Have you heard the phrase ‘you can put lipstick on a pig, but it’s still a pig’? It’s a common phrase that I’ve heard perhaps hundreds of times before. It refers to the fact that superficial, external gloss does not change the underlying, ugly nature of a thing. Microsoft’s ill-fated Windows Vista operating system is a fine example of a product that can be accurately described with this clever bit of slang.

Democratic Presidential nominee Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) recently used the term in reference to Republican Presidential nominee Senator John McCain’s (R-AZ) efforts to co-opt Obama’s mantra of ‘change':

“You can put lipstick on a pig. It’s still a pig. You can wrap up an old fish in a piece of paper and call it change. It’s still going to stink after eight years. We’ve had enough.”

In a shameless example of sex-baiting that should be beneath McCain, his campaign has accused Obama of using a sexist slur against his running mate, Governor Sarah Palin (R-AK). Of course, it’s quite silly since in October of last year McCain himself used the term when talking about Senator Hillary Clinton’s (D-NY) health care plan:

“I think they put some lipstick on a pig, but it’s still a pig.”

So was that a sexist slur again Clinton? No. Nor was Obama’s comment a sexist slur against Palin. Can we please talk about real issues, rather than fabricating goofy claims of sexism, racism, and so on out of innocent comments made on the campaign trail?