Sarah Palin hooked me the first time I saw her speak. Until that moment, I was dedicated to my party’s nominee, but there was little passion. I hadn’t anticipated Sen. John McCain winning the GOP nomination for president. I had foreseen Sen. Barack Obama winning his party’s nomination because I know Democratic Party strategy—a brand based on rhetoric and physical appearance coupled with policy that veers so sharply left it is guaranteed to end up in the Pacific. Al Gore and John Kerry are exhibits A and B in support of my claims.
Shortly after McCain’s announcement about Palin, I went to get a haircut and ended up stumping for her, though not intentionally. A customer overheard me telling my stylist about Palin, and the next thing I knew, the 25 or so other customers and employees—all females—were all ears. The excitement was palpable. The GOP had placed, for the first time ever, a woman on the presidential ticket. And what happened next was entirely predictable for those of us who know media.
Mainstream media responds
Within days, mainstream media renewed their parasitic relationship with dirt. Mini-dramas, like soap operas, began to fill screens and pages. There was nothing there however, to discourage those of us who bonded with Palin in those first halcyon moments. We expected this. She was a newcomer, an outsider, a female who chose to keep a child who would be born with Down Syndrome. We knew her right-to-life views would alienate the academic elites and the aging feminists. We didn’t care then and we don’t care now. By the time an Associated Press headline screamed, ‘Palin got zoning aid, gifts,’ we were no longer listening to mainstream media. That sensational headline, by the way, was based on Palin keeping a zoning variation that was in place before she bought her property. Somebody gave her some fresh salmon. The horror.
Then a few left hooks began to come from certain conservative quarters. Was Palin truly qualified? Should she remove herself from the ticket? The day she does that, the GOP can kiss a lot of supporters on good old Main Street goodbye.
Uncertainty is a serious flaw in some GOP analysts and strategists. The GOP has media phobia. I can’t tell you the times I became angry at President George Bush when he didn’t respond to all those eager young ink-pushers who managed to miss significant national defense developments in the 90s. I say they must have missed them. Otherwise the questions would not have been so stupid. At the first sign of a public fracas, our frontrunners often run for the hills, unlike our Democratic Party brethren who place $90,000 bundles of money in the freezer and dig in to run another day. The GOP seems especially worried about mass media. That’s rather foolish. Developing your own media conduit is a simple matter. It just takes money and public information. How do you think the DNC did it? Do you realize that probably every single school kid you might ask about Abraham Lincoln believes he was a Democrat? And that all of Civil Rights advancement came about via John F. Kennedy? Where is our narrative and why are we not telling it?
Early reports on the governor
When Palin was elected governor of Alaska, newspapers from the US to Iran carried positive coverage. CBS News reprinted an editorial from National Review. The *San Francisco Chronicle *praised her, saying, “Palin forced the Alaska legislature into special session to increase oil taxes—yes, that’s oil taxes—in Alaska, a Republican welfare state. And she vetoes public works projects.”
By the end of her first year as governor in Alaska, *Alaska Business Monthly *noted her ability to juggle the state, the family and her own needs. ABM also said she stood up to her own party leaders, citing the tax issue. She also introduced natural gas pipeline legislation, the Alaska Gasline Inducement Act. The legislation passed, enabling construction of a natural gas pipeline.
We all want alternative energy, but it makes sense to use the resources we have to help McCain’s “Main Street” or Obama’s “Middle Class,” depending on your semantic preferences. Vast responsibility for the economic crunch of those with lower incomes is a direct result of myopic energy policy pushed by Al Gore and now promulgated by Obama. We’ve locked our own resources up in an environmental chastity belt. Somehow we moved from wise use of resources to enclosing them in glass, and that’s a ceiling many Americans would love to see carefully shattered.
Palin was also named chair of the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission. She had already served on Alaska’s Oil and Gas Conservation Commission.
