We know D.C. Get our free newsletter to stay in the know.

This week’s Newsweek cover story, which details all the ways that Sarah Palin is “bad for the GOP—-and for everybody else,” is accompanied by a compelling stock photo: Palin striking a sassy pose in a pair of well-fitting shorts, courtesy of the former Alaska Governor’s August Runner’s World photo shoot (thanks to thinkpinkradio for the tip).

How condescending is this photo? It’s not the fabled (and fake) American-flag-wearin’, gun-totin’  bikini photo that surfaced on the Internet shortly after Palin reached national fame, but it’s about as close as Newsweek could get to the real thing.

I am generally in agreement with Palin supporters when they accuse the media of hurling sexism toward the former Governor. David Letterman‘s joke about Palin’s underage daughter fucking Alex Rodriguez? Inappropriate. Ridiculing Bristol Palin for getting knocked up, while laughing it up with Levi? Sexist.

And I tend to agree with Palin’s response here, too: Yesterday, Palin took to Facebook to denounce the cover’s sexism. “The out-of-context Newsweek approach is sexist and oh-so-expected by now,” she wrote. “If anyone can learn anything from it: it shows why you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, gender, or color of skin. The media will do anything to draw attention—-even if out of context.”

Is the Newsweek cover sexist? Yes. But let’s put the photo back into context for a minute: Sarah Palin’s entire existence is sexist.

Let’s try to imagine, for a moment, the thought process that went into creating this Newsweek cover image : “We need to convey that Palin sucks really bad! Let’s take some photo of Palin lookin’ sexy, slap it on the cover of Newsweek, and then use her sexuality in attempt to draw attention to all the terrible things this woman has brought upon us.”

Hey! That sounds kind of like what John McCain did when he chose Palin as his VP: Found an attractive lady, slapped her on to his campaign, and used her image as a sexy lady in order to distract people from her scant qualifications, her total lack of concern for women’s issues, and her complete suckiness as a candidate.

Sarah Palin’s very existence as a national figure depends upon people being sexist. It’s not just the bad things that have happened to her that are a result of sexism—-the mud-slinging about her daughters, the circulated upskirt photos, the intense scrutiny over her appearance and her clothes. But sexism tends to help individual women, too, and it has certainly helped Palin. Sexism allows women to earn insane amounts of money for simply taking their clothes off, and it allows women to earn an insane amount of political power for simply being a hot conservative lady with no particular skill at public speaking, reading comprehension, telling the truth, or articulating a single political view that makes any sense, ever.

At that point, can we really get bent out of shape every time we see the media reflecting the reality that Palin is a product of sexism in their coverage of her? We have crossed the Rubicon, people. Everything about Palin is sexist. When it comes to sexism, I’m a big advocate of hating the game, and not the player. But the game works both ways. And I am sick and tired of only having to care about it when that sexism means something bad for Sarah Palin.