The rollout of Sarah Palin as the Republican vice presidential nominee appears to be morphing into a full-fledged juggernaut. Democratic strategists, not to mention their nominees, continue to scratch their heads while trying to play the familiar political games of catch-up and gotcha.
Governor Palin is a breath of fresh air to some, and a dangerous tornado to others. But all agree that she has changed the dynamics of a campaign that was beginning to appear inevitable. She has been compared to leaders of the past. During her now famous acceptance speech, she brought up the name of Harry S. Truman and talked about sharing a lot in common with the man from Missouri.
Some, though, have allowed their reach to exceed their grasp in trying to suggest that Sarah Palin could be the second coming of Theodore Roosevelt. The lady from Alaska may very well prove to be the real deal and continue to demonstrate that she is a natural on the national political stage. She may, in fact, be a unique politician who can make an indelible mark on the times. But we must be careful about rushing to see her as the reincarnation of anyone.
She may be something much more rare and valuable.
To say that Sarah Palin is no Teddy Roosevelt is not an insult – far from it. And Joe Biden would be wise to resist the temptation to use a flippant Lloyd Bentsen-like line during their debate next month. She may well prove to transcend Roosevelt and other usual-suspect names brought up to try to define her. Sometimes people are just themselves and grow to become the kind of leaders others want to emulate. This was certainly the case with TR.
There are some similarities between the Barracuda and the Bull Moose – and these have led to obvious comparisons. She is young – so was Teddy when he became the vice presidential nominee in 1900 at the age of forty-one. She has served as a governor for only a couple of years. It was the same with TR - less than 2 years as chief executive of New York. She likes to hunt, so did Mr. Roosevelt. She has a passion for reform. Again, ditto Teddy. Mr. Roosevelt had a large family – so does Sarah. And there is a compelling similarity between the two in the idea of taking on their own party, if need be – the so-called maverick factor.
There are, however, some very clear differences between our twenty-sixth president and the woman who would be vice president next January 20th.