them and they assumed i had nothing to do all day since I didn’t get paid, I had a group of 5 15 and 16 year old boys who were at my house every day in the summer because I was the only house that had a parent in it. Hello, there is a Mommy war, saying so might be not politically correct but it is there. I wasn’t going to read Palin’s book but now I am curious. How does a woman with that many kids write so many books? She is amazing.

  • Excerpt sent to me from someone who read the book on Kindle – this doesn’t have paras – apologies in advance:

    “For more than 150 years the women’s movement in America has been advocating for more women in public office—and they’ve been right! Women have a unique perspective. Typically, they are less ambitious for superifical power than men and more focused on providing for the needs of others. I think we appreciate, more than some men, the fullness of American life, everything from raising decent kids to protecting our national security. If I do say so myself, most women have the stamina for endless multitasking and the ability to bring about consensus on tough issues. And we’re not afraid to work hard and get our hands dirty. We’re busy enough to know that time must be spent efficiently; in fact we’re too busy to waste time with typical political games and power struggles. One of my personal heroes is former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher. Her life and career serve as a blueprint for overcoming the odds and challenging the status quo as a woman. She started life as a grocer’s daughter in a small English town, living above the store with her sister and parents. From these humble beginnings she went on to Oxford and a seat in Parliament. In the 1970s she was secretary of state for education and science in a conservative government that sold out virtually all of its free market principles. Disgusted, she ran for the Conservative Party leadership in 1975 and became the first woman to lead a Western political party and the first female leader of the opposition in Parliament. From there, all that was left was the prime ministership itself. She served as British prime minister for more than eleven years, from 1979 to 1990, the first woman to lead a major Western democracy. In addition to being prime minister, she was a wife and mother. But it isn’t just the series of firsts that Lady Thatcher represents as a woman that draws me to her. She is a truly transformative figure. She became the leader of Great Britain at a time when that country was on the verge of bankruptcy, mired in unemployment and deficits at home, and cowering before the Soviet bear abroad. I remember first hearing Mrs. Thatcher speak when I was in high school. I was amazed. I had rarely heard a political figure—and never a female one—speak with so much conviction and so much moxie. Her message was one that America could use today. It is sometimes said that because of our past, we, as a people, expect too much and set our sights too high. That is not the way I see it. Rather it seems to me that throughout my life in politics our ambitions have steadily shrunk. Our response to disappointment has not been to lengthen our stride but to shorten the distance to be covered. But with confidence in ourselves and in our future, what a nation we could be! . . . If spending money like water was the answer to our country’s problems, we would have no problems now. If ever a nation has spent, spent, spent and spent again, ours has. Today that dream is over. All of that money has got us nowhere, but it still has to come from somewhere. Those who urge us to relax the squeeze, to spend yet more money indiscriminately in the belief that it will help the unemployed and the small businessman, are not being kind or compassionate or caring. They are not the friends of the unemployed or the small business. They are asking us to do again the very thing that caused the problems in the first place. We have made this point repeatedly. I am accused of lecturing or preaching about this. I suppose it is a critic’s way of saying, “Well, we know it is true, but we have to carp at something.” I do not care about that. But I do care about the future of free enterprise, the jobs and exports it provides and the independence it brings to our people. . . . To those waiting with bated breath for that favourite media catchphrase, the “U” turn, I have only one thing to say. “You turn if you want to. The lady’s not for turning.” “The lady’s not for turning.” If it weren’t taken already, wouldn’t every woman want to make that the title of her memoirs someday? What a lady. What a leader. I cherish Margaret Thatcher’s example and will always count her as one of my role models. I am not alone, of course. Ronald Reagan considered Thatcher his closest ally abroad and relied on her advice at many points. And it was Thatcher who famously said to George H. W. Bush during the first Gulf War, “Don’t go wobbly now, George.” There was a woman to reckon with. The tragedy of contemporary American feminism is that it’s had the example of Margaret Thatcher to put forward as a model for over three decades now, and yet feminists have championed a very different type of female leader. Modern feminism’s idea of a “real” woman isn’t so much a woman as a liberal. “Real” women must be in favor of government-run health care, of restricting Second Amendment rights, of curtailing free speech in universities and in political campaigns, and other liberal causes. In the name of liberating women, modern feminism has wrapped us in a one-size-fits-all straitjacket of political correctness. This liberal ideology is so sacrosanct among feminists that they label women who don’t agree with them as not “real women.” Typical was a remark by a Democratic Tennessee lawmaker complaining that Republican women in the state legislature don’t share her liberal views. She snarked, “You have to lift their skirts to find out if they are women.” These critics either need a lesson in anatomy or a guide to contemporary politics. Today’s self-proclaimed feminists have (more than once) accused me of not being a “real woman” because I don’t share their leftist views. (The same sort of insults are hurled at black conservatives like Clarence Thomas and Thomas Sowell who don’t view themselves primarily as victims of racism.) But it’s actually the liberal women’s groups that have little in common with the majority of American women. Most women love their families and cherish motherhood. But all too often the leaders of the modern feminist movement seem disdainful of traditional family life and the joys and fulfillment we find in motherhood. Remember Hillary Clinton’s famous rant, when her husband was running for president, that she wasn’t, in her words, “some little woman standing by my man like Tammy Wynette”? Hillary is someone I like and admire personally in many ways, but she came across then as someone frozen in an attitude of 1960s-era bra-burning militancy. She told us in no uncertain terms that she “could have stayed home and baked cookies and had teas” but preferred to pursue a serious career. Well, Hillary (many of us wanted to say at the time), some of us like to bake cookies. Some of us also think we can do that and still have successful careers. And most of us don’t think we have to run down stay-at-home moms in order to make ourselves feel good about our choices. The women’s groups and mainstream media have greeted the rise of the conservative mama grizzlies in much the same way they treated the vice-presidential campaign in 2008: with disbelief that people so alien to them could win the support of the American people. Back then, left-wing feminists didn’t know what to make of an Alaskan chick out on the campaign trail talking about the Second Amendment, kids (the more the merrier!), and America’s urgent need for greater security through energy independence. Today, left-wing feminists and their allies seem to be similarly perplexed. Commenting on the victories of commonsense conservative women in primaries earlier this year, liberal editor Tina Brown complained, “it almost feels as if all these women winning are kind of a blow to feminism.” Another liberal commentator said that the true test of feminism is a belief in abortion rights and government health care. It was a new, “selfish” variety of feminism, she declared, that was coming to the fore with the victory of conservative women candidates. What kind of feminist is it who declares that a diversity of political opinion among women (but not men!) is somehow “selfish”? And what kind of advocate for women is it who laments the success of female political candidates? The fact is that it’s these feminist and media elites who are out of touch with American women. They claim to speak for us all, when in reality they speak for a very narrow liberal fringe. The bad news for them—and the good news for America—is that the country as a whole is waking up to this fraud. So many of the voices that claim to speak for American women simply don’t have our best interests at heart. We’re coming to realize that the empress isn’t wearing any clothes. No single group can speak for all women any more than a single group can speak for all men. To suggest otherwise is no less than old-fashioned sexism.”

