You may be experiencing vice presidential recap fatigue at this point, but stay with us for a minute here. This one is really interesting. Former Alaska governor and onetime vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin caught Tuesday night’s debate between Tim Kaine and Mike Pence. While many pundits deconstructed what the candidates said and how they said it (with a lot of interruptions), Palin pointed out something that almost no one seemed to notice: That VP candidates, all of whom besides her have been men, usually are allowed to be seated during the debate. That’s been the case, in fact, in every VP debate held since 2000 — except for the 2008 debate in which Palin, a woman, participated.
“How is it that the dudes lucked out and got chairs over the last 20 years of VP debates minus one? Want a real test – try standing in ???????? for 90 mins,” she wrote in her post.
That’s a damn good question. Women in the World reached out to the Commission on Presidential Debates (which oversees VP debates as well) to ask what the thinking was behind the 2008 decision to have the candidates stand and who might’ve made it. The commission didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment, but if they do, we will update the story. According to a 2008 report in The Washington Post, the reason Palin and her opponent, then-Senator Joe Biden, ended up standing for their debate was due to a compromise the McCain and Obama campaigns had struck ahead of the debate. McCain campaign strategists wanted to keep the time allotted for answers short and Obama campaign strategists insisted that the candidates stand. The two sides struck a deal, and both sides were happy with the outcome, the report said.
Palin’s post struck a bit of a chord on the social media platform — it’s generated more than 1,100 comments and 24,000 reactions. Some commenters offered up explanations like, “We are more resilient!!!” and “Because women are stronger than men!!”
Palin’s point is especially salient in the 2016 race where the issue of gender has played a bigger role than ever before in politics. And culturally, around the world, women are pushing back against an expectation that they are required to wear high-heeled shoes to show up for a job. Earlier this year a London woman was fired from her job on her first day of work for refusing to wear heels.