“We are now standing in the face of the greatest historical confrontation humanity has gone through. I do not think that wide circles of the American society or wide circles of the Christian community realize this fully. We are now facing the final confrontation between the Church and the anti-Church, of the Gospel and the anti-Gospel. This confrontation lies within the plans of divine providence. It is a trial which the whole Church… must take up.” Karol Cardinal Wotyla (Sept. 1976)

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Sarah Palin: The Woman in the Arena

The Sarah Palin mystique will not cease because the ballots have been counted. She, barring Barack Obama, is the brightest political star in the country. America watched her over three months take an insurmountable amount of abuse, and still stay strong, composed, on message and optimistic.

Here is the best piece I have seen on understanding the Palin phenomena, written in the Wall St. Journal:

"George F. Will, Ken Adelman, Frank Fukuyama, David Brooks--these are just a few names on the list of eminent experts who have declared that Sarah Palin is what's wrong with the Republican Party.

Even if we were to add all their prestigious names to the list, however, it wouldn't be nearly as long as the line of people who stood in the cold wind of Pennsylvania to see Mrs. Palin last week.

The line outside the Heiges Field House at Shippensburg University was already growing long by noon, more than two hours before the doors opened for a Tuesday rally that wasn't scheduled to start until 5 p.m.

…Dressed in parkas or hooded sweatshirts, wearing toboggans or wrapped in blankets, they withstood an 18-mile-an-hour October wind as the late afternoon turned to evening and the temperature dipped toward freezing.

…[Palin] took her place at the lectern and tried to start her speech, but the screaming audience wouldn't let her until they'd screamed for another full minute.

None of her critics in the commentariat could ever draw such a crowd or generate such enthusiasm, and yet they do not hesitate to proclaim that she is "not close to being acceptable in high office" (Mr. Adelman), that her selection as John McCain's running mate is "irresponsible" (Mr. Fukuyama) and even that she "represents a fatal cancer to the Republican Party" (Mr. Brooks).

Popularity as a pathology? What Mr. Brooks and the others are saying is that these people who spend hours in the cold October wind for a chance to see Sarah Palin are too stupid to know what's good for them. "Listen to us," say the political experts.

Yes, the experts always know best. In September 2002, Mr. Will advocated "preemptive" war with Iraq, with a nuclear "mushroom cloud" as the alternative. Now, he denounces as "carelessness" the war he once urged, lumping Mrs. Palin into the same category of Republican error.

Mr. Fukuyama agitated for war with Iraq much earlier, signing onto the Project for the New American Century's 1998 letter to President Clinton calling for "a strategy for removing Saddam's regime from power." In the run-up to the 2003 invasion, Mr. Brooks warned that "the fog of peace" was blinding critics to the "menace" of Saddam. Among the advocates of invasion, Mr. Adelman took the cake, so to speak, by predicting a "cakewalk" in Iraq.

…Experts in Washington think themselves infinitely more important to the Republican Party than mere voters in Pennsylvania who stand in line to see the Alaska hockey mom who sent her oldest son to fight the war the experts once urged.

Our Republican experts don't fight wars or send their sons to fight them. They don't make hand-lettered signs and drive 50 miles to wait in the October wind for the chance to wave their signs inside an arena in Cumberland County, Pa. The experts don't seem to care about facts.

Among the facts the experts ignore is that the Republican Party was in deep political trouble long before John McCain picked Sarah Palin as his running mate. The total popular vote in the Democratic primaries (36 million) was 70% larger than in the GOP primaries (21 million), and McCain's 9.9 million primary votes represented just 47% of the Republican total.

On Aug. 29, when Mrs. Palin was announced in Columbus, Ohio, the Gallup daily tracking poll showed Obama with an eight-point lead. Twelve days later, the GOP ticket had surged ahead by five points."

Palin will remain a force until the 2012 elections, and a threat to the Democratic Party as a whole. She has had a taste of the national scene and she is a driven person. From last Tuesday on, she will no longer be gagged by the McCain camp and will be able to speak directly to the American people without filter. Her power will come from the ground up, which is the hallmark of any great leader.

When seeing Governor Palin take such abuse during the campaign, I thought of a famous quote from another great American maverick:

"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; because there is not effort without error and shortcomings; but who does actually strive to do the deed; who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly. So that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat." - Teddy Roosevelt

A quote was never meant more for Sarah Palin!

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