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Rebecca Sive Headshot

What Does Sarah Palin Want? It Looks Like She Has What She Wants

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For the last day or so, male political pundits have been obsessing about what Sarah Palin wants with her bus tour.

I just read Huffington Post writer Jon Ward and then listened to Brian Williams and Chuck Todd sputter about this.

How dare Palin not tell the mainstream media what her schedule is and where she is going to be when. How dare she make the guys have to chase her down.

I say good for her. Why not give the guys a run for their money?

Now, I'm not a Sarah Palin fan when it comes to policy. She and I are on opposite sides of the fence when it comes to most every issue. Her personality doesn't really appeal to me either. Except for one notable quality, the one that's driving these guys crazy.

Palin doesn't play by the boys' rules. Not even close. Worse yet, she has risen in the last few years from the mayor of a small town in the middle of nowhere to being one of the most important people in the world without following their rules. How galling, and that's putting it mildly.

Now, some might take issue with my calling Palin important. They'd agree that Palin is famous; they might even call her a celebrity and not say it pejoratively, but they would not agree that she's important.

She's just too lightweight on the policy front and on the experience front. They'd say we are very fortunate John McCain lost, so that Sarah Palin isn't just a couple steps from the Oval Office.

The some who would say this are mostly Democrats like me; people who find Palin too light as well as too right.

But I'm now rethinking Sarah Palin. Seeing the attention she's getting (so that people will pay attention, whatever she decides), seeing that she's gaming the mainstream media but still getting mainstream coverage, I'm now taking the measure of just how much Palin has accomplished as she forces the guys to play by her rules.

Think about it: Palin has maintained the public's focus on her. No mean feat in the maw that is our political and media world. Second, Palin has provided a roadmap for another woman, Michele Bachmann, to build a path to the presidency. This is an historic achievement. Certainly, no Democratic woman has done this.

Last Saturday I read this piece in the New York Times: "The Women Who Would Be President." Reading those words made my heart skip a beat. They made my heart sing. I did a double take.

I wrote recently about the "buried lead" when I wrote about Mayor Emanuel's invitation to the swearing-in of Chicago Treasurer Stephanie Neely and City Clerk Susan Mendoza. Chicago has never had two women holding citywide elected office before. Yet, Mayor Emanuel wrote about this swearing in as though it were just an everyday occurrence. No one blinked an eye.

Well, I'm feeling the same way about that New York Times piece. As far as I know, no one blinked an eye when it ran. Then, no one blinked an eye when the Times reported on Palin's arrival at the Rolling Thunder rally and called her the woman who might be president.

If this isn't the soundbite Palin wants, she sure has positioned herself beautifully for whatever she does want. And that's a considerable accomplishment, especially when you haven't played by the rules. Heck. Just to be talked about as a person who might be president would make Newt Gingrich roll over in his political grave right about now. And he followed all the rules. He even wrote some of them.

We are living in interesting times, to paraphrase the Chinese proverb.

"May you live in interesting times" is how that proverb goes. Interestingly, it's referenced in Wikipedia along with two other proverbs: "May you come to the attention of those in authority," and "May you find what you are looking for."

Hmmm.

Who needs to slavishly satisfy the mainstream media when you've already come to the attention of those in authority and certainly found what you're looking for -- an international platform, a place where everyone knows your name, a perch from which to run whenever you want for whatever you want.

When us girls used to dream about who would be the first woman to run for president in modern times, our dream was always about the perfect woman: perfectly smart, thoughtful, rational, educated, considerate, serious, and it goes without saying, obedient. Sarah Palin doesn't fit this mold. Yet, after Hillary Clinton, who had some unique advantages enabling her to run for the presidency, Sarah Palin is the woman who would be president. Nothing perfect about her, other than her hair and make-up.

Those who know me know I generally favor the outlier, the non-traditional approach, the person who dares speak to power, gets away with it, and makes a difference for the rest of us. So, maybe it's no surprise I'm saying these things about Sarah Palin.

Though if I were picking I'd sure rather have Hillary Clinton be my president, I'm tipping my hat to Sarah Palin. I'm thinking that it is Sarah Palin, a woman who dares make the guy media scramble, who shows up in black leather and no pearls, who fails, oh holy of holies, to even send out a press release, who would be the woman who would be president.

When you follow the rules, you just get lost in the crowd.

Think about it: to be singular in achievement, you have to be singular in presentation. Certainly, Barack Obama's success would bear this out. He was different -- way different -- than anyone who had ever run for the presidency before, in the combination of his qualities and his life story. People were curious to hear what he had to say; they listened; they liked what they heard; they voted for him.

I think millions of Americans are similarly curious about Sarah Palin. After all, how dumb could she be if she's gotten this far? What's the matter with a woman who dares the establishment? Maybe that's what we need right now.

Now, if only she were pro-choice and against oil drilling and the death penalty. I might get on the bandwagon, too.

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