We went. We saw. And Sarah Palin conquered

Published 9:50 am Wednesday, April 28, 2010

I have a confession to make!

I know that the “smart people” in the world are telling me that I shouldn’t affiliate with her. My hometown newspaper editor opined, “She’s unpredictable and makes the party look silly.” Columnist Garrison Keillor thinks she’s “perky” but not legitimate. Skipping the eloquent condescendence of the Old Scout, others simply call her stupid and a liar — or a moron. On the Internet you can watch her gender counterparts on the “View” dissect and question her intelligence. Still others think that she is a “conspicuously unintelligent right-wing media personality.”

In spite of all of this good advice, I couldn’t help myself -— and thus my confession: I attended the Sarah Palin event last week in Minneapolis.

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Wait, there’s more. I enjoyed it.

My wife came with me, we cheered, and I (swallow, long dramatic pause) like Sarah Palin.

What the smart people don’t get is that the more they jest Palin’s pedigree, the clearer it becomes that she is just like the rest of us. Early in her speech, she won over her crowd with one simple truism, “What I like about you folks in Minnesota is that you sound like me.” Of course, she meant her accent, which has also been criticized.

Yet, the look in people’s eyes told more — the former Alaska governor made them feel that a normal person (like them) could make a difference. In one more sentence — “Washington is addicted to OPM (sounds like opium) Other People’s Money” — she summarized one of the greatest concerns on people’s minds. She is likeable, speaks straight and is able to touch people’s hearts — the “Palin Effect” as explained in one recent article.

She also instinctively understood the implications of the huge policy shift President Obama recently took — from deterrence to appeasement — on national defense. Obama recently removed nuclear retaliation as an option against countries that use chemical or biological weapons against us. While Obama has not abandoned the American “speak softly and carry a big stick” approach, he has indicated that he feels that we should carry a smaller stick. This is a legitimate policy discussion that we should be having as a country, not some crackpot idea dreamed up by Palin. As explained in USA Today, this was a “major shift in the nation’s security policy.”

What the smart people don’t like is that Sarah Palin quickly framed this discussion in terms we all understand — standing up to the playground bully. I don’t have to agree with her on every issue, nor support her for president, but I do appreciate her ability to initiate and simplify the dialogue.

If you’re curious, you can easily find the Palin and Obama exchange on the Internet. Obama’s response is interesting as he first indicates that he is not going to respond to Palin, but then does by pointing out that he is more likely to listen to the “smart people” than Palin.

I for one will keep listening to Sarah Palin as she seems a lot like the rest of us here in Minnesota — just trying to make the world a better place.  Thanks for listening. I feel much better having come clean on this one.

Matt Benda is an Albert Lea attorney, community advocate and lifetime member of the Republican Party. To view this column with links to cited reports and articles, go to www.tiltingagainst.blogspot.com.