Not much can get me out of bed at 6:30 in the morning. Despite the best of intentions, not even a shot at seeing Sarah Palin in the flesh.
So, instead of lining up outside Borders on Tuesday morning, I did the next best thing: I listened to KVOR-AM 740, the conservative talk radio station. Richard Randall was interviewing Palin supporters who had braved the weather to obtain a much-coveted wristband for that evening's book signing.
I was entertained by such sound-bite gems as, "Sometimes doing the right thing is the best thing" (sometimes?) and, "She believes in freedom!" (because, you know, apparently other politicians are anti-freedom).
Luckily, lack of said wristband did not make my night any less rewarding. And listening to KVOR proved solid preparation for a different slice of Colorado Springs life. Roughly 800 fans descended upon Chapel Hills Mall to see the person many expect to be the Republican presidential frontrunner in 2012. And while most I talked to had not yet read her 400-page rumination on "real American values," they were able to regurgitate many of its themes, mostly in their surprisingly similar reasons for supporting her:
"She's real. ... She's honest. ... She's down-to-earth. ... She's a normal person. ... She's not a typical politician. ... She stands up for what she believes in."
For some odd reason, my tape recorder seemed to have a mind-erasing effect on many of those people.
Me: What policy issues do you agree with Palin on?
Palin supporter 1: Pro-life. There was another one that I was really, really attracted to, but I can't remember now.
Palin supporter 2: I think she ... has a lot of good ideas and I respect her.
Me: What are some of the ideas she has that you like?
Palin supporter 2: Umm ... my mind just went blank. I'm sorry, why don't you let them answer that.
Palin supporter 3: She likes to go against her own party line.
Me: When has she gone against her party line?
Palin supporter 3: When she was governor of Alaska she went against the GOP. I can't remember what it was for, but I remember reading about it.
Some supporters did articulate reasons for supporting the former VP candidate: Jennifer Cowley talked about Palin taking on "Big Oil" in Alaska; Adam Scarborough mentioned her executive experience as mayor and governor; Mary Marks liked her "drill, baby, drill" mentality.
For the most part, however, those folks were outnumbered.
Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on which side of the aisle you sit on), this doesn't matter. The great thing about democracy is that everyone gets a vote, regardless of knowledge or engagement, and Palin has re-energized a party that just a year ago was pronounced dead in the water.
Her simple, straightforward tome is a modern-day Conscience of a Conservative. She makes a solid case for the importance of local politics and her experience. She has a simple, blunt way of saying things (see: "do-it-yourselfers" and "kick-butt, tell-it-like-it-is soccer moms") that has wide appeal. She weaves in personal images of trucking her daughter Willow around to city council meetings, nursing Piper during radio spots, eating Caribou lasagna, and changing Trig's diaper before the biggest speech of her life.
She is vulnerable and authentic when owning up to certain mistakes along the road, like supporting another candidate for Wasilla's City Council over her mother-in-law and criticizing Hillary Clinton for "whining."
Perhaps most importantly for her 2012 prospects, she delicately distances herself from John McCain by making a scapegoat out of his nebulous, impersonal "campaign headquarters." But no insults toward McCain.
Sharp. Savvy. Dangerous? Maybe.
One thing I know for sure: I came home with an autographed Christmas present my mom will love. Hopefully she won't mind the snarky comments scribbled in the margins.
Kristin Lynch is a local writer and Indy contributor. Visit her Web site, springstoaster.com, for local gay news and podcasts.
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