Weighing in on Sarah Palin

September 6, 2008
I was as stunned as anyone when news broke about Alaska Governor Sarah Palin being selected as John McCain’s vice presidential running mate. 

I’ve been quiet because I’ve really had to think this one through.  My emotions have been conflicted and swinging wildly.   I’ve had a little more time to think, to read about her positions, and, of course, to watch her masterful performance at the Republican convention.

Here are a few of the thoughts I’m wrestling with:

• Did Sarah Palin give one heck of a political speech during her debut on the national stage as she accepted the Republican’s nomination for vice president?   Absolutely.  As a communications specialist who has worked with hundreds of leaders on their presentation skills, I know a pro when I see one.   She mastered the teleprompter early in her career the same way I did:  as a TV sports broadcaster.  

• Do I believe John McCain’s gambler’s decision to put her on the ticket could turn out to be a stroke of political genius?  Yes.   Her combination of confidence, sass and style make her a formidable opponent on the campaign trail. 

•  Are communications skills enough?  To get elected, perhaps.  To govern, absolutely not.  And that brings me to some of my conflicts.

• Am I an advocate of the benefits to our whole society of more women ascending to senior leadership positions?  Yes.

• Do I believe that having a woman named to a major party’s presidential ticket for only the second time in U.S. history will further expand our nation’s cultural template of women as leaders?  Yes.

• Do I feel mixed reactions to the idea of a working mother with five children, including a special needs infant and a “special needs” adolescent daughter, taking on one of the most challenging jobs in the world?  Yes.   Unless, her husband is the full-time parent. 

• Do I smile in delight at how far our culture has come when I see a father holding his infant son and applauding as his wife takes the spotlight?  Absolutely.

• Am I amazed at the irony of listening to the family values party, which has a long history of criticizing “working mothers” as putting their careers before their children, cry “Foul” and “Sexism” at any insinuation that Governor Palin may be biting off a bit much at this point in her career?  You bet.

• Do I wonder what Senator Hillary Clinton must be thinking as she watches Sarah Palin stroll through the 18 million cracks she personally hammered in the ultimate glass ceiling?  Oh yes. 

• Do I wonder if Senator Obama is thinking he may have miscalculated in believing that he could win the women’s vote (54% in the 2004 presidential election) without Hillary Clinton’s help on the ticket?  Most definitely. 

I don’t agree with Governor Palin’s politics.  

But I’m glad she’s on the ticket and I can’t wait for the debate with Senator Biden.  But most of all, I continue to be amazed at  how this campaign has given us one compelling example after another of how dramatically our country has changed.   I’m holding my breath on what’s happens next. 

Stay in touch with Anne

Sign up here to receive special messages from Anne about current topics.