Politics & Policy

Heart of the Matter

Sarah Palin and a new feminism.

St. Paul – “Sarah Palin is a huge threat,” Laura Ingraham explained to a receptive audience in a packed ballroom at the Crowne Plaza here on Tuesday afternoon.

Republican vice-presidential nominee Sarah Palin was supposed to appear Tuesday at the “Life of the Party” gathering of the Republican Coalition for Life, starring Phyllis Schlafly, but had to cancel the night before. Palin was to be the recipient of the group’s “Life of the Party” award for commitment to life. A member of Feminists for Life, as many now know, her youngest son suffers from Down syndrome; an estimated 90 percent of children diagnosed with Down syndrome in the womb are eliminated.

The first-term Alaska governor is otherwise a relative unknown to this crowd, but what they know about her is already a motivator for an infectious enthusiasm here.

“I’m more excited about Palin than McCain,” one young blonde announced earlier in the audience. What’s that all about?

With Schlafly looking on with a motherly (or Right sisterly) pride, Ingraham hit on it in her remarks: Conservatives see in Palin a commitment to values that are ignored and even scorned by popular culture and “the elites” — values that include, as Ingraham listed them: life, big families, hunting, patriotism, gun control, beating back bureaucracy, and holding government accountable.

Palin also represents a “new feminism,” as the radio talk-show host put it. The Catholic Ingraham adapted the phrase of the late John Paul II, to describe a different, more feminine approach to understanding and embracing the differences between men and women. Palin, an evangelical Christian, does this by being “dignified,” “graceful,” compassionate,” and “optimistic.”

The mostly (but far from exclusively) female crowd demonstrated something similar later on in the event when Schlafly was interrupted by Code Pink protesters; the crowd broke out into “God bless America” and chanted, “Sarah. Sarah. Sarah.”

“It’s over for them,” Ingraham said, predicting what a Palin living at Number One Observatory Circle will mean for the Left-elite in America. “They don’t like the fact that Sarah Palin exists.” She’s not exactly Nancy Pelosi, in other words. “There are a lot of women in Washington,” Ingraham said. But they’re only acceptable to the “sophisticated,” if they “think a certain way.” Only if they advocate “reproductive choice …” or, as Ingraham translated, “killing the unborn.” But Palin doesn’t. Which is why, Ingraham argued, there were three articles in the New York Times about her and her family Tuesday. “If Sarah Palin were pro-choice,” she said, the Times headlines Saturday would have read “McCain, Maverick Once Again.”

Palin, Ingraham said, represents a “new way.” And that’s not something professional feminists are happy about. But that’s exactly why Republican and conservative women and men like those gathered here Tuesday — whatever their reservations or questions — are prepared to cheer Palin on tonight at the Xcel Center and beyond.

Kathryn Jean Lopez is the editor of National Review Online.

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