Media desperate for ratings
When Katie Couric attempted to elevate herself from an “infotainer” to a journalist, hoping to lift her dismal ratings, she drilled Palin or tried to. Palin appeared more reserved than I think she really is, but she did answer the questions acceptably. If you don’t believe Couric turned up the heat for Palin, check out videos at YouTube of Couric interviewing other politicians, among them, Sen. Joe Biden, with that sweet girl-next-door smile she can muster when she puts her verbal, admittedly passive, fangs away. Couric did manage to inflict sortie-like damage on Palin, but it didn’t go very deep.
For contrast, consider the lack of a reaction from Couric when Sen. Joe Biden spouted his famous FDR-on-TV when the stock market crashed metaphor.
Some might ask if an “infotainer” unfamiliar with the Democrat iconic equivalent of our own President Ronald Reagan—and apparently unfamiliar with 20th century American history—is qualified to interview vice-presidential candidates.
The media will continue to hammer Palin, no doubt, and McCain as well. Going into this election, everyone assumed Obama would glide into the White House and then deliver one of those memorable Ted Sorenson styled speeches, much like John F. Kennedy. But McCain and Palin are fighting hard. Mass media leans left, and if you don’t believe me, simply pick a network or publication and do a search for campaign donors. Once Democrats and media realized the GOP candidates weren’t going to offer themselves up for roadkill, the strikes began. What, other than an all-out assault could be expected? How this could surprise or alarm a conservative is really bizarre. How this could make a conservative run scared is shameful.
The real Main Street
Palin is Main Street. Her kids, like mine, went to public school. Like me and like millions of other parents, she helped the PTA and if you want to learn down in the dirt politics, try being active in that organization. Those who dismiss it lightly do not have kids in public school. I have a total of 25 years of experience with both my children, and the PTA at times left tire tracks on my backside. Palin has served as a mayor and governor. Do you assume that was an easy path? She is already in the history books as a trailblazer.
Furthermore, she is a woman of strength and character. Most women upon learning their child’s chromosomes aren’t standard make a decision to abort the child. Not Palin. She took a righteous road in keeping with her faith.
She may not yet be a whiz on foreign policy. Despite myth to the contrary, nor is Biden. Check his record. Obama in my opinion is a whiz at rhetoric and eventually, you can count on him to be a whiz at taxes like every Democratic president before him. I puzzled over why the Democrats didn’t reverse their ticket, but then, they’d have lost the charismatic edge a Harvard lawyer brings to the cameras along with the message every politician since Caesar and even before his time has brought to the podium: hope and change. Show me a stumper that didn’t promise those in some form or fashion and I’ll show you a politician who lost.
During the first presidential debate, McCain said two words no candidate has uttered in the primary or at any point after—cut spending. Palin endorses that approach and it is my sincere belief that is the greatest need for our country, other than self-defense. If we continue to grow government, by the time our children are middle-aged, the wealth will be almost completely in the hands of the government and personal freedoms will not be far behind if they’re still there at all.
There’s a telling passage in a story about Palin from the Anchorage Daily News. The reporter questioned an Alaskan about Palin’s readiness as governor. The man responded, “She’s willing to come out and say, ‘This is what I know and this is what I don’t know.’ She’s not going to give you a line. I think she’s going to listen to people.”
So for those in the GOP who are a little nervous about Palin, I’ll say to you what I say to my daughters when they have a moment of weakness. Buck up. This isn’t a race for the faint of heart and your candidates need your loyalty as well as your support, both emotional and financial. McCain and Palin can do great things for this country if we let them. I firmly believe they will listen to Main Street and curtail excess spending because both have a record of doing that. And I trust McCain with national defense. I base my decision on history.
In 1986, Reagan was interviewed by Fortune magazine. Asked about his management style, he responded, “Surround yourself with the best people you can find, delegate authority, and don’t interfere.” I have absolute faith McCain will follow that advice. He already has. We have a sound, durable narrative. All we need to do is share it.
“Who’s Sarah Palin?” by Carolyn Lochhead (3-1-08); The San Francisco Chronicle
“Appeal came from being an outsider and a fresh face” by Tom Kizzia (11-9-06); Anchorage Daily News
“Don’t Be Down on Palin” by Kathryn Jean Lopez (7-31-08); CBS News, reprinted from National Review
“Reflections at the top: Gov. Palin rewinds her first year…” (12-1-07); Alaska Business Monthly