Sarah Palin vs. the 1990s

Sarah Palin America by Heart
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Sarah Palin is out to get the 1990s.  At least that's what I have to assume from some cultural references she's trotted out in her new book, America By Heart.

According to excerpts from the book, she's got it in for Hillary Clinton and fictional newswoman Murphy Brown, two female icons of the 1990s. But why is Palin going all Back to the Future as she's plotting her 2012 strategy -- whatever that may be?


In Sarah Palin's twenty-first century world, her daughter and single mom Bristol and fictional single mom Juno are rock stars to be put on a conservative pedestal -- underage girls who find themselves single and pregnant, but decide to keep their babies rather than have abortions or place the babies for adoption. Somehow, they are champions for her conservative version of womanhood.

Palin does a sharp 180 in her book when she invokes fictional 1990s television mom Murphy Brown -- who also found herself single, pregnant, and decided to keep her baby rather than have an abortion or place her child for adoption, but for some reason Palin doesn't believe that Murphy is a role model for today's young women.

This leaves me scratching my head a bit, since their stories are the same, except for the fact that Bristol and Juno were high school kids when they got knocked up, with little means to support their babies, while Murphy was an accomplished professional who could more than afford to take care of her child without having to rely on her parents for support. If Murphy Brown had been an actual person, that is.

As for Hillary Clinton, Palin famously praised her in 2008 for those 18 million cracks in the glass ceiling and making it possible for voters to believe that women, including Palin herself, could be on a presidential ticket. But now the former Alaska governor and Fox News celebrity is trash-talking the current Secretary of State for her 1992 remarks that she wasn't Tammy Wynette standing by her man or staying home to do the cookie-baking for her then school-aged daughter Chelsea when her husband was running for President.

So what is so threatening to Palin about these icons of the 1990s, a decade that brought us Seinfeld, Friends, and "The Rachel?" Well, the 1990s also gave rise to real girl power, third-wave feminism and women taking control of their lives in ways in which motherhood wasn't necessarily the first order of business. And that idea is completely at odds with her whole mama grizzly political strategy.

Palin clearly believes if she can convince the country that her version of combining ambition and motherhood is somehow better than a decades-old, culturally accepted portrayal of motherhood that she paints as liberal, then maybe, just maybe, she can land whatever position it is she's after in 2012.

The thing is this -- no woman likes to be judged on how she creates her own version of motherhood.  And there are still plenty of Murphys and Hillarys just trying to raise their kids and put dinner on the table without someone else judging them. So Palin might want to tread lightly as she implements this new chapter in her quest for stardom, political and otherwise, because it's got the word 'backfire' written all over it.

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