10/04/08 — Palin's appeal: Pundits don't get what ordinary Americans find refreshing

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Palin's appeal: Pundits don't get what ordinary Americans find refreshing

The political pundits seem puzzled by the allure of Gov. Sarah Palin.

And you can almost understand their confusion.

Thursday's vice presidential debate certainly did not make anyone want to rush out and buy a Gov. Sarah Palin or Sen. Joe Biden T-shirt. There were almost no specifics and few revelations that would have made anyone feel he or she had finally found a candidate's message that was America's salvation.

So why, after the debate, did several of the many polls of undecided voters seem to put Gov. Palin over the top -- handily?

The answer is simple really -- whether you see it as a positive or negative -- she did not sound like a politician.

Gov. Palin has been able to do what few politicians can muster -- get Americans to feel they can trust her and believe in her integrity without much of a hard look at her specific platforms or promises.

Why is that?

She is one of them.

That was evident throughout Thursday's debate. Biden came across as a politician -- careful with his words and saying nothing that even remotely sounded like it came from anything except a debate prep session.

Gov. Palin might not have had answers that made you feel she was ready to lead negotiations to end the crisis in the Middle East or that she has the magic bullet that would put an end to the problems on Wall Street. But in the end, she seemed to be sincere, honest and a regular person who was just trying to do something good for her country. Substance did not seem to be the primary concern. Character and believability were. Those who were listening trusted her.

And that is something new for politicians and the media that cover them.

In an age when politicians do not seem to be able to identify with the real people they represent and seem more likely to be photographed on a yacht than at a children's soccer game, Gov. Palin is refreshing.

She seems to know what it is like to be a working mom who struggles with balancing her job and children. She has a husband who is a commercial fisherman and lives in an area that most people do not see as glamorous or high society. She talks about her children, her husband and her life like a mom, a wife, a best friend.

And that is why those who are listening think she is talking directly to them -- and that she understands.

So, when her media questioners seem to be questioning her intelligence, her sincerity or the life she has chosen, those who are watching feel she is being attacked -- and in turn, that their own choices and lives are being questioned.

And right now, Americans are tired of fast-talking and broken promises from slick politicians who suggest they have everything under control, but who really never seem to quite have the solution.

They are looking for an everyman -- someone to lead them who is like them.

So, while some of the media pundits continue to scratch their heads, remember -- they were taken completely aback by Gov. Palin and the country's reaction to her.

They do not understand the real lives of real Americans either. They are used to the glitterati of celebrity and a job that pays in seven figures and comes with eight weeks of vacation.

In the end, there might not be enough there to put a checkmark in the McCain/Palin column. Only time will tell if the ticket has the message that Americans want to hear -- and has built the trust to earn the right to represent this nation.

But in the meantime, right now, Gov. Palin seems to have the message many Americans want to hear -- common sense and change.

Published in Editorials on October 4, 2008 11:29 PM