It’s been twelve days since the announcement that rocked the American political world. Since then, a lot has been said and written about the selection of Sarah Palin, Governor of Alaska, as the Republican candidate for Vice President of the United States. I’ll do my best to avoid repeating any of that.
Let’s just start out with the question, “What is the most unusual thing to occur because of this selection?” The answer? That Sarah Palin, even with some obvious shortcomings in the area of perceived Vice Presidential qualifications, has taken the Republican electorate by storm and done more or less the same to many independents, and has completely captured the attention of all facets of the Media.
Please read on.
Democrats confirm my assessment by their wild thrashing about as they try to find something, anything, to use against her and therefore against McCain. I mean, a twenty-point swing in some polls that seems to be the result of her nomination and appearance at the convention? That’s more than a post-convention bump, more than a storm; it’s a hurricane with tornado sightings. She’s made Barack Obama abandon much of the time he had set aside to attack McCain; instead, he’s attacking her, and doing it very clumsily. At the same time, she’s turned Joe Biden into one of those life-size cardboard cutouts, the kind you see at supermarket openings and movie premiers. When he is noticed and heard from, he wishes he hadn’t been.
That leads to the key question, “Why did she create such a sensation?” It’s partly because of her political assets, but it’s more than that, and more than the sum of all of them. It’s more than her executive experience, her beauty, her femininity, her obvious intelligence, her family, her values, her public speaking ability, her belief in Life, her approach to life, her integrity, her history of putting the people of Alaska and now of the US first, her obvious sense of humor, her pre-political history (this covers a lot of territory, such as “she is not a lawyer; she didn’t go to Harvard or Yale”), her religious beliefs, her respect and love for the country, her conservatism, her small-town background, her courage, her openness, her friendliness, and her quick wit, although that’s quite a litany of admirable characteristics; one that stacks up favorably against Joe Biden and/or Barack Obama.
But none of those, nor all of them together, are reason enough for her to have captured the imagination of the American public. They’re not reason enough for the Democrats to have forgotten about John McCain as they try to undermine the support they see building for Sarah Palin, Vice President. (It would be interesting to know if McCain expected this outcome, but it seems to me to be unlikely. Or rather, it’s unlikely that he expected it to this degree.)
Indeed, many of them are qualities that she shares with some established, and other young up-and-coming Republicans. Tim Pawlenty, Mitt Romney, Kay Hutchinson, Meg Whitman and Bobby Jindal were all mentioned as possible VP’s. Throw in some other names for good measure–Sam Brownback, Mike Huckabee, Fred Thompson, and George Allen—and you have a list of people who would make fine Vice Presidents, and some of them would have a pedigree of goodness as weighty as that of Sarah. But none of them would have energized the Republicans or frightened the Democrats as Sarah has done. And that’s because she fills a vital need within the party that none of them could fill.
Let’s talk about “femininity” for just a moment. The Democrats (and others) seemed to think at first that she was chosen as some sort of talisman who would mystically draw Hillary’s Democrat voters into our camp just because she’s a woman. I hope they still think that, but I doubt it. Only the severely mentally-challenged would accuse her now of being on the ticket as a token woman, although she is undoubtedly very attractive to those who want to see a strong and able woman do well. (Speaking of Hillary, mentally stand the two of them side by side, and all of Hillary’s faults just seem to be magnified tenfold.)
Let’s mention that “public speaking” talent. Back when Tim Pawlenty was being dragged across the trail in front of us, I wrote something like, “I just hope he’s a dynamic speaker. They’re in very short supply in our party.” Boy, did I get my “dynamic speaker.”
But that still doesn’t come close to explaining the phenomenon, and that isn’t the primary vital need she fills. She is far more than a dynamic speaker, she’s a dynamic human being, with a personality that jumps out of the TV set or the radio (imagine that) and grabs you by the lapels and says, “Listen to me. I’m telling you that I share your outlook on life and politics and energy, I know what you want to happen, and I can get it done.” Even though we all know that the job of Vice President isn’t worth a bucket of warm something, that idea doesn’t even enter our mind.
That is far beyond persuasive speech. It’s the quality of the rare person who is comfortable speaking to thousands, even on the first try, the person who can overcome a faulty teleprompter and improve her speech on the fly. (The post-convention pundits were so very complimentary about her “flawlessly delivered speech,” but “can she speak extemporaneously, without the words in front of her?”) It’s the quality of someone who connects with her audience as if she were speaking one-on-one. In that respect, she has a talent we’ve been lacking for years.
But the reason she has bowled over the Republicans and the Media is that she more than fills that vital need I mentioned—and she overwhelms it. What is the need? What does she do better than any of the others? It isn’t really what he does–it’s what she IS.
She is a STAR. Verbosely put, she is Nicole Kidman, Katherine Hepburn, Lucille Ball, Grace Kelly, Ronald Reagan, Harry Truman, Teddy Roosevelt, FDR, JFK, Margaret Thatcher, Winston Churchill, Johnny Unitas, Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Ty Cobb, Reggie Jackson, Tiger Woods and Michael Phelps in the making, and the making, it is obvious to everybody (although, we could be wrong—but I don’t think so), isn’t going to take that long. Compared to her, everybody else is LBJ and Hubert Humphrey. Perhaps my enthusiasm is running away with my judgment, but I have no doubt that (barring unforeseen events) after her term as Vice President she will become the next President of the United States, and neither do the Democrats.
With a star of this magnitude, only one name is necessary.