Alaska Women Cool to Palin

Carol Thompson, a primary school teacher in Sarah Palin's hometown of
Wasilla, Alaska, has been galled by the mainstream media's
infatuation with the governor's rugged yet glamorous Danielle Boone
persona. "What amazes me is the fascination with her back story, when
Alaska is filled with women who have much more interesting stories
than she does," she said. "She's one of hundreds of thousands of very
fascinating Alaskan women who hunt and fish and ski and build their
own houses. I was living in a tent when I had my child!"

Thompson pointed to the woman next to her, who lives in Palmer, a town
about thirteen miles from Wasilla. "Bridgette was hiking on a glacier
two days before she had her child, and picking blueberries a week after
she had her baby. And that does not qualify us for being Vice

The two of them were so horrified by the prospect of a Palin
presidency that they drove nearly an hour to Anchorage on Saturday to
join a rally called Alaska Women Reject Palin. Evidently, despite the
governor's popularity among Alaska's tiny population, many others
feel the same way. According to a policeman on site, the rally drew
between 1,500 and 1,700 people, an astonishing turnout by Alaska
standards. Philip Munger, who blogs at Progressive Alaska, said it was the biggest demonstration he'd ever seen in Anchorage. To put it in
perspective, according to official estimates, 1,500 people turned out
for Palin's first Anchorage campaign rally Saturday morning, an event
where, according to the Anchorage Daily News, the governor was
"treated like a movie star." Marianne Spur, an occupational therapist
who out of curiosity attended both rallies, insisted that there
were many more people at the anti-Palin event.

Most of the signs were homemade: women affixed banners to hockey
sticks saying "Hockey Mama for Obama," or carried placards asking
"What's the Difference Between Sarah Palin and George W. Bush?
Lipstick." Little girls held posters saying "Don't Ban My Books" and
"I'll Need Reproductive Rights One Day." After two weeks of non-stop
Palin hype that kept her local critics feel isolated, anxious and,
many said, insomniac, it was a giddy relief to find they weren't
alone. "She is not who they are portraying her as," said a woman who
was collecting names to form an anti-Palin PAC, but who said, given
Palin's record of vindictiveness, that she was afraid to give out her
name. "She really does not have the experience. I lay awake at night
just dreading the possibility of a Palin presidency. It just makes me
ill. I can't sleep."

To be sure, Alaskans are, in general, pretty excited about Palin, but
the opposition to her is not inconsiderable. Last week, twenty-five
Wasilla residents stood on a street corner in the rain with Obama
signs and American flags; they were subject to plenty of screams and
curses, but also a surprising number of supportive honks. On Saturday
evening, progressive radio personality Ed Schultz hosted a live town
hall meeting
in an auditorium at the University of Alaska, where, for
three hours, hundreds of people clapped and cheered as locals lined
up at microphones to air all the reasons why Palin has no business
being a heartbeat away from the White House.

Leslie Cornick, a Wasilla resident who teaches marine biology at
Alaska Pacific University, drove to Anchorage for the anti-Palin
rally, and planned to canvas her neighborhood for Obama the
following day. "My husband works with a lot of people who grew up
with her," she said. "Interestingly, they support her, but they also
acknowledge what a liar and a hypocrite she is. Pit bull is really
the appropriate reference for her, and that's not who I want running
my foreign policy."

As Cornick noted, Palin, an anti-abortion opponent of sex education
with a pregnant daughter, has cut funding for programs to support
pregnant teenagers. "She's completely regressive on everything that
women's rights stand for," she said.

"I hear all this talk about how everybody wants someone just like
them in the White House. I'm sorry, I have a PhD, and I still want
someone smarter than I am in the White House," Cornick added. "I want
someone in the White House, or next to the White House, who has some
finesse, who has some critical thinking skills, who has some ability
to synthesize information rather than just knee-jerk react to
everything. And that's her tendency. As more and more Alaskans tell
people in the rest of the world what this woman is really about...I
just have to hope that as the truth comes out about her, people are
going to think twice when they get in the voting both."

It takes some courage to speak out against Palin in Alaska right now. As
word of the anti-Palin rally spread, local right-wing radio host Eddie Burke gave out the names and
phone numbers of the organizers on air, calling them "a bunch of
socialist, baby-killing maggots." They reportedly received threats,
though it didn't deter them.

Burke showed up at the rally, as did a few dozen other Palin
supporters. A stocky, bullet-headed bald man with a goatee, he
barreled through the crowd with a little posse of lumbering men, but
if they were trying to start a fight, they failed. Chants of "Obama!
Obama!" drowned out whatever they were trying to say.

"We need everyone to know that Alaska is not just terribly full of
enthusiasm," said Thompson. "We do have people up here who can think
for themselves, and not get caught up in the excitement of trying to
elect a beauty queen to Vice President."

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