Why do I defend Palin in this case? I don't agree with her political philosophy: She is an arch conservative. I am a liberal with sanity. I know that I am setting myself up for attack when I ask, why did Emile Zola defend Dreyfus? Palin is no Dreyfus and I am certainly no Zola. But all of us have an obligation, particularly those in politics and public office, to denounce, when we can, the perpetrators of horrendous libels and stand up for those falsely charged. We should denounce unfair, false and wicked charges not only when they are made against ourselves, our friends or our political party but against those with whom we disagree. If we are to truly change the poisonous political atmosphere that we all complain of, including those who create it, we should speak up for fairness when we can.
In the 2008 presidential race when Sarah Palin's name was first offered to the public by John McCain as his running mate, I said at the time that she "scared the hell out of me." My reference was to the content of her remarks, not to her power to persuade voters.
It was McCain who lost the presidential election, not Palin. Since that time she has established that she has enormous power to persuade people. A self-made woman who rose from PTA mother to Governor of Alaska, she is one of the few speakers in public life who can fill a stadium. Her books are enormous successes. Her television program about Alaska has been a critical and economic success. When Sarah Palin addresses audiences, they rise to their feet in support and applause. She is without question a major leader of the far right faction in the Republican Party and its ally the Tea Party.
I repeat my earlier comment that she "scares the hell out of me." Nevertheless, she is entitled to fair and respectful treatment. The fools in politics today in both parties are those who think she is dumb. I've never met her, but I've always thought that she is highly intelligent but not knowledgeable in many areas and politically uninformed. I don't believe she will run for president in 2012 or that she would be elected if she did. But I do believe she is equal in ability to many of those in the Republican Party seeking that office.
Many women understand what she has done for their cause. She will not be silenced nor will she leave the heavy lifts to the men in her Party. She will not be falsely charged, remain silent, and look for others - men - to defend her. She is plucky and unafraid.
While I disagree with her and I am prepared to oppose her politically, in the spirit of longed-for civility I say, Ms. Palin you are in a certain sense an example of the American dream: You have the courage to stand up and present your vision of America to its people. Your strength and lack of fear make America stronger and are examples to be emulated by girls and boys, men and women who are themselves afraid to speak up. You provide the example that they need for self-assurance.