I was chatting with a news reporter from another country who lives in our general neighborhood yesterday about the the Sarah Palin phenomenon — why she’s getting so much coverage, can you compare her to Hillary Clinton, (NO!) and whether working moms would support Palin.

We were heading off to pick up children when she casually asked me, “What do you tell your daughter about Sarah Palin?”

As a Democrat who is opposed to pretty much everything Palin stands for, it was actually a question I had been mulling over for a while. PunditGirl was all for Hillary Clinton early in the campaign because in her eight-year-old mind, it was high time a “girl” had a turn to run the White House and be in charge. She didn’t really concern herself with the specifics of Hillary’s plan to get us out of Iraq or her health care policy. As a now-third-grader, girl power was the only thing she was focused on.

But I’ve been struggling with how to talk with her about Sarah Palin. I’m pretty vocal at home, as a general rule, about how I feel about the candidates, but I’ve felt the need to hold back when talking about Sarah Palin in front of PunditGirl.

Because for better or worse, Palin’s place on the GOP ticket is historic, just as Hillary Clinton’s place was, as well. Regardless of the reasons John McCain picked her, Palin is a ‘first’ and will now always have a place in the history books and could be inspiring for many young girls just like my daughter.

I don’t have the same compulsion to parse my words if I’m criticizing John McCain or George Bush — and I was proud to see my views of the current president reflected in PunditGirl’s first day of school collage project, which featured a picture of George Bush with a big red magic marker “X” through his image! Now THAT warms a progressive mother’s heart!

But I think it’s going to be hard for my daughter to understand that someone who is a mother of a daughter about her same age doesn’t feel the way we do. She knows I’m openly supportive of the idea that girls can do whatever they want, and that women and girls need to support each other in achieving our goals in what is still a man’s world. So I’m pretty sure my strong dislike of Palin is going to require some serious and carefully worded explaining.

I want PunditGirl to respect the historic nature of Palin’s candidacy while helping her understand that the ideas of some “girls” would be horrible for the country and especially for women — that not all “girls” share the same vision of what girl-power is.

It seems it’s time for the lesson that not all “girls” or moms are created equal and that sometimes one girl’s vision of empowerment is another’s idea of losing ground for the future.