"Palin hit one out of the ballpark," "The governor passed the test with flying colors," "Sarah came, Sarah saw, Sarah conquered." Whatever accolade reporters used for Sarah Palin's superlative performance last night (made all the more remarkable by the fact her teleprompter went down), two conclusions can now be drawn. The obvious one is that Sarah provided the GOP's army with an instantaneous surge of energy and pride. The second is that she came up with a new (and shallow) metaphor for Obama that I hope will follow him for the rest of the election.
Sarah's speech, a skillful blend of biography, patriotism, McCain-praise, and Obama-bashing, reminded me of a cross between Jimmy Stewart in Mr. Smith goes to Washington and Sally Field in Norma Rae (two of my favorite political movies!), but more importantly, showed honestly and effectively who she really was—and is. Whether delivering zingers aimed at herself, "What's the difference between a hockey mom and a pit bull? LIPSTICK!," Obama's experience versus hers, "I guess being a small town mayor is sort of like being a 'community organizer,' except that you have actual responsibilities," or Obama's experience versus McCain's, "Some candidates use 'change' to promote their careers," while others, "use their careers to promote change," Palin delivered both the punchlines and political slogans with equal aplomb. Still, it was Palin's description of Obama's acceptance speech that struck me the most. "For after the crowd leaves, and the lights are dimmed ... and the Styrofoam Greek columns are hauled away ... what are you left with?" Palin pondered.
With Sarah (as her "stage" clearly showed), you are left with an actual impression; a family that is loving, but imperfect. Palin makes no attempts to hide these flaws, for she has learned that true joy comes from accepting the responsibility of life's imperfections, not from fleeing them. Meanwhile, Obama's dream, at least from a distance, appears perfect, but upon closer examination is much like the Styrofoam columns Barack substituted for the real thing. Obama's call for the care of the downtrodden sounds good, but is exposed as hollow when it is shown that his solution to society's most vulnerable—the ailing and the unborn—is to destroy them. For the man who would be a god or (if elected) could become an Antichrist, Palin has chosen the perfect symbol. Styrofoam (like evil), never completely goes away, but it is easily broken if approached from the right angle. Last night, Sarah Palin proved herself to be the perfect vice-presidential candidate, both in her ability to celebrate what is good, and in her skill at tearing apart what is not.