Wednesday, June 29, 2011
Ask President Obama's fans why they support him so vehemently, what he's accomplished to have earned him such high praise. Often these individuals are unable to respond with anything substantive. They may stutter, spout some nebulous hope and change jargon, change the subject, or--feeling trapped--simply hurl insults. There's really not much they can say, though, is there? He's driven up the debt, alienated our allies, bowed to foreign monarchs, hurt the economy with a drilling moratorium, ignored the voice of the American people by shoving health care down our throats, and played a lot of golf.
On the contrary, ask Governor Palin's supporters why we so relentlessly stand by her side, and responses are centered in her character, her record as a city council member, mayor, oil and gas commissioner, governor, reformer, business owner, vice presidential candidate, mom, wife, athlete, and coach. If there are some who cannot rattle off her record, all of that now changes with the emergence of Stephen Bannon's The Undefeated which leaves no room for doubts about her qualifications and accomplishments and her ability to lead.
In addition to the Governor's successes in offices held, her supporters will often express their appreciation that she is something so hard to find in public figures today. They often say it this way: "She's the real deal." Americans love a strong, solid record. We need it, and she's got it. We are also crying out for a real person, a person who can be trusted, a person who has a servant's heart. We're desiring a people's person. We sense that in Governor Palin. Upon meeting her for the first time, many come away feeling they've encountered a breath of fresh air. This seems like such a small thing, but after years of gagging from the stench of politics-as-usual, that fresh air has become our craving.
Governor Palin rolled into Pella, Iowa wearing jeans, mingled with the people, watched the film about her own career, signed autographs while eating a burger, and even made impromptu remarks at the conclusion of the film. Now, from what I can tell, she had no obligation to speak, but she delivered these remarks to a cheering crowd. I saw no teleprompter. I saw no notes at all. Yet I heard plenty of substance--comments about our founding documents, American work ethic and exceptionalism, the Judeo-Christian principles upon which we were established, freedom, the private sector, our vast natural resources waiting to be developed, and our position as a beacon of light in this world. Without using notes, without batting an eye, without fumbling for the next word or phrase, she spoke. Just to be sure, I checked with Shane Vander Hart who was there. He confirmed for me that Governor Palin used no notes.
Now, not using notes is one thing, but doing so as one speaks with sincerity and passion to the values and principles that matter most to people--to Iowans, in this case--is another. Iowans are serious about their state and their place in the process of electing leaders. Iowans pride themselves, in fact, on this. And last night, Iowans applauded, cheered, and relished in this moment, not because there was just another person, with another story, giving another speech, but because they knew that this person who could throw on some jeans, sit in the midst of them, speak from her heart to them, and chill out to eat a burger with them is the real deal.
President Obama once restarted a speech when his telempromper malfunctioned. He did not readily recognize that he was repeating what he had already said. That's what happens when what you say doesn't resonate within. It's just words. However, when you mean what you say, when you are what you say, then what you say matters--and people know it.
Governor Palin has had such an impact on people because she is the rare combination of experience, intellect, and authenticity. Unlike any declared candidate for president, she is the complete package, and she is the real deal. With this realization, perhaps we've uncovered not only why she is so respected by so many, but more importantly, why she is so hated by others. They don't despise her because they believe she is a fake, as they often accuse. Perhaps they hate her because she is not, and they know it. They know the same thing her supporters know: she is the real deal--and that, truth be told, scares the crap out of them.