"What is the difference between a pit bull and a hockey mom? Lipstick."

- Sarah Palin,

Sept. 3, 2008

TAKE that, Barack. Put that in your pipe and smoke it, Hillary. Deal with it, Nancy - and Harry.

Get ready to sweat. Sarah Barracuda is here. And she's headed to a town near you.

On Wednesday night, the governor of Alaska showed the rest of America what John McCain already knew: She's definitely ready for prime time.

And how.

This pit bull in lipstick and stylish glasses made it clear that while she may have grown up in a small town, she has the instincts of a warrior. Just like her running mate.

Sarah Palin said a lot of things during her acceptance speech, and all of them proved her fitness for office.

She talked about national security. She talked about energy. She talked about taxes.

Utterly knowledgeably.

But this isn't what we were listening for. Those of us who fervently hope that Team Obama won't be taking over the White House come January were looking for something else, something intangible. Something to convince us McCain hadn't made a mistake in choosing an unknown from the icy north to be his second in command.

She had us at hello.

Or rather, "Thank you."

Palin rose above all of the dirt and innuendo thrown at her by the liberal peanut gallery, nut-

roots and Obama surrogates and showed the kind of character that can't be supplied by campaign managers or conjured up in pretty speeches. Unlike the senator from Illinois, who has based his entire candidacy on dreams and ambiguity, the governor of Alaska spoke the language of real life. Fluently.

Unlike Obama's perfect family, whose greatest challenge seems to be affording piano lessons and camp for his daughters, Palin talked about her youngest child, a 4-month-old with Down syndrome.

She told the country that if they elected her, the disabled would have an advocate in Washington. And you believed this loving mother.

Unlike Obama's record of "community service," Palin explained just what it meant to be a municipal and then a state executive who needed to be on call 24/7, 365 days a year, without the luxury of being able to vote "present."

Unlike Obama's criticism of middle America, ridiculing those who clung to their guns and religion, Palin showed that she - a true middle American - wasn't bitter. She was proud of the opportunities afforded her in this, the most opportunity-friendly nation on earth.

And unlike Obama, she wasn't afraid to talk about her patriotism. In fact, she wasn't afraid to live that love of country, lending her oldest son for our protection. As Palin noted, with just the hint of a tear in her eyes, Track Palin will be shipping out to Iraq on Sept. 11. No greater love, as they say.

I'm not a person who likes to play identity politics. It doesn't matter to me what color you are, what gender, or with whom

you're likely to fall in love. Substance matters more than the irrelevancies of race, sex and the color of your hair.

But watching Palin on Wednesday night, I felt incredibly proud to be a woman at this moment in time. Here, finally, was a role model I could relate to, someone who valued unborn life, who thought that it wasn't off-limits to speak of God, who didn't think that we should coddle terrorists and who believed in personal responsibility as opposed to public handouts.

For once, I thought, I'm probably on the same page as the National Organization for Women. Girl Power!

Wrong.

THIS IS what NOW President Kim Gandy had to say:

"Gov. Palin may be the second woman vice-presidential candidate on a major-party ticket, but she is not the right woman."

How stupid of me to forget.

Feminists desperately want a woman in office, but only if she sounds like Hillary Clinton or Nancy Pelosi.

But no pro-life, moose-shooting NRA member who wins beauty pageants and has the audacity to bring a child with Down syndrome into this overpopulated world need apply.

It wasn't what they ordered.

Palin is an accomplished, intelligent, honest, compassionate and courageous woman. She has her flaws, as Daily Kos gleefully points out, updated hourly. But she is a compelling choice to stand beside McCain.

Still, this lipstick-wearing pit bull doesn't make the cut for Gandy and the feminists who march in lockstep behind the Pied Piper of Reproductive Rights.

She's a woman, sure. Just not "the right woman."

And just like Clarence Thomas, who was vilified by black activists because of his conservative views. They wanted a black man on the Supreme Court.

Just not that black man.

Well, ladies and gentleman of the Democratic Party, get ready.

There's a Revlon-wearing pit bull headed to Washington. *

Christine M. Flowers is a lawyer.