Thursday, September 4, 2008
Palin shows us how it's done
From FERGUS SHANAHAN
in St Paul, Minnesota
WHY, why, why can’t WE have a Sarah Palin?
That was the question churning in my mind as I witnessed this astonishing American presidential race.
A week ago few in Britain had heard of Palin.
Today, the moose-huntin’ mom is the most talked-about woman in the world.
And with good reason.
Her sensational performance at the Republican convention may turn out to be the moment the White House slipped from Barack Obama’s grasp.
She was an electrifying mix of passion, energy, optimism and plain speaking. The exact opposite of the slippery, two-faced, depressing bunch of third-raters who parade on our Westminster stage.
In Palin and the Democrats’ Barack Obama, America has two hugely charismatic people offering distinctly different roads.
Palin is sidekick to Vietnam war hero John McCain. He isn’t short of fame and glory either. But as I look closer to home, which giant British personalities are making news on the Westminster scene today? Er — Charles Clarke. A lumbering, grumbling tub of resentment, Big Ears snipes at Gordon Brown while lacking the courage to do anything about it.
Then there’s Alan Johnson, the gutless former postman who has failed to deliver for the Labour Party by running away from a leadership challenge.
Sixth-former David Miliband is hiding behind the bike sheds threatening to put Russian tyrant Vladimir Putin in detention.
What about the ladies?
There’s Hazel Blears, a clockwork orange of mediocrity.She couldn’t cause any excitement if she was fired out of a rocket from the top of Blackpool Tower.
Then there is that boot-faced robot of political correctness Harriet Harperson.
Somehow I can’t see any of this gang of miseries doing a Palin and thrilling a continent with a speech of intelligence, wit, fire and vision.
And, sorry Dave, but the Tories also have their share of ocean-going deadbeats.
Theresa May has been in the Tory high command since Noah boarded the Ark, but all she’s known for is flashing a tarty pair of heels.
Where is someone with the X-Factor mass appeal of Palin and Obama?
It’s grim. And sad, too, because I have seen here how exciting a political battle can be when slugged out by huge characters before an enthralled nation.
Democrats and their Lefty media backers had been sneering that Palin is a small-town nobody, a hick from Alaska put into a job way beyond an inexperienced woman.
Believe me, you will not be hearing that again.
Full of self-assurance and aggression, super Sarah popped Barack’s balloon big-time.
From the moment she walked on stage in this cavernous bear pit, smart in cream jacket, trim black skirt and black heels, she proved that McCain knew exactly what he was doing when he picked her as running mate.
The first thought was that here was America’s youthful Maggie Thatcher, minus the swinging handbag. Hair piled into a slight beehive — more Sarah White House than Amy Winehouse — she blinked and smiled behind her geeky specs as the vast crowd went ballistic.
She is popular with voters for the very reason America’s snooty political establishment despises her: She isn’t one of the Washington gang.
She’s a mum of five from icy Alaska with a sledge-load of problems behind her own front door that workaday Americans can relate to.
A child with special needs. A daughter of 17 pregnant. A constant juggle between family and career. Compared to the career politicians dominating both parties here she seemed fresh, natural — one of us and not one of them.
She revelled in being an outsider.
She spoke to America as one working mum to another. She cracked good jokes.
Showing steel beneath her magnolia jacket, she slaughtered Obama’s lack of experience, his vanity, his emptiness beneath the windy waffle.
It was the most powerful demolition of the Democrat hero I have heard in two weeks on the US election trail.
The wagons have been drawn up and the Republicans are ready for battle.
The McCain-Palin ticket now looks in exciting shape. A war hero and a heroic mum. Experience and optimism.
And when McCain joined the Palin gang — babies and boyfriends and all — on stage after her speech, there was a sense of cheeky fun absent from Obama’s solemn coronation.
How the Democrats must be regretting Hillary isn’t running with Obama. Barack’s sidekick, Joe Biden, looks a dull old dog compared with the ball of fire that is Palin.
And consider this: If Obama loses, Hillary Clinton will run for the Democrats in 2012. Opposing her is sure to be Sarah Palin. That would guarantee America its first woman President.
And my fistful of dollars, having seen both in action here, would be on Palin.
Most of all, though, the Palin sensation makes our own Westminster politics look as grey and dull as the leaden September skies. It’s dire.
We need a moose loose in our Hoose.