Among the nicest things the Democratic smear machine called Sarah Palin was “Caribou Barbie.” Just about everything else they called her was much worse.
The term “Caribou Barbie” started within days of Palin’s nomination for Veep in August 2008. By September 2, 2008, the term was spreading throughout the left-blogosphere, as Michelle Malkin noted at the time.
The term so took hold that it even was the subject of an SNL skit in October 2008, with Palin delivering the punch line in an attempt to make light of the term.
It later was used by NY Times columnist Maureen Dowd:
“Caribou Barbie is one nutty puppy.”
The treatment of Palin was sexist — including liberal women who mocked Trig Palin and thought it the worst thing in the world that Palin had the audacity to bring him on stage with her — but not just because of the term “Caribou Barbie.” That term was the least of it.
The “Caribou Barbie” name was part of the myriad of accompanying photoshops and sexualizations of her, using any excuse to make sex jokes. Palin wasn’t just turned into any Barbie, but a sexy librarian and bikini model not just in the blogosphere, but from stars such as Stephen Colbert.
With Palin it wasn’t just the use of the term “Barbie,” it was the full package of sexualized attacks, including from mainstream publications.
Here’s what a Google Image search turns up for “Caribou Barbie” for August-October 2008, just prior to the election:
Wendy Davis, who has all but announced she’s running for Governor of Texas, staged a futile and meaningless “filibuster” to preserve a woman’s right to abort unborn children after the 20th week without medical necessity, a position to which very few people adhere.
Late-term abortion is unpopular because here’s what a 20-week old unborn child looks like (text and image via WebMD):
That filibuster to preserve the right to abort an unborn child over 20 weeks without medical necessity earned Wendy Davis national fame.
She was an unknown prior to that. Now Davis is a Democratic rock star. Money will flood into her campaign from around the nation.
On August 5, 2013, in the midst of her pro-late term abortion fame-tour, Davis admitted to being completely ignorant of the Kermit Gosnell shop of abortion horrors that was sweeping the news media, as reported by John McCormack of The Weekly Standard:
Davis has become a champion for pro-choice activists, but during her recent whirlwind national media tour, she never commented on late-term abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell, who was convicted of murder in May for killing infants moments after they were born.
Following her Press Club speech on Monday, THE WEEKLY STANDARD asked Davis to explain the difference between the late-term abortions that the Texas state senator wants to keep legal and the illegal Gosnell killings.
Davis didn’t answer the question. “I don’t know what happened in the Gosnell case,” she told me.
The next day Erick Erickson dubbed Davis “Abortion Barbie” because of her ignorance of the Gosnell case:
It is a bit embarrassing that Abortion Barbie doesn't even have her facts straight on Kermit Gosnell considering abortion is her issue.
— Erick Erickson (@EWErickson) August 6, 2013
The left is in a tizzy on twitter for my referring to pink shoes wearing Texas State Senator Wendy Davis as “Abortion Barbie.”
It sums her up perfectly. All the nation knows about Wendy Davis is that she is ignorant of the horrors of Kermit Gosnell, wears pink shoes, and filibustered legislation to save the innocent in Texas. She joined the long line of Democrats before her to oppose legislation to protect other people while using property rights arguments to do so.
The media would prefer to focus on her blonde hair, her great outfits, and her pink shoes than on the procedure she wants to protect. That procedure, late term abortion, is opposed by a majority of women and men.
Indeed, it was liberal women who obsessed over Davis’ clothing style, not conservative men (via Twitchy):
New York Magazine had a tingle up its leg because Davis wore high heels for her Vogue fashion shoot:
The feminist Women Rise Up blog, among others, ran photos of Romney as the Ken doll:
Barbie and Ken comparisons may be demeaning to politicians because the terms portray an image of good looks but empty-headedness. The terms are not, however, in themselves sexist.
Kirsten Powers called the term “Beyond Sexist” and equated it to “Caribou Barbie” (via Twitchy):
These attempts at moral equivalency fail miserably.
Unlike with Palin, there is no concerted media effort to sexualize Davis.
“Abortion Barbie” is a reference to the liberal media’s obsession with Davis’ clothing and Davis’ ignorance of the most important abortion story of the millennium even though advocating for abortion is Davis’ claim to fame.
A derisive nickname for a politician only works when it makes sense, even if hyperbole.
Whether or not “Abortion Barbie” is off limits, I suspect it’s a moniker that will stick. Like tundra black flies to a Caribou.