  • On Murphy Brown:

    “Standing up for the family wasn’t fashionable then and it is even less fashionable now. Many of us remember one of the early and epic clashes of the American heartland versus Hollywood over the role of the American family.

    It was May 1992, and thirty-eight million Americans watched as a fictional television journalist named Murphy Brown, finding herself over forty, divorced, and pregnant, decided to have the child alone. Without the baby’s father. On prime-time television. [Page 116]”

    This isn’t hypocritical that Palin believes her daughter who had a child out of wedlock while in high school is a role model, but that a fictional professional who decided to keep her baby isn’t?

  • yttik

    This is silly game! You can’t discuss a book you haven’t read! People usually learn that by 3rd grade. And no, even though this is the technology age, you can’t google for some opinion pieces or snatch a few pages off a kindle and just call it good.

    This is also a stupid game because it’s based on the old, patriarchal concept of separate, divide, control. Try to keep women suspicious of each other and bickering. Such as, “guess what, Palin thinks you’re fat.” Or, “did you know Hillary’s going to take away your right to bake cookies?” “Hey that woman over there wants to take your man. Why don’t you go scratch her eyes out?” And on and on it goes….

    So tell me, when does the feminism start and the silly games cease? Because that’s the day the world changes, people.

  • Henrietta


    I like Palin. I don’t support all of her policies but I do support some. Furthermore, I think she is smart, practical, has an impressive record as Governor, is incredible in how she has dominated the national political discourse, is incredible in how she has balanced motherhood and work, etc. There are so many things I admire about Palin.

