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Newsweek's Female Columnists Pile on Palin

Did the liberal women writers at Newsweek get together to coordinate a Palin pile-on? 


Lisa Miller, Anna Quindlen and Dahlia Lithwick all have pieces in Newsweek and on Newsweek.com this week that fire away at the vice presidential candidate from different angles: religion, abortion and sexism. 


Religion writer Lisa Miller warns that Palin's appeal to conservative Christians means there is a “religious-right revival.” 

The era of divisive religious rhetoric, characterized by James Dobson and Jerry Falwell, is past. Eager to help care for the planet, these Christians are building bridges between left and right, between the secular and the devout, even among subscribers to different holy books. These “new” evangelicals, according to the mainstream press, are exciting now because they're politically powerful….

Not so fast. If the selection of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as the Republican veep candidate means anything, it's that conservative Christians—the kind who listen by the millions to Dobson's “Focus on the Family” radio program and were galvanized to vote for Ronald Reagan thanks to Falwell—are still numerous and powerful.

The “new evangelicals,” according to Miller “wriggle with discomfort as the old ones hail Palin as the Second Coming.”  Miller closes with this liberal slam: “Everything new is old again.  Palin's candidacy revives the religious right, the abortion debate and the pit-bull advocate for both.  The only difference is lipstick.”


Lithwick uses Palin's daughter Bristol to attack on the abortion front.  Her column, “Bristol's Choice: Republicans and the illusion of reproductive choice,” opens by suggesting Bristol wasn't free to decide whether to keep or abort her baby:


Pundits were quick to point out that Bristol's “decision” must have been at least somewhat constrained by her mom's position--as articulated in November 2006--that she would oppose an abortion for her daughters, even if they had been raped. Palin is an outspoken advocate of parental veto; she called the Alaska Supreme Court's recent decision to strike down that state's parental consent statute “outrageous.” So what exactly, one wonders, was young Bristol permitted to decide?


Lithwick, who also writes for the liberal online magazine Slate, goes on to discuss Roe v. Wade and the threat posed by the GOP platform to the pro-abortion movement.  She darkly opines,


Today there is renewed doubt whether grown women are fit to decide to abort a pregnancy at all. That is why Sarah Palin would not allow abortion in the event of rape or a threat to maternal health, but only with a “doctor's determination that the mother's life would end if the pregnancy continued.” That is not the mother doing the deciding, it's her doctor. Presumably if they differ on this question, the mother loses.


Anna Quindlen uses James Dobson and abortion to go after Palin under the banners of “hypocrisy,” “sexism” and “feminism.”  In her column “Can You Say Sexist?,” Quindlen says she “recognize(s) Palin as a fellow traveler, a woman whose life would have been impossible just a few decades ago.” Suggesting hypocrisy, she adds:


…it is therefore notable that Palin has found her home in a party, and in a wing of that party, that for many years has reviled, repelled and sought to roll back the very changes that led her to the Alaska Statehouse.


Then comes sexism.  According to Quindlen,

To try to suggest Sarah Palin might garner the Hillary Clinton vote, that one woman is just the same as another, that biology trumps ideology, is the ultimate evidence of true sexism…

Is Quindlen troubled because McCain picked a woman as a running mate, or because he picked the woman he did?  Clearly the liberal media, which have thoroughly enjoyed the fact that the conservative base of the Republican Party has been at best lukewarm in its support of McCain, are stunned that Palin has fired up that base.  More clearly, the liberal women in the media elite are angry that an ardent pro-life woman may be the one to shatter the proverbial glass ceiling.

Kristen Fyfe is senior writer at the Culture and Media Institute, a division of the Media Research Center.