September 4, 2008

The Voice of Small-Town America

Marc Comtois

Like the majority of Americans, and to quote John Mellencamp (who'd not appreciate it, I'm sure), "I was born in a small town" and I was raised by small-town parents, grew up with small-town people and married a small-town gal. That's why, even as Sarah Palin introduced herself to America last night, many people like myself felt like we already knew her. I've mentioned before George Will's construction that sensibility (or disposition) comes before philosophy or ideology. Last night's speech exhibited small-town, middle-America sensibility and it will resonate with millions of Americans who can identify with Palin and her family.

Just like Palin, small-town folks are fiercely protective of their family, particularly their children, who they consider their personal stake in the future. This also extends to friends and neighbors. They work hard and they play hard. They are in the PTO, they volunteer, they coach sports teams and they help at shelters, soup kitchens and churches. And small-towners are smarter than their given credit for. They know that simple words that get to the point are more effective than running to a thesaurus--who has the time for that? They know B.S. when they see it and they don't want to deal in it. (New Englanders should know this--what is Yankee wit, after all?). Most importantly, they know the genuine article when they see it.

Does this make small-towners somehow unique or better than other Americans? Of course not. For while city and suburban folks may not share the same background as Sarah Palin and the rest of small-town America, they are just as protective and just as devoted to family and community. Yet, there are differences in the city, suburban and small-town sensibilities. Sarah Palin is the first national politician in a long while who can legitimately speak to and relate to small-town America. She addressed their concerns and sensibilities on the national stage in a way that goes beyond lip-service and pandering.

It goes even deeper, though. For while Palin's political rise has been mercurial, her small-town roots are important in understanding the type of politician she is. She wasn't just the mayor of any small-town, she was mayor of the town she grew up in. Then she ran for lieutenant governor and, later, became governor of her home state, Alaska. As her confidence in her ability to serve her community grew, the size of that community--small-town, state, nation--has grown along with it. That doesn't mark her as unique, but it does explain her ability to relate and speak to first her neighbors, then her state and, now, America.

Fundamentally, then, it is the small-town roots that have helped her grow to national prominence. Her sensibilities that were cultivated and grew in a small American town inspired her "servant's heart." Her actions and words reveal that she is a woman who is consistent in her service to those she represents. She means what she says. That's all small-town Americans, any Americans, can ask for.

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Small town America elected GWB, let's not forget that fact.

Posted by: Citizen Critic at September 4, 2008 1:48 PM

Just because you can "relate" to a person, doesn't mean that person is qualified to lead the country. Remember the people who wanted to drink beer with George W. Bush? Well, we aren't talking beer buddies here or moose hunting buddies. We're talking running the United States of America. This woman delivers a helluva speech, but its filled with lies and divisiveness. Do small town people like that stuff too?

Posted by: nokoolaidplease at September 4, 2008 2:38 PM

Here were just a few of the major lies from last night:

* They continued the lies about taxes, when Barack Obama's tax policies are better than John McCain's for everyone but the folks as wealthy as John McCain.

* They lied about Barack Obama's energy plan, ignoring his comprehensive plan in favor of their 'drill baby, drill" chanting.

* They even smeared community organizing repeatedly, as if helping people organize to fight for their own rights is something to be mocked and denigrated.

Posted by: nc at September 4, 2008 3:03 PM

NC, you missed the point, Community Organizer is where all Barak's experience is concentrated and it's a tiny, tiny job, designed for fresh-out-of-college-kids-who-can't-get-a-real-job.

Posted by: George at September 4, 2008 3:53 PM

Come to think of it, isn't Jerzyk an "Organizer"?

Posted by: George at September 4, 2008 3:55 PM

Of course, the “relate to” factor should not be as significant as it is, but the truth is that in this culture of 24-hour political news coverage and where the line between politics and entertainment is almost non-existent, the “relate to” factor is more and more relevant. I think that explains why the “more relatable” candidate has the won the last eight presidential elections.

As far as speeches with lies and divisiveness, I think it is safe to say that any speech given by any of the four main candidates will have its share. Lies and divisiveness in speeches transcends political affiliation.

