In my wildest dreams, I never imagined that my heart-of-hearts choice for vice president would be picked. But she was. And it was Sen. John McCain's selection of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate, not Sen. Barack Obama's convention acceptance speech, that was the talk of last Friday morning, Aug. 29, and through the Labor Day weekend.
And the talk has been good. Except, of course, among many mainstream media pundits, Democrat partisans, and MSNBC, the all-Obama, all-the-time cable network that seems positively confounded by the choice.
A hockey mom, up-from-the-ranks political figure, mother of five (including a newborn special-needs child), whose commercial fisherman, union-member husband now is more of a stay-at-home dad, Palin's dead center in the mainstream of middle class American life. That her oldest son, 19-year-old Track, is a soldier on his way next month to Iraq only makes her that much more appealing — she's got one of her own in harm's way. As the father of two in the military, it means a lot to me to have our leaders in the same boat.
Watching her Friday with McCain in Dayton, Ohio, I couldn't help notice the military parent blue star pin she was wearing, the same kind of pin I wear.
Right on the issues, she's made social conservatives giddy with delight. James Dobson, head of Focus on the Family and so far a harsh critic of McCain, now says he'll pull the lever for the GOP ticket come November. Pro-life, pro-gun, pro-family, pro-military, pro-union (her husband, Todd, is a member of the Steelworkers), pro-energy production (like most Alaskans, she favors drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge) — where it counts, she's pro.
Palin is also appealing as a reformer, having taken on the entrenched Republican establishment in Alaska on everything from energy to earmarks. With her record of reform and overturning the tables of Alaska's political moneychangers, she's a genuine instrument of change.
As soon as she was inaugurated, gone were the state trooper security detail, the private cooks, and the private jet — Governor Palin drives her own car, something Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels might care to emulate.
She doesn't pussyfoot about when it comes to going toe to toe with those whom she regards as putting their interests ahead of those of the people — this lady has guts.
In 2004, she quit her $122,400 a year job as head of Alaska's Oil and Gas Conservation Commission in protest over restrictions placed on her that prevented her from speaking out about ethical abuses by others on the commission. Those others were Republicans.
And she came out foursquare against the poster child for earmarks, the "bridge to nowhere," a pet project of another Republican, Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens.
Contrast her willingness to quit a high-paying job over matters of principle and integrity to Obama's unwillingness to quit a church with a fulminating anti-American pastor until intense media scrutiny and increasing public pressure forced his hand.
Nicknamed "Sarah Barracuda" in high school because of her aggressive play on the basketball floor (she nailed a free throw in the final seconds of a 1982 state championship game, despite having a stress fracture in her ankle), Palin has demonstrated the same take-no-prisoners approach in politics. One Alaska commentator on the talk shows remarked how the woods are full of the broken bodies of those who've crossed former beauty queen Sarah Palin.
That her statewide approval rating hovers between 76 percent and 80 percent says that Alaskans are more than satisfied with Sarah Barracuda's style. Voters in "The Last Frontier" like someone who demonstrates frontier values and frontier virtue — values and virtue that once were hallmarks of the American West.
Any mention of her relative "inexperience" (she's been Alaska's governor not quite two years) serves to highlight Barack Obama's own inexperience, since he's been in the U.S. Senate one year longer than she's been in statewide office. He's also but one of one hundred senators, while she's the CEO of an energy-producing state.
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