When the call came a couple days ago, and my friend asked me the question, I immediately imagined myself in one of those ads that try to get you to join the Marines. "I wanted to see if I had what it takes. I wanted to prove to myself that I had the stuff." You know the ones.
The question? "Hey, do you want to go see Michael Reagan? I got tickets!" Now, I had already recently been to the Anchorage screening of John Ziegler's "Media Malpractice - How Obama Got Elected and Pain was Targeted," and I was still working out the toxins. If that was the obstacle course in my Conservative Boot Camp, then surely this would be the part where they take you into the back room for the waterboarding. Why? Sarah Palin was presenting the opening words.
Last week when conservative talk show ignoramus Mancow said that waterboarding wasn't torture, and then volunteered to be waterboarded, they gave him a little plastic cow to hold; his safety cow. If it got to be too much, they told him, he could just toss the cow and they'd stop. He lasted 6 seconds. I knew I could do better than that.
So off I went to the Alaska Center for the Performing Arts. It was 70 degrees and the sky was blue. As I took a deep breath and headed in to the darkened theatre, I wondered why I was doing this. Thoughts of aborting the mission ran through my mind. But, I settled in. I looked at the crowd. I spotted Lt. Governor Sean Parnell, and several State Legislators who had also come to this dark room, and bypassed soaking up the sun to soak up the words of wisdom from Ronald Reagan's eldest son.
Finally the lights went down. First up, right wing radio personality Rick Rydell who told us that his love affair with Ronald Reagan started when he was a teenager and he was lying on the couch "in a drunken stupor," saw Reagan on TV and thought to himself, "I matter to somebody!" I'll file that away under "way too much personal information." It wasn't the first time that evening I would feel like the person on the stage should have been lying on a couch, and I should have my glasses on the end of my nose, scribbling in a notebook for $80 an hour. Then he started quoting Thomas Jefferson, and John Locke. I had a mind movie of raising my hand and hollering out, "You know Jefferson wasn't a Republican, right? Just sayin'!"
Next up, Eddie Burke, the rightest of the right, and golden boy radio shock jock of the Palin administration. He introduced the governor. "Mother, wife, and fearless leader of the State of Alaska, Sarah Palin!" OK, I confess, I looked at the shoes. They were the giant cork wedge-heeled shiny red leather numbers she wore to the Memorial Day service in Fairbanks....with a black suit. She must really like those things.
I have, out of some sense of morbid fascination, typed for your reading displeasure, almost the entire text of what she said. It was 17 minutes long. (Emphasis on "long.") Everyone got your plastic cows? Let the waterboarding begin.
(I'll make a couple interjections now and then so you're not in there all alone. You can just imagine sitting next to me in the theatre, and me leaning over and whispering into your ear, via a pair of parentheses, now and again...)
We have an awesome guest, a guest who is affecting our culture in such a positive way. We need him to keep on being bold and we're counting on Michael Reagan to help educate America.
(Should we keep count of how many times she says "bold?" I bet it's at least three.)
I want to welcome tonight our good Lieutenant Governor Sean Parnell who I can't see, but I know he's here. (applause) My brother Chuck Heath is here, and my husband Alaska's First Dude Todd Palin is here somewhere. (applause)
(I thought we weren't calling him that anymore. I guess "First Dude" is back in the lexicon.)
So I have the honor of getting to speak with you for a bit here before I get to introduce to you Michael Reagan, and what I want to do in introducing Michael is to continue to encourage him to continue to be bold .
(I elbow you in the ribs)
and to call it like he sees it, and to screw political correctness that some would expect him to have to adhere to.
(Oh my God....did she just say "Screw Political Correctness?" Will there be t-shirts? Bumper stickers?)
We want him to be bold. We need him to be bold.
(We are stifling laughter)
Mr. Reagan, we need your voice to be loud and strong, and we appreciate him. He doesn't shy away from the tough issues and that is so good. He never lets anyone tell him to sit down and shut up, and I would hope Alaska our voice too will be heard across this nation. I look forward to hearing from Michael Reagan tonight because America must learn from him, from his remarkable father, and that remarkable presidency.
("You're going to transcribe this, right?" you whisper. "Yeah, looks like I'm going to have to," I answer.)
