Charles Krauthammer spots one of the most important political developments of 2010:
The rise of the conservative woman. Sarah Palin’s influence is the most obvious manifestation of the trend. But the bigger story is the coming of age of a whole generation of smart, aggressive Republican women, from the staunchly conservative Nikki Haley (now leading the South Carolina governor’s race) and the stauncher-still Sharron Angle (neck-and-neck with Harry Reid in Nevada) to the more moderate California variety, where both Carly Fiorina (for Senate) and Meg Whitman (for governor) are within striking distance in a state highly blue and deeply green. And they are not only a force in themselves; they represent an immense constituency that establishment feminism forgot — or disdained.
And these women are threatening to decimate the professional gender grievants’ notion that “feminism” is coterminous with a liberal, statist, abortion-on-demand agenda. The reason, I would suggest, that the left went so nuts over Christine O’Donnell is not simply because she rendered a vulnerable seat safe for the Democrats or because she showed that Tea Party enthusiasts’ judgment is not infallible. It is because she provided solace to nervous liberal feminists –“See, this wacky dame is what conservative women are all about.” Sarah Palin has proved to be politically astute, Sharron Angle had Harry Reid on the defensive in their debate, and Carly Fiorina is showing that a pro-lifer can be competitive in California; but not to fear — O’Donnell will discredit them all. Or so the theory went.
In fact, she’s done no damage to the GOP beyond her state’s borders and arguably has taken some of the heat off Angle and others. There is a whole new generation of conservative women who threaten to narrow the gender gap and to rob liberals of the argument that opposition to abortion is misogynistic. Liberals are right to be afraid: O’Donnell won’t even rate a footnote in history, but the influence of all the “Mama Grizzlies” will be with us for a long time.