Confidence As Big as Alaska

Denali, Alaska • photo courtesy the National Park Service



She took two hours to walk from that pavilion, past the food stalls about a hundred yards away, and back up to finally exit the fair. The mob grew so big that aides at one point directed her back the way they had come instead of pushing onward, fearing for her safety. – Politico, 8/12/11

Watching Gov. Palin work the crowds and the media at the Iowa State Fair yesterday, two thoughts occurred to me …

1. Dang, those folks from Saturday Night Live sure were right …

No, not about the ditzy fake Sarah Palin played by whatshername … but about the real Sarah Palin. The one who connects with people from all walks of life and inspires instant trust and intrigue wherever she goes.

SNL producer Marcie Klein: "I shook [Palin’s] hand, and she had an incredibly strong handshake. She was not nervous. I thought, ‘This is the most confident person I’ve ever met.’ When you see people with confidence, you like that. You trust them. There’s something to confidence that people respond to."

SNL founder Lorne Michaels: "I watched the way [Palin] connected with people. She’s powerful, very disciplined, and an incredibly gracious woman."

Whether it’s under the bright lights of the 30 Rockefeller studios in Manhattan or milling about cattle stalls in Ames, Iowa, Palin connects because of her confidence. And that’s an inseparable part of her appeal.

2. This confidence is what’s missing from the GOP debates thus far…

I don’t have a problem by and large with the GOP folks in the race, currently, truly I don’t … My lighthearted stabs at them were mere love taps… At the end of the day, we’re still "family." But with the exception of the politically incorrect Ron Paul, Herman Cain and Newt Gingrich, so much of the debate Thursday struck me as false bravado, phony optimism and an attempt to out-pander the next guy. The only truly powerful and genuine moments, in my opinion, were when Rick Santorum endearingly defended the innocent unborn, in cases of rape, and when Newt Gingrich smacked down Chris Wallace for obsessing about "campaign minutae."

How is it that eight strong candidates aren’t inspiring that confidence we want to see? Is Rick Perry going to change everything with another Texas-style round-up? If Palin and Perry were headed down a crowded hallway together and turned to go their separate ways, which person would continue to be followed by a throng? It’s a question we may see playing out in the months ahead.

What is it about Sarah Palin that draws crowds and curiosity wherever she goes? Heck, news stations are even airing news reports about her empty bus! Even those who admittedly don’t like her, clamor to have their pictures taken with her, again and again.

I think the love affair is really a love affair with America! Governor Palin represents someone who is uniquely American in her worldview. She is the embodiment of American virtue: bold, beautiful and generous of heart. By virtue of growing up in the Last Frontier, Governor Palin sees an America that is untamed, unfettered, and unparalleled in the world. Like other Alaskans, she is steeped in the tradition of looking to her own ingenuity for survival. If you dropped Sarah Palin on a glacier at the top of the world, she would find a way to survive and thrive. How typically American is that? I joked in my book that her early morning hunting adventures with her dad prepared her for presidential responsibilities. "If you can find moose in the dark in a blizzard without falling off an iceberg, you can probably size up Afghanistan."

And leadership does stem from being able to quickly "size" something up … and not feel dwarfed by the task. I am of the opinion that Gov. Palin does not feel dwarfed by … anything. Not out of an outsized ego, but out of confidence born of her Alaskan experience and her serene faith in a boundless Creator.

Indeed, what sets Gov. Palin apart is the size of her vision, and her ability to inspire others with that vision.

Her confidence is as big as Alaska … and that super-sized imagination, combined with a record to back it up, seems to be exactly what America craves right now.

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I'm a mother of three, and devoted Palin blogger.