SARAH PALIN IN PERSON
Sir Saunders and I brought the wives and kids and my in-laws to Polk City Saturday to see Sarah Palin speak.
Polk City was much closer than I thought. We made it in about 30 minutes. It’s one of those little cities between Orlando and Tampa that urban planners tell us will one day be swallowed within the Orlando/Tampa greater metropolitan area. For now it is like a lot of areas of Florida that retain their conservatism.
Polk City is represented by Adam Putnam. He also represents my parents in Davenport. And although Sir Saunders and I live 15 minutes apart, he is represented by Ginnie Brown Waite and my guy is Ric Keller. They are all conservative Republicans one way or another with their little quirks. The Putnam people were handing out stickers and I volunteered to wear one for the sake of unity.
The event happened at the Fantasy of Flight, an aviation museum that I had seen signs for. Sir Saunders once took the boys on a bi-plane ride there. He will die with no experience left undone, I think.
The gates opened at 9am and we arrived around 10am. That kept us from getting a close spot in the hangar, but it also kept us from being on top of every other person there. We had to go through medal detectors, but that was problematic with me pushing Abby through in her stroller. They were pretty easy-going about it unlike the security for the two times I saw Bush in 2000 and 2004. If you looked a secret service guy in the eye at the Bush event he would rip your guts out with his stare back. Those guys smiled about as often as David Janssen getting a root canal. Here they blended in much better.
Unlike the giant crowds in the Villages in September, this crowd was much smaller. Palin was in central Florida last week and I think many have already seen her. She gave a strong speech with details that I have already heard more than a few times. The crowd seemed lethargic to me, more subdued than the Bush crowds. Sir Saunders thinks the age of the crowd was the biggest factor. There were a lot of veterans in the audience and not a lot of youngsters.
I think the crowd reaction had as much to do with her being McCain’s running mate and having to tell us how they are going to get the crooks on Wall Street, even though the conservative crowd wants to hear about the crooks in Washington. All those moderates propelled McCain to the nomination, but we conservatives go to the events. We want to hear about lower taxes and less government. Bigger applause came when Sarah was talking about Obama’s inept economic plan. The crowd suddenly seemed 20 years younger when she contrasted McCain’s approach as Commander in Chief with Obama’s.
What’s most impressive about Sarah Palin in person is her strength. I think her accent and beauty in TV close-ups make her seem milder than she actually is. Hearing her talk from this distance makes her seem Thatcheresque. There is firmness in her voice that you hear once you subtract the covergirl. I can imagine she has disarmed many opponents with that combination. Obama is the pretty boy that people project every attribute on, while Palin is the pretty girl the media writes off wholesale. Of the two, she seems less likely to get squishy when defending an unpopular position or making a tough choice.
(The Two most powerful women in my life)
The big question in the aftermath of any event is whether to stick around and let the crowd thin out or whether to beat hell to the exits. Without discussing it we all seemed in agreement to beating the competition out of the parking lot. This turned out to be the wrong choice. For whatever reason, they held all traffic in the parking lot for the motorcade to exit before us. So instead of spending an hour hanging around the stage and meeting the Palins, we sat in our cars for an hour with no hope of exiting. There didn’t seem to be any sense in it especially in lieu of the otherwise easygoing security. They could have let us out the back exit and simply halted traffic when the motorcade was ready to leave. That’s what happened at the Bush events. I don’t really know if this was a Polk County Sheriff’s plan or the Secret Service, but it was infuriating and senseless. We all trekked to Uno's for Pizza afterwards and that brought our spirits back.