Alaska Governor and GOP VP candidate Sarah Palin has the "big mo'." At least she seemed to have it in the St. Paul convention hall where she made the official transformation from "hockey mom" to party attack dog.
The Republican party faithful loved her. They cheered her on as she adopted the talking points John McCain's people gave her, gleefully mocking Barack Obama and the Democrats. She outlined her life story, which, in the abstract, is compelling.
And compelling is what the Republicans are hoping for -- a working mother of five, from PTA to one of 50 governors in only 14 years and on the verge of becoming the most powerful GOP woman in America (sorry, Carly).
Someone who has juggled the demands of motherhood and career, and has developed a political path for herself along the way, championing the right-wing values they need to secure if they want to win the White House in November.
Fortunately, on the heels of the adoring crowds last night, comes the progressive voice of reason, Gloria Steinem, with her op-ed in the L.A. Times, Wrong Woman, Wrong Message:
Palin's value to those patriarchs is clear: She opposes just about every issue that women support by a majority or plurality. She believes that creationism should be taught in public schools but disbelieves global warming; she opposes gun control but supports government control of the women's wombs; she opposes stem cell research but approves "abstinence-only" programs, which increase unwanted births, sexually transmitted diseases and abortions; she tried to use taxpayers' millions for a state program to shoot wolves from the air but didn't spend enough money to fix a state school system with the lowest high-school graduation rate in the nation; she runs with a candidate who opposes the Fair Pay Act but supports $500 million in subsidies for a natural gas pipeline across Alaska; she supports drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve, though even McCain has opted for the lesser evil of offshore drilling. She is Phyllis Schlafly, only younger.
I have no doubt that the McCain's people (read: Karl Rove) know that the choice of Sarah Palin would not appeal to most Hillary Clinton supporters. But I don't think that's what they were after -- they're hoping to galvanize a different voting block, not the NOW women, but the NEW women.
As a young political science major in college, I had two ideological enemies -- Marabel Morgan and Phyllis Schlafly. It was beyond me that any woman could look up to either one of them and think they represented a way of life that seemed like a good choice.
While I am still confounded, I now have a couple more decades under my belt and can see, though not agree, how someone like Palin is appealing -- political women are passionate about their ideals, regardless of whether they are right, left, or in the middle. And McCain's people believe if they can tap into that passion, they've got it made.
That's why I'm hoping that as many women as possible will read Steinem"s op-ed and focus on what we stand to lose and what it really means for the future if Palin becomes the next vice-president, not just for progressive women, but for all women -- and their daughters.