Posted by: msteven at September 4, 2008 4:37 PM

Small towns: those spots of land liberals fly-over on their jets from New York City to Los Angeles. By the way, most Americans still live in towns, not in big cities.

It looks like the hit and run internet trolls have stopped by. Let's see:

"They continued the lies about taxes, when Barack Obama's tax policies are better than John McCain's for everyone but the folks as wealthy as John McCain."

Who do you think "everyone" is actually employed by? Most "wealthy" people own businesses; businesses employ people. I never got a job from a poor person. I'm still waiting for Bill Clinton's "middle class tax cut" from 1992.

"They lied about Barack Obama's energy plan, ignoring his comprehensive plan in favor of their 'drill baby, drill" chanting."

He has no real plan. He's modified his previous position(s), because he had to, because the polls are overwhelmingly against him. It's a fairy tale, much like his entire campaign (ask Bill Clinton).

"They even smeared community organizing repeatedly, as if helping people organize to fight for their own rights is something to be mocked and denigrated."

Good. Most people don't know what a "Community organizer" actually is or does, other than professionally rabble-rouse and extort funds from businesses, in exhange for their "cooperation" (ask Jesse Jackson). "Community organizer" is going to be the new L-word (Liberal) -- it kind of reminds people of Communism, too. Get used to hearing it. A lot.

Posted by: Will at September 4, 2008 4:46 PM

NC - don't get hysterical.

* Its possible for tow parties to disagree on the relative merits of tax plans without either party lying.

* McCain's energy policy is yes to drilling and also yes to a host of alternative energy plays and yes to nuclear. The alternative energy plays have not yet proved out but there are some with promise plus the ever-present possibility that something will come out of left field and make a contribution. BO's stance against drilling in the interim is stupid and that ain't no lie.

* Community organizing is not in my opinion a useful career experience for a President. You may disagree, but neither of us is lying.

Posted by: chuckr at September 4, 2008 4:49 PM

George-as I understand it,Jerzyk is an organizer for the SEIU,or was at any rate-he also organized a smorgasbord of other activities-but he is now an actual lawyer(assuming he passed the bar,which I imagine he did, as stupid he is not)so maybe he hasn't time to organize so much.
David Segal the state rep,says he is a full-time organizer.He will save the world any day now by outlawing internal combustion engines and cattle-raising,blah,blah,blah.Too bad he missed the Sixties.
Most people who describe themselves as "organizers","producers",or "promoters"are usually legends in their own minds.

Posted by: joe bernstein at September 4, 2008 5:15 PM

Well, CBS is now reporting that McCain and Obama are now tied at 42% according to their poll.

Should be a fun couple of months!

Posted by: Anthony at September 4, 2008 5:27 PM

Obama, in response to Palin's speech was that she is out of touch with the regular folk. Ummm... excuse me, but Mr. Obama, she IS regular folk!

Posted by: bobc at September 4, 2008 6:05 PM

I guess some people don't count Hope, Ark. or Plains, Ga. as small towns.

Posted by: rhody at September 4, 2008 8:07 PM

Actually, if Palin had come from a very large city instead of a small town, it wouldn't matter. The Left and the MSM have got it out for her. (Jonathan Last has a great piece in First Things about this) But it makes me think of Michael Phelps. I think a little antagonism will go a long way to inspiring a Repub victory on Nov 4.

Posted by: Chuck at September 4, 2008 8:31 PM

Number of times MSNBC mentions 24 year old drnking and driving charge against Palin's husband-before they were married-6598.

Number of times MSNBC has mentioned either of Joe Biden's daughter's arrests this millenium-one for dope, one for threatening cops-ZERO.

Leftist media bias-Priceless.

Oh, and google "George Obama" to see how the Three Chickens in Every Pot Messiah is REALLY gonna take care of you.

Posted by: Mike at September 4, 2008 8:58 PM

rhody, C'mon now, argumentum ex silentio? This was about why Palin is effective. Doesn't mean other small-town poli's aren't.

Posted by: Marc at September 5, 2008 7:26 AM

>>Community Organizer is where all Barak's experience is concentrated and it's a tiny, tiny job, designed for fresh-out-of-college-kids-who-can't-get-a-real-job.