    Still, I do not like how she approached the mommy wars here and it is not “3rd grade” or a “stupid game” to reflect on this. I think Joanne has reflected on Palin’s own words in a fair way and I certainly don’t think she needs to read the entire book to understand the point of Palin’s POV here!

  • Henrietta

    Honestly, the Murphy Brown quote makes my face turn red with defensive anger. I have friends in Murphy’s position who yup… went ahead and had the baby! Kinda like Bristol went ahead and had the baby, as Joanne stated. I can’t imagine what Palin was thinking by publishing this. This is judgmental and divisive.

    I like Palin but she needs to take a few steps backwards and start over again on this topic!

  • greta

    I agree with the Joanna. When a politician writes something, I have to question the underlying motivation. Why would Palin choose to bring up an offhand comment Hillary made 20 years ago? Sarah is very smart and knows full well she will be offending the “Hillary demographic”. Yet she doesn’t seem to care. She wants to reignite the conservative hatred for Hillary. I think that means she sees Hillary as a potential rival rather than Obama. She would have a good chance to get some Hillary voters’ support if she ran against Obama. So why risk that? If she waits until 2016 to run, she probably sees Hillary as her most likely rival in which case she figures she’s not getting any Hillary demographic vote. So, better to get that old Hillary hatred flame going which was originally started by the tea and cookies comment 20 years ago. I like the idea that Sarah thinks Hillary will run. However, I think it was a strategically bad move on Sarah’s part to dismiss a large chunk of women voters as not important. I’m a pro-Sarah voter who got the dis message loud and clear.

  • hedonia

    Ani wrote on TNA blog earlier this month:

    “Yet Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin refused to have the catfight the media was aching to cover. Instead, both women took care to discuss each other in respectful terms.”

    Sadly, I think Sarah’s bringing up Hillary’s comment from long ago represents a lapse from what seemed such a great precedent for how women should treat each other in politics. But I think Sarah can get back on board. I hope she learns this was a mistake such as the whining comment for which she later apologized. Sarah is smart and can learn from this and still move forward and succeed in setting an example for future women political figures.

  • Bes

    Well Palin has an opinion. She seems to find ways to work which allow her to be around her kids. She isn’t afraid to state her opinion and she lives it and isn’t hurting anyone else. I agree that Hillary’s cookie baking statement wasn’t politically prudent and Hillary hasn’t made similar statements in the last 10 years. I never did get the Murphy Brown controversy other than any one who has raised a child knows it is easier with the support of an extended family. I didn’t read anything about Juno or Bristol here but I think she figures they are making the best of a very tough situation. Also Sarah has no choice but to go directly to The People with whatever she does because there are so many in the media who make a living distorting who she is and what she said and believes. That is why she writes books and does her TV show. She needs to show people she isn’t dangerous. I guess I just don’t get it. I don’t agree with everything she says and I don’t feel the need to. But it looks like the publishers plan to ratchet up readership of her book is going to workout well.

  • I will grant you that no, I have not read the entire book – not sure about Joanne. But the excerpt is enough to give the train of thought.

    I believe it is perfectly valid to discuss and disagree on issues. We can actively debate a topic that this piece surfaces from the 1990s and yet still is largely unresolved for women and holds us back.

    If a public figure speaks out on something, we can bat it around – so long as we’re not applying a double standard or sexist mores- IMHO.

  • yttik

    You know Amy, in the ultimate twist of irony Hillary’s cookie baking comment was distorted and taken out of context way back when. Here we are all these years later, doing the exact same damn thing to a Palin quote. I guess you just can’t trust these evil women and always have to read between the lines to find their devious intent, even when it isn’t there.

    We’ve come a long way baby. Or not.

  • Henrietta


    How has the Palin quote/ passage been taken out of context?

  • yttik

    The Palin quote has been taken out of context by being portrayed as an attack on Hillary. It is not an attack on Hillary, it’s a discussion about people’s perceptions and the debate about careers versus children that began in the 90’s.

    Maybe people have forgotten what a real attack is like. Saying, “If you can’t run your own house, you can’t run the white house,” is an attack.

  • Oh, I don’t know yttik…struck my sensibilities as an attack…unnecessary roughness is what I call it…seemed like a very purposefully worded and political outreach to the far right’s disdain for Hillary. That was my read. But we could go back and forth and disagree there. That’s why I like Joanne’s piece because it brings us back to the meat – the issue – women’s challenge of coming together as stay-at-home vs. working. I did not agree with some of what Palin said here and this is an issue that impacts all women.

