Thursday, February 03, 2011

Is Sarah Palin The Tiger Mom That America Needs?

I get a lot of questions from people about why I like the former Alaskan Governor so much... especially from friends and acquaintances of mine who think that they can't stand her. I think my affection is easy to understand.

When John McCain was still looking for a VP candidate, I was still quite irritated with the departure of Fred Thompson and the poor showing for Ron Paul. They would have been my dream ticket for the Rs in '08. I had no use for McCain. Thought all the visible VP potentials were lame. And then I thought of Sarah Palin, that knockout mom-of-five self-made success story kicking butt in the northern frontier.

Everything about her screamed "My people!"... the simple roots, the hard work and tenacity, the principles, the passel of progeny. She wasn't "my people" because I'd done any of those things - well... except for lots of babies - but she really represented the type of American I've always admired. She did a great job for her constituents... rooting out corruption, taking on old boy networks, securing equitable policies, and aiming for prosperity. I still can't believe McCain could see this and picked her.

Of course we don't talk about these things anymore. Instead, Palin has been attemptively corralled into a pen of shame and defeat, beaten relentlessly by a media whose hopes lie in her disappearing. Anyone else would have been intimidated and cowed by their sneers and harsh treatment. Silenced. But that's not what happened. Thankfully. Because Sarah Palin isn't just a pitbull, or a mama grizzly, she'a a Tiger Mom. And, frankly, I think we could use one just about now.

I've come to the conclusion that, more important than a leader's background or education or family, the most crucial factor in a President is the way he (or she) views the people, the mindset that is projected. We currently have an individual that seems to see little more than helpless misery, or terrible greed; sees himself as an ephemeral salve to the wounds of the weak and the punisher of the strong. Maybe it's because he lived a generally gilded life, warm and exotic, padded and coddled and callous-free, that it seems that he doesn't have a sense of challenge. Life is a zero sum game for him. Haves and have-nots. And those folks in the middle? Bitter. Clinging. Stupid.

Tiger Moms are super tough. They know life is hard. They seek not to protect their young as much as prepare their young. They "assume strength, not fragility". They demand hard work, and the accomplishing is its own reward.

(In case you missed it... the Tiger Mom's WSJ piece. And the Time cover story.)

In the beginning of Sarah Palin's first book she recounts her growing up in the man-cave of Alaska... smelling winter on an August evening. Chopping wood every day. Every day! As a means of survival! Catching or killing to eat! Often! Crazy demands to the rest of us, but, to those who meet them, a recognition of the ability of the individual to overcome life's struggles. To toughen up, and to take pride in victory.

We are a nation risen up from the toilings of hard working simple folk. People of faith and strength who forged an empire out of rough and rocky and dangerous territory. Yeah, they really could. And they could without a bureaucracy or a smarmy salesman telling them that if they didn't it was somebody else's fault.

That's not how a person, or a nation, succeeds. That's not what we need projected. I kind of like a person who looks for helping hands at the ends of their own arms, who sees people as individuals, capable and resourceful, who knows that life isn't easy or fair, but that the human spirit is resilient and capable of being inspired.

I don't want politicians that think that we need them. I prefer a leader that knows that we don't.

J. Paul Getty made an awesome statement about the secret to success: "Rise early. Work hard. Strike oil." Hilarious, seemingly cocky, yet true. It still so happens that if one rises early and works hard in America they're bound to strike something... maybe not a geyser, but certainly a shot of contentment, a sense of personal accomplishment.

I remember a while back the president was looking for an "ass to kick". I know... the jokes write themselves. But the butt to be kicked is none other than our own. And if we don't do it, there are a bunch of folks just lining up to do it for us. I'd rather it be Sarah Palin snapping us out of our slumber than the rest of them.

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