When Sen. McCain announced that governor Sarah Palin would be his running mate, I gasped the same way I had almost 30 years earlier when I heard about Reagan’s appointment of O’Connor to the Supreme Court. Palin’s appointment was more monumental – and radical – than the appointment of, say, Carly Fiorina, former CEO of Hewlett Packard, would have been. Unlike Fiorina, Palin did not choose career over family, and because she arose out of a traditional society where women are not expected to take public roles, her sudden potential advancement to a position of great power was far more symbolic.

MY OVERWHELMINGLY liberal social set is outraged by my infatuation with the idea of Palin. But as an Orthodox Jewish woman – married with children and also the family’s breadwinner – it suddenly feels less lonely when another breadwinning mother is visible at the top. Her appointment means that no little girl can say to herself that a female cannot be president.

O’Connor was no blazing feminist, but she changed our world. And even if she’s a Jezebel, Sarah Palin as candidate for vice president expanded the range of possible dreams in the lives of all types of little girls – and a few big ones, too.