George, that's not completely true.

A "community organizer" position is also where bright, freshly minted liberal Ivy Leaguers can solicit big, evil corporations to fund voter registration campaigns that allow them to build the base of support they need to run for political office in the future.

I think Matt Brown might have some information on the job description, if you're interested.

Posted by: Anthony at September 5, 2008 12:28 PM

Palin lies
Palin claim on eBay plane sale doesn't fly
By Jason George and Andrew Zajac

Chicago Tribune correspondents

September 5, 2008

JUNEAU, Alaska — When Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin sought to illustrate her frugality and flair to delegates at the GOP convention Wednesday, she described how she disposed of a corporate jet acquired by her unpopular predecessor.

"That luxury jet was over the top," Palin, the Republican vice presidential nominee, said to loud cheers. "I put it on eBay."

Palin's statement implied the plane was sold through the online auction site revered for empowering millions of small entrepreneurs, and Palin's spokeswoman insisted Thursday that the transaction occurred. But the plane failed to sell on eBay.

Instead, the 23-year-old 10-seat Westwind II was sold in August 2007 for $2.1 million to a Valdez, Alaska, entrepreneur; that's about $300,000 less than a broker's asking price, according to news accounts.

Also, while Palin characterized the plane as an extravagance of former Gov. Frank Murkowski, who arranged for its purchase in November 2005, the plane saw heavy use transporting Alaskan convicts.

Alaska does not have adequate prison capacity and contracts for space with a private facility near Phoenix. On Thursday, 24 percent of the 4,546 Alaskans in jail or in prison were serving their time at Arizona's Red Rock Correctional Center, said a spokesman for the Alaska Department of Corrections.

When the state first began using the plane in November 2005, prisoner transport accounted for 58 percent of the jet's use, and Murkowski's office used it 23 percent of the time. Over time, Murkowski's usage increased.

Today, the U.S. Marshals Service transports 90 percent of Alaska prisoners to Arizona.

The last U.S. Marshal flights to and from Arizona transported 145 prisoners at a cost of $127,000, or about $875 per prisoner. That's cheaper than the jet, whose per-prisoner cost averaged $1,674.

There is a case to be made for jet travel in a state as vast as Alaska. But the acquisition of the plane by Murkowski helped seal a perception of him as out of touch and added ammunition to Palin's campaign as a reformer. The jet become an issue in their 2006 primary race.

Jason George reported from Juneau and Andrew Zajac reported from Washington.

Copyright © 2008, Chicago Tribune

Posted by: blue bomber at September 5, 2008 12:30 PM

Another fact not reported in the MSM:

Nearly twice as many Americans have been shot and killed in Obama's home city of Chicago than have been killed in Iraq this summer.

Hmm...maybe that why Obama "withdrew" from Chicago and went to Washington rather than trying to "stop the violence" in his hometown.

Posted by: Anthony at September 5, 2008 12:33 PM

Chicago has gun control almost as bad as DC's and worse than even NYC.Obama's dream-no legitimate people with guns.
Criminals with guns?Well,it's because we give tax breaks to the rich would be Obama's reasoning.
A good barometer of how McCain-Palin are doing is the increasing viciousness of the attacks on PDD and RI Future.One contributor calling his/her self WOW is already predicting McCain will die within 2 years.This cretin is a teachers union member.How nice for the students.
Jerzyk plays it cagey,staying just out of the gutter,and Kim Ahern never goes there to her credit,but Crowley is revving up his rhetoric to a hysterical pitch.Always a sign that things aren't that bad.
If Palin is such a lightweight,why are they worried?I recall Nixon way before the Demcratic primaries when Clinton got the nod in 1992 saying how Mario Cuomo was a heavywieght and Clinton was a nothing.I don't know if Nixon lived to see the elections of 1992 but was he ever wrong!
The moderators of the debates with the possible exception of Bob Schieffer are in the tank for Obama/Biden so we know what's coming there.Gwen Ifill?Tom Brokaw?Come on.I think CSpan should host the denates.At least they are pretty fair over there.

Posted by: joe bernstein at September 5, 2008 2:48 PM
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