A PUMA pointed me toward a ticket to a Palin rally in LA today. USC did not start until five so I went. Or rather I lolly gagged my way to the Home Depot Center - how big could this rally be??? - this is LA - ???
Bad idea. She packed the tennis stadium (10,000) and the over flow sat and watched the jumbo tron where the LA Galaxy Soccer team plays. But I got in....It was fascinating. 2 immediate thoughts:
1. She was introduced by a President of a NOW chapter - wow.I have not decided who I will vote for. I did not go as a supporter of this ticket. I went to see Palin. Anyone who has every been in the same room as Bill Clinton - however big - knows what a "star" is. I wanted to see if she was a "star". I can say without question she is a "new star". The idea of her is clearly electric to her party. She owns the stage like Bill Clinton does. She has not quite mastered the relationship between herself and the crowd. 2 pods made themselves known. One she dropped the house on with a line about fighting for the first amendment. The other she handled by ignoring - which I rarely think works.
2. She brought up Bill Ayres.
A few important take aways for me:
1. The difference between the role of women circa 1988 GOP and the 2008 version is something to behold. To say I was flabbergasted that former President of a NOW chapter, talking about equal pay and Geraldine Ferarro, introduced Palin at a large GOP rally is an understatement. This is not the GOP I remember - the one with shrinking, smiling wives off to the side. Think Nancy Reagan. Women were front and center. The code words were "working moms" - but what they were talking about was "robust women as equal partners." "Family Values" as a sledge hammer is out - "Women as a very valuable and equal partner in a family" is in.All in all - it is clear to me that the GOP is not my party. But it was a compelling afternoon. Palin is a fascinating figure. Whatever McCain's motives were in choosing her - the choice changed the game. Whether she wins or loses, Palin will be around for a while.
2. If she wants it, Palin has a future in her party regardless of the outcome in November. They LOVE this woman - like they LOVED Reagan.
3. The crowd was younger and more racially diverse than I expected it to be. Including more than a few Black Americans.
4. A group of about 40 Obama people demonstrated outside. The chant was "Hey, hey ho, ho Sarah Palin has got to go." This is the most tired chant one can imagine. It is like hippies have taken a page from civil war re-enactors. Dress up as if it is 40 years ago and do a historical play.
5. Of the four people on the ticket, Palin is the only one who is not a member of the "elite." This is true even during her stump speech. When she talked about her father growing up in North Hollywood is feels entirely sincere and middle class. Even Clinton's talk of being from Hope, Arkansas had the sheen of being canned. It is not that "I want to have a beer" with her. It's that I would not be surprised in the least if I saw her in line at the grocery store. The closest antecedent I can conjure is Harry Truman. Still, even Truman doesn't quite work. She is a mom, not a dad. This feels entirely new in American politics.
6. Having been to Democratic rallies over the years I must say: Republicans are nicer and more respectful. At least the ones I saw today. Everyone picked up their trash. A small, but telling, fact. Plus, is was organized. People stood in line and waited their turn to get in. I know that only an old school Democrat would find this worthy of note.
7. Based on the number of Hilary stickers in the parking lot - PUMA's were represented.