Proud of Palin
Vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin introduces herself to the nation last night. (AP)
I was nervous last night as I prepared to watch Sarah Palins speech at the Republican National Convention. For me, it had been a politically emotional rollercoaster of a few days. Initially I was thrilled with the choice of Palin by John McCain (as I indicated on Friday). Over the weekend, as I heard more of her and heard increasingly positive feedback from others, I was only further enthused. On Monday, however, when news broke about her daughters pregnancy, I began to worry that perhaps she had not been vetted thoroughly, or that perhaps McCains choice of Palin had been made in haste as several members of the media opined. Was this going to end up being a disaster?
As I learned more about her vetting and more about the situation with her daughter, I began to feel optimistic about Palin again. I was helped along in this process by the astonishingly shameful way Palin was treated by the majority of the media. I cannot recall anyone in public life who was attacked so immediately and so viciously in her public and private lives. Left-wing bloggers spread lies about her and her family lies that were then shamefully passed off as legitimate leads by members of the mainstream media, allowing the falsities and innuendo to enter the national conversation. (Jeff, by the way, did an absolutely terrific job yesterday of rebutting many of the scurrilous untruths of the last week.)
When not chasing down unsubstantiated rumors about Palin, the national media the same folks who have, for the most part, allowed questions about Obamas qualifications for the presidency to go unasked now were suddenly laser-focused on the issue of experience as it pertained to Palins qualifications for the vice presidency. Again, the press has seemed largely unconcerned with the readiness of the man at the top of the Democratic ticket for the presidency, but the issue conveniently becomes preeminent with regard to Palin who, incidentally, has more executive experience than Obama, Biden and McCain combined.
(continued) Admittedly, I am frequently angered by the medias left-leaning ways, but the last few days of Palin coverage struck even me as beyond the pale. The double standards, the hypocrisy and the obvious bias were truly overt laid bare for any half-neutral observer to sense. Even still, the power of the medias own bully pulpit allowed them to set almost impossibly high expectations for Palins speech last night, and it was an understanding of just how well she needed to do to exceed their bar that I nervously began to watch.
As it turns out, I had no reason to be worried.
Almost as soon as she appeared from backstage, I was encouraged. She looked wonderful, she appeared confident and the reception she received from those in the convention hall was as thunderous as it was heartfelt. It was here that I actually became a bit emotional. Here she was someone little known to most Americans even a week ago, someone who had withstood an onslaught of media scrutiny in just a few days here she was, standing alone in front of tens of thousands of people (and tens of millions watching from home), and I was simply awed by her courage. And then she began to speak.
We learned a lot about Sarah Palin last night, including that she is probably the most gifted orator in the Republican party. Her speech was brilliant and her delivery was perfect. Her pace, her tone, even her facial expressions and gestures all were spot-on. She was humble, she was humorous, she was intelligent, she was tough and most of all, she was genuine. She possesses a rare and coveted trait for national politicians: a real ability to connect with the audience almost without having to try. She was and there are few higher compliments in GOP-land Reagan-esque.
Palin proudly introduced her family to America, including her expectant daughter and the daughters fiance. She implicitly addressed (and therefore likely diffused) the controversy about her daughters pregnancy by truthfully stating that her family was just like any other, with the same ups and downs the same challenges and the same joys.
Viewers were also introduced to her youngest child, Trig, who suffers from Down syndrome, and who, in one of the most endearing moments of the evening, had his hair lovingly smoothed by his 7-year-old sister.
Most Americans probably appreciated the introduction, but most also felt as though they already knew the Palin family in reflections of their own.
There is nothing remotely elitist or out of touch about Palin or the way in which she presented herself to the majority of the country last night. Therefore, many of the usual labels thrown at Republican candidates are simply not applicable in her case. In living such an incredibly full life as a wife, a mother and a politician, there is something about her with which almost anyone can identify particularly those small-town voters who (as Palin reminded us last night), Obama infamously declared cling to guns or religion.
By the end of her speech, I was proud. I was proud of Palin, I was proud of John McCain for choosing her and I was proud of the Republican party for the McCain-Palin ticket that will be officially presented to the nation tonight. Sarah Palin was a risky choice for McCain, and a pick with the potential for extraordinary success, but also the chance for embarrassing failure.
There are still many days between now and Election Day, and many more hurdles for Palin to clear along the way. But as one who had allowed myself to doubt her selection even a little bit this week, I can now be counted as a believer, and as someone genuinely excited to watch as she clears those hurdles and continues to wow the country.
There is no question that a Republican star was born last night, and whether her ascendancy leads to being elected vice president in November or not, I have a good feeling we will see Sarah Palin in the White House someday.