If you want a quick list answer, see the end of this post. If you want the back story, here goes.
It began with a gut feeling.
During Bush's eight years in office, I was in high school and college. I've always been a bit of a political junkie, but I was far too caught up in my schoolwork to pay very close attention to what was going on. One semester I took a course in Public Relations. I believe this was in 2007.
In my textbook was a picture of what looked like an attractive, charismatic man at the Democratic National Convention in 2004. I didn't know who the guy was; I had never seen him before. I had never heard him speak. But looking at that photo I instinctively knew that whoever he was, he would go places. If memory serves, this was the picture:
It was the sincerity of it that struck me. I don't think I'd ever heard a politician speak from the heart like that, except maybe Ronald Reagan. It made an impact. I was touched. I remember blabbing the story to my friends at dinner that night: "Guys, there's this woman Governor of Alaska who just had her fifth kid and he was born with Down Syndrome. She put out this really cool statement about how they were blessed...."
I first learned of Governor Palin back in April of 2008 when Trig was born. At the time I was working at our Student Radio station doing political news, mostly covering the primary contests. Trolling the Internet, I found a headline about the Governor of Alaska giving birth to her fifth child.
Well, that's not something that happens every day, so I clicked on it. It was just a short blurb about how Alaska's first female governor's fifth child had just been born with Down Syndrome. I read the statement that she put out and was blown away.
My reaction mirrored Glenn Beck's, even though I didn't even know who Glenn Beck was at the time:
Then I mostly forgot about the whole thing. That is, until August, when I got another gut feeling.
I turned the channel away from a movie I was watching to our local noon newscast. All I had to see was the ticker on the bottom of the screen: "John McCain picks Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as his running mate...."
I got excited about the campaign for the first time. As she delivered her speech, all I could think was, "That is the first female President of the United States. There she is. Right there."
About halfway through the campaign, my gut instinct about her began to clash with the media picture that was being painted. Eventually, I didn't know which one to believe. I wasn't going to spend my time supporting someone that wasn't worth supporting, so I decided to ignore the campaign and do a little research.
What I found on her positions and her record confirmed for me that I was most definitely not wasting my time. Star power + conservative principles + common sense + bipartisanship (yes, bipartisanship; she has a record of working across party lines) + an understanding and respect for Constitutional limitations on government + a drive and a record of being able to get things done = a woman I want in the White House.
She also has what most other politicians would kill for: great instinct. She's positively Clintonesque in that regard.
When she hit the national stage, she was inexperienced with national campaign media. Hiccups were inevitable. But no one can tell me that this woman is stupid. She didn't get from PTA mom to Governor on a fluke.
The 2008 campaign turned into a media-driven contest between Palin and Obama. John McCain might as well have dropped off the map. (By the way, he's still very much alive. So much for that "one heartbeat away" thing. And seriously, how comfortable are you knowing that foot-meet-mouth Biden is "one heartbeat away" from the Oval Office right now?)
But I can't be too hard on the media for making it a Palin vs. Obama scenario. This story won't be over until they go head to head and one comes out the winner.
"Well, sometimes she trips over a sentence or mispronounces a word."
And? So does every other human being who walks the face of the earth, including our sitting President.
When a Republican President sits in the Oval Office (or a person exists who could be the next Republican President) the media seems to take great delight in assembling what can only be called a Gag Reel. With Bush it included things like him trying to go out a locked door and mispronouncing "nuclear." They whipped it out every chance they got to fit their "Bush is stupid" narrative.
Now, don't get me wrong, Bush wasn't exactly my cup of tea. He was no conservative. I was never under the impression that he was anything more than a moderate.
Anyway, the media also assembled a Gag Reel of Palin. Bits and pieces from the Katie Couric interview, notes on her hand, etc...
Now, I could whip up a pretty sweet Gag Reel of Obama too. And I guarantee you that if the media were biased against Obama like they are biased against Palin, you would think he was a complete dunderhead.
Just because you become a politician doesn't mean you become perfect. Everyone is going to make gaffes, that's not the point. The point is that the media will gain back some modicum of credibility when they stop calling Palin an idiot because of her missteps while at the same time giving Biden a pass after he claims he's having dinner at a place that's been closed for years.
If Palin had said half the things Biden or Obama said she would have been thrown off the ticket. 57 states, plus 1 more to go? Oy, it would have been all over. But Obama said it, and he was "just tired."
When the campaign was over, it was depressing to sit and watch Obama "change" the country, so I started googling Palin to bring some hope for the future to my political world. That's how I found C4P.
Together we Palinites watched the play-by-play of the ethics complaints and the media distortions and the legislative session. We watched as liberal anklebiters slowly wrapped legal chains around the Palin administration, to the point where she couldn't get anything done.
We vowed to help her in any way we could, mostly by providing the accurate information the media refused to offer. Other than a few conservative talk show hosts, no big names were coming to her aid, so we, the "ordinary barbarians" of the world were going to have to do it.
Because this woman was worth defending.
