For me, it is this: I am a firm believer in people skills. If a person has people skills -- and that is a skill, in my opinion -- that's half the battle. Where you went to college is not important to me. Elite schools are nice -- I went to one myself -- but elitism itself is the greatest flaw a person can have, whether it comes from money or prestige. It's far worse to me than, say, hypocrisy (liberals hate hypocrisy) b/c the worst thing you can say about a hypocrite is that he's not in touch with himself. That he argues for something positive despite being hopelessly flawed can still be a good thing for America. (Clearly I prefer someone who isn't a hypocrite, but if he is I don't get my panties in a bunch.)
So who is Sarah Palin? She is clearly presenting herself as Everywoman in that she's not part of any establishment, she wasn't born privileged, and she didn't attend an elite school. She also has a son serving in Iraq and a special needs child, as you know. In this way she is similar to your average mom in America.
Of course there's nothing average about Palin. She didn't grow up the way we did, for example. Her upbringing sounds like something right out of Little House on the Prarie. They hunted, fished, and were generally outside -- in extremely cold temperatures -- much of the day. It also takes a very long time to get from point a to point b in Alaska, so this is not a woman who has grown up with physical comforts. She also didn't grow up watching television -- another telltale sign of a successful person --and spent most of her indoor time reading. Lastly, she didn't date much -- and her family was very religious. (More on that later.)
Her political career in addition to her large family also separates her from most Americans. This is good for political reasons -- it makes her stand out -- but she has extended family, babysitters, and a flexible husband which allows her to do what she does. That in itself in unique for the 21st century, since most families don't live in the same town anymore.
I believe people have warmed to Palin because of her everyday qualities. I think she's banking on the fact that people are ready for a "regular" person. I don't believe everyday Americans care where a politician went to school or how articulate he or she is. (While these things are nice, they certainly haven't done squat for Obama.) What they care about is what the person believes in -- and whether or not you say what you mean.
It is, ironically, her lack of politician-like status that will serve her well.
TOMORROW: Sarah Palin's Religion
Dated: 4:05 AM