  • yttik

    Well gee Amy, back then Hillary was under attack on many fronts, she had to defensively say, I’m not going to stay home and bake cookies and host tea! That comment implied that stay at home moms sit around doing nothing important. Did Hillary intend to imply that? Probably not, but I’d call it unnecessary roughness.

    Palin has been under constant attack for her own mothering and career. This very article posted elsewhere is filled with comments calling Palin a bad mother and stupid. If you were to actually read her book, you would see that she is not attacking Hillary personally, she is talking about Hillary’s iconic comment and the national debate it triggered. A debate by the way, which has not improved one bit.

  • This quote from the book;

    “Well, Hillary (many of us wanted to say at the time), some of us like to bake cookies. Some of us also think we can do that and still have successful careers. And most of us don’t think we have to run down stay-at-home moms in order to make ourselves feel good about our choices.”

    is a strawperson tactic. In this passage, Sarah is very purposely placing that sentiment upon Hillary.

    Now yttik – let me ask you – do you believe that Hillary thinks that stay-at-home moms can’t feel good about themselves? Do you agree with Sarah’s assertion?

    Realize the power of words please and understand how carefully words are chosen and written. The very same line of thought could easily have been introduced without hanging it on Hillary.

    But, again – Joanne’s piece is about the subject itself which as you say aptly state – the debate has not improved on bit. We speak about this issue constantly right here at TNA.

  • ladydawnelle

    I’m actually more concerned with this wikileak of docs from the state dept where they got all that info on the foreign dignitaries and Morris claimed Hillary’s Dept were gonna use that info to blackmail those people !!

    And I have not been around to hear the news today but did Hillary ever refudiate (love that new word) the charge????

  • yttik

    “In this passage, Sarah is very purposely placing that sentiment upon Hillary.”

    Of course she is, they were Hillary’s words. And they were iconic, so why shouldn’t Palin quote them? Palin is disagreeing with Hillary, she is not attacking her.

  • Bes

    “Realize the power of words please and understand how carefully words are chosen and written.” Yes it is important to do that and because I personally hardly even proofread I don’t tend to consider that others have taken a long time to choose their words and written strategies. So OK I can see that it might have been a subtle attack at Hillary but people who are not journalisticly oriented won’t catch it. The thing is Palin is right , it was not a politically prudent comment and Hillary must agree because she hasn’t made similar comments. I stayed home with the kids for 17 years and I have worked at my career before and after and I don’t really know what side I identify with in the Mommy wars. I will say I have never seen a stay at home mom say to a “working” mom “here you pay this bill for me because due to my life choices I don’t have as much money as you” but I have had working women dump their kids on me repeatedly because due to their life choices they don’t have time to watch them or as much flexibility as I did (in their minds). But just declaring it politically incorrect to discuss the Mommy war isn’t going to solve anything. I shouldn’t be a taboo subject.

  • ginny

    ladydawnelle, refudiate is not a new word, it was a mistake Sarah Palin made when she meant to use the word “repudiate”. No need for a new word that’s one letter different and (presumably) has the exact same definition as one that already exists.
    Amy, read back through yttik’s comments. First, she defends Hillary, saying her “cookie” comment was taken out of context, in order to defend Palin by saying Joanne has done the same to Palin here. Next, when you provide a long excerpt from Palin’s book, and the quote from mediamatters, providing context; and you point out that Palin is, in fact, attributing the “out of context” meaning to Hillary’s cookie quote, then she attacks Hillary, saying that Hillary’s cookie quote WAS offensive, and she now seems to be doing a 180 about the fact that Hillary’s words were taken out of context.
    You won’t win this argument. You can’t when the other party is being motivated by blind adoration rather than reason.

  • There was a story on FB that “refudiate” has actually been added to the dictionary – not sure if it was a spoof?

    Anyways, I do admire both Hillary and Sarah..for different reasons. I just try to be consistent on both sides when possible.

    Again, this is why I like Joanne’s piece because we’ll all just have to agree to disagree on the Hillary wording in the book and its intent…but I think it is best to move along and shine a bright light on a yet unresolved issue that this org would like to do some good on!

    Thanks all for your thoughts and feedback. Our country could benefit and learn from having dissenting views respectfully disagree!

  • samsmom

    “Refudiate” has indeed been entered into the New American Oxford Dictionary. It has joined “ginormous” as a recognized word.

