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Sarah Palin, from pit bull to mama grizzly

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By Kathleen Parker
Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Sarah Palin, the ubiquitous enchantress of the disenchanted, may not have been ready to lead the free world back when John McCain anointed her as his running mate. But she's left rubber on the road that leads to fame, fortune and a new feminine mystique that drives certain men and women wild -- in very different ways.

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For what it's worth, I get a kick out of Sarah. May I call her Sarah?

She and I apparently share a certain genetic predisposition to annoy all the right people. These would be the folks who take themselves and their ideologies a tad too seriously. Thus when I was promoting my book, "Save the Males," I wore an aggressively feminine suit -- pink with a bow in back -- just to irritate hard-line feminists, who, without bothering to read the book, would hate it on sight.

I happen to hate bows, but it was worth it.

Likewise, Sarah knows just what drives us all nuts and, instead of changing her tune, she turns up the volume -- and triples down. Don't like her little red shoes? She'll add a red leather jacket. Got gloss?

This woman is not to be feared or loathed. She is to be taken with a grain of humor and a dash of admiration. A different version of Madonna, she's a public relations machine who manipulates public perception with well-timed and, recently, sophisticated messaging.

In the nearly two years since she became the first female Republican vice presidential candidate, Sarah has morphed from a pit bull with lipstick to a mama grizzly. Grrrrrrrr.

Her newest YouTube hit, recently released by her political action committee, SarahPAC, is a montage of video clips from various speeches. Jaw-juttingly patriotic and estrogen-rich, not to mention cute as a button, Sarah rallies her fellow grizzlettes to show Washington a thing or three come November.

The genius of Sarah's message, whatever it is, is that it doesn't matter what it is. Of course Americans want their country back. We'd prefer that China not own us. Most don't like unfunded federal mandates, takeovers or bailouts. Except when it benefits us directly.

These are not uniquely Sarah's or Republicans' thoughts. More than a few Democrats are equally concerned about deficit spending and a health-care plan without cost controls.

No, the genius isn't the message but the messenger. Sarah has positioned herself as the spokesperson for The Good Woman (i.e., conservatives) and thus has inoculated herself and her message from criticism. To criticize Sarah now is to impugn Womankind. Worse, it is anti-Mom.

One never tires of Mom, I suppose. I'm a mom. You're a mom. We all had a mom. Why, even some Democratic women are moms. Don't they love their little darlings just as much as conservative women do?

The Mom Movement is hardly new. Soccer moms, long ago identified as a voting bloc, are nearly passe, iced from the zeitgeist by hockey moms and, now, mama bears. Womanhood has become a zoo. And we thought men were the beasts.

"This year will be remembered as a year when common-sense conservative women get things done for our country," Sarah says in her new video. "These policies coming out of D.C. right now, this fundamental transformation of America, well, a lot of women who are very concerned about their kids' futures are saying, 'We don't like this fundamental transformation and we're gonna do something about it.' "

As described by Sarah, the "Mom Awakening" can be visualized as mama grizzlies on their hind legs ready to maul anyone who tries "to do something adverse toward their cubs."

So, mixed-metaphor alert: "Look out, Washington, because there's a whole stampede of pink elephants crossing the line and the ETA, stampeding through, is November 2, 2010. Lotta women comin' together."

Well, who's to argue with a lotta women comin' together? It's the sisterhood, baby. Wear pink and put a bow on it.

Sarah's long-term plans are anybody's guess. Anyone who thinks she won't run for president because she's making too much money on the celebrity circuit is missing a big point. You make money as a presidential candidate, too. If you win, you're president. If you lose, you're rich.

And don't tell her she can't. If you do, she's just gonna get feistier and cuter. Next thing you know she'll be a dadgum lioness givin' heck to those media hyenas, just the way they can't stand it.

Look outcha!

kathleenparker@washpost.com

For Post columnist Ruth Marcus's reaction to Sarah Palin's latest video, click here.


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