So just before class the other day, one of my students, who must have seen me in the parking lot, demands to know what "that button" on my briefcase says.
"Feminists for Obama," I said.
She gives me a piercing look.
"Well, what did you expect it to say?" I ask reasonably. "My kid has one just like it," I add, and move on with the lecture.
After class, she comes up to me and says, "Obama, huh?"
"Of course Obama. Jeesh."
"Well." She shakes her head, like I'm an idiot, but what can one expect from professors. As she starts to leave, she turns back: "But what about Sarah Palin? She's a product of feminism. You have to support that."
I have sworn -- I have promised -- hold me back --
I cannot keep it in my teeth. "Palin," I say, as reasonably as I can, "is not a feminist."
"I didn't say she was a feminist, I said--"
"She's an enemy of feminism," I interrupt. "She's not pro-choice, she made rape-victims pay for their own rape-kits, her position on equal rights is ridiculous."
"I didn't like the rape-kit thing," the student agreed.
"Also, she dangles her participles," I said, since I was getting a bit too fierce, "so, well."
The student smirked. "I won't comment on what Obama dangles," she said.
"Not his participles," I said. "I promise you that."
Since, I'll bet you six bucks to a quarter, she didn't have a clue what a participle was, this student had to leave my challenge alone -- but you know, even though I said I was going to shut up about Palin, her appalling grammar and Obama's perfect command of it, this does matter: it does tell us something about the two of them, the difference between the two of them. Not just the difference between their intelligence levels (I do think Obama is smarter than Palin, though people keep assuring me Palin is clever: I don't see it: no one that incurious about the world is clever, and it is not just her background. My students come from the same background, and plenty of them have plenty of intellectual curiousity.) It tells us that one of them got educated -- actually educated -- and one of them did the least she could, skated by, and will continue to do the least she can. She's that flashy student who thinks if she puts the essay in a pretty binder it will disguise the fact that she spent exactly three hours of the past three weeks working on it, and none of those hours involved research or proof-reading.
I'm shutting up on Palin now. I swear.
14 hours ago