    I love Hillary Clinton, but she’s not perfect either.
    When she uttered those words back in 1990’s, she did offend a lot of women. It’s not wrong for Sarah Palin to point out that the heroine of the left has participated in the mommy wars, too. But it is time for us to stop the War Between the Women.

  • the15th

    Joanne is absolutely right; “political correctness” and “bra-burning militancy” in this context, along with rehashing Hillary’s decades-old cookie-baking comment, are loud and clear anti-women’s-rights dogwhistles. (And there’s the “women are great at multitasking” trope, but that’s really just my own personal pet peeve.)

    Does anyone remember that around the same time Murphy Brown was having her baby, Annie Potts’ character on Designing Women chose to become pregnant through artificial insemination and raise the child as a single mother (while Murphy’s pregnancy was an accident)? But she had a suitably feminine demeanor and career, and thus never became the target of antifeminist rage.

  • the15th

    Also, “refudiate” was named “word of the year” by the Oxford American Dictionary, but won’t be added to the dictionary. It’s a great word, on par with Mayor Daley’s “insinuendos.”

  • Kathleen Wynne


    I totally see your point and I agree.

    I honestly don’t think Palin is intending to “attack” Hillary because she has made it clear in publicly made statements that she admires and respects her for what she has done to break the glass ceiling for other women who seek to advance both politically and on a personal level; she has also apologized for not minimizing the depth and breadth of the sexism Hillary did encounter during the primary, when the misogynist turned their venom on her. This does not sound like someone who is deliberately attacking Hillary by pointing out her opinion about the “baking cookies…blah, blah, blah…” statement.

    What concerns me is the automatic response by some women by interpreted Palin’s opinion as an attack. As a result, it sets off a set of conditioned responses that women obviously are continuing to struggle to break free from, no matter how much we think we’ve evolved beyond our “conditioned” distrust and even dislike of other women, which we still have difficulties expressing towards men more deserving of such a response.

    I think the energy being spent analyzing what Palin meant by talking about Hillary’s statement is far beyond what it deserves and distracts us from what, IMO, we should be focusing on…that is, why are some women are reacting with such vitriol in their desire to defend Hillary against Palin and women, like yttik and me, who don’t believe Palin was trying to attack Hillary. I am an ardent Hillary supporter and would never stand idly by while someone wrongly “attacked” her.

    We all know the patriarchy are scared to death of both Palin and Hillary and nothing would make them happier than to see us going after each other over such a basically innocuous statement by Palin. Let’s not give them the satisfaction. Let’s not play into the patriarchies age-old strategy of keeping women divided and engaging in divisive arguments such as this.

    Whether we realize it or not, this is a very effective tactic in keeping these two extraordinary women from ever achieving the kind of power base politically, which they fear would ultimately threaten the patriarchy’s stranglehold on power and control. The biggest irony of all is that they are succeeding through the continue divisive behavior by women toward other women!

  • hedonia

    You can debate whether or not it was an attack. But Sarah and her advisers knew full well that bringing up an irrelevant quote by Hillary two decades ago would offend some people (Hillary supporters) and please others (conservatives). It was purposefully put in her book, not an offhand comment or response to a question. This was printed in a book which was edited and given final approval by Sarah and her advisers. To pretend this has no political intent is naive and just trying to make Sarah’s comment fit into your comfort zone.

    But the author has a good point in her final paragraph:

    The thing is this — no woman likes to be judged on how she creates her own version of motherhood. And there are still plenty of Murphys and Hillarys just trying to raise their kids and put dinner on the table without someone else judging them. So Palin might want to tread lightly as she implements this new chapter in her quest for stardom, political and otherwise, because it’s got the word ‘backfire’ written all over it.

  • bruce nahin

    I have read the book. I believe that what the Governor was suggesting is that Secretary of State Clinton and Candace Bergen’s fictional character were turning points( see Malcom Gladwell’s book by the same name). Those individuals made decisions to go in one direction, a direction separate and apart from that which went previous. Mrs Clinton chose to distinguish herself from her predecessors in the same position, by turning away from those more traditional roles.Murphy Brown took a position( which Bristol Palin chose to do later- but still it was a turning point in society to make that choice available at that time in history). The point the Governor was making is that she thought those turning points went in the wrong direction. I do not see this as a personal attack on anyone, rather a disagreement as the the correctness of this societal turn represented in this case by the Secretary of State and Ms Bergen.

  • Janis

    “When she uttered those words back in 1990?s, she did offend a lot of women.”

