Democrat activists have let Sarah Palin get under their skin -- and if they don't get a grip, their visceral loathing of the Republican vice presidential candidate could cost them the election. First there was the "lipstick on a pig" flap -- a comment the Obama campaign insists was not directed at Gov. Palin, but which dominated political coverage this week. And there was the inexplicable claim by Democratic vice presidential nominee Joe Biden that electing Palin as the first female vice president in our nation's history would be a "backward step for women."
Then there was the vicious statement by the chairwoman of the South Carolina Democratic Party, Carol Fowler, who claimed that Gov. Palin's "primary qualification seems to be that she hasn't had an abortion." Does it get any uglier than this?
In fairness, I'm not certain Sen. Obama intended to call Gov. Palin a pig. His explicit target was John McCain, especially the claim that McCain/Palin is the real "change" ticket in this election. But the audience of Democratic faithful assembled in Lebanon, Va., clearly reacted to Obama's unfortunate metaphor as if he'd just made a clever reference to Palin. They howled, roaring their approval at the remark, which clearly recalled Palin's famous statement about lipstick in her acceptance speech. Whatever Sen. Obama's intention, the crowd drew the inference that "lipstick on a pig" meant Palin.
But Obama's remark wasn't the only lipstick reference of the day. In his introduction of Biden at another campaign event, Democratic Congressman Russ Carnahan said of Palin, "There's no way you can dress up that record, even with a lot of lipstick."
So what is it that lipstick has come to represent to these partisan zealots? It is as if lipstick has become the new symbol of the culture wars that have dominated American politics since 1972.
Jonathan Last, writing online at First Things magazine, suggests that Gov. Palin's decision not to abort her son Trig when she learned he had Down syndrome was a challenge to liberals' idea of what constitutes worthwhile life. He notes, "the left sees Baby Trig as a provocation … as a little Terri Schiavo -- an assertion of the value of all life and an affront to their belief that there are differences in what constitutes meaningful life."
Linda Chavez is chairman of the Center for Equal Opportunity and author of Betrayal: How Union Bosses Shake Down Their Members and Corrupt American Politics .
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