Sunday, October 5, 2008

Sarah Palin

What does Sarah Palin have to do with the South Lake Minnetonka area? Besides the fact that she wants to be our next VP, not much, but I wanted to write a post about her anyway.

I can't recall a time, with the ironic exception of Barack Obama's 2004 Democratic National Convention speech, when a political figure came from nowhere and became such an instant buzz in the news world. The core difference though, between Obama in 2004 and Palin in 2008, is that Obama was able to back out of the limelight after giving his speech and focus on a lower-profile Senate race, while Palin was pushed further into the spotlight.

If you read what journalists, commentators, and bloggers say about Palin, they act as if she is either a throwback to what is good and great about rising in American politics, or that she sadly represents someone unfit to be involved in public life, much less a run for the Executive Branch of the United States. Whatever they think, they think it very passionately. While we've known McCain and Biden for 35 years, and Obama for about four years, America has in five weeks formed a stronger and more passionate opinion, for better or worse, of Palin than of the other three.

People may say that McCain is the ultimate American loyalist or that he makes rash decisions and is volatile. People may say that Obama is the most intelligent person to run for higher office in generations, or that he is untested and we still don't know who he is. People could say that Biden is so safe because he has more experience than anyone else on either ticket, or that as a 35 year Senator, he is part of the DC problem. Whatever people think, they tend to be measured and generally rational. Not so with peoples' feelings about Palin.

With Governor Palin, it is no longer an examination of her public service record or stance on issues, but it rather becomes about her integrity, character, and competence as a human. I haven't see that type of strong and passionate reaction in any other candidate this election season. It begs the question -- can we effectively evaluate someone based on a four or five week PR tour, or should we ask the people who can speak to her actual performance as a public servant.

Governor Palin has the highest favoribility rating of any governor in the nation, having reached an enviable 80% at times. I would submit that at the state level, the decisions that are made, the things that are said, and the policies that are implemented by a Governor are examined more closely and more intimately than they are in the office of Senator. I would venture to guess that as a Minnesotan, you have a much more informed opinion of Tim Pawlenty's effectiveness than you would if asked about Joe Biden's or even Obama's or McCain's as a sitting Senator.

The people of Alaska have formed a more informed and intelligent opinion of Palin's effectiveness as a public servant than any of us could through one speech, two interviews, and one debate.

Which is why, even with a couple rough interviews, Palin deserves a fair look to me. These people are applying for a job, and we're the ones who do the hiring. She may not interview as well as Obama and Biden, but she has excellent references from her constituents. The ability to execute is sorely missing in DC, and I think the strong reference people of Alaska makes Palin a legitimate VP candidate on the GOP ticket.

I'm not taking a side on this, other than that a little more civility when examining our candidates wouldn't hurt. Palin is not some random person chosen from a small-town PTA meeting. She is the Governor of a State, and her constituents believe she is doing a better job than the constituents of the states run by Arnold Schwarzaneggar, Kathleen Sebelius, Bill Richardson, or Tim Kaine think they are doing theirs. That counts for something.

1 comment:

  1. I love Palin! She seems to me like she's totally honest and down to earth. She's not hiding anything (like Obama who won't release ANY of his past writings or work from Columbia or Harvard - this makes me wonder...). To be honest, to me, Palin has more experience than people seem to give her credit for; she's at least had to make executive decisions that affect a state and Obama can't say that he's done that. What exactly HAS he done? I wonder.