First, I think what we're going to learn tonight via Michael is that Ronald Reagan's ideas were the right ideas and all we have to do is look back at his record, his economic record and his national security record to know that his ideas were right. It was common sense conservativism. It was right then. It's right now. Recently, Newt Gingrich, he had written a good article about Reagan. He said, regarding your dad Michael, he said that we need to learn from his example that courage and persistence are keys to historic achievement and with Reagan's example, D.C. politicians calling the shots for our country, they had better rely on the good sense of the American people and bag their alliance on the entrenched beaurocrats and the elite self-proclaimed intellectuals, and the smug lobbyists who dominate Washington, and the liberal media that is imposing its will on Washington, embracing that status quo, that business as usual. It's not good for our country.
(Did you bring a flask?)
But, we have to remember first that Ronald Reagan never won any arguments in Washington. He won the arguments by resonating with the American people. Those of us so proud to be Americans, and willing to acknowledge that no, we're not a perfect nation, but never never do we have to apologize for being proud of our country. (applause)
(What does that even mean??)
So Ronald Reagan spoke to us then with us here in our hearts is where he reached us, and that's where he won the arguments and then, this was, this was the good part, we the American people through him, we imposed our will on Washington, and that is the way it's supposed to be.
(I think that sentence may get the "Word Salad Award.")
Our government is supposed to be working for us, we are not to be working for our government. It's our will to be imposed on them. (applause) He captured our hearts so he could affect positive change by what he did. He focused on our kids, on our children, on their future, on the future of America. And when he fought socialism and any sort of tyranny that he knew would ruin us, he stood strong on his knowing that the framework through which he believed that positive change that framework for our kids, it was freedom.
(Wait.....no....maybe it was that one)
Today the things that some in Washington would do to take away our freedoms, it's absolutely astounding, and we would do so well to look back on those Reagan years as he championed the cause for freedom and then he lived it out as our president - cheerfully, persistently and unapologetically. Reagan knew that real change and real change requiring shaking things up and maybe takin' off the entrenched interest thwarting the will of the people with their ignoring of our concerns about future peril caused by selfish short-sighted advocacy for growing government and digging more debt, and taking away individual and state's rights and hampering opportunity to responsibly develop our resources, and coddling those who would seek to harm America and her allies.
(Nope. It's definitely THAT one!)
What Newt had written in this article, he wrote "remember how refreshing it was with his outrageous directness that Americans loved, and praised and deserved" that Reagan dealt with, with then the troublesome Soviet Union, remember this? His vision for the Cold War? We win, they lose.
(I snap a photo when she says "They lose," presumably pointing at "them." See above.)
And with detente, speaking of detente, he used two words - "Evil Empire." He called it like he saw it, and now why today, I have to ask why today do we feel we have to pussyfoot around our troublesome foes, saying for example, the terrorists who still seek to kill Americans and destroy our allies. They haven't changed their tune. Terrorists are still dead set against us, and are set on destroying Israel, and against our freedoms, against our security and I've got a kid over there fighting for our country and our country's freedom right now. It is war over there so it will not be war over here, and it had better still be our mission that we win, they lose! (applause)
(Hair raises on the back of my neck due to flashback of angry rallies during the presidential campaign. This is starting to feel oogy.)
Now, on the economy, remember Reagan used to remind us that America was built on freedom and free enterprise, reward for strong work ethic. Some in Washington would approach our economic woes in ways that absolutely defy Economics 101, and they fly in the face of the principles providing opportunity for industrious Americans to succeed or to fail on their own accord. Those principles that we teach our children and employ in our own businesses and our own households to balance our budgets , and live within our means and financially secure our futures, and it makes you wonder what the heck some in Washington are trying to accomplish here?
(I find my brain starting to feel a little dazed and sleepy... Talking points are starting to feel like verbal Xanax....)
It's all really so backwards and skewed as to sound like absolute nonsense when some of this new economic policy is explained...
(I pop back into alertness for a moment to commiserate with you about how hilarious that "it's really so backwards and skewed as to sound like absolute nonsense" would be on a t-shirt with her face on it. But then I slip back into semi-consciousness and only get every other sentence fragment.)
[paraphrasing] Disincentivize businesses with threats of taking them over...bla bla...new administration is going to increase taxes...bla bla ... outrageous government growth...more taxes... "shooing away the jobs to foreign countries"...makes us more reliant on other countries....can't sustain new government 'largesse'... our kids and their kids and their kids and their kids kids...we need to employ "Reaganism" or we're all doomed..bla bla...erosion of free market opportunities...this shift is economically preposterous and immoral...[end of paraphrasing]
(Rubbing face briskly with hands, shaking out arms, and stretching in chair)
Does anyone remember life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness? Because socialism...any kind of hint towards socialism, it takes away freedoms and opportunity and hope and then we do forget that life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness is inherent rights that God has provided us.
