As you know, I’m willing to assume that Obama, rather than intentionally calling Palin or McCain a pig, used an infelicitous expression, which may or may not have had any subliminal resonance for him (although it clearly did for his audience). Listening to the speech, I find much more upsetting how inarticulate Obama is. This man cannot think on his feet and it shows:
Whatever Obama’s motives and meaning, conservative pundits are now fearful that Palin’s team is making a mistake treating this as a sexist attack (this is a good example of this viewpoint). I agree that this is a big mistake, but not for the same reason as the pundits. I agree because this attack — if attack there was — wasn’t sexist.
There have been other sexist attacks launched against Palin, with liberal pundits piling on to explain why Palin can be VP or can be barefoot, pregnant and in the kitchen, but she can’t be both. But Obama was not attacking Palin’s sex. He was using a shorthand — lipstick — to identify her. He could equally well have said “You can put a pig in glasses.”
The insult, therefore, wasn’t tied to her sex, it was tied to what he did with that identifier: Obama, having used code for Palin (if one is assuming that’s what he intended to do), then proceeded to call either Palin or McCain a pig.
In my world it’s appropriate to take some umbrage when someone calls you a pig. You can reasonably challenge the crudity that Obama keeps displaying when he’s feeling tired and/or on the defensive. It bespeaks a low mind and an angry, ugly sensibility, and aptly highlights McCain’s graciousness in this campaign and Palin’s happy warrior quality.
Of course, having said all that, it is worth noting that Obama’s anti-Hillary campaign saw him making points that were somewhat derogatory of women. This fact is rather interesting when laid alongside the fact that Obama’s life seems to have been so thoroughly dominated by strong women. I leave it to the armchair and real psychologists amongst you to figure out if there’s a pattern here.