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July 7, 2009

Hail and Farewell, Sarah Palin

Patricia A. Kelly

Sarah Palin just announced her resignation as governor of Alaska, effective July 26, 2009.


Pundits claim that this is her attempt to capitalize on her fame, market her book to make money and set herself up for a bid for the presidency. They question whether it is a good thing for her, and whether it will help her. They criticize her planning and her speech.


She said that she doesn’t want to float along as a lame duck, and that, perhaps, she can accomplish more for change in America out of office. She also implied, attempting to put a positive spin on this through her spokesperson, that she is a liability to the governorship of Alaska due to the constant public attention she attracts.


Ms. Palin won an award this year, voted the most vilified celebrity in America. We’ve all heard of the David Letterman remarks and her response. I wonder how George Bush or Barack Obama would have reacted if the joke had been about their daughters. How come Mr. Letterman felt so free to say such things about her children when it has been generally agreed in recent years that the children of celebrities deserve privacy? I don’t even think it matters which daughter. It should have cost him his job.


What does it say about our society that Sarah Palin is the most vilified celebrity in America, above Governor Rod Blagojevich of Illinois, accused of attempting to sell President Obama’s Senate seat?


Let’s see. She’s from a humble, middle class background. She graduated from college, became involved in local Alaska politics, and was successful enough to become a respected Alaska governor. She was nominated by Sen. John McCain to run as vice president of the United States on the Republican ticket last year.


She has been happily married for many years to an “ordinary” guy. They have five children and appear to be a very close-knit family. She’s the mother of a soldier serving in Iraq. She is the mother of a special needs child. She is the mother of a young woman who became a single mother and who is now raising her child and attending college with a plan to become a nurse. This child has spoken out publicly warning girls about the risks of teen pregnancy. Governor Palin’s husband is a hands-on father. The children and the grandson appear frequently with both Governor Palin and her husband and appear to be very close to their parents.


Governor Palin, like most Americans, is a Christian. She attends church regularly.


She is beautiful, and her husband is very handsome.


What’s not to like? What does it say about our society that this woman is the most vilified celebrity in America?


What does it say that her own campaign staff dumped her, relatively unprepared, into the lap of the wolverine newscaster Katie Couric, renowned forever in my mind for asking the dad of the little South Carolina boys drowned by their mom, Susan Smith, if he ever thought about how the boys felt as the water was rising above their faces?


What does it say that Governor Palin’s own campaign staff leaked information regarding the expense of her clothing during the campaign? What does it say that her own campaign staff was more interested in ruining this woman than in having their own candidate win the presidency?


What does it say that working, feminist mothers demanded that Governor Palin stay home with her handicapped child instead of campaigning for the nice presidency? Would they have even considered doing the same?


What does it say that they laughed behind their hands at the announcement of her daughter’s pregnancy, blaming the governor’s teachings about abstinence? How many of them, those women who teach their daughters about birth control, have found their own daughters in the same position? Did they laugh then?


So many people so filled with anger and hatred for Governor Sarah Palin. I can’t put my finger on why.


Is it because she is pretty, successful, normal, independent, physically active, happily married, pro-life, conservative Christian? Is it that she combines independent conservatism and fundamentalist Christianity with the life of a working mother whose husband does a lot of child care? Is she some sort of a threat, and, if so, to whom?


I just can’t put my finger on it. To me, Sarah Palin seems like a normal, successful woman, someone worthy of emulation


Whatever Governor Palin decides to do, whether to drop out of politics as one of her friends predicted, or run for president, I think her decision was reasonable under the circumstances. I wish her well, and I admire her – this unusual, ordinary woman.


Bon voyage and welcome to the next step, Sarah Palin. You’re amazing.



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