I watched Game Change last night, and I must admit I was immediately hooked. Within the first two minutes of the movie, I was intrigued and fascinated by this new perspective of campaign life. And while I wasn’t surprised by the internal mechanisms of a presidential campaign, my feelings regarding Sarah Palin did shock me.
I expected to walk away from Game Change thinking that Palin was the hopeless, helpless, irate idiot that comes across in her public appearances; however, that’s not what I saw at all. Game Change introduced me to a Sarah Palin who is steadfastly committed to her faith and was eager and excited by the opportunity to be on the national stage. She wanted to perform well and do what she thought was best for her country. Unfortunately, she just wasn’t ready. Palin became the victim of individuals who wanted to win at all cost, without regard to what their “winning” strategy what do to their opponent, the country or their partner, Palin. McCain campaign staffers reckless chose Palin and used her as a pawn in their effort to win the presidency.
As a woman, a mother, and a future wife, I understand Palin’s initial rebellion. She felt ill prepared for the attacks that were being waged on her family. And as a mother, if someone attacks my child, I’m not only going in on the person doing the attacking; I’m also going for the jugular of those who disregarded my family’s welfare and placed them in the line of fire. Sarah’s rebellion started the moment she began to think that the McCain campaign didn’t have her best interest at heart. She was upset by the media’s handling of Bristol, her email account being hacked, and her reputation in Alaska declining. She felt like the sacrificial lamb, and she began to snap, like any human would. Unfortunately, her rebellion resulted in unjustifiable behavior. The lies, the deception and the outbursts that followed were incomprehensible and unacceptable.
And while I am sympathetic of Sarah, I also believe she must take some responsibility for the position she found herself in. You can’t run in a presidential election on a moral platform and think the media is not going to criticize the fact you have a pregnant teen daughter. This should have been considered before she committed to being McCain’s running mate. You can’t not understand foreign policy (or world history for that matter) and then say staffers are “overwhelming” you when they attempt to cram 300 years of history down your brain in preparation for interviews and debates. And you can’t say the liberal media is out to get you because you failed to prepare for basic questions that any national politician should be able to answer.
Sarah Palin’s story is actually a lesson to us all. A lesson on what happens when opportunity meets the ill prepared. An example of what happens when people receive too much power too quickly. A message on what happens when leaders are ignorant of the influence their tone, rhetoric, and attitude have on others. When I look at Sarah now, I am reminded of the last thing McCain said to her: “You’re one of the leaders of the party now, Sarah. Don’t get co-opted by Limbaugh and the other extremists. They’ll destroy the party if you let them.” Unfortunately, that’s exactly what Palin allowed to happen.