    I quilt. I’ve got two quilts I made on my bed. I’m wearing mitts, socks, and a sweater that I made right now. I’m crocheting hats and scarves for my brothers’ wives for the holidays. I spin my own yarn. I was not offended by Hillary’s comment. She was RIGHT — if she HAD gone the traditional politician’s wife route and done all the right photogenic things, she wouldn’t have been subjected to what she was subjected to. She had the gall to continue with her own career, and she was pilloried for it.

    Period. She was right. None of this “yes but” junk. None of this “if only she’d said it while talking about bread and not cookies” stuff. She was right. That is the only reason she is still paying twenty goddamned years after the fact for some stupid off-the-cuff baking comment. It’s the same reason she was savaged for the “vast right-wing conspiracy” comment. Because she was right.

    She was and continues to be attacked for those words because SHE WAS RIGHT. Not because cookies are good, not because wimmins like baking, not because she was a bra-burning nutcase. Because she was right.

    Seriously — man-hating bra-burning militancy equated to one stinking comment about baking cookies? Christ people, take some damn pills. This is a fucking joke. How many more threadbare excuses to hate on other women do women really need?

    It is PATHETIC to get so fucking worked up over one stupid cookie-baking comment that, if it were a human being would be OLD ENOUGH TO DRINK BY NOW. Fucking hell. There is no such thing as feminism and never will be if women thirst to hate other women so badly that they will clutch at any pathetic excuse, no matter how threadbare, to justify yanking the rug out form under another woman. This whole topic is nauseating.

  • Janis

    How often on this very blog — and others — have people bemoaned the fact that the current idiot in chief’s ex-high-powered executive wife has neutered herself and turned herself into a shoe and purse-obsessed trophy wife Fashion Icon in an effort not to offend anyone? I guess that’s okay though, because the words “cookie” and “baking” never got said in the same sentence.

    Besides, where were all these easily offended militant cookie-bakers who love traditional girl stuff when the current jackass in chief was going after her for her supposed mere hosting of useless tea parties? Don’t badmouth cookie baking, but hosting luncheons is okay. I’ll remember that rule.

    Or is the rule that a man can say whatever the fuck he wants about women, but a woman can’t set one toe out of line without getting a sheaf of knives in her back with female fingerprints on them?

  • greta

    Bruce, you said she was making a judgment. And that is the point of the whole piece by Joanne. That “no woman likes to be judged on how she creates her own version of motherhood.” It has backfire written all over it. How is this any different than Obama’s “people who cling to their guns and religion”? It is not. Sarah is being as elitist and judgmental as many say Obama is, she’s just playing to a different crowd.

  • hedonia

    Agree. You can call it whatever you want, an attack, a discussion of feminism, a strategic hit, etc. It was playing to her conservative base. She wanted to remind her base how much they used to hate Hillary and why. They couldn’t stand that Hillary was her own woman with a career and definitely not what a first lady should be. Hillary had power and they could tell she wasn’t going to stay in her place and that scared them. They hated her before the cookie comment for this reason and the cookie comment just gave them a reason to scream and shout. Sarah’s main role in politics is to inflame her base. She keeps them hyped up, entertained and effectively rallied. Her base is her power. Sarah’s bringing up this 20 year old comment was purely playing to her base and giving them a gentle reminder that though Hillary may be doing a kickass job as SOS, she is still that same old family-values-shunning powerful woman they used to love to hate. Sarah clearly sees Hillary as a potential rival down the road and does not mind risking backfire to stoke the old fires of hatred toward her as hatred can be a handy tool when needed.

  • yttik

    It’s kind of interesting, people seem to believe that Palin is “playing to her conservative base.” And yet on TV there is Newt Gingrich, good old Newt, actually praising Clinton for her response to the wikileaks issue. Christine Odonnell was also on TV praising Hillary and sent out some tweets yesterday in support of her. Sarah Palin has also spoken out about the wikileaks issue and said not one negative word about Hillary. I heard a right wing pundit actually praise her wikileaks response and say she sounded downright presidential.

    Guess who’s running around calling for Hillary to resign?? It’s sure not “Palin’s conservative base.” Believe it or not, Hillary Clinton is actually respected and admired now days by the Right.

