Monday, September 15, 2008

A Place Like This

Rod Dreher over at Beliefnet has a good take on Jan Hoffman's article in today's NYTimes about the beauty shop in Wasilla, Alaska where Governor Sarah Palin is a regular.

It's a piece that says a lot more about Palin than its placement in the "Fashion & Style" section may seem to indicate.

Dreher's reflection reminded me of why I too am still rooting for the Alaska Governor -- despite the many negatives that Sully keeps articulating by the hour.

From "Sarah Palin, steel magnolia":

This is where I came from, a place like this. These women are the kind of women my sister and my mother are, even though they live in a small town far, far away from Alaska. I could be reading this story about my own town (except whitetail deer would replace bear).

Reading this story, I understood more than anything else I've read about Sarah Palin why she's made that gut connection with so many Americans. She really is from a small town, and does not seem to have forgotten that. Think about the powerful message this sends to small-town, rural and working-class voters. Think about what it says about the place she comes from internally, and how she interprets the world. This is a woman who goes to the small-town beauty shop to trade hunting stories with her girlfriends, and to pray with them through their crises -- and she didn't stop going there when she became governor of the state.

Obviously no criterion to select the second to the most powerful man on earth, and I'm not arguing that it is, so don't be obnoxious in the comboxes. But if you are going to extend your empathy to the African-American who votes for Barack Obama because he sees in Obama something deep and important about himself, and finds that makes Obama trustworthy, you have to extend your empathy to the small-town, rural folks who see the same in Sarah Palin, and have confidence in her. Her experiences have given her a certain place from which she judges the world, and it's a place shared by tens of millions of Americans -- men and women whose views and values are scarcely represented in American newsrooms.

I'm from a place like this, too. And, I think that recent, first-hand knowledge of towns like Wasilla, Alaska, and McDonald, Pennsylvania, would be a good characteristic to have in a VPOTUS.

Yes, I wish Governor Palin had traveled to more places around the world and had more first-hand knowledge of foreign policy issues. Yes, I disagree with her on some significant policy positions (evidenced by the post below and the links to Sully above).

But, I still like her. I like that a young, pro-life woman who served in local government and had the courage to challenge the party bosses could rise to the second highest office in the land.

The NYT photo above is credited to Jim Wilson. Caption: LOCAL COLOR Jessica Steele of the Beehive salon, where Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin has been a client.

Hat-tip: The Anchoress

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