Women lawmakers made zero gains in Congress in this cycle--they will still make up about 17 percent of those chosen by voters to come to Washington. Two notable losses were Arkansas Sen. Blanche Lincoln and Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin of South Dakota, both moderate Democrats. This palpable lack of progress was mourned as many gathered together at American University to discuss the "year of the woman" that never came to pass--despite or because of one Sarah Palin, a Republican who governed Alaska for about 15 minutes? That was a question.
Here's an answer: the woman from Alaska does other women no favors. She has no sense of sisterhood, and is not playing the game of politics to further the cause of anyone but herself. Does she even know what year women finally won the right to vote? To be fair, she seems to apprehend Hillary Clinton's intellect and stature. As a way of saying thanks, she keeps stealing Hillary's opening presidential campaign line: "I'm in it to win it."
Just consider the outcomes. The two women Senate candidates Palin campaigned for, Sharron Angle and Christine O’Donnell, lost, with black eyes, in the national spotlight. A woman senator whom Palin vigorously opposed, Lisa Murkowski in her own backyard of Alaska, won. The only woman whom she may have helped get elected was Nikki Haley, who won the governorship of South Carolina. Okay, we'll cede that but she's on shaky ground when it comes to "pretending to befriending" women in politics, as she might say. Her charms are largely lost on us and our causes. It's men that can't get over her and her bewitching one-woman rodeo--and the street where she lives. Svengalian Republican strategist Bill Kristol started the swooning when he dropped over for dinner in Alaska one soft summer night while on a cruise.
If she could, Palin would lead us back to a Bronze Age of no reproductive rights. To go with that, have you noticed the faux-feminism she tries on like a pair of Grecian sandals? I have yet to fathom the full meaning of "Mama grizzlies," no doubt because I dwell in a city and fear states of nature without a coffee shop nearby. In fact, there's a movement afoot in the House side of Congress, with which Palin is marching in lockstep: a group of Republican congresswomen who vehemently oppose abortion rights. If Palin and her female friends are willing to police other womens' bodies, then there's one big thing you cannot do. Don't call yourself a feminist, too.
That brings me to the coup de grace: don't take the great Susan Brownell Anthony's name in vain for this anti-choice coalition, either. Palin is blameless in creating the "Susan B. Anthony List" of women in politics who oppose reproductive freedom and choice--but it's just her cup of tea, this "branding" of American history's major figures to suit your scheme. As part of it, you may even wish to check out the cool "Suzy B. Blog." This organization has appropriated and distorted Anthony, the great Quaker suffrage leader, of all people who cannot speak out to claim her name. The 19th century reformer, Anthony was a classic serious spinster whose love relationships were with women, but none greater than the lifelong cause of "Votes for Women." The Society of Friends (a.k.a. Quakers) championed human rights for black slaves and women--and to this day, its political arm supports womens' right to choose.
Palin and Anthony show what a difference a century can make in American womanhood. Anthony did not live to see the victory of woman suffrage in 1920, which was a shame. But thank goodness she never lived to see her name taken in such political vain.