  • yttik

    Here are a couple of recent quotes from the “Hillary hating conservatives”:

    “I’m proud that Secretary Clinton actually cared about national security, actually was trying to gather intelligence, and I wish we had more aggressive leaders in the Obama Administration who thought that defending America was their first job and being liked by foreigners was a far distant second.”-Newt Gingrich

    “You know, I would even be tempted to change my registration so that I could vote for her in the Democratic primary. You go girl!”-Christine Odonnell

    Palin isn’t rallying hatred towards Hillary from 20 years ago because it just isn’t there to rally anymore. Hillary has spent the last two decades becoming a well admired leader across all political aisles. Today most of the attacks against Hillary come from the left who view her as a threat to President Obama.

  • Then there’s the ‘toe sucker’:

  • Henrietta

    Greta wrote:

    “…you said she was making a judgment. And that is the point of the whole piece by Joanne. That “no woman likes to be judged on how she creates her own version of motherhood.” It has backfire written all over it. How is this any different than Obama’s “people who cling to their guns and religion”? It is not. Sarah is being as elitist and judgmental as many say Obama is, she’s just playing to a different crowd.”

    Bingo. That’s it. Sarah is being judgmental on this particular issue. No one is saying that they think she is horrible. No one is being a mean girl to Sarah Palin here. It’s just that many of us simply do not like her judgmental words and tone on this particular issue.

    I still like Palin on a lot of levels. But I can critique her words without suffering from Palin Derangement Syndrome. I can also critique whether I think her words are used for political advantage or disadvantage. Are we so afraid of PDS that a simple critique is a big no no to some here?

  • bruce nahin

    Greta and Henrietta, I agree with each of you…The governor was being judgemental, but not of HRC per se in my view but of a societal shift that she didnt agree with. HRC is being used in this portion of the book as an example of a societal change. Elsewhere in the book the Governor was complimentary of HRC and her struggles…so I just dont see this as a personal attack of the Governor toward the Sec of State, that was the point in my feeble way I was trying to convey

  • gxm17

    You know, yttik has a point. How seriously should we take a movie review when the reviewer has only seen the trailer, or a music review when the reviewer listened to a clip from a song? It’s ever so slightly absurd to pretend to discuss Palin’s book when one hasn’t actually read the book.

    That said, I’m not surprised that Palin is “playing to her base.” She’s a Republican. She has never pretended to be anything other than a Republican. So I really have to wonder just what all the fuss is about. So she doesn’t agree with Hillary Clinton. And? What did you expect? I certainly don’t expect her to agree with Hillary Clinton. As a matter of fact I don’t expect her to agree with Barack Obama or anyone aligned (even if In Name Only) with the Democratic Party.

    And, Janis, you are so right on. Will you please run for president so I have someone to vote for?

  • Bes

    I think if this is the only thing traditional feminists and Liberal Democrats can find to object to in Sarah’s book I am amazed. Consider that there are many Liberals who make their living distorting who Palin is and what she might probably say. It is like the most intense emotion they have ever felt is their fear/contempt of Sarah Palin. I see Sarah’s remark as commentary not criticism. I like both Hillary and Sarah. Sarah I can relate to more probably because she is from my part of the country. I am truly an independent politically in that I am attracted to many of the Government programs Democrats propose and simultaneously I think the Government can’t run anything efficiently or effectively. Also if there is a reservoir of Hillary hate it isn’t on the right any longer it is among the misogynist Liberal wing of the Democrats.

  • bruce nahin

    Hillary is someone I like and admire personally in many ways, but she came across then as someone frozen in an attitude of 1960s-era bra-burning militancy. She told us in no uncertain terms that she “could have stayed home and baked cookies and had teas” but preferred to pursue a serious career. Well, Hillary (many of us wanted to say at the time), some of us like to bake cookies.

    Perhaps I missed something- The governor likes Hillary and admires Hillary, but had a problem with the cookie baking issue( THEN AT THAT TIME, NOT NOW)….Not hardly something one would call an attack or trash talking, is it?

  • Taylor Marsh summed it up on Dick Morris’ attack on Hillary:

  • yttik

    Dick Morris is a misogynistic jerk who visits prostitutes, but that has nothing to do with Sarah Palin. Most of the current attacks on Hillary are coming from the left and Obama supporters. Morris worked for the Clinton’s until they had the good sense to get rid of him.

    The Right is not attacking Hillary at the moment, they are busy attacking Palin. Joe Scarborough wrote an entire hit piece when he demands the GOP Man Up and take Palin out. Rather than trying to focus on a cross partisan feud between these two women that hardly even exists, we should be examining the sexism both of these women are experiencing, from within their own parties. It’s nearly identical panic on both sides, the left is freaked out Hillary is a threat to the Dem establishment and the right is freaked out Palin is a threat to the GOP establishment.

