American men know how to deal with male politicians. When they're good-looking, we call them gay. When they're not, we call them "distinguished-looking" or "Joe Lieberman." But, until now, we haven't been forced to fully consider the beauty of our female politicians. It's not that Hillary Clinton or Condoleezza Rice aren't attractive; they're just attractive in that "Oh, your aunt looks lovely in her wedding photos" kind of way.
It seems as if the prudent thing to do would be to ignore Palin's hotness -- to refrain, unlike Rush Limbaugh, from calling her "a babe" or, unlike Joe Biden, from saying she's "good-looking." Sexualizing Palin is dangerous because it shifts the focus away from her leadership skills, diminishes her from a subject to an object and could anger that insane-looking, snowmobile-racing husband of hers. When she posed for Vogue last year, Palin said of the media, "I wish they'd stick with the issues instead of discussing my black go-go boots." A good method of getting reporters to do that, of course, is to not pose for Vogue or talk about your go-go boots. Still, I understand her point. Which is that she wears go-go boots.
But I think whatever wave of feminism we're on in 2008 demands that I objectify Palin. Just as Obama Girl, JFK's teenage admirers and anyone who's been within 100 yards of Mitt Romney can swoon without implying those guys' ineffectualness, I think women are now taken seriously enough that I should be able to admit to noticing a female political leader's hotness without being accused of sexism.
In fact, what's sexist is men's fear of sexualizing the women we take seriously. It implies that men find power unattractive; that we segregate those we desire as sexual partners from those we want as intellectual partners; that our image of hotness is confined to the young, dumb and full of weak policy positions.
I would like to live in a world in which young men dream about sex with a woman who is vice president instead of whatever job it is that Kim Kardashian holds.
So I've decided to begin the full-on exploitation of Palin, a woman whose fiscal policy I admire and who also I hope accidentally releases a sex tape on the Internet. I considered creating a Palin pinup poster that could be sold at Spencer Gifts, or shooting a film about a bespectacled Alaskan governor who saves a fishing boat full of men about to die of frostbite by providing body heat.
But I settled on calling my friend, Scott Brown, a writer at Entertainment Weekly, to see if he had any great ideas for a love song to the Alaskan governor. Yes he did. The song and video, "Drill Down (to Your Heart)," which he posted at Time.com, contains such lyrics as "You enthrall me like Tina Fey / If Tina Fey had a loaded AK / And had a hundred babies / And some of them had babies."
I hope I'm right, and that we are capable of both drooling over Sarah Palin and listening to what she has to say. Because if we can, and if Barack Obama wins, maybe he'll make 49-year-old Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm the attorney general. Growing up in California, she was named Miss San Carlos.