Jonah Goldberg to Palin: Hit the left-wing feminists
posted at 1:00 pm on August 31, 2008 by Allahpundit
I couldn’t agree more. Look: She’s not going to win over Hillaryites. She made an obligatory pitch to them at the Dayton rally because you can’t be a woman in politics today without genuflecting to our new feminist pope, but the hardcore Hillary fans are the sort of self-congratulatory “raised consciousness” liberals who’ll regard the Palin pick as something insulting, to be aggrieved about. Write them off. Go after the majority of women who fall somewhere across the rest of the spectrum. E.M. Zanotti’s a conservative feminist and her feelings about the pick are clear. Ann Althouse is a centrist feminist and she seems plenty positive about it thus far too. Quote: “As a feminist, I love that she did not leverage herself into power through her husband and consider this an important improvement over Hillary.” Wonder of wonders, women don’t vote as a monolithic group, no matter how much our down-the-middle media would have you believe that only a pant-suited pro-choice warrior can adequately represent “authentic” feminism. Goldberg:
She needs to directly attack, albeit in a deft way, the feminist pinheads who are attacking her. She will never win over that crowd and no Republican would. But, most women — including female Democrats — don’t follow the self-described leaders of womankind. She would do enormous service to her campaign and the cause if she said “these self-appointed leftwing activists who claim to speak for all women are now claiming I’m somehow not a real woman….” and then list all of the ways she has more in common with working women than the talking heads on MSNBC. She needs to create a wedge between feminists and women. Don’t concede the assumption — the way the media always does — that NOW and that crowd speak for women. She shouldn’t do it in an angry way. She should do it in a lightly contemptuous or dismissive way. The conservative base would love it, but I think that kind of gendered populism would win-over a lot of women who like feminine strength and independence but reject the feminist label (there are a lot of them).
There are indeed a lot of them and they’re listening intently. Like Jonah says, tone is key. Anything too snide or whiny, to borrow a word used by Palin herself to describe Hillary, will be off-putting and explode in her face. But if done correctly, having the woman who’s being derided as an identity politics ploy attacking the left’s own repulsive claim to be the one true arbiter of feminine “identity” would be salutary even if it didn’t earn any extra votes. Which it probably would, if for no other reason than having her threaten their monopoly on feminism would drive the left to get even filthier towards her than they’ve already been and alienate some women in the process, in total fulfillment of the prediction made by our favorite liberal yesterday morning.
Incidentally, I think any women’s votes that she does pick up are gravy. As I’ve been saying for the past two days, the real strength of Palin on the ticket is with the base, not with the center, a point that anyone who’s been around grassroots conservatives for the past three months understands instantly. It’ll be up to McCain, now that his red-state support is rock solid, to make the case to the middle. Exit quotation: “Even if McCain loses in November, the GOP’s new standard bearer will be a younger working mother from outside Washington and not a rich businessman with perfect hair from Massachusetts. McCain may have saved the GOP at the expense of the campaign.”
Update: An early rumble:
“The Democratic party has done a disservice to women by trying to hold women hostage to the issue of Roe v. Wade,” [Carly] Fiorina said on CBS’s Face the Nation. “The truth is the most important issue to women, all the polls say this, is the economy. Women are not single issue voters.”…
The McCain adviser added that Palin “is a person who can identify with the challenges they face as women in every conceivable way, as a mother, as a mother trying to balance her work life and family life, not to mention her incredible record of reform and taking on the good old boy network. So I’ve talked to many women and they are truly excited by this pick.”
Update: Not only do I emphatically agree with this sentiment from Ross Douthat, you’d have to look hard, I suspect, to find a conservative who doesn’t. I actually found myself worrying yesterday how hard it would be on her personally if she implodes on the trail — never mind what it would mean for McCain’s chances and the GOP. If you want a testament to her appeal and the ease with which commoners like me identify with her, I can’t do better than that.
Update: Inevitably, a commenter knocks me for being paternalistic and “protective” of her in the last udpate. It’s not paternalism, though; it’s identification with her as an ordinary person, a much more valuable asset to her than her gender. I’m not worried about the poor girl having her feelings hurt, I’m imagining myself in her situation and considering how awful I’d feel if the pressure got to me.