OK, I'll admit it. I'm a convert.
Three weeks ago, I had no idea who Sarah Palin was or what she was about.
Then, I started researching running-mate possibilities for presumptive Republican presidential nominee John McCain, and noticed a grassroots effort to get the Alaska governor on the ballot. Her name seemed to be everywhere, and I started to wonder if it was a horrible trick, dreamed up by some lovestruck, basement-dwelling teenager with raging hormones and a vivid imagination.
The more I learned, the more I was amazed by this spitfire from the tundra. I checked with a friend who works on The Hill in DC, and sure enough, she was everything the Internet machine said she was and then some. My friend called Palin the GOP's "secret weapon," and said she's got the presence, the substance and the panache to change the election for McCain ... if only he'd consider her.
"Look her up," my friend told me. "You won't believe it. Call me when you do."
So, two weeks ago, I called her office and spoke with her press secretary, Sharon Leighow, who downplayed the "Draft Sarah Palin" campaign, saying the good governor has a "full plate" right now and, although she is flattered and humbled by all the attention, "Sen. McCain's campaign has not contacted our office."
As deflating as this news would appear to be to the Palinites of the world (and, indeed, she does seem to have a global appeal), I later discovered that one of the bigger items on her plate was the recent birth of her son Trig, who was diagnosed with Down's Syndrome. The newborn is Todd and Sarah Palin's fifth child. Their oldest, Track Palin, recently enlisted in the military.
The Palin family released this statement the morning after Trig Paxson's birth:
“Trig is beautiful and already adored by us. We knew through early testing he would face special challenges, and we feel privileged that God would entrust us with this gift and allow us unspeakable joy as he entered our lives. We have faith that every baby is created for good purpose and has potential to make this world a better place. We are truly blessed.”Three days later, Gov. Palin was back at work.
None of this information -- apparently -- is new, but it sure was new to me. Ever since McCain had sewn up the nomination, I had wondered who he would pick as his running-mate. To say I was less-than-thrilled with the field is an understatement. Out of all of the candidates on the slate, I liked the one person who was least likely to get the job: Texas Congressman (and former Libertarian) Ron Paul.
With apologies to Congressman Paul (for whom I still bear a very deep admiration), I have changed my mind -- for all the right reasons:
- Palin showed a commitment to her pro-life conservative principles by not bowing to the pressure to abort her mentally-challenged child. Rarely are one's convictions borne out by real-life circumstances, but Palin showed she's willing to live her beliefs.
- With a son in the military, Palin will be keenly aware of how her military decisions or the decisions she influences as vice-president will affect the men and women serving in the armed forces. With a son in the military, Palin and her family will have to grit their teeth along with other military families, as their loved-ones carry out the orders associated with those difficult decisions.
- At 44, Palin would offer a refreshing balance to the McCain ticket and nullify any advantage Obama would have with his youth. Plus, if Obama decides to bring in Hillary Clinton as his running-mate, Palin would effectively neutralize the female factor. Furthermore, Palin has a likeable style and toughness that neither Hillary nor Obama can match.
- Finally, Palin has earned a staggering 90-percent approval rating from her constituents, not the easiest people to please, I would imagine. Her committment to her principles and her willingness to follow through on promises makes her the toast of Alaska and, for now, the darling of the GOP.
Illustration courtesy of Ethan Demme
- Poll: Who Do You Think McCain Should Pick as Vice-President?
- Who Is Sarah Palin?
- Sarah Palin Brings Hope to Evangelical Voters
- McCain Fuels VP Talk, Meets with "Short List" in Sedona, Ariz.
**"UPDATE*** Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin: The Right Partner & The Right Running-Mate, August 29