Reformer? Maverick? Defender of motherhood? Independent-minded woman? Former beauty queen? Serious politico? Moose hunter?

As soon as John McCain announced that Alaska Governor Sarah Palin would be his running mate, the liberal vs. conservative online discussion was off to the races! Progressive bloggers are shocked at Palin’s positions on reproductive choice, gun control and religion in schools, just to name a few.

Conservative bloggers have been put off by this reaction, wondering why women should have been expected to celebrate Hillary Clinton’s run for the presidency, but not Sarah Palin’s shot at moving into the vice-president’s home at the Naval Observatory in January.

The diverse scuttlebutt in the blogopshere is fascinating.

As I read and think about Sarah Palin, I personally see someone who is WAY too conservative for me (now there’s a surprise, right?). But I have to acknowledge that there are things about her story that are temptingly attractive — she grew up in a small town (like me) where people probably didn’t expect much, either of life or of her, how she went from a PTA mom to governor, how she has been able to figure out the work/life balance thing. When she says things like it’s OK for her kids to eat macaroni and cheese instead of having a Governor’s mansion chef prepare meals every night, I can relate to that kind of life.

I assume there are lots of other women who also find things appealing about Palin. Just as I assume there are many who have concerns about how she’s being discussed and worries about what she’s saying.

People are talking about Palin in a way we don’t talk about men candidates because she is the mother of young children. And how we view her because of that is as diverse as we are.

Elissa’s Illuminations, in wondering about the discussion on Palin’s approach to motherhood, asks:

Why does talking about [putting] children first become reason to call people anti-feminist?

[Palin] is putting herself out there to be looked at, and I will not be afraid to say that moms are invaluable and we need to put our children first. There is nothing anti-feminist about that. And if there is, if I am going to be judged as living in the dark ages because I want to find a way to put my children first, then give me a boar and a club and send me into the cave…just make sure my kids are there too.

Many, including myself, have wondered whether in scrutinizing Palin through the lens of motherhood, we are igniting a new wave of Mommy Wars. Kate at Vice Squad weighs in on that, saying:

For most women, most mothers anyway, Sarah Palin’s situation will seem both alien and familiar. Most of us have never run for high office but we’ve all had to justify our work lives to our families and vice versa. The question in her case is, just what does her family life tell us about how she’d do the job she’s asking us to give her?

For others, in assessing Palin, it’s not about her motherhood, but about her lack of exposure to things other than suburban Anchorage.Mocha Momma says:

[Palin] scoffed at Obama’s community organizing and pushed for her own small town agenda. You know what I heard in that thinly veiled line? Her lack of experience with people of color and the power of community organization. She doesn’t know cities or poverty that way or even what that does for education. She is keeping that dividing line bold and prominent by letting me see what she thinks about that: small town = hard-working white farming families vs. city/community = blacks and latinos and asians and other people she knows nothing about. She so wasn’t talking to me.

So where does that leave us with Sarah Palin? I don’t think we’ll know for a long time, whether she is elected to be the next Vice President or not. But it sure will keep providing us with a lot of good blog fodder.

Cross-posted from BlogHer, where PunditMom is a Contributing Editor for Politics & News.