The Peril of Running Against Palin’s “Mama Grizzlies”

EMILY’s List—the Democratic group supporting pro-choice women for office—has launched a new campaign aimed at slamming Sarah Palin and the candidates she’s endorsed in this year’s elections. The campaign has launched on, which features a video parodying the conservative Republican “Mama Grizzlies” that Palin has trumpeted:

Dressed in bear costumes, the women in the video don’t simply mock Palin’s “Mama Grizzly” meme; they try to appropriate it as a liberal symbol that will “rear up” to defend reproductive rights and a social safety net. “But believe me, there are plenty of mama grizzlies out there who would disagree with you. So you’re right, you don’t want to mess with mama grizzlies. Don’t mess with us,” the women say in the ad.

But it’s unclear how much weight an anti-Palin message will have this year. It’s a defensive strategy that’s an extension of the Democratic Party’s larger attempt to make 2010 a replay of the 2008 election by focusing on the issues that mobilized its base at the time. But by fixating on Palin, there’s the danger that she and the other loudmouth Republicans will still control the terms of the debate. Though EMILY’s List tries to turn the “Mama Grizzly” symbol on its head, the ad ends up sticking with the bear-as-common-woman theme that Palin pioneered—ultimately staying within Palin’s own political mythology.


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