A 44 year old woman from Alaska may soon be the Vice President of the United States; but that is not the main topic of conversation in the city where I am right now. In New Orleans, Louisiana, the name Sarah Palin is not nearly as well known as the name Gustav.
There is this creepy feeling of déjà vu in this city. I spent part of this day rollerblading around town and was struck by how many people asked me if I knew anything more than they did about Gustav's path.
When I was in New Orleans and Gulfport, Mississippi in the days before Katrina, I remember a lot of people saying they did not think they would get hit. Now, it's the opposite. We are still days away from Gustav hitting land in the U.S., but virtually everybody I've talked with today is actively planning for the worst.
At the Walgreen's, they are already sold out of flashlights and batteries. At a souvenir shop, they were sizing up windows so they could start boarding them up. On Bourbon Street, business owners were wondering if they would have to evacuate before the busy Labor Day weekend comes to an end.
On this three year anniversary of a hurricane we will never forget, there is fear and unease in the Big Easy.
AC360° Contributor and CNN Political Analyst
As CNN viewers may know, I'm pro-choice. My former boss, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, a committed pro-lifer, had no problem hiring me despite that (shocking!) news. Indeed, I became a conservative working for a women's organization that took no position on the issue. We welcomed women from all sides. Our ethos was that women are not defined by our ovaries. We care about taxes, national security, free markets and classic notions of equal rights. Abortion should not be a gender test.
I say all of this because I have been frustrated by the insistence in the media that John McCain's choice for vice president, Alaska Governor Sarah Palin is defined by her pro-life position, as if that is the beginning and end of Governor Palin and of conservative women - and that her pro-life position is extreme. When one looks at the polling data on this issue, it's clear that it is not.
We've seen a concerted effort by the media to marginalize her as a far right-winger, out of touch with moderate and pro-choice women. This is unfair to her, and to all of us who respect her admirable decision to carry to term a child diagnosed in utero with Down's Syndrome. It's been noted that 90% of parents who receive the news that their child will be born with this disability choose to terminate. Governor Palin put her principles into practice. And as a pro-choicer, I can say with sincerity that I admire her act of character and love.
A few summers ago I was at a friend's beach house, and the topic of pro-choicers who work for pro-lifers came up (that's Washington for you). I made the argument that Republican elected officials are far more tolerant of differing views on this topic than Democrats. Count the number of pro-lifers on the staffs of senators Boxer, Clinton, Schumer, Durbin or any of the Democratic leadership. I'm certain the number is negligible, if not zero. Apply the same test to Republican leadership. I guarantee you, the number is much higher, pro-life Pennsylvania Democrat Bob Casey included.
The media would like to label conservatives as intolerant on the abortion issue and, as a result, intolerant of women. But the truth is the conservative tent is much broader than that caricature. And it's much broader than what the other side allows.
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