I'm sure I would like Sarah Palin if I got the chance to meet her. We share many things in common. She is still married to her first spouse, as am I. She has a Down syndrome son. I have a brother with Down syndrome. We share the same faith and we both like the outdoors. She is conservative on economic and social issues, and so am I.
In her new book, "Going Rogue," Palin complains about her running mate's handlers, whom she says kept her from being herself. I have similar complaints. Those handlers also kept me from interviewing her. The handlers are long gone, of course, but still I cannot get close to her.
I could either play the victim, or move on. I choose to move on. But before I do, the Palin phenomenon -- for that is what it is because her celebrity flows singularly from John McCain's choice of her as a running mate -- offers an opportunity for conservatives to choose their path to the future. Will it be a path of the angry and disenfranchised outsider, or will it be something of substance that produces triumphs in both politics and policy?
The victim thing is getting old. Conservatives have a significant presence in virtually every venue they like to denounce. That includes government (though not this one) and especially the media. Talk radio rules and the rulers are conservatives. Fox News Channel dominates the ratings. The conservative presence in academia lags, but there are universities that do not revise American history and mock religious values. Movies? There are some with solid conservative principles, such as Sandra Bullock's latest film, "The Blind Side." Will conservatives go see it, or are they more comfortable denouncing "Hollywood"? How about reinforcements for those conservatives already "making it" in the mainstream media?
In her interview with Oprah Winfrey, the queen of talk asked the queen of politics about the famous Katie Couric interview. I thought Couric gave her ample opportunity to reveal herself and to let viewers see if there was substance behind Palin's attractive exterior. Couric legitimately tried to find out what shapes Palin's worldview and what she reads. Palin couldn't name a single publication. Oprah gave her another chance, but she never followed up to ask about books or a newspaper from which she gets information, ideas and inspiration.
Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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