The Washington Post's Chris Cillizza observes that Sarah Palin seems to be assembling what he calls "a pack of mama grizzlies" and casting the 2010 elections as the year of the Republican woman. That strategy could "send a powerful political message" if the 2008 GOP vice presidential candidate runs for president in 2012:
In the past 10 days, Palin has thrown her endorsement behind former Hewlett-Packard executive Carly Fiorina, who is running for the Republican Senate nomination in California; state Rep. Nikki Haley, a candidate for governor in South Carolina; and Susana Martinez, the Doña Ana County district attorney seeking the GOP nod in the New Mexico governor's race.Cillizza notes that even those close to Gov. Palin -- including her dad Chuck Heath -- don't know if she intends to throw her
"This year will be remembered as the year that common-sense conservative women get things done for our country," the former Alaska governor said Friday in a speech to the Susan B. Anthony List, a political group opposed to abortion. "The mama grizzlies, they rise up."
Palin's strong support for female candidates in 2010 could accrue to her benefit if she decides to seek the Republican presidential nomination in 2012. She would almost assuredly be the only prominent woman in the race, a significant position of strength if she could rally Republican women behind her the way that Hillary Rodham Clinton sought to inspire Democratic women in 2008 with the chance to cast their first vote for a female presidential candidate.
According to exit-poll data, women made up 44 percent of the voters in the 2008 Iowa Republican caucuses, 43 percent in the New Hampshire primary and 49 percent in the South Carolina primary. Eight years earlier, those figures were 46 percent in Iowa, 43 percent in New Hampshire and 50 percent in South Carolina.
The numbers suggest that if Palin could attract the support of a significant chunk of Republican women in the three earliest-voting states of the presidential nominating process, she would be at or near the top of a crowded field of -- you guessed it -- men.
Read the full Fix here.
Update: At The New Agenda, Amy Siskind commends Gov. Palin for "supporting women and embracing her gender." But Ms. Siskind frets over the governor "making abortion a centerpiece" and trying to redefine “feminism” in conservative terms. Perhaps Siskind is right that the word has too much of a negative connotation, and even by stressing the "new" in "new feminism," the first woman to be the vice presidential candidate of the GOP may not be able to re-brand the term.
But we believe that in characterizing Sarah Palin's embrace of a life-affirming philosophy as "a trap," Siskind demonstrates that she herself has retained at least a residual amount of the "old" feminism. Sarah Palin could no more cease to be a tireless advocate for protecting the unborn than she could disown her own children. It is as much a part of who the governor is as is her abiding faith in God.
Perhaps Ms. Siskind hasn't noticed that the attitudes of Americans on the life issue are moving toward Gov. Palin's position. A Gallup poll released this month found that a plurality of Americans identified themselves as pro-life, and polling on health care reform has consistently shown that an even greater majority oppose federal funding of abortion.
The latest Gallup survey "represents the third consecutive time Gallup has found more Americans taking the pro-life than pro-choice position on this measure since May 2009, suggesting a real change in public opinion." Gallup found that "all age groups have become more attached to the pro-life label since 2005, with particularly large increases among young adults and those aged 50 to 64 years in the latest period between 2007/2008 and 2009/2010." The pollster also found that "both genders have also become more likely to identify as pro-life," and concludes that the movement toward the pro-life position is "The New Normal on Abortion."
Siskind and others who, to their credit, have sought to distance themselves from the radicalism of the old feminism will have to learn to live with the fact that Americans consider abortion, as it is practiced in the U.S. today, to be a very radical act indeed.
Meanwhile, back at The Fix...