With their lawn chairs and sleeping bags, Gwen Martin and her daughter Addie camped on the sidewalk outside the Borders bookstore on Sawmill Road for 20 hours to be among the first in line for Sarah Palin's autograph on Going Rogue.
"Ask the 15-year-old," said Gwen, 51, of Lockborne, nodding to her daughter as they left the store last night, books signed.
Like a long-ago 15-year-old seeing Elvis or the Beatles for the first time, Addie broke into tears.
"Because no matter what Sarah says, she can back it up," Addie struggled. "She's a great person to look up to because so many people say bad things about her and she doesn't let it get to her. In her, you can see that self-confidence matters, yourself matters, and you can achieve anything you want to."
I wanted very badly to attend the book-signing event with Sarah Palin at Borders last night, but since I hadn't purchased my book at Borders, and since I had to work (and no way was I going to spend Thursday night outside the bookstore for a coveted spot), I realized I wouldn't be given the opportunity to have a book signed anyway. Plus, it ended up that the promised bracelets given to the first 1000 people weren't going to guarantee anything. Sarah's press folks gave the word to Borders that only 500 people would be allowed to go through the line, after those 1000 bracelets had already been distributed.
But I was there in spirit. One of questions I often hear from pundits, radio news personalities, and newspaper reporters is this: What's the big deal? Why does Sarah Palin cause such a ruckus? Well, aside from the fact that Hillary Clinton created her own brand of "ruckus" and President Obama caused people to faint or feel a shiver going up their legs - I'll take a shot at why I think people are gaga over Sarah Palin.
The 15-year-old nailed it. Everyone knows that teenagers are full of uncertainty and struggle with self-esteem. They can spot "real" a mile away. It is at precisely that point in their lives when everything is magnified - a friend's loyalty, a clique's inclusion, the embrace or rejection of a love interest. They are looking for heroes and as often is the case - heroes are hard to find. Perhaps more so than ever.
It seems as though everyone, especially politicians, are looking for an angle or gaming the system. Very few seem to have principles worth fighting for. This, is what I see as the miracle of Sarah Palin. She has come from "the wrong side of the tracks" political-wise. She wasn't raised a blue-blood Republican, her family didn't belong to an expensive country club, and of all things, she hunts wild animals! In fact, as I read her book, she sounds like many average Americans. She started early in life working and doing jobs that quite frankly, I don't think I could do. (Cutting open fish, for instance, and retrieving the roe for caviar. Aptly called working on the "slime line." Ick.)
Sarah Palin was basically raised in a town that had little use for phonies and social climbers. She didn't care about impressing anyone with anything other than hard work and character because that's what rural Alaskans care about. So it's no surprise that once she landed on the national and international scene, she operated from the same blueprint she drafted in Alaska. Work hard. Play nice. Love God and your family. Serve your country with honor.
And most Americans in this country looked at each other in shock and said, "Wow. When did they let one of us into the hallowed arena of inside-the-beltway Poli-Olympics?" Because there are no gold and silver medals but payoffs and bribes; events held on Senate floors where Olympian old lions throw big words around, taking great gasps of air to impress the judges. Meanwhile, the American people are on the side saying, "Hey there. We're over here."
The miracle of Sarah Palin is that she is us. She is that 15-year-old who yearns to stand up to her condescending 'mean girl' classmate. She is the middle-aged white man who just lost his job to cheap computer labor in India. She is the black conservative who feels ignored and belittled by her own race. She is the crowds of tea party protesters who are tired of Washington's politics-as-usual games.
Sarah's (and I love how people refer to her as "Sarah," as though the former governor of Alaska is their best friend) enemies try to relegate her popularity to looks alone. Which is such a hoot because they howled to the moon when Hillary Clinton wore a low-cut blouse and was, in their eyes, unfairly dissected for such a move. Sometimes a blouse is just a blouse and sometimes a fortysomething woman looks gorgeous in a pair of running shorts. But did the media continue to hammer on Clinton's looks? (Well, some of them did.) For the most part, they focused on what Clinton was saying.
Sarah Palin is saying something, too. But the media, blinded by their hatred of someone who refuses to bow down to their rules for conduct, is attempting to strike back by sniping about Sarah's looks or her family. It is delicious payback that Sarah has ended up outselling Hillary Clinton's book by 100,000 on her first day - without pimping the book on tons of TV shows or strong-arming supporters to buy her book for outrageous amounts of money at fundraisers.
Sarah Palin is the real deal. Not an airbrushed magazine cover. She wears her heart on her sleeve when it comes to showing the love for her country and many Americans are blown away by it. That's why we love Sarah Palin.