My dad and I (two Democrats) watched Sarah Palin's speech to the Tea Party Nation Convention on C-Span last Saturday night. I don't know why I have this compulsion to view all things Sarah. I asked my dad why he wanted to watch and he said because she is "goofy." I wouldn't characterize her that way, although her views seem a little simplistic to me.
I was intrigued by the fact that CNN, C-Span, MSNBC, and Fox News all carried it live and the Huffington Post had it as their headline story. In fact, MSNBC even had a panel discussion on what she said. You would think it was a political campaign or something, not a keynote address at a leaderless, fractured new political party convention in Tennessee.
I guess I am not the only one fascinated by this political anomaly named Sarah Palin. I've read polls that say a majority of Americans would not vote for her to be President, yet here she is, the Republican commanding all of our attention. Would Newt Gingrich get that kind of press coverage? How about Mitt Romney or Mike Huckabee? I know that I would never tune in to anything they would say. Boring!
Love her or hate her, Sarah is entertaining. I found the content of her speech to be hashed over conservative talking points I have heard again and again from Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and Glenn Beck. Yet there was something in her folksy delivery ("How's that hopey, changey thing workin' for ya?") that was strangely appealing. I can see how the approach of relating to the common folk can attract certain fans.
And the fact that (as she calls it) the "lamestream media" keeps attacking her only emboldens her supporters. She has a way of driving the left crazy and rallying the right to her side.
Palin likes to stir up controversy and say things to needle liberals. At the question and answer session after the speech she brought up "Divine Intervention." She is like a George W. Bush in a skirt. We should ask, "How did that previous Divine Intervention work out for us?"
I can see how her social conservative views would seem extreme to some; she is a pro-choice, anti-gay rights, fundamental Christian. But what worries me is her world view. As for the war in Afghanistan, she quoted Ronald Reagan in saying "We win, they lose." How profound! She would probably escalate the number of troops and have us mired in a no-win-war for decades.
Also troubling is her economic outlook: lower taxes, cut spending (except of course for war), and let the markets take care of themselves. In other words, the very principles that got us into this mess to begin with.
If her views are a carbon copy of other conservative politicians, why does she get all the publicity? Is it because she is an attractive woman? Is it because she is a Washington outsider, a self-proclaimed "maverick" from a distant state?
Is it because she has charisma and the ability to touch people (like Bill Clinton saying "I feel your pain")? Or is it that the hostile political climate right now in Washington has so turned off the electorate that they are searching for someone who can relate to them?
As a feminist, I have often defended Palin against what I felt was sexist treatment from the press. But this does not mean I agree with her views or think she would make a good President. I was a strong supporter of Hillary Clinton and could very easily imagine her as Commander in Chief -- Sarah Palin, not so much. Maybe it's because she is too much like "EveryWoman." I am fascinated watching her but I am uncomfortable with the thought of her in charge of the nation. Not because she is a woman, but because of her beliefs and her conservative talk radio advisers.
One thing is clear. Sarah Palin is here to stay and will be part of the political landscape for some time to come. We might as well get used to it and just enjoy the show.