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A colleague is astonished that Washington Post columnist Kathleen Parker on Monday won the Pulitzer Prize. Let me explain. Parker is pitched to newspapers and to readers as a "conservative columnist" — in an era when the papers try to cover all the respectable ideological bases, the conservative perspective is hers.
Proud as punch, the Post is boasting of Parker on its home page and linking to ten columns that it identifies as her "winning work." These, I assume, are the columns the judges judged her by. See how conservative they are.
On December 11: "After Barack Obama's Nobel Peace Prize speech, anyone still questioning whether he is really a Christian, rather than a Muslim aligned with fanaticism, needs to seek therapy forthwith. Anyone still unconvinced that Obama is really an American committed to his nation's values, rather than an impostor who doesn't pledge allegiance to his critics' satisfaction, should probably surrender to the asylum. Obama's speech, an artful balance of realism and idealism, was both a Judeo-Christian epistle, conceding the moral necessity of war, and a meditation on American exceptionalism. He was, in other words, the unapologetic president of the United States and not some errant global villager seeking affirmation."
November 29: "The problem is that many conservatives have lost faith in the ability of Republican leaders to think. The resolutions aren't so much statements of principle as dogmatic responses to complex issues that may, occasionally, require more than a Sharpie check in a little square. It's too bad that 'elite' and 'nuance' have become bad words in the Republican lexicon."
November 22: "Call me a guy but give me a break. Sarah Palin is the luckiest woman on the planet. Hats off to the girl from Wasilla who, slightly more than a year ago, was virtually unknown and is now on the cover of Newsweek, hawking a book for which she was paid a few million dollars, drawing huge crowds and getting the kind of free publicity most celebrities have to jump on Oprah's couch to get. Oh, and yes, she got to sit on Oprah's set as well. And we're supposed to defend/feel sorry for/protect Sarah from . . . what? Wild success, popularity and riches? You must be joking."
November 11: "On this much, both sides of the abortion issue can agree: Forced abortion is not a choice. Averting our gaze from China's horrific abuse of women is."
October 28: "Obama likes to play basketball, and one can only amuse oneself alone with a ball and a hoop for so long. It is natural that he would summon a few guys to play with him. Must even a president's recreational time be politically correct? Smack dab on center court is the elephant no one wants to acknowledge: that men and women are different; that sometimes even heterosexuals prefer same-sex company; and that, as a rule, women and men are unequal in matters physical. With rare exceptions, the gender-neutrality trope that drives much of the Democratic Party agenda is, was and ever shall be — false. Sad. Depressing. Frustrating. Maddening. Call it what you wish, but it is still true. Obama's basketball game, thus, has become a convenient metaphor for an inconvenient truth. Generally speaking, guys prefer to play ball with other guys, just as women prefer to form book clubs with other women. That's not because women don't like men (and vice versa) but because when relaxing, women mostly want to drink wine together. And talk about men. I don't know what men do on the basketball court that is so compelling, but they apparently need it, and I don't."
October 7: "Trunk tweeted while in a board meeting late last month that she was having a miscarriage — and how great is that? Beats the abortion she was planning to have, which would have meant missing two days of work since she would have had to go all the way to Chicago. Apparently, there's a waiting list in Wisconsin, where Trunk lives. Her tweet, as tweets must be, was succinct: 'I'm in a board meeting. Having a miscarriage. Thank goodness, because there's a f——- -up 3-week hoop-jump to have an abortion in Wisconsin.' Where, oh, where is Flannery O'Connor when we need her? If she were still roaming around Milledgeville, we can be fairly certain she wouldn't be tweeting. But one might hope that O'Connor would put pen to paper and expose today's sideshow for what it is. Once asked why the grotesque is so alive in the South, the author said it's because Southerners can still recognize a freak. Is there anything much more grotesque or freakish than a woman essentially celebrating her miscarriage in a public venue?"
August 5: "Hefty majorities in the Northeast, the Midwest and the West believe Obama was born in the United States. But in the land of cotton, where old times are not by God forgotten, only 47 percent believe Obama was born in America and 30 percent aren't sure. Southern Republicans, it seems, have seceded from sanity."
July 15: "Doubtless thousands of other women's ears perked up when Sen. Charles Schumer, introducing Sonia Sotomayor at Monday's confirmation hearing, mentioned the Latina jurist's girlhood affection for Nancy Drew books. The smart, plucky girl-detective was a role model for many women who recognized themselves in Nancy — including Hillary Clinton, Oprah Winfrey, Sandra Day O'Connor and Laura Bush, to name a few. Add yours truly to the list."
June 26: "He lied by not telling his staff where he was going or how to reach him. He deceived his staff by allowing them to believe and report to the media that he was hiking in the Appalachians. And most important to his political future, he failed to make arrangements for his state's uninterrupted governance. To his credit, Sanford acknowledged all these failings, but he seemed less interested in discussing his shirking of executive duty than in making rending statements about the condition of his heart. Not only did we learn Sanford's philosophy of moral absolutes, but we were led through the meaning and purpose of God's laws. The governor even lectured on the definition of sin. Spiritually, Sanford may have succeeded in checking off several acts of contrition. But politically, he did everything wrong — invoking religion, apologizing endlessly and acknowledging friends in a sort of reverse intervention."
April 29: "To non-Catholics, Glendon's act may seem of little importance, yet another feud within the church. Abortion, after all, is settled law, and Obama is the duly elected president. Clearly, the American people have moved on. Or have they? And should we? Is there really ever a time when we should be comfortable with the ratification of abortion? It has always seemed to me that the truest form of feminism, as in the earliest days of suffrage, would be to hold abhorrent the state-sanctioned destruction of women's unique life-bearing gifts. Out of material expedience, we've somehow managed to convince ourselves that life is a mistake. While one may prefer to preserve the legality of individual discretion (my own reluctant, if withering, position), it is nonetheless consoling that there are still those who relentlessly defend life's sanctity. The alternative, after all, is far less comforting."
There you have it. Ten shrewdly selected columns, all nicely written if you ask me, but so hard for anyone to argue with that it's chiefly her conservative reputation that keeps us interested. Midway through the one that most resembles her billing — her defense of a prolife professor who declined to accept a medal from Notre Dame if Obama was going to get one too — she admits to being marginally prochoice herself.
Establish a reputation and write against it. Judges will be delighted.