  • Marille

    Some had mentioned that supporting a teen unmarried mom and not liking the TV character of a single mom is hypocritical. I don’t think so.
    Plenty people on the right and left would support an unwed teen mom who decided to have her baby despite the marriage did not come along.
    in contrast the sheer possibility of single women to fulfill their wish of motherhood and become pregnant or adopting but not buying into marriage or simply staying single was and is a threat to many on the right and left. it is the concept that for procreation men could be reduced to a very small roll, which seams so threatening.
    of course to not loose the pro life population, distancing from intentional single motherhood makes sense. to turn around and help a young women who embraced giving life under difficult circumstances falls not in the same category. this young woman actually considered the may be husband despite a lot of imperfections.

  • the15th

    Some had mentioned that supporting a teen unmarried mom and not liking the TV character of a single mom is hypocritical. I don’t think so. Plenty people on the right and left would support an unwed teen mom who decided to have her baby despite the marriage did not come along. in contrast the sheer possibility of single women to fulfill their wish of motherhood and become pregnant or adopting but not buying into marriage or simply staying single

    But Murphy Brown’s pregnancy was an accident; she had absolutely no wish of motherhood. And in fact, I think that’s why she was so hated by many anti-women’s-equality types, while the Designing Women character, with her ticking biological clock and dreams of babies, got a free pass even though she deliberately chose to raise a child herself. Both shows were quite liberal in their politics, so I don’t think that can explain it. Culture warriors simply didn’t like the positive portrayal of an unapologetically ambitious career woman.

  • Janis

    “Will you please run for president so I have someone to vote for?”

    No. Get rid of the Magna Carta and everything that descended from it and make me Empress, and I’ll think about it and then do it. Immediately afterwards, I will of course suspend all elections indefinitely.

    I still can’t get over this “Well, Hillary, some of us LIKE baking cookies!” total refusal to understand what the hell the woman actually said. Go back and reread what she said. She said that HAD SHE GONE THE TRADITIONAL POLITICIAN’S WIFE ROUTE THAT THE PRESS WOULD HAVE LIKED HER MORE. She did not say — ever, ever, ever, EVER — that traditional wives are evil and bad and only career women are good. She said that she was DISLIKED BECAUSE THAT WAS NOT THE PATH SHE FOLLOWED, AND SHE WAS FUCKING RIGHT.

    Jesus, reading comprehension is still under par in this country, isn’t it? To judge from the snippy, insecure bullshit she still has to put up with for that one comment, it has been in the toilet for some time.

  • Marille

    maybe for every woman in the nineties who felt put down and insisted on the fun of cookie baking, there was one who felt inspired to have a first lady with a professional career. I for sure belonged to that crowd who was in awe of the career driven fist lady, despite the fact that I like cookie baking.

  • SugarSnap

    I agree with Janis’ assessment of Hillary’s infamous remark–she felt she would have been more warmly received if she had been a more traditional political wife.

    But it’s not in Palin’s interest to take a fresh look at Clinton’s comment. Her interest is sewing up her base, politically. I don’t think Palin was going for a personal attack, per se, but the decades-old soundbyte provides so much culture-war fodder for her to work with, she couldn’t pass it up.

    Palin is a deft politician. By pumping up her traditional-woman bona fides and bashing Hillary’s generation of liberal feminists, she reassures older, religious conservatives who might be hesitant to vote for a woman for president.

    The tired, divisive meme that conservatives are more family-oriented is most troublesome to me. She says “All too often the leaders of the modern feminist movement seem disdainful of traditional family life and the joys and fulfillment we find in motherhood.” “Unnecessary roughness”, as Amy aptly put it. It’s a shame because motherhood provides much opportunity for unity amongst women of different political stripes. Who among us doesn’t strive for balance, feel overwhelmed at times and like master-multi-taskers at others?

    As for Murphy Brown, well, I don’t even know what to say. Talk about a trip in the way-back machine. My first thought was “why not bring up Tonya Harding while you’re at it?” 🙂

  • I just want to thank and commend everyone who is participating in this discussion.

    Women’s progress has been stuck in neutral for years…one of the sure ways to get unstuck is to air our differences and find common ground…then, we can move forward together.

    So, to all you yo, Brava! (and to our friend Bruce, Bravo!)