There was a sense of a line being drawn in the sand. Liberals had destroyed people they perceived as threats before (see Clarence Thomas), but the attacks on Palin were beyond the pale. It became personal. It was a feeling of, "Not this woman. Not this time. You want her? You come through us." Our motto: "We've got your back, Gov."
We are a motley crew. Most of us are far from professional. We just do all that we can, believing that it doesn't take a title to make a difference.
One of the things that I enjoy most is the diversity of Palin supporters. Over at C4P (probably the most popular Palin site where a lot of us side bloggers got our start), you will find almost all kinds: young, old, black, white, Hispanic, Chinese, European, Australian, religious, atheist, pagan, former Democrats, Republicans, Hillary supporters, Independents, etc... We all have one thing in common: We love Sarah Palin.
And we're not the only ones.
Tammy Bruce is a gay, pro-choice feminist. I'm not sure if you can find anyone anywhere who supports the idea of President Palin more than she does. Just a few of her opinions on the subject are here, here, and here.
Hillbuzz is a site run by gay men who supported Hillary in 2008. Good luck finding more articulate and ardent supporters of Sarah Palin now. Some of their best writings on the subject are here, here, and here.
One big hang-up for some is that she resigned from the governorship. Do I have a problem with it? No. The government of Alaska wasn't built to handle what Sarah Palin got herself into. She became a national threat and the state was getting pummeled as a result. She tried everything to make it work, but the fact that the legislature refused to fix the abuse of the ethics complaint process made it impossible to govern.
When the pundits finally shut up and just aired her resignation announcement, I realized that this was far from over. She wasn't quitting the fight; she was moving it to a bigger battlefield.
One door closes, another one opens.
She knew that it could mean the end of her political career. It was evident from her speech introducing Michael Reagan that she had resolved herself to the fact that she might "die, politically speaking." That's why she talks so much about not needing a title to make a difference. But, hey, if the title thing pops up again....not closing any doors...
For now she's going around the country supporting certain candidates, and, yes, amassing some personal wealth. Got a problem with that? After almost facing bankruptcy thanks to her political opponents, there's no way she's going to let a lack of funds be used against her again. Now she can fight back.
I wrote briefly earlier about the situation in Alaska that prompted her to resign. I won't repeat it here. But I will reiterate one point - the "half-term Governor" thing.
First of all, technically she's a two-thirds Governor, thank you very much.
Secondly, I would like to point out that while you may wish to beat Palin over the head for leaving her office, you cannot logically make the argument that she "broke her promise to Alaskans." Guess what? If she had been elected Vice-President she would have been a "half-term Governor" who "broke her promise to Alaskans" as well. Janet Napolitano did the same thing. Barack Obama didn't serve out his full Senate term. What's your point?
Obama was a half-term Senator who didn't accomplish anything of any note other than make ridiculous promises like saying he would lower the sea levels. I'll pit my half-term Governor against your half-term Senator any day.
"But Obama went to Harvard, he's so smart." If Harvard teaches you to pronounce it "corpseman" and that the US has 58 states, I'd say Harvard is overrated.
"But Palin's so polarizing!" Why? Because she offers her opinions? Half of the country, if not more, disagrees with what Obama is doing. How come he's not "polarizing"? Obama calls his opponents "tea-baggers," and he's not polarizing? Obama says that the "police acted stupidly," and he's not polarizing?
Give me a break.
I don't know what Palin wants to do. I don't know if she will run in 2012. But I hope she does. Yes, I support her. Most wholeheartedly. And finally, without further adeiu, here are some of the reasons why:
Because I believe her to be a woman of good character who genuinely loves this country.
Because she believes in Constitutional restraints, and in being a servant of the people, not their master.
Because she has a record of common sense conservative pragmatism, despite how much the media tries to paint her as a right-wing extremist.
Because she acknowledges her need to rely on God for strength.
Because her very presence seems to highlight professional politicians who long ago forgot that they were in office to serve others, not themselves.
Because I see so many others in the GOP cutting and running on things like the Arizona immigration bill and offshore drilling, while Sarah Palin stiffens her spine.
Because she's a natural-born leader.
Because every time you think she's down for good, she comes back smiling.
Because she supports Israel. Period.
Because she drives the Left absolutely crazy. It's just funny to watch them completely lose their minds whenever someone says her name.
Because when the media lies this much about one person, they're telling you who they fear.
Because Mitt Romney is poised to become the new elder in the Republican Party, and if that happens, we're screwed.
Because she's the only one who has a shot at beating Barack Obama.
Because she never bows except to pray.
Because I have seen the strength of her daughter under the microscope of a judgmental and at times mocking world, and I know she has to get that strength from somewhere.
Because my half-term Governor can beat your half-term Senator.
Because Todd would make the most awesome First Spouse ever!
Because when I see little Trig smile, it warms my heart, and I want to see him smiling on the White House lawn someday.
"What if she turns out to be a phony?"
What if she does? Worst case scenario, we find out she's just another politician. In that case, I guess we go back to the fields until the next time a Cincinattus is required. No harm, no foul.
But she's not a phony. I'd bank on it.