Sarah Palin's Bye-Bye
Resigning as Alaska's governor may have been the smartest move by Sarah Palin, a politician noted more for smarts than intelligence; it cheers her fans and confounds her enemies, including those in the media. Journalists have criticized their colleagues – never themselves – for being too hard on the ex-vice presidential nominee.
When selected by the leader of the national GOP ticket as his Number Two, Ms. Palin struck me as a cynical choice. She appeared the answer to Republican prayers: disappointed by Democratic candidate Barack Obama's failure to pick Hillary Clinton to run with him, women would shift wholesale to the Alaska governor's camp. Sen. John McCain's strategists hoped. She was noted as a forthright campaigner, not "afraid to speak her mind," as the saying goes. She did.
To quote this column from October 14, 2008: "Sarah Palin went on the attack, claiming Barack Obama started his career in the home of a 'domestic terrorist.' And emphasizing his father's Muslim religion, the man himself was referred to by his full name: Barack Hussein Obama." That was not one of the finer moments in American political history. Still some people understand.
Filling the role once assigned to Marylander Spiro "Ted" Agnew, any contender for the vice presidential office was expected to engage in negatives, leaving the leader of his ticket to play a "constructive" role. Nobody should hold Sarah Palin accountable for any of her public utterances during the campaign; she had Mr. McCain's knowledgeable advisors feeding her lines. Well, not all the time.
Somebody from his camp "leaked" that she spent a fortune costuming her family for national appearances; the amount varied, according to the print or electronic medium, from $120-$180,000. In any event, everyone agrees the governor and her supporters returned the items in question or paid back every cent. My point? Reporters and commentators were not her only detractors.
Ms. Palin's not universally revered among women because of her ultra-conservative viewpoint: she strongly opposes the idea that they should have control over their own bodies, i.e. abortion. She fights the concept of embryonic stem cell research, which most non-Catholic scientists support. She has Pentecostal roots; she attends an Assembly of God church when in Juneau, the state's capital.
Her opposition to abortion and stem cell research is not a matter of religion but strong conviction, which accounts for her base among women. Her strong and articulated views put her in disagreement with other conservatives, which encourages backers to think her one of a kind.
Considering her Pentecostal background, it seems a contradictory lapse she entered 1984's Miss Alaska beauty contest; she won second place but came out on top in the congeniality category. More recently, she posed for a photograph in a very-mini mini-skirt. My southern childhood included time out of New Orleans; in the Bible Belt Pentecostal women made efforts to hide their bodies. Generally, they still do.
Her contradictions form much of her attraction for her fans and followers. As one friend said, the feeling is that she's trying to find herself and what she truly believes.
On my part, I remain the cynic when it comes to politicians, and Ms. Palin earned that label; she ran in local elections, winning a term on the town council before becoming mayor. She lost the lieutenant governor's race before getting Alaska's top office.
Lest anyone suspect that misogyny lurks in this corner, I would remind readers this column enthusiastically applauded Anita Stup, Meta Nash, Fran Baker and, on occasion, Sue Hecht. In the current municipal contest, I favor Karen Lewis Young for the Board of Aldermen.
In my eyes, gender has little to do with candidates, although I have loved women all my long life.