Pretty in Politics: Sarah Palin vs. the Laws of Power

Between this kind of straight-up, self-gratifying eroticism, and the most tedious of debates over hairstyles, glasses, and scrunchies, Sarah Palin never stood a chance. Her executive experience easily trumped any relevant experience Obama had going into the election, but it was well buried under a constant barrage of syndicated discourse over Palin’s good looks.

There are other attractive women in politics, but Palin was a beauty queen. Also, she smiled a lot -- maybe too much. The faltering economy and the war in Iraq dragged America into a collective depression. So mainstream media fed this depression by doling out to a hungry audience the idea that Palin is clueless. After all, she looks so damn good and she’s smiling all the time. What’s to be happy about, right?

CNBC’s Donny Deutsch suggested, "She's sexy. Men want a sexy woman.”

Apparently that desire ends at the door of the White House -- if you’re hoping to be above the desk, anyway. How could we properly assess the leadership qualities of Palin when the media is constantly referring to her in ways like "the hottest governor in all 50 states" and "my total girl crush"? And running photo illustrations of the governor as a dominatrix?

The absence of the feminist voice in her defense is disappointing. Whether or not we women agree with her politics, we should all agree that rather than examining Palin as a political candidate, mainstream media morphed into a gaggle of horny frat boys and failed the American people in the 2008 election.

Former supermodel Linda Evangelista once said, “It was God who made me so beautiful. If I weren't, then I'd be a teacher.”

As repulsive as her comment seemed at the time, perhaps Evangelista was on to something. After all, when I put the words beautiful and teacher together, my mind immediately conjures up Van Halen's "Hot for Teacher." I’m not suggesting there aren’t any good teachers out there who also happen to be attractive. But I would bet that when he or she is standing up there in front of the chalk board, student attention is divided.

The American public allowed the news media to divide their attention to Palin during the 2008 race by creating and focusing again and again on a melody we might call "Hot for VP." As we sit back and speculate over Palin’s next career move, it is my hope that we will also examine the discourse throughout the 2008 election and demand far better from the news media in 2012.