Sarah, how could you?
Sarah Palin has made me sad. I still like her more than most of the women who defend Planned Parenthood against charges of baby vivisection, and I most definitely like her more than Hillary Clinton, who would probably respond, “What difference does it make?”
Yes, it’s worth a smile and a high five every time some tight-mouthed, pretentious feminist splutters in apoplexy about “Salesbou Barbie.” For years, Palin’s mere existence was a rebuttal to the concept of “abortion is a personal matter between a woman and her scheduling calendar.”
But Palin has now become a liability to me and conservative women who stood on her shoulders. The nail in the coffin was her recent endorsement of Donald Trump for the Republican nomination for president. It’s not so much that I despise Trump, which I actually do. It’s more that I expected an integrity from this woman that she clearly possesses, but apparently sets aside when it suits her purposes – political, financial or otherwise.
I will never deny that she has integrity, because very few women would go ahead with a pregnancy knowing that their unborn child would be born with Down syndrome. To me, that is a symbol of humanity that makes Cecile Richards and her priestesses of “choice” look ghoulish and incredibly selfish. Nothing can diminish the magnificence of Palin’s own “choice.”
That is not enough to keep me silent and compliant when she endorses the man who attacked the character of her running mate, a flawed but heroic soldier-statesman who launched her into the public consciousness. Without John McCain, Palin would be inaugurating ceremonial salmon runs in Alaska, not commanding hundreds of thousands of dollars for books, speeches and TV programs.
I’d expect a man who says the Bible is his favorite book but then makes a mockery of its contents (2 Corinthians? Really?) to make unsubstantiated, random attacks on those he sees as lesser beings.
No one ever argued that McCain was a saint. Many conservatives feel betrayed by his positions on immigration, campaign finance and a host of other issues, and an equal number of liberals won’t forgive him for running against the first black president.
But no true American questions his character. Let me repeat that: No true American questions the character of a man who carries within him, in his battered body and solitary mind, the hell of Hanoi. That’s why Trump doesn’t even reach that threshold qualification for national leadership. He’s a small and nasty man, to use a phrase he’d understand.
Palin, of all people, should know that. In her memorable speech at the Republican National Convention in 2008, she said, “There is only one man in this election who has ever really fought for you . . . in places where winning means survival and defeat means death . . . and that man is John McCain.”
“It’s a long way from the fear and pain and squalor of a 6-by-4 cell in Hanoi to the Oval Office,” Palin continued, “But if Sen. McCain is elected president, that is the journey he will have made.”
I heard her speak those words, sitting at my kitchen table, mesmerized. I fell in love with her that night.
Perhaps that was my problem, believing that the words spoken by a person under the bright glare of adulation reflect the true character of the speaker. For me, this was a woman in whom I could place my hopes and expectations.
The passing years diminished, by small increments, my affection. They never, however, destroyed it. And to this day, I love the Palin who burst like a supernova into the political firmament all those years ago.
But now, with her embrace of a man who ridiculed the POW who made her possible, I’m forced to question my judgment, and her motives. And that makes me sad beyond belief.
Christine Flowers is an attorney and a columnist for the Philadelphia Daily News, and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.