By Lois Thielen
October 4, 2010
St. Cloud Times (Minnesota)
If you’re looking for a strong political candidate who’s going to fix what’s wrong with America, you p
robably won’t find that person in a “mamma grizzly.”
The term was coined by former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin in May, who, in a speech,
said, “If you thought pit bulls were tough, you don’t want to mess with mamma grizzlies.”
Used during a period of supporting conservative political women like herself, the term refers to the
ferocity of which a mother grizzly bear protects her cubs — and which Palin expects those candidates
she supports to exhibit in fighting for the causes in which she believes.
Palin, the former Alaska governor and John McCain’s
2008 running mate, now travels the country
endorsing women like herself. There’s Nikki Haley,
who’s running for governor in South Carolina; Carly
Fioriuna, a U.S. Senate candidate in California;
Susana Martinez, a gubernatorial candidate in New
Mexico; Cecile Bledsoe, a congressional candidate
from Arkansas; Sharron Angle, Senate candidate
from Nevada; and Christine O’Donnell, Senate
candidate from Delaware.
Palin views these candidates as part of a growing
list of “common-sense conservative ‘mamma
grizzlies’ ” who see what’s wrong with America and
plan to fix it.
Our own grizzly
Minnesota has its own mamma grizzly, 6th District
U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann, who got a fair amount
of ink in Newsweek magazine’s recent piece on
mamma grizzlies. It was written by Lisa Miller.
Bachmann, up for re-election this fall, like most
labeled a grizzly, is pro-life and has lived
accordingly, having five children of her own as well
as having cared for 23 foster children in her home.
On the legislative front, she is not as pro-child. She
voted against legislation that allows federal
employees four weeks of paid parental leave. She
opposes a federal program aimed at helping low-
income children receive health insurance. And she
is against increasing Pell grants that would make
college more affordable. (To be fair, as a state
legislator, Bachmann supported the 2005 Positives
Initiatives Act, which has provided some $2.4
million in state grants to programs that encourage
and help women to carry a baby to term and care for
the child after birth.)
Like most grizzlies, Bachmann says government is
trying to run the lives of everyday people and it
needs to be kept in line to allow individual freedom.
The ironic aspect of this approach by conservatives
is that while insisting on less interference by
government, they urge more of it in relation to m
aking abortion illegal. As former Republican
governor of New Jersey, Christine Todd Whitman,
put it, “We can agree or disagree on the role of
government in our personal life, but a less intrusive
government is not in your bedroom.”
More irony can be found via Newsweek in mamma
grizzlies’ campaign approach to finances. They
insist it be handled seriously by people with an old-
fashioned set of values such as responsibility and
accountability. The candidates preaching this
Haley, the South Carolina gubernatorial candidate,
and her husband have failed to pay their taxes on
time for each of the past five years.
O’Donnell from Delaware, who, according to Newsweek, defaulted on her student loans and her
mortgage, and hasn’t had a real job since 2004.
One group is even filed a complaint accusing her of
embezzled $20,000 in campaign funds to cover
personal expenses and not claiming those funds as
income to evade taxes.
These examples are hardly the kind of fiscal
management voters are looking for.
The Newsweek piece ultimately noted that the
“mamma grizzly” concept clearly is much more
about marketing to frustrated voters. It’s the
appealing idea of a tough, conservative mom fixing
a country that is out of control and lacking values.
In reality, in the wild, mamma grizzlies are
aggressive, irrational and mean. Is this what we
want in the politicians who spend our money, pass
our laws and determine our future?
This is the opinion of Lois Thielen, a dairy farmer
who lives near Grey Eagle. Her column is published
the first Monday of the month.