Will Wilkinson interrogates the "mama grizzly" phenomenon:

Carly Fiorina has been included in the ranks of the mama grizzlies by mama-grizzly-in-chief Sarah Palin. It is not my impression that this has harmed Ms Fiorina's chances among conservatives. But Ms Fiorina was the first woman chief executive of a Fortune 20 corporation! Surely this is more impressive than her experience raising two step-daughters. I'd like to understand the weirdness of this a little better.

My sense is that the mama-grizzly phenomenon is part of populist conservatism's obsession with American authenticity.

Ms Fiorina's education, executive experience, and vast wealth places her among the elite of the elite of America's elite elite. But "the elite" are the bogey of salt-of-the-earth "real" Americans, and elitism is the great sin against God-fearing, flag-bedecked authenticity. Ms Fiorina is so far from the prototype of red-state authenticity, she might as well be from Jupiter or France. So, in order to get a boost from the tea party movement's populist wave, it seems the most must be made of any connection, however, tenuous, to populist conservative ideals of womanhood. Apparently marrying into a couple of daughters is enough to qualify the former HP chief a "mama".

What of grizzlies? Yes, they are fiercely protective of their cubs. Also, one does not find them roaming the effete streets of America's populous, urban Democratic strongholds.

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