You'd think, if one nominee was by unanimous consensus one of the brightest foreign policy minds in the US Senate, a straight talker and extremely experienced and vetted political veteran, and his opponent had by anyone's measure a significant experience gap and a far less impressive resume, and had never faced a particularly difficult electoral challenge in her career--well, you'd think you wouldn't see so many stories about how the former would have an enormously difficult time defeating the latter. Why, you'd probably imagine the opposite!
Ah, but as Lithwick alludes to, the latter is a woman, and the former is a man, and the conventional wisdom is that the man has to lose, because if he wins, he's beating up on a girl. The notion, in it's essence, is the height of sexism, an appeal to the notion that women are incapable of actually being engaged on an intellectual level and that women need special protections because, you know, they're weak. This is a pretty stunning act of politics over governance-- part of the point of the debates, after all, is to all help reveal who is better equipped to actually hold executive office-- but also very shrewd politics. It's not like I expect the Republicans to give up this advantage, nor do I expect the Rush Limbaughs, Sean Hannitys and Laura Ingrahams who dominate the conservative chattering class to point out this fact. They're shills for their cause, and there's nothing particularly wrong with that.
Palin's other supposed advantage, as a woman, is among women voters. Women, I guess the thinking goes, are so committed to the cause of women that they will choose supporting that cause over making the correct choice for their country. And, apparently, they don't think about policy or issues or the direction of the country any which way. They will apparently say "Forget about abortion, sex education, employee discrimination, the war in Iraq, the economy, and every other meaningful issue that is at stake for our country-- I'm voting for the chick!" This I find both sexist and wrong, and Republicans relying on a big bump in women voters for McCain (where Obama is dominant, incidentally) are expecting too much. But that's their narrative.
Again, I don't expect the Republicans to somehow give up this advantage or perceived advantage. Nor do I expect the average Republican or conservative to start to point out the bullshit inherent in this thinking. I do, though, expect some of the heterodox conservatives out there to say "Look, the idea that Palin shouldn't be attacked in the debates is partisan nonsense." Or, "It's flagrantly sexist to expect women to vote for McCain/Palin just because there's a woman on the ticket." Or, maybe most importantly, "The Republicans attacking the Democrats as sexist for criticizing a Vice Presidential candidate in an election season are doing neither the country nor women any favors."
I'm not seeing it yet. Here's hoping.