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Palin effect: Obama camp thrown off stride

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And leading Democrats – including Obama’s running mate, Delaware Sen. Joseph Biden – have made comments now spun in the media as sexist. Senator Biden has called her “good-looking,” albeit in an effort at self-deprecation over his own looks. This week, in a local TV appearance in Milwaukee, Biden said the election of the McCain-Palin ticket would be a “backward step for women,” because “I assume she thinks and agrees with the same policies that George Bush and John McCain think.”

On Wednesday, South Carolina Democratic chair Carol Fowler said to Politico.com that Palin’s “primary qualification seems to be that she hasn’t had an abortion,” a reference to Palin’s decision to have her baby who was diagnosed with Down syndrome. Ms. Fowler later apologized, saying she was clumsily making a point about single-issue voters.

Then there’s Obama’s “lipstick on a pig” comment. McCain backers say Obama was taking a dig at Palin, who had quipped in her convention speech that a hockey mom is a pit bull with lipstick. Obama insists that was not his intention – he was talking about Senator McCain’s policies – but the McCain campaign ran with it and fed it into the larger narrative of alleged Obama and Democratic sexism toward Palin.

The string of comments represents only a tiny fraction of what Obama and the Democrats have said and done this week, but they show the perils that Obama has faced in running against a ticket containing a woman.

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