Since Alaska governor Sarah Palin became Sen. John McCain’s running mate, the barrage of misogynist media criticism has been relentless. Does any of this anti-woman talk sound familiar? Just when I thought we had left the chatter about Hillary Clinton’s pearls, cleavage, and cackle in the dust, the media got me again.

We all understand that McCain chose Palin for political reasons. She has the highest gubernatorial approval rating in the country: 80 percent. Her accomplishments, lauded by conservatives, have included cutting taxes, balancing the budget, and putting the kibosh on the Bridge to Nowhere.

With so many would-be Clinton voters left behind after Barack Obama chose Joe Biden instead of a successful and seasoned woman who says she received more of the popular vote during the primary than Obama himself, McCain obviously chose Palin to try to snare some of those voters. In picking Biden, Obama was using the same strategy. He was aiming to shore up his own national security shortcomings and to grab the blue-collar, Catholic voters who supported Clinton — the same voters he’d denounced a few months before as people who “cling to their guns and religion.”

The media tore immediately and salaciously into Palin, branding her as unqualified to be vice, let alone president. MSNBC’s Chris Matthews has repeatedly called Palin an “empty vessel” told what to say and do. The Daily Kos, without evidence, claimed that Palin’s 15-year-old daughter was the real mother of Palin’s newborn son. A Salon article featured Palin in a dominatrix outfit, flogging a moose. Maureen Dowd of The New York Times has compared her to a cheerleader and a Lancôme salesperson. A reporter from Denver’s local Channel 7 news was even caught on camera, moments after Palin’s nomination, saying she had a “nice ass,” and suggesting the running mates were sleeping together. And in perhaps the most egregious, anti-woman comment to date, CNN’s John Roberts questioned Palin’s ability to be a mother and vice president at the same time.

We haven’t heard reporters question Barack Obama about whether he could be a father to his two children and president at the same time. Nor have we heard them comment on Obama’s butt cheeks, or seen him placed in sadomasochistic sexual attire.

Even more to the point, why haven’t the media focused on Obama’s inexperience? Fact: Obama has the least amount of political experience, measured in years, of any candidates on a national ticket in the past 100 years. In perhaps the most telling line of the primary season, Hillary Clinton noted: “Senator McCain will bring a lifetime of experience to the White House. I will bring a lifetime of experience. And Senator Obama will bring a speech he gave in 2002.” Ouch.

Instead of focusing on her pregnant teenaged daughter or her husband’s 20-year-old DUI charge, reporters should focus on Palin’s record. She has taken strong positions on abortion, gay rights, and the environment, and has drafted key, if not controversial, legislation for her state.

We’ve seen the clips of Palin’s sportscaster days and have heard more than we want to know about the teenaged father of her daughter’s baby. Let’s talk about the issues that matter to Americans — and leave Palin’s family life and X chromosome out of it.

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