When your humble correspondent first watched Sarah Palin introduced to the public by John McCain as his vice-presidential pick, he had an eerie sense of familiarity. Yes, I couldn't quite recall why Sarah Palin looked so familiar until my DUmmie FUnnies co-host, Charles Henrickson, pointed out the astounding likeness between Palin and Diana Prince/Wonder Woman. It was an "aha!" moment. Suddenly I knew why Palin seemed so familiar. She looks just like Wonder Woman in her secret identity as Diana Prince. And it turns out that Henrickson wasn't the only one making that connection. Both in the media and in the blogosphere, comparisons are being made between Sarah Palin and Wonder Woman. Some of the comparisons are good such as this Philadelphia Daily News article by Christine Flowers titled, "Sarah Palin, GOP Wonder Woman." And of course there is the bad such as this hit piece by Joyce McMillan in The Scotsman titled, "Sarah Palin - Wonder who she reminds you of?" McMillan starts right out in an attack mode on Wonder Wo...uh, I mean Sarah Palin:
Sarah Palin is the image of a certain superheroine, but don't expect John McCain's running mate to fight for female rights.ALL week she's been reminding me of someone; and now, suddenly, I know who it is. There's the firm but pretty jaw-line, the lean, fit-looking figure, the sense of tremendous power and potency all pent up behind the Moneypenny spectacles and neat suits of a super-efficient secretary. Yup, Sarah Palin, the new Republican candidate for Vice-President of the United States, is a dead ringer for Wonder Woman, that 1970s icon of unleashed female power who would step aside from her role as tightly buttoned assistant to some bloke, do a quick twirl and emerge in an explosion of energy as a fabulous female freedom fighter in a drop-dead sexy costume – "in your satin tights, fighting for your rights, and the old red, white and blue", as the theme song put it.
Over the next few months there will be endless attempts by the Republican camp to portray Palin as a typical all-American Mom, wrestling with the everyday problems of family life, including the unplanned pregnancy of her 17-year-old daughter, Bristol. But let's be clear that, like Margaret Thatcher before her, this woman is no ordinary wife and mother.
At a time of crushing family responsibilities, when she has five children under 20 – including a four-month-old Down's Syndrome baby and a teenage daughter expecting a child within weeks of the presidential election – Palin has done what few family men, never mind women, would do and decided to accept one of the most demanding, all-consuming job offers on earth. It will take her 3,000 miles from home if the election is won and subject her family to relentless public scrutiny throughout. So, we can take it that we're dealing with an exceptional level of ambition here, real gold-star-headband stuff.
The only problem, though, is that – just six days on from her own explosion from relative obscurity to global fame – the new Vice-Presidential Candidate appears to be a Wonder Woman without the twirl. Palin obviously has the driving ambition and quite possibly the ability; but to judge by her fixed, Stepford Wives-like smile and 1950s retro hairdo, she is a woman determined never to know that exhilarating moment of freedom, when the power and sexuality become unchained from the rules of a world shaped by men.
So McMillan compares Palin to both Wonder Woman (without the twirl) and a Stepford Wife. Quite a stretch but she's not through yet:
From her early days as a gun-toting Alaskan beauty queen, through her adult life as a Pentecostal Christian and passionate campaigner against abortion, Palin has been one of those women smiled upon by traditional male power-brokers – or at least, those who have escaped her admirable anti-corruption drives – because she is prepared to trash feminism, along with most other socially and environmentally progressive ideas. And now, in an apotheosis of that male-sponsored career-pattern, she has been propelled in a single day from the outer edges of American politics to its dead centre, by the favour of an elderly male politician who famously likes to surround himself with good-looking former beauty queens.
What a fool Hillary Clinton must feel, for imagining that she could best reach the centre of American power by forging an independent career as a Senator, then fighting her own way through one of the most exhausting primary campaigns in US history.
Um, Joyce, I know you're way out in the UK but in case you hadn't heard, Hillary Clinton put her own career on hold temporarily in order to marry into the political career of the up and coming Bill Clinton whom she was certain would eventually enter the White House with her tagging along.
Well, enough. For whatever public line Palin chooses to take on women's rights, at least she will never be able to join convincingly in the growing right-wing mantra that women cannot "have it all"; Palin evidently does have it all and may soon be just a heartbeat away from the biggest job on earth. Of course, those of us who retain some real attachment to the idea of freedom may ask ourselves just how free Bristol Palin is feeling today, in her hugely public decision to marry the boyfriend who got her pregnant. There was a time, a generation ago, when women would fight – in or out of satin tights – against that kind of crude biological determinism in girls' lives; I dare say Hillary Clinton can remember some of those battles.
But this is not the age of Clinton, as Barack Obama's dismal choice of running-mate has made clear. It is the age of Sarah Palin, the Wonder Woman who believes that twirling is wrong and who, instead, puts her formidable power at the disposal of the male leader, to use as he sees fit.
Newsflash to the glum Joyce McMillan: Don't be surprised to see the Alaskan Wonder Woman twirling circles around Barack Obama's "dismal choice of running-mate." Oh, and beware of being entrapped in Wonder Woman's Lasso of Truth. Its Fires of Hestia would force you to be truthful and cost you a job at The Scotsman.