My husband had ongoing land use negotiations with the city of Wasilla, Alaska, where he had once lived, and felt that the mayor was never up front on what he said and seldom honored verbal commitments. My husband was often frustrated, so when Sarah Palin was elected he was relieved to find she was a person of honor.

I don’t always agree with some of the things Sarah did as Governor of Alaska, but overall I do like and trust her as a person. When I made the decision to defend her when I was in Chicago I had no idea where that would take me. We stayed at a Ronald McDonald House when our daughter was undergoing treatments for her illness and I chose not to participate in political discussions while we stayed there. I felt that politics should have no place in a house meant as a retreat for people whose children were ill, but there were others who indulged in loud and often insulting political discussions. You know the kind, all white people are racist, etc.

When we got to the house following the elections we were hit right away with sneering references to Sarah. I calmly said, “I’m sorry, but I don’t appreciate my friend being lied about, and she is really a very smart and lovely person.” One of the worst offenders jumped up like a scalded cat and ran from the room. I could hear her almost screaming about how awful Sarah was and how could I possibly be friends with her? The woman was a House volunteer who spoke to me only grudgingly thereafter.

A few days after our arrival, a good friend invited me and my daughter to attend a local Women’s Club meeting. I am not that kind of “joiner” but the speaker sounded interesting so we decided to go. On our early arrival we were introduced to a few women and sat down. One of the women came to sit beside me and told me she had been the first person in Hyde Park to hold a Tea and Fundraiser for Barack Obama and we were so lucky he had won the election, blah, blah. Me, “Ummm.” Suddenly she took my hand and said, “I’ve never met anyone from Alaska before.” “Well,” I said, “Here I am.” The usual questions followed, “How long have you lived there?” “Fifty years.” “Is it really dark six months a year?” “No.” “Do you eat seals?” “Some people do.”

Then she switched gears, “Maybe I shouldn’t ask this but, well I just want to know if the rumors are true and maybe you can tell me.” She sat there looking at me expectantly as if I were a mind reader. Finally I had to ask, “What exactly are the rumors?” Looking slightly embarrassed she said, “They say that Alaska is horribly polluted and that’s why Sarah Palin is so stupid.” By that time she was positively salivating for my answer. I was so stunned I could hardly think, so all I could come up with was, “I’m sorry about such a rumor because Alaska is one of the most pristine places on earth, and my friend Sarah Palin is very intelligent.”

She gave me a sad, pitying smile as the meeting was gaveled to order, and  she went to sit by friends while I thought of all the answers I should have given. How about, “You really think Alaska is more polluted than Chicago?” Or, “Gee, I just told you I’ve lived there for fifty years, shall I drool on you in my abject stupidity?”

One of my sons met this woman later and she told him she has been a long-time Socialist. Big surprise there.

She also has a PhD in psychology, but I won’t hold that against her.

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