Sarah Palin

Sarah PalinWe’ve always tried, on this blog, to avoid politics. It’s divisive, and not really what the site is about. But I feel strongly about a politician, for the first time in a while, and wanted to write about it. So, we’ll set aside the rule for now.

As most of those of you who read here know, Jeri and I lived in Alaska before moving to Washington state in 2005. I’d lived there, off and on, for a big chunk of my life, from 1969 until we moved here. So yeah, I’m an Alaskan, even though I live in Washington. I’ll always identify with the place.

Alaska politics is odd mix of not immensely sophisticated and weirdly chaotic. Alaska has been a “red” state for many years, but with an odd penchant for mavericks and oddities. Sometimes relatively conservative Democrats do well there, perhaps the best example being ex-governor Tony Knowles, former governor and mayor of Anchorage. Of late, the Republican Party has been wracked with charges of corruption from state legislators up to Senator-for-Life Ted Stevens. The Alaska GOP has for years assumed its supremacy and often paid the price for that arrogance. Politics in Alaska have generally been a mix of amusing and exasperating. So, you know, like most places.

Me, politically? I tend a lot to sit on the fence, uncomfortably, as a moderate, but have leaned Republican and conservative for the most part. I split from the party here and there, somewhat strongly…gun control, for example. I totally agree with Obama’s point from his convention speech that we can still honor the First Amendment and keep AK-47s out of the hands of criminals. I am not evangelical about politics (or most things, mind you), but I don’t suffer fools gladly, especially disingenuous politicians. I’m sick to death of rhetoric. I’m bone weary of two plus year long campaigns for federal office. I think most politicians – not all, but most – are suspect. I find Rush Limbaugh equally repellant as James Carville; I’m tired of the BS from both of them. Jon Stewart is absolutely my hero – even though I don’t agree with his politics – for going on CNN’s Crossfire a couple of years ago and telling those idiot pundits to shut the hell up: they were hurting America. And lo, CNN heard and cancelled, and it was good.

I went to high school for a couple of years with Sean Parnell, Sarah Palin’s Lt. Governor. Played football with him. I don’t consider Sean to be a close friend or claim any sort of “in” with him…I just like him; I think he’s a thoroughly decent guy who in my few dealings with him has been genuine and honest. I’ve never met Governor Palin, though, but I think she’s cut from the same cloth as Sean.

Enough background. I’ve decided, after some initial trepidation, that I am totally stoked about Sarah Palin being the Republican vice presidential candidate. Here’s why.

It’s not because she’s a woman, any more than I’d be stoked about Barack Obama being black, or me being a fat guy from Poulsbo. To me, that should be and is irrelevant, and I truly believe we are never, ever going to get over discrimination until we quit worrying about it and move the hell on. We’re different racially, religiously and sexually, and that’s sometimes interesting, sometimes troubling, it sometimes causes us to act differently, but worrying about that so much is about three-fourths of the problem. If the being a woman part of it impresses me, it’s because she frickin’ gave birth 4 months ago (men still can’t do that) and never skipped a beat doing her job. And I complain when my feet hurt! I do “get it” that being a woman puts her in a hole with some people. I just think that’s their problem, not mine.

No, I’m stoked about Sarah because I think she’s really, truly different as a politician. Her honesty is important to her. Getting the government out of people’s way, but using it as tool for the common good is important. Corruption, to her, is loathsome, and she doesn’t give a crap who the bad actor is, they deserve no place in government and she pushes them out. She appears (and I say “appears” because how the hell do you really know, absent direct inside knowledge) to be a great family person. As I watched her speech in Dayton accepting McCain’s offer, I was struck by the time out of that few minutes she had to be introduced to America that she took to talk about her family, in particular her husband and oldest son. Unlike many such platitudes from politicos running for office, it struck me as very genuine.

I also have feeling that while she would love to win this election, if she doesn’t, she’ll be quite content to go home and watch her husband Todd win another snowmobile race and, oh yeah, run the largest land mass state in the country, one loaded with natural resources we’re going to need to manage. Or maybe go shoot a moose. I doubt she’ll go off wailing and gnashing her teeth, gain weight, grow a beard (well, figuratively) and sulk. Why do I think this? Because before McCain called the last time she talked about the VP job she not only downplayed her chances, but laughed a bit about the office itself; the proper attitude, even though I do think the position is important given McCain’s age.

I like that the mistakes Palin makes, like maybe not being the best debater, not having the pat answer, seem to be mistakes of honesty, not lying. This thing with the ex-brother-in-law state trooper is an overblown piece of muckraking crap, with the chief rake-r being a guy she beat handily in the last election. My take on that whole thing: the trooper in question is a bad guy, who I wouldn’t want carrying a gun as a public protector. If she can’t force his firing, if that’s what happened, regardless of who he was married to, then what the hell is her job, anyway?

I do think experience is an issue. It’s one in her favor, ultimately, to me. She has no experience in Washington DC – and other than that meaning she’ll have to learn how to wade through the crap, I think that’s good. She’s been running a state the last two years while Obama, McCain, and Biden have been, well, running for President. She’s been in the executive branch; the other three are legislators…lawmakers, not leaders. Foreign policy? Well, other than personally having a multinational background genetically, what does Obama have more so than Palin – voting on State Department funding? Isn’t that why we have career diplomats and experts? The details are up to them, the policy is up to the President. It’s a wash, folks, at worst for Palin, in spite of what you’ll be hearing.

So, I’m dropping my overt political indifference to say, give Sarah Palin a look. Forget the pundits, the Fox News screamers, the Air America snits, and the Monday morning quarterbacks of the network news. I feel better about a national politician than I have in a long, long time.

