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Am I Worthy, Sarah Palin?

Just a few thoughts about what I’ve learned ever since John McCain showed the wisdom of his years in choosing Sarah Palin as his running mate.

Like a lot of people—and this may be even more true of women, though I know Sarah has impacted the lives of many men, as well—my life has changed considerably as I learn more and more about this incredible woman.

Nevertheless, I have to admit she intimidates me. She’s done so much! If only I had had the insight or the gumption to be a Sarah Palin so many years ago, who knows where I would be now? Really, who knows?

For starters, I never realized that it could be effortless to have a fulltime job and raise five kids. I mean, I only had two kids and did my share of complaining. Ask anyone. Check my e-mails.

Truth is, I was a single mother raising kids and maybe that was the flaw right then and there. I wasn’t living in a one-man, one-woman marriage. No wonder I was stressed. No wonder I couldn’t fire a gun or pioneer a Latter Day Conehead up-do. No wonder none of the other mothers nominated me for vice president of the PTA.

I just spent my time wallowing in my ineptitude without realizing that with every, every day I was growing in every, every way. And surely, by the time I’d had five kids I would have gained enough experience to know that it—it being even the most incredible thing, like maybe becoming Vice President of the United States of America—can be done. And done with style.

Makes me feel bad, actually. My kids are mostly grown now and my mistakes are mostly made. I mean, look, I used to think it was a really good thing that neither of them has gotten pregnant. Now I just wonder if it means I hadn’t stressed enough of a pro-life position in their formative years. And if one of my daughters had gotten pregnant, would Dr. James Dobson of Focus on the Family have been as supportive of me as he is of Governor Palin and her brood? I think not! Everyone knows that a single mother’s moral turpitude leads to a direct correlation to promiscuity in the teenage years. In other words, the pregnancy would be my fault, my own fault, my own grievous fault.

So I don’t know. I now question the decisions I’ve made in my life. I mean, why didn’t I have more kids so I could have gained more experience in this role? I’m beginning to think that if Sarah Palin had been a radio talk-show host addressing the problems faced by contemporary women, I might have been better at being a full-time working mother. I might even have decided to run for elected office. I look pretty cute behind a podium.

Anyway, since Sarah’s ascendancy, my life has changed in other ways, too. I used to think that sexism meant a woman’s gender was being used as means to either enhance—but more likely—diminish her stature as a human. All throughout Hillary’s campaign I held fast to the notion that she was being unfairly treated because she was a woman. I admit I cried during her concession speech. I figured that if Hillary couldn’t do it, there was no way in hell any other woman could.

Boy, did I get a slap in the face! As well as a re-education on what sexism really is.

Here’s the thing: If you’re a woman, it’s not about what you know. And maybe it’s not even about how you look—though pundits never leave that bad doggy alone. It’s about grit. Whether or you have it or not.

Now, now, wait a minute, ye Hillary-ites. I can hear you: “Hillary’s the Queen of Grit. She knows her stuff, she’s tough, seasoned, hard-working and holds up amazingly well in facing the slings and arrows of the American political drama. Plus, she survived her husband’s support during the campaign. We’ll see her again in 2012.”

Dream on, babies. The grit I’m talking about has nothing to do with knowing the issues or understanding what the duties are of various elected officials (like the Vice President of the United States). After all, to paraphrase Mike Huckabee, Sarah doesn’t need to know that now. She’ll learn on the job. She’ll hit the ground running.

So the grit I’m talking about is having the—which is it?—balls or temerity to see herself as a trailblazer for women who want to wear bold eyeglasses. It’s about recognizing that it’s OK for a woman to avail herself heavily of braggadocio as long as she can still claim to be not only a hockey mom, but a loyal sister, one who lives by the words “God help the mister, who comes between me and my sister,” and “God help the sisters, who come between me and McCain.”

I mean, do I have that kind of gumption? No, I do not. And I feel myself all the poorer for it. But I still believe there is hope—for me, and for all women who think hard work, education, experience and an open mind are the best qualities of a politician, regardless of gender.

I don’t know about you, but Sarah Palin has changed all that for me. She has raised the bar for what it means to be a woman of gumption, grit, grooming and garrulousness. She’s become a kind of new role model for me.

I’ve already talked to my hairdresser to see if she could do the Conehead up-do. She gave me a strange look, but she supports Obama, and before that probably Hillary. I’ve also talked to my dentist about getting done whatever needs to be done to get that Sarah-licious smile. He hasn’t gotten back to me yet.

(And I’ve also dropped a few hints to my girls about teen-age pregnancy. Like the Kawasaki 704 glasses, a pregnant daughter may be the new de rigueur accessory. I know, I know—their bodies, their choice. At least for now.)

—Jo Page

jograe@yahoo.com


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