Tuesday, May 15, 2012
Sarah Palin: This Liberal's New BFF
When I had to chance to interact with former Republican vice-presidential nominee Sarah Palin at SkyBridge Capital's SALT conference, I was surprised to discover that she is intelligent, nice, knows the name of the newspapers that she reads, and has an elaborate tattoo on her ankle.When I asked if I could take a picture of Palin, she graciously asked if I wanted to take a picture with her knowing I was part of the "lamestream" media.
On the way home from the SALT conference, I ran into her at the airport. She was walking behind me and called out to me. Since airport security was escorting her, she did not have to say hello. Even though, they wanted to help her with her bag, she insisted on rolling it on her own. She offered to take another picture at the airport with me. She was the opposite of the prima donna that she has been portrayed to be. When I was walking to my seat in coach, I saw her talking to her seat mate.
Palin is even more beautiful in person. There is never a hair out of place. She is always perfectly dressed for the occasion. She was dressed in all black -leather jacket, shirt, skirt- but tan 6 inch sandals that showed off her tattoo. At the airport, she looked smoking hot in a short dress and Bristol's cowboy boots.
While I do not agree with her positions on the Affordable Care Act and abortion, it is pretty clear that she has been unfairly maligned by the press. I have to wonder if some of the reaction is because she is a pretty woman.
It was easy to unlock the mystery of Palin's newspaper reading habits. When I told Palin that I had written for the Jerusalem Post, Haaretz and Globes in Israel, she responded without hesitation, "I get the headlines from the Jerusalem Post delivered to my inbox daily. I also look at the Times of Israel."
The Times of Israel is a fairly new site, financed by billionaire Seth Klarman and edited by David Horowitz formerly of the Jerusalem Post, with a right of center viewpoint. Many Jews are not yet familiar with the Times of Israel yet, so that she named it tells me that Palin is looking for reliable news from the Middle East and regularly reads newspapers.
Some of the SkyBridge conference attendees were going to boycott her speech. To me, they are just as ignorant as they claim her to be. The conference organizer, Anthony Scaramucci, had the right answer for protesters -"Get over it."
She did make a foreign policy mistake during her prepared remarks. Palin wrongly criticized the Obama administration for military interference in Egypt and Libya but not Iran and Syria. Obama only utilized his bully pulpit at all. The protesters in Tahrir Square achieved the downfall of former President Mubarak all by themselves without any outside interference. Clearly, Palin's expertise is not foreign affairs.
Palin spends a lot of time hunting and fishing. While I know my Arab states, I could not hook bait on a fishing rod. We can not label as unintelligent those that do not share our interests.
Having grown up hearing in the financial industry's mantra of "what did you do for me today," I was a little bored listening to recite 3 year old tales of her gubernatorial fiscal restraint. I did perk up when described the $47000 killer shrub. If she is going to continue to be relevant, she will need to come up with new material. Jokes about the GSA will only take you so far.
Her calling of the 1 percenters in the room "unsung heroes" made me queasy, but all Republicans worship the rich. Embattled Harbinger Capital's Phil Falcone, whose major investment is bankrupt LightSquared, is not my idea of a hero.
She is still defensive about the bad press. At one point, she said, "I can really see Russia from my house."
She reminded the audience, "I had four days to prepare to go on the international stage." Even though I am in the news business, I do not always have time to read newspapers and watch newscasts. Sarah Palin is a busy mother of five that likes to spend her free time hunting and fishing not watching television. That does not mean she is not intelligent. It just may mean that she is not as well informed as news junkies are.
When Scarmucci of SkyBridge Capital threw her the softball question of what is your greatest accomplishment to date, Sarah froze and could not come up with an answer. On the other hand, she gave a beautiful answer to her three guests at a dinner party. She would catch and cook beer battered halibut on Mother's day for her son, who would be home from Afghanistan; Abraham Lincoln, whose Secretary of State Seward purchased Alaska from Russia; and author C. S. Lewis.
Palin is clearly intelligent. She is just not glib. John Edwards is glib, but I think that can all agree not very smart. We as a society have to decide which is the more important attribute for a politician to possess-glib or smart.
My prediction is that Palin will be a major force in the Republican Party for years to come. She has a good grasp of the issues that she cares about and knows how to frame them in a way that Middle America understands.