I wonder how many television hosts and “journalists” tuned in to Sarah Palin’s interview on “Hannity” this week, waiting with bated breath for her to say something they could try to distort. And the more she says “this isn’t about me,” the more they make it about her.
Let’s enter the world of Sarah Palin for a moment.
If she grants interviews to Oprah or Barbara Walters, she’s accused of wanting to be a celebrity. If she denies those interviews, she’s labeled a coward.
If she’s quiet when viciously attacked, she’s accused of hiding. If she speaks up, she’s described as injecting herself into the story.
If she addresses health care reform, bailouts, and QE2 via columns, Facebook, and Twitter, she’s accused of not engaging in unscripted conversations. In 2008, she was criticized by many for calling it like she saw it and going off script at campaign events.
When she resigned as Governor, she was labeled a quitter. I assure you that if she hadn’t resigned, she would have been painted by many as a self-centered hypocrite who didn’t care about Alaska. They would have argued that she prioritized the preservation of her political future over the fact that frivolous ethics charges against her were draining the resources of the governor’s office.
The truth? Many on the Left and Right are ready and willing to pounce on Sarah Palin’s every move. The question is why. And the answer is simple.
She’s just a regular person like you and me. But she’s a regular person who has managed to pack convention halls and book signings, to release two bestselling books, to launch a successful and unconventional television series, to boost the ratings of every television show she has appeared on – and she has done it all just by being herself. No help from the GOP establishment, no help from the media elite, and no help from any you-do-for-me-I-do-for-you deals with big shots. To top it all off, she’s – heaven forbid – happy.
The worst part for the elites? While running a city and a state, she managed to keep her values intact. She sustained a successful marriage and prioritized her children. She kept smiling and loving life. She even made time for those 5 a.m. runs.
To the business-as-usual politician and/or media hack, she’s simply maddening. So, they respond by saying she’s not smart enough. (Translation: She doesn’t speak our pretentious language.) Or they claim she’s too controversial. (Translation: She stands by principle, even when it’s unpopular.) Or they declare she’s not presidential. (Translation: She doesn’t play by our rules, and that scares the crap out of us.) Or they insist that her TV series proves she’s not a serious politician. (Translation: If she pulls a Reagan, we’re screwed. And why didn’t I get offered a TLC show?)
Palin’s work ethic, record of achievement, and commitment to principle inspire many ambitious Americans. Because they get that she’s not a superhero, but a hard worker. And if she can do it, so can they.
But to the insecure, to those who feel the need to tear you down in order to lift themselves up, Palin is an absolute nightmare. Because she’s “not going to sit down…not going to shut up.” Because in the face of vicious attacks and death threats, she continues to prove that she’s bigger and better than those who play dirty. She continues to prove that her family and her faith are her anchors. And she continues to prove that her commitment to principle is impervious to their constant digs.
I’m often asked what my perception was of Palin after my November telephone interview. Political components aside, the truth is that I found her to be a regular person. When I picked up the phone, she said, “Hey Jedediah. It’s Sarah.” There was no pomp and circumstance from start to finish. There were no assistants. There was no nonsense.
Most importantly, she wasn’t afraid to just be herself. And to those who spend their lives trying to be who they think people want them to be, nothing is more infuriating.