The XX Factor

So Farewell Then Sarah Palin

Can it really be only 11 months since Sarah Palin bounced into sight? It seems like a lifetime ago. Eleven months of proclaiming what America believes, of announcements regarding what women want, or what mothers need. Eleven months of being lectured to by someone who left office yesterday, but who reminds me with a growing sense of weariness, of the Dan Hicks song: How Can I Miss You If You Won’t Go Away?

Any minute now she’ll launch her personal Twitter account as she navigates the sensitive transition from public to private citizen. For now, she is headed to the outer banks of Murdoch country. She begins with the Harper Collins book deal, but I bet you a side of Alaskan salmon she’ll be in the Fox studios before you can say, “camper full of kids & coffee.” The good news is I won’t have to watch her there, and if I choose to-well, she’ll just be another form of entertainment.

I don’t hate her. I don’t know her-never met her. I’ve enjoyed her story and found her entrance into national politics good viewing. Yet her moral certainty is exhausting. The smiling matriarch act seems overbearing and un-maternal from my seat in the grey area of life. When she misquoted from her Starbucks cup on the campaign trail and announced that, “There’s a place in Hell reserved for women who don’t support other women,” my heart sank. Where’s the choice in that, girls?

“No politickin’ just patriotism,” is how Ms. Palin professes to engage with the world, and it’s a great title for her show. I have no problem with her doing the everymom routine with both hands clasped around a mug of coffee sitting on a couch next to Greta Van Susteren.

But Mother of the Nation? No thanks. It’s not because she isn’t aware of such-and-such a country, or what happened on this or that date. It’s her utter conviction that she knows best. What mother do you know-what woman do you know-who isn’t a little conflicted or confused? How many moms have you met who haven’t occasionally felt guilty that they’re doing at least some of it wrong? Yes, we believe in our feminine instinct, but our instincts have to be informed. And if they aren’t tempered by a certain measure of rational thought, we become nothing more than snarling predators.

Self-doubt is not comfortable, but it serves a purpose. It makes us kinder, gentler women-more accepting and less judgmental. The occasional twinge of uncertainty can make us more open-minded. Our own struggles make us more sympathetic to others. Softness does not mean weakness.

If Sarah P. chooses to run for office again, I will respect and endorse her right to pursue that course of action. As an American woman she can choose to do whatever she wants. I’ll admire her desire to create a new and exciting chapter in her life story. I’ll celebrate her ability to do so.

Would I ever choose to vote for her? No.