I have spent years as a political groupie and an observer of the personalities who played major and minor roles on the political scene. Living in Washington for decades, I knew many of the political figures who appeared on and off the stage, including Presidents, Senators and Congressmen.
Before my literary career gained traction, I ran a number of political campaigns for both Democrats and Republicans and can say, with modesty, that I understand how the system operates. I have seen political stars rise and fall for reasons both deserved and undeserved.
I do admit to a centrist position as my personal political doctrine. Admittedly, I am, like many novelists, more of an observer than activist and I do feast on argument and contention as a learning experience.
Having reached the age of entitlement, I say what I think, however outside the mainstream of prevailing opinion and I do believe in the polite laws of debate. I love hearing contrary views, listen carefully, applaud and encourage them in others and passionately refute them without restraint or personal animosity.
All that said, I vociferously disagree with obtuse entertainers like David Letterman and the vast Army of media mavens and talking heads who have been bashing Sarah Palin. It disgusts me.
Governor Palin, to my mind, is the ideal of a certain type of feminine achiever, a role model to a vast majority of women who have aspirations to have it all, meaning marriage, motherhood and achievement in a profession that requires hands on leadership skills. Others might not consider this path the paragon of female aspirations nor does it disparage them to offer her as an example.
Imagine, this full time devoted mother and wife, a woman of tireless energy, who brought down the old boy network in her home state and worked her way into the Governorship and is considered one of the most popular Governors in the United States to be the object of the vilest personal attacks in modern political life.
One might argue as Harry Truman did, that if you can’t take the heat stay out of the kitchen. Indeed, our political life has been filled with vicious accusations of sinister motives hurled by journalists, talking heads and political enemies against people with whom they disagree. Every politician knows he or she is fair game.
While I don’t agree with Governor Palin on every issue, I admire her achievement, her pluck and her remarkable restraint in the face of the worst underserved drubbing of a political figure in modern memory. I’m not an Alaskan or a Midwesterner but I do know of her remarkable achievement in pushing a gas pipeline that will carry Alaskan gas through Canada to warm the homes of many Midwesterners. Even her enemies will acknowledge this as a major accomplishment after years of fruitless negotiations by others.
As Americans we all have a right to excoriate our politicians, to vocally blast them when we think they are wrong, but I do think that remarks like those of an insensitive TV host insulting a 14 year old child is beyond the pale, in fact nauseating. What devoted and loving mother or father wouldn’t kick back when their child is insulted? Remember Harry Truman writing that letter to the music critic who wrote an insulting review about his daughter’s singing. Every politician who knows the sting of such criticism should have come to her defense and the idiot host should have apologized. Are you listening Carters and Clintons?
Sarah Palin, whatever you may think of her, has proven that she can take care of herself. She may not be some Ivy League hotshot, many of who have screwed up the country in the last couple of decades. She may not speak with great rhetorical flourishes or offer an image of gravitas so beloved of talking television heads. Indeed, she may even be too attractive to be taken seriously by those who expect their female politicians to be more matronly, prefer pants suits to dresses and not be burdened with the messy mommy problems of child rearing.
I need not wonder how Michelle Obama would have reacted if some TV host had disparaged her two beautiful girls. Mr. Letterman would not have been able to sit down for days.
Those like myself, who celebrate the rise of women in our society after years of restriction should be defending Sarah Palin, especially in this instance, not demeaning her.