This morning I had one of those ah-ha moments that leaves you slightly ill and trembling as you confront a reality of which you were aware but had somehow managed to avoid.
In so many places, on lists and on blogs, from pundits to activists, a kind of celebration of Palin's candidacy as a gift from above for the Obama campaign. There is a special delight in her lack of experience. There are intelligent discussions of her possible ethics violation. There have been days of discussions of her family's decisions around her unmarried, pregnant 17 year old. All of these no-brainer "we win" discussions have had me nodding my head while holding my breath.
There's no question in my mind that choosing Palin was a serious mistake. I mean, what was he thinking? How could anyone put her up there a heartbeat away from that phone that could ring in the middle of the night? No brainer. Obama wins the election.
Until this morning and a phone call from someone close to me....
The call began innocently enough with a discussion of the weather, how the children are doing, how work is going for this person. And then came the moment that is still giving me palpitations.
This person asked if I had seen Palin at the convention last night. And then went on to tell me how excited she is that she finally - for the first time in her life - has a hero in politics. She could barely contain her joy in sharing with me all of the amazing, wonderful things about Palin. She has five children. She's opposed to birth control. She is 100% opposed to abortion. She belongs to the NRA. She's in the union and so is her husband. She supports the oil industry. She's beautiful, intelligent and a good mother.
When I raised the issue of whether this is the person you want to have step into the office of President, the response was that no one person really runs the country. Presidents have cabinets and they know what they're doing. She also challenged me by asking if anyone questioned Pelosi's ability to run the Senate when she could end up running the country if something happens to the President and Vice President.
She is elated. She is 42 years old. Her entire church is celebrating Palin's nomination. All of her friends and family are celebrating. She is, for the first time in her life, going to go out and campaign for someone.
This is reality. It's not beltway reality. But it is reality. While we're turning up our noses at Palin as a bizarre choice for office, folks like this person with whom I spoke this morning are celebrating the coming of the political messiah.
If we don't recognize this reality we will lose this election. If we repeat the mistakes we made of counting on facts to counter emotion, we will lose this election.
For anyone who hasn't read it yet, I recommend Drew Westen's book, The Political Brain. It addresses this very issue.
I don't even have a snappy close to this post - just a deep sense of fear that I can't seem to shake today!