Many Republicans are having a love affair with Sarah Palin — or perhaps infatuation is a better word, as most don't know much about her beyond her charming demeanor and twinkling eyes that leave them feeling swept away.
The GOP faithful were jealous about the "enthusiasm gap" their party was suffering due to the young, charismatic and handsome Barack Obama. Now they have the young, charismatic and beautiful Palin to call their own.
But as the afterglow begins fading from Palin's Wednesday night speech at the GOP national convention in St. Paul, some party members are waking up to face sobering truths about her in the harsh daylight of the morning after.
No, I’m not referring to the fact that the Alaskan governor opposes abortion under almost any circumstance, vigorously supports gun ownership or doesn’t believe humans are responsible for global warming. Those are views she shares with most of her newfound followers.
I am referring to her views on more obscure topics that place her squarely on the loopy, far-right fringe of American politics, views that she carefully avoided in St. Paul.
These include her membership in The Alaska Independence Party, where she has advocated that Alaska should secede from the United States and form its own nation.
It also includes her frightening statement during a sermon she once gave at her Pentecostal church: “War in Iraq is a messianic affair in which the U.S. could act out the will of the Lord.” Depending on whose “lord” she’s referring to, that phrase could just as easily come out of the mouth of a radical Islamic jihadist.
Just a few months ago Palin said she didn’t know enough about the U.S. troop surge to determine if it was working. She’s obviously studied up enough since last week to declare at the GOP convention Wednesday that “victory is in sight” in the war.
More disturbingly, though, while Palin was mayor of Wasilla, she asked the town librarian if she “could live with censorship of library books.”
And with a straight face Wednesday night, she told the crowd in St. Paul that she opposed the so-called “bridge to nowhere,” a $398 million boondoggle pushed by Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska). But she initially supported the project and, as the Associated Press reports, “In her two years as governor, Alaska has requested nearly $750 million in special federal spending, by far the largest per-capita request in the nation.”
Yet none of these disturbing items give many Republican faithful a whit of concern. Their response shows they value style over substance.
Like most conservative Republicans, Palin relishes playing the role of martyr and placing the blame for her problems on the Big Bad Media. Except when Palin zealously courts media exposure that will benefit her.
As Politico.com columnist Roger Simon wrote, “Sarah Palin wanted the media to report on her teen-age son, Track, who enlisted in the Army on Sept. 11, 2007, and soon will deploy to Iraq. Sarah Palin did not want the media to report on her teen-age daughter, Bristol, who is pregnant and unmarried. Sarah Palin thinks that one is good for her campaign and one is not, and that the media should report only on what is good for her campaign.”
But, hey, the governor's a spirited little firecracker, so we can ignore all of that, right?
— Kevin Osborne