Kathryn Lopez

"In filing her papers, Bachmann became the first serious female U.S. presidential candidate who is neither a career politician nor married to one," Conway says. "She has an everywoman appeal the connects her to millions of Americans; she is accessible, authentic and affable. She is passionate but not angry, intelligent but plainspoken. Like many woman, she came to her beliefs through a series of events and over a number of years."

She represents the tea-party movement at its empowering best. As Conway recalls: "Bachmann is not alone. 2010 was rightly called the 'Year of the Conservative Woman,' with record numbers of right-leaning women winning state and federal elective office. What's more, it was the year of the conservative woman voter. Women comprised a majority of the electorate that produced historic gains for the GOP, and for the first time since pollsters have been keeping track, women favored Republicans over Democrats for Congress. That was a huge turnaround from the 56 percent who voted for President Obama two short years earlier. Millions of women identify with the tea party and women are much more likely to call themselves 'conservative' than 'liberal.' Their elevation of Republicans was consonant with their rejection of bailouts, spending, government expansion and the tipping point, health care reform. Women have married their microeconomic sensibilities with macroeconomic savvy."

It's a far cry from the "war on women" rhetoric that Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz is stuck on, clinging to what Conway calls "the tired, harsh, outdated feminist playbook."

"These are not the issues that defined 2010 (or 2008 for that matter), and it is tough to imagine a critical mass of Americans women responding kindly to gloom and doom rather than optimism and opportunity," Conway warns.

Bachmann "seems the happy warrior, even as she takes on President Obama's policies frontally and unapologetically. She neither leads with her gender nor believes it entitles her to special treatment," Conway observes. The primary season is young and, as it should be, Bachmann will have to compete with the guys for the nomination. But it's easy to see her appeal. And it's important to acknowledge what she represents: a culture coming out of a lie. Liberal feminism, with its addiction to abortion and its bullying of men, was never what American women and men -- and certainly the American family -- needed. Despite some of the best of its intentions, it was mixed up in eugenics and disloyal to the legacy of the suffragette movement, a failed experiment in remaking reality that has left a trail of misery.

Bachmann may have won the baby-off, but her husband would have, too, if he were the candidate. They earned it. And that's an early message of the Bachmann candidacy: We girls can be confident, feminine, life-affirming compliments to men, at home, school, work, and politics. And even pro-life conservatives. We've come a long way, baby.


Kathryn Lopez

Kathryn Jean Lopez, editor of National Review Online, writes a weekly column of conservative political and social commentary for Newspaper Enterprise Association.