I just hope I’m not jinxing her.

Note: For a different, but equally positive, take on Sarah Palin’s newly-minted candidacy, check out Alaskan blogger Jim Wright’s excellent summary at Stonekettle Station.

11 Responses to “Sarah Palin”

  1. Vince Says:

    After Jim’s post, some research I did on my own, and now your post, I can say I wish she were running for president. No, I don’t agree with her stand on some issues. But her honesty and her willingness to stand up for what is right even when cronies from her party are attacking her for “disloyalty” is a huge thing in my eyes.

  2. Leanright Says:

    I knew I liked her, but now I really know why. Thank you for your insight.

  3. Becca Says:

    I think that she is the smartest thing that McCain could have done. I hope that she whips the Republican party into shape, something has to, and if it is her, all the better. Here comes the proverbial outsider! I like her no nonsense style!

  4. Jeri Says:

    While I’m really happy that a female politician that I admire is getting such tremendous recognition, I think the fact that she is a female candidate is really secondary to McCain’s campaign strategy. I believe the reasons McCain selected her are twofold:

    First, they share a passion for political reform, for a maverick approach to financial and ethical straight dealing. Do they get it perfect every time? No – no one does. But it’s a huge commonality and I don’t see how McCain could have selected a running mate that didn’t make that a top priority.

    Second, and more subtly, Palin makes up for a major failing in McCain’s arsenal. I don’t know if McCain is self-aware enough to understand this, but his strategists surely are. McCain attracts only lukewarm support from his party because he’s just not a charismatic leader, not a warm and appealing personality type. Palin, on the other hand, is charming. She’s honest, direct and disarming, and may help make up for his deficit in that area.

    The experience thing? Well, sometimes experienced leaders get thrown into a job like this one and fail miserably – and sometimes inexperienced leaders jump in over their heads and succeed beyond their wildest dreams. I don’t think there’s any preparation for the job of vice president (or president) of one of the largest nations in the world – you sink or swim.

    As a note – I lean further left than Bryan. My politics are a little left of center – I often describe them as small-l libertarian. I disagree with Sarah Palin on many major points of her platform – but it still doesn’t stop me from being very, very excited for her as a professional woman, a working mother, and a breath of fresh air for our nation’s political climate.

  5. Eric Says:

    Governor Palin may be an awesome human being. And she may be an awesome Governor for Alaska, in tune with her constituents’ needs and hopes and desires.

    But if McCain is elected, she will be, as the cliche goes, a heartbeat from the Presidency. And it’s reasonable to think a 72 year-old man who has had recent brushes with cancer and is entering one of the most stressful jobs on the planet might not make it through his Presidency.

    Which means I have to look at her not as a nice human being, but as someone who might be leading my country. And I don’t merely disagree with her: I vehemently think she’s wrong about the environment and reproductive issues. If she were a co-worker, I’m sure we could argue and laugh about it later over a beer. As someone who could be nominating Supreme Court Justices, vetoing health bills and education bills with controversial-but-necessary provisions concerning birth control, and who would be the Secretary Of The Interior’s boss, I find her a little terrifying.

    It’s not a criticism to say someone shouldn’t be President Of The United States. It’s not a slam to say someone shouldn’t be Vice President. And I’ll freely confess that the odds were always against Senator McCain choosing a running mate who would share my values. Regardless, I’m not excited by the Senator’s choice and I’m not okay with it. I respect and value what you’ve said here and what Jim Wright has said, and I’ll admit that my first take on Governor Palin was full of snark that was not wholly informed or deserved. But she doesn’t need to be within 30′ of the Oval Office unless she’s attending a Governor’s Meeting with the President.

  6. Shawn's MOM Says:

    I saw Shawn today, he’s not feeling well so I made him Chicken Soup. We talked about his blog and he told me some stuff I didn’t know, one was if I click on the name It will take me to their blog or something like that. Anyway I picked yours to try it because you said your MOM and I would get along. Any way now I should comment…I think you write a lot!!! I probably will not visit often because I don’t usually have time to read all that. However, I read it and I am more impressed with her than I thought I’d be. It’s good to know there’s more there that being female. Thanks.

  7. Bryan Says:

    Thanks for your comments, everyone.

    Eric, I also respect your position, which you put respectfully. Nothing you said was a slam, or snarky, and I’m glad for that, we’ll let the party hacks and the pundits play that game. Your problem is an ideological one for the most part, and that’s fine. In terms of the experience thing, I agree with what Jeri said…and put yet another way, what first term President ever has experience being President? What succeeding Vice-President does? No one. Not one of the 4 main candidates, Obama, Biden, McCain or Palin, have a stitch of experience as President. Only one of them has experience as an executive branch leader. That would be the one in question here.

  8. Beast Mom Says:

    “We’ve always tried, on this blog, to avoid politics. It’s divisive, and not really what the site is about.”

    You’ve done a good job presenting your thoughts. I found this post helpful.

    Thanks for accomodating my off-blog request. ;)

    -bm

  9. Leanright Says:

    At best, at least the person with less experience is at the bottom of the GOP ticket; not the top of the ticket, as Obama is.

  10. keeskennis Says:

    “What’s the difference between Sarah Palin and Barack Obama?”

    “One is a well turned-out, good-looking, and let’s be honest, pretty sexy piece of eye-candy.

    “The other kills her own food.”

  11. Jeannice Says:

    Sarah Palin is a good leader. i can say that because she did some projects in alaska that helped lots of people .