By Baird, Julia
Newsweek , Vol. 156, No. 01
Byline: Julia Baird
To my brand-new chum, Sarah Palin.
Dear Mrs. Palin,
Of course I would be happy to meet with you during your upcoming trip to London. We have much to discuss: how to destroy socialists, carry on Ronnie's legacy, and shut up unpleasant women's libbers. Who cares if they say conservative women can't be feminists? We can be leaders of the free world! But let me tell you, my girl, you are young and green and have much to learn.
First, let me assure you that while I never posed in running shorts or, God forbid, a swimsuit, I was quite the sexpot of my time. Oh, yes, I was. I can say it now, at 84. I know what it means to be ogled, desired, to watch men drool as I speak. "Keep your eyes on my face," I wanted to shout, so many times. All those journalists who wrote endlessly about my long legs and peachlike skin in the 1970s. Oh, they forget now, but I haven't. Ask that Christopher Hitchens. Just after I became leader of the Conservatives, he described me in the New Statesman as "surprisingly sexy." ("There's nothing surprising about that!" I wanted my husband, Denis, to say, but he didn't.) A few days later, I met the young upstart at a party. He tried to challenge my command of our Zimbabwe policy. Ha! (He still thinks he is right, he says in his new memoir, Hitch-22, the rotter. Let it go, Hitch.) He admitted he was stupid--or wrong, rather, and bowed to me. Do you know what I said, my girl? "Bow lower." He obliged. Then I said, "No, no. Much lower!" I then spanked his arrogant bottom with rolled-up paper and told him he was a naughty boy.
And that, my dear, is how to treat men. You shouldn't skin moose--you should skin men! Not that they will like it. Helmut Kohl said I gave him headaches. Jacques Chirac asked journalists if I wanted his balls on a tray. Ha! I didn't even know he had any! As I always said, one thing politics taught me was that men are not a reasoned or a reasonable sex. I still filled my cabinet with them, but what choice did I have? John Biffen said it best: I was a tigress surrounded by hamsters.
I do have some questions for you, though, Sarah. Why on earth would you call yourself a feminist? I always said I never owed anything to women's lib. I practically invented women. How I used to laugh when they jumped up and down, all purple in the face, when I froze child benefits and scolded them about the "chaos" of workplace nurseries. …