(There she goes quoting that Democrat again. And I wonder if she thinks that the public library, the highway system, the police, the fire department and public schools take away our freedom and opportunity? Too bad she's not doing a Q&A.)
I want to hit on one thing specific that I'm suggesting here and that's with the stimulus package. Alaskans have heard me talk a lot about this.
(Oh, here we go.)
You gotta ask yourself, what is this all about? The process even of creating the stimulus package. Congress being expected to vote on it without even knowing what was in it, but conservatives and Republicans in Congress, they looked at this debt-ridden gargantuan government growth plan and they voted against it. They didn't like it. They warned states that there were fat fat strings attached to these dollars, and there were strings, there are strings because that's inherent in federal spending. That's the nature of the beast. Of course there are strings attached, and so there were lots of warnings given to all the states that hey, unless your state is ready to chuck the 10th amendment, and you're going to hand over willingly more power control to big centralized government and to D.C. politicians who are going to tell you what to do in your state, the warning was, legislatures be careful with the temptation with the stimulus package dollars. They didn't like it then, but then when a bunch of us elected local officials we agreed with them, and you know we started seeing the press releases kinda braggin' up the bacon...
(Braggin' up the bacon?)
that these hundreds of millions of billions of dollars, almost a trillion dollars total were going to bring into our states, the buckets of money, the borrowed money that would pour into the states.
[long explanation about how it's all about the governors with "brave concerns" who tried to reject money and how they were painted like bad guys]
And let's be honest...
(Oh yes, please....let's.)
states were made to look incompetent, almost unethical if they were staying consistent, and were still saying no to accepting some of those federal funds that don't necessarily stimulate the economy or create private sector jobs, as was being fed to us as.
(Made to look incompetent? Alas, I think the executive in this state didn't need much help in that department.)
These are short-term expectation-building new beaurocratic growth spurts, and legislatures ended up resolving to take the money which it was contributing to more dizzying national debt.
The mixed messages then the confusion and now frustration, disenchantment with the disenchantment from our own government, and look what happened when here in Alaska my administration, I vetoed the stimulus package, some of the dollars with obvious big government strings attached, and shoot, I just about got run out of town by some.
(Maybe "some" will try harder next time...or have they become disenchanted with the disenchantment?)
Friends, we need to be aware of the creation of a fearful population, and of fearful lawmakers being led to believe that big government is the answer to bail out the private sector because then goverment gets to get in there and control it and, mark my words, this is going to happen next I fear,
(Be aware of fear!)
bail out next debt-ridden states, then government gets to get in there and control the people, and watch what happens there. Michael, maybe you want to talk about your home state California. We'll see what happens there but you know it's.... aaaaa!.... for the love of God you've got to ask yourself where we got off track?
(Well, that was quite dramatic....)
Michael Reagan's going to talk about getting on the right track. He knows, we know here in Alaska that America is the greatest nation on earth because our foundation is freedom and it's in God we trust, it's not in big government that we trust. (applause)So I encourage Michael just to keep on speaking up, and for me....you know me.... Before my Franco Sarto red high heels
even get off the stage and touch the floor my critics, they're going to be loaded for bear and they're going to start unloading because, because I dared speak up.
(Wow. Red high heels and bear hunting in the same analogy. What's next, hockey mom again? That would complete the trifecta - mom/huntress/sex symbol.)
But you, you here tonight I know that you understand. Some though, they're empowered by national figures and some in the press who, who want to put not just me, but anybody who dares speak up it seems nowadays right back down in their place if one dares speak their mind nowadays, and here in Alaska it's kind of like this new normal it's a little bit being accepted it seems like that we're dealing in, but so be it.
(Where's my bloggers commission check from Obama, darn it? Back down in your place? What place? Head is beginning to throb...)
I...I think things here that have so drastically changed these past months...some want to forbid others from speaking up and it's been through lawsuits, been ethics violation charges, media distortions...by the way today we won that 14th ethics charge. And only Alaskans can appreciate this one. We won the one where I show up at the Iron Dog because it's freezing cold and I'm wearing my warm Arctic Cat coat, and a charge is levied against me for wearing the logo on the coat, but we won so that's cool. And those are the folks that want to tell me, want to tell you to siddown and shuddup.
