Saturday, November 8, 2008

Playing the sexism card

In the past few weeks, there have been stories circulating about several politicians from all over the world that have been looking closely at Obama's successful campaign in the hope to learn lessons from it. But not all of them, or so it appears.

Pauline Marois, the leader of the PQ which is currently running second in the Québec provincial election, has given an interview to the editorial board of La Presse (Montreal's leading newspaper, aside from one tabloid trash). Here's a quote (roughly translated):
If she's perceived as a "snob" and suffers from an image problem, Pauline Marois appears to think that it is because she is the victim of a latent sexism in Quebec's society.

"I always believe that it's over, that it's not true anymore. But from time to time, it comes back.", she said during a meeting with La Presse's editorial board, yesterday. The PQ leader deplores a certain double standard towards women, especially in the political world. "There's a different outlook on women (...). It can be about the tone of the voice or the clothes that we wear." she said.
The elections are exactly one month from today and it would appears that Pauline has chosen that it's the right time to tell the province that they're a bunch of sexists. That, to me, would be akin to Obama claiming in the first debate that if they criticize him they're racists and they should vote for him to atone for slavery. He ran his whole campaign on a sort of post-racial identity message. He avoided the subject of race like plague, except when he was forced to like in his Philadelphia speech. But even then it was a one time speech with the clear goal of turning the page on the Wright's stuff and the questionning that came with it. All along he took great pain to point out that his race was neither a disadvantage nor an advantage, that it might cost him some vote among some people but might gain him voters among others and that it cancelled out.

Marois has decided to go the opposite route: blame it all at the feet of the sexist population. It's not the goal of this post to debate whether or not she's right. I do believe it might be one factor among many that makes her a poor and boring candidate (which will be the subject of a future post). But I think her choice of complaining so openly about this touchy subject and attempting to play the sexism card so close to election day display a poor judgment. She tries to portray herself as a hapless victim and tell the reader in no uncertain words that he's a sexist if he doesn't like her.

I don't think the message is quite right. Here's a hint Pauline: it's not because you're a woman that people don't like you; it's that you're a bad politician.

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