Friday, September 5, 2008

The Maverick Picks a Wildcat

When Sarah Palin took the national stage last week as the Republican nominee for Vice President, with her brown hair pulled back in a bun, and that librarian with eyeglasses look that has always melted us, we thought, “This is the one we’ve been waiting for.”

She’s a working mother. Her husband is a union guy, commercial fisherman and small businessman, and snowmobile racer. Her oldest son is in the military. She is from small town America, and clings to her guns and religion. You probably saw the video of her shooting an assault rifle at a military training facility in Kuwait - Mother of Five, Army of One.

If the Democrats try to foul her, they should remember that she sealed a championship in the Alaska state basketball tournament with a last minute free throw. Maybe she’ll follow Michelle Obama’s lead and take Barack out on the basketball court to see what kind of man he is. Sarah Palin's convention speech drew 37.2 million viewers compared to 38 million last week for Barack Obama and 24 million for Joe Biden. Joe has to debate Sarah on October 2, and we expect that will get big ratings too.

Is this a brilliant move to shore up the religious right and also get the Hillary vote? Probably the appeal to women is limited. Stay home and take care of your new baby seems to be the universal if unspoken response here in liberal Cambridge, Massachusetts. But don’t forget that a lot of men in those small towns voted for Hillary too. And Sarah Palin may just be the perfect female candidate for your average American male.

Sarah has had a rough week in the news media. But let’s face it. If your next door neighbor’s teenage daughter gets pregnant, people around town are going to gossip. If the town mayor’s teenage daughter gets pregnant, they’re going to be talking about that two towns over. If a Governor’s teenage daughter gets pregnant, well that’s news, and if that Governor is running for Vice President of the United States, .… But I think the overlooked story here is the personal one, the mother daughter issue that causes so much friction in American life. And here’s how I imagine that went down:

Sarah Palin arrives in her kitchen a week ago Thursday noon, with baby Trig in one hand and a bag of groceries in the other. Various children from age 7 to 19 and are sprawled around the kitchen table. You can hear the TV from the adjoining family room. The phone rings.

Sarah (to phone): Hello, Rick? Rick Davis? Oh yes, just a second. I just came in as you called. Let me put some stuff down. (to children around table) Kids, out to the car, get the rest of the groceries. Does Mommy have to do everything around here? Come on, Willow, Piper, get a move on.

Todd (from family room): Is that you honey? Could you bring me a beer?

Sarah: Track, get your Dad a beer, and get yourself one too.

Track goes to the refrigerator, grabs two six-packs and goes into the family room.

Sarah (to phone): Yes, yes, I enjoyed lunch with you and John the other day very much and I’m very glad to be hearing from you. (to Bristol) Here Bristol, take Trig. And find his diaper bag, he needs to be changed.

Bristol: Why me? Why do I always have to take care of Trig? Why not ask Track? It’s just not fair because I’m a girl and he’s a boy.

Sarah: Don’t be silly, Track is going to Iraq. (to phone) No, you’re not silly. Did you see that speech of Bill Clinton’s last night? Now that was silly. (to Bristol) Track can’t be changing diapers. He’s 19, a grown man, and he’s deploying to Iraq in just a couple of weeks. (to phone) Yes, Rick, Track is my oldest son. Yes, I guess you can say he is going to Iraq on September 11 – that is a couple of weeks. Yes, he enlisted a year ago. Yes, we could say that he enlisted on September 11 too. Good, good, glad you like that.

Bristol: It’s just not fair. You handed me Trig when he came home from the hospital last April and every day since. I laugh with my friends that it’s like he’s my own kid.

Sarah: Ha! Like you’re ready to have your own kid. That’s funny. Just work on changing this one’s diaper dear. (to phone). Yes, Rick, I can deliver the small town family values message. No, don’t worry about issues. Let me say that I would be honored, really honored, and I won’t let you down. Yes, I’ll hold while you get John.

Bristol: Actually Mom. There’s something I need to tell you.

Sarah: Not now, honey. I’m talking to the McCain campaign. You know Mommy’s up for Vice President. We talked about this. And sit up straight.

Bristol: I’m pregnant.

Sarah: No you’re not. You’re just putting on a little weight; it’s nothing to be ashamed of. Exercise more, dear, and it wouldn’t hurt to eat less.

Bristol: Mom, I’m five months pregnant. I’ve taken the home tests. I’ve been to the doctor.

Sarah: Do you know who the father is?

Bristol: Mother, Levi is sitting right here. You know we’ve been dating for over a year.

Sarah (shouts): Todd, Todd, come in here. Your daughter and her boyfriend have something to tell you.

Todd (from family room): What’s that? Can’t hear you. Track and I are going fishing. (A door opens and then slams)

Sarah: Well, Levi Johnston, what do you have to say for yourself?

Bristol (interrupts): We’re in love and we’re getting married.

Sarah: Oh, you’re getting married all right. Even if Dick Cheney has to hold the shotgun at the wedding, you’re getting married.

Bristol: Mom! He’s sitting right here.

Sarah: Even if Dick Cheney has to hold the shotgun on you, Bristol Palin, you’re getting married. How did this happen?

Bristol: You’ve had five kids yourself, did Grandma and Grandpa make you skip sex education too?

Sarah: Don’t talk dirty. Didn’t I teach you about abstinence? Levi, didn’t your mother and father teach you about abstinence?

Levi: That green absinthe stuff tasted funny. But it did give a nice buzz.

Sarah: Is that lip? Are you giving me lip? Do you have any idea what I’m capable of doing to you? Do you have any idea what this going to do to me?

Levi: No, Mrs. Palin. I swear.

Bristol: That’s it isn’t it. This is all about you and your I’m on City Council, I’m the Mayor of Wassila, I’m the Governor of Alaska, and your perfect little plan to become John McCain’s Vice President. Well guess what, Mom, your perfect little daughter, your perfect little 17-year-old daughter is pregnant and she’s isn’t even married yet. So you can kiss your perfect little Vice President dream goodbye. I am so sorry to embarrass my perfect mother.

Sarah: Oh, so you think I’m embarrassed. Well, I tell you what little missy, I’m going to take that Vice President slot. The whole world can watch you have your baby for all I care about your embarrassing me. How do you like them apples? Taste a little green don’t they? So pack your suitcase and find that diaper bag, you’re going with me to Ohio and Minnesota.

Bristol: Can Levi come too?

Sarah: I'll have to think about it. (pauses) Maybe that would work. He could join us in Minnesota. Let me make some calls. (to Levi) Levi, make yourself useful and go find your new father-in-law and brother-in-law, they’ve got to pack too. (yells out door) Willow and Piper, where are those groceries? (to phone) Hello, John? I’m so glad you called…

In the family room, the television is playing a Heart video:

“And if the real thing don't do the trick
You better make up something quick
You’re gonna burn, burn, burn, burn, burn to the wick
Ooh, Barracuda, Oh yeah”

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