(OK, am I a bad person if I say I do want her to sit down and shut up? And how much will you give me if I do it out loud...right....now??)
We will not do so.
I just can't because I love my state, I love my country, and I need you, we need Michael Reagan to keep on fighting for our freedoms, for our country and what we're being fed today, it seems, is a steady diet of selected misrepresented news. So we need the Reagans of the world today to remind us of truth.
Let me ask you why is it considering how fast the world is spinning and world changing events that go on all over the globe that do affect our lives, world changing events, thousands of them every day, why do you suppose that it's the same big three supposedly competing networks that have the same news content every night and virtually the same exact viewpoint being spewed night after night after night. We've gotta ask those questions.
(Wait....go back. Is the world spinning faster now? Did I miss something?)
So I join you in speaking up and asking the questions and taking action, and here at home in my beloved Alaska I just say, politically speaking, if I die, I die. I'll know that I have spoken up and I will speak up to thank people like Mr. Reagan as we honor his dad, to encourage you too, Alaskans, to do the same and don't just hang in there and go along to get along but stand up and speak up, and be bold and demand that Washington be prudent with our public monies and prioritize for America's security, and forget the political corectness that makes one guard your conversation, and couch our words so cautiously that they lose meaning, and we lose effectiveness, and then we lose hope because we start thinking that politicians are only worried about their poll numbers and attracting campaign contributions for their next bid so that they can hold on to some title and some position.
(Longest sentence ever created including the word "bold.")
Noooo, let's remind them, those that we elect, that we expect them to be bold
(Is that five....or six?)
and so they are to be representing the will of the people to defend our constitution and to win our wars and obviously, me not being, in fact not many of us here tonight are not in that political financial academic elite center of power. We're not there. And it's kind of refreshing to be outside of that to tell you the truth. I am just a mom. I am a proud Alaskan hockey mom,
(Aaaa! Hockey mom! How long has it been since Track played hockey, anyway?)
and I love my country, and I'm concerned about my kids' future and your kids' future and because I was raised where it is rugged, and you kinda gotta be tough, and with dogged determination in order to survive sometimes. Well not many of us in Alaska are inclined to just sit down and shut up, and I thank Michael Reagan for honoring Alaska, being here tonight, continuing to lead a cause for a better America....Let's hear it for Michael Reagan!
We did it. (fist bump) It's better when you're not alone.
Now, Michael Reagan takes the stage, though he never greets Palin. She walks off one way, and he walks on from the other side.
Just as I think to myself, "wouldn't it be fun to have Ron Reagan, the progressive talk radio icon, and the "other son" here," Michael Reagan said, "I can't tell you how many times I wish [my parents] had stuck with adoption," indicating his disdain at the progressive bent of Reagan's other children. Nice.
Then we learned how today, "JFK would be considered a conservative Republican and would be appalled at what the rest of his family has done to America." A sudden urge to throw my shoe, and simulatneous regret that it is not a red stiletto heel hit me at the same time.
A couple more "my Dad" stories later, he tells us that in his class at the boarding school/military academy run by nuns, "Three quarters of us would have been diagnosed as ADD/ADHD. It took [the nun] three weeks and a ruler to knock it out of us."
I don't think it was that story in particular, but more of a cumulative effect. But that's the moment when I "tossed the cow." It had to end now. My brow was damp, and my blood pressure had been creeping up steadily for the last... what felt like an eternity.
I headed for the back of the theatre, pushed the doors open, entered the daylit corridor, and took a big inhalation of air. It felt like the breath you take when you were a kid and you tried to swim underwater the whole length of the pool and just barely made it to the other side.
I got a call this morning from my history teacher sister, the one who actually broke the Palin nomination news to me on August 29th. "Did you hear Obama's speech in Cairo?" she asked, almost breathless. She had visited there last year, and explained that the hostility and anger felt toward the Bush administration was almost palpable there. "They gave him a standing ovation!" she told me. "And that was before he even spoke!" I thought with some sadness that while I, and 400 other Alaskans had been listening to the drivel above, millions of others had been on the opposite end of the political universe. They were listening to messages of healing and reconciliation, and a leader who spoke about tough issues realizing that diplomacy, and seeking common ground is what will move our world forward through the incredible challenges we face. This is what we need, not the sophomoric "we win, they lose, don't you like my nice red shoes" mentality.
I look forward to listening to the speech in its entirety tonight. And I'll raise my glass and be glad once again for the outcome of the 2008 presidential election.