COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado - Heading east on a windy Interstate 70, we've entered the Great
Plains of Kansas, leaving the behind the Rocky mountains, where our
visit to Colorado Springs gave us the opportunity to attend one of the
now-famous Sarah Palin rallies. Colorado Springs is definitely what
Palin would describe as one of the "pro-America areas of the nation,"
home to some of its most powerful conservative evangelical
institutions. When we arrived at the city's minor league baseball
stadium on Monday at 6am for an 8am rally, there were already plenty of
Palin's supporters lined up in the pre-dawn darkness, many of them
dressed in red to demonstrate fealty to their candidate.
Watch the video.
hours later, they had filled the centre of the 8,500-seat stadium
(though there were still empty seats in the stands) and were kept
stamping their feet in the damp cold - first to a Christian rock group
and then to Hank Williams, Jr, who sang one populist tune after
another, some of them tailored to the current election.
In the original version of his song, Family Tradition,
Williams defended his hereditary penchant for drinking Jim Beam and
smoking dope. But rewritten as "McCain-Palin Tradition," the song
encourages voters to ignore the "leftwing liberal media" and support
the Republican ticket "cuz they're just like you and ol' Hank".
goes on to explain the causes of the financial crisis: "The bankers
didn't want to make all those bad loans / But Bill Clinton said 'you
got to!' / Now they want to bail out, what I'm talking about / Is a
Democrat liberal hoodoo!"
Williams's tribute in song to Sarah
Palin compared her to a mama bear" who could be counted upon to
"protect your family's condition" because "If you mess with her cubs,
shes gonna take off the gloves, / Thats an American female tradition".
It ended with a musical question to the vice-presidential candidate:
"How can you be so smart and be such a good lookin' dish?"
Williams exited to the sound of Johnny Cash's Walk the Line, the mama
bear herself appeared sporting a red leather jacket, producing a roar
from her followers. Palin has pulled back from her riff about Barack
Obama not being "a man who sees America like you and I see America,"
after accusations of coded racism from the media, and shouted death
threats againt Obama from her crowds. Now she is instead offering up
another American bogeyman: The Red Menace.
Obama's tax plan,
Palin warned her audience, would drive the country into the socialist
camp: "Obama calls it spreading the wealth," she said. "Now is not the
time to experiment with socialism. Distributing the wealth will stifle
In fact, the only person who is
promoting any kind of socialism these days isn't Obama but George Bush,
who has basically nationalised the banking system - ensuring, at the
same time, that his brand of corporate socialism will benefit the rich,
while leaving the proletariat to twist in the wind. Nevertheless,
Palin's use of the s-word drew a raucous response from the crowd.
the crowd at the rally was totally behind their lady in red, there was
nonetheless a sense of something being not quite right among Palin's
fans. Beneath the cheers and applause, there was a lingering mood of
defeat - a sense that it was all over, and that as much as anything,
this was a goodbye rally for the woman who just months ago had so
energised social conservatives.
Pressing a blue "Country First"
placard into my hands, a middle-aged woman with intense sparkling eyes
told me that she thought there still was a chance - that the polling
figures were showing a slight up-tick for McCain. She didn't seem all
that convinced herself, but she pointed a finger towards heaven and
smiled resolutely. The decision, she said, was in the hands of God.
"But, what if you lose?'' I asked. "We will just have to wait until he
decides," she said, again nodding towards heaven. "That might be a
pretty long wait," I said. She laughed and agreed.