Thursday, June 30, 2011

Sarah Palin: Still the GOP’s Biggest Star

By Craig Robinson

Pella took center stage as Sarah Palin made a visit to the community of 10,000 to view a new documentary about her political life, “The Undefeated.” Below are my thoughts about what took place there yesterday.

The Setting

The setting couldn’t have been more perfect. The City of Pella is worth a visit at any time of year, especially in the early spring when its millions of tulips are bloom. But even after the tulips are gone, the vibrant city known for its Dutch heritage still impresses those who stop in the southern Iowa town.

The heart of the city is populated with locally owned stores. There isn’t a big box store in sight of the downtown. Instead of cars being lined up at a Starbucks, people grab their coffee at Smokey Row. People travel from near and far to get Dutch letters and baked goods from the Jaarsma Bakery. If sweets and baked goods are not your forte, there is always Ulrich’s Meat Market.

Pella was the perfect setting to unveil the new Palin documentary, The Undefeated, because, in many ways, it could be said that the community of Pella is undefeated. While many parts of the state are dealing with high unemployment, Marion County, which includes Pella, has seen its unemployment rate dropped from 7.3 percent in January to 5.7 percent in May, which is below the state average.

The community, which has 2400 more registered Republicans than Democrats, embraced the movie premier and Palin visit. The day before her visit, the movie producer and other advance staff could be heard laughing throughout the downtown with public safety officials. As always, the community of Pella put its best foot forward as the spotlight shined upon its picturesque city.

The Movie

Last week, I talked to a member of the media who had seen a preview of “The Undefeated” and was unimpressed. Most of the complaints were technical in nature.

They were also offended by the unrated version’s language that opens the movie. The movie begins showing the vicious attacks on Palin, most of them from the liberal elite from Hollywood. The version shown in Pella was lightly toned down with the offending curse words being bleeped out, but the effect of displaying the vitriol this woman faced, mostly just for the fact that she’s a conservative woman, was still shocking and a bit overwhelming to watch.

My initial thought while watching the movies was, where was this three years ago when Palin was on the Republican presidential ticket? The movie does an excellent job of telling the story of Palin’s political career, the odds she faced, the victories she achieved, and the price that she ultimately paid.

After watching the film, you come away with a better understanding of what Palin did in Alaska that thrust her into the national spotlight. The documentary showcases the victories she achieved in the first 20 months as governor. Then it shows how, after being demonized by the liberal left, she was no longer able to accomplish anything.

The movie helps to reintroduce Palin after having been made into a punching bag for the media and anyone else who is threatened by her presence in American politics. As the movie closes, it pushes the possibility that a Palin candidacy could be eminent. If she did run, that means Palin could give people a movie while other candidates hand out books.

The crowd was electric inside the Pella Opera House during the movie. Those in attendance didn’t just sit back and watch the movie, they participated in it by clapping and cheering throughout.

The Star

Palin was amazing in Pella yesterday. As she and Todd made their way though various shops in the downtown area, onlookers would stop to say hello, ask to take a photo, or get an autograph. Palin took it all in stride. Even though she is a huge media sensation, she is somehow able to remain grounded. Nothing illustrated that more than the bug splattered Chevy Malibu that they drove to Pella.

The media couldn’t help but try and compare Palin to Michele Bachmann, who officially launched her presidential campaign on Monday. They both connect to people, and both have star power, but having seem them both in Iowa in the span of 24 hours, it’s clear that Palin will always be the original female GOP star.

That’s not an insult toward Bachmann, but Palin’s star shines brighter.

I thought it was pretty remarkable that Palin, who is a national political phenomenon, came to this small Iowa town, strolled through the town square, watched a two-hour movie with 300 plus locals, and then spent several hours meeting people and shaking hands at the cook out that followed the movie premier. The people just flocked to her in Pella last night, and she handled it all with grace.

Palin must have posed for a thousand photographs last night. In addition, she also autographed hundreds of books, tickets, and even a baseball. While she could have left at any time, she patiently worked through the crowd until she hit the door of her car. The crowd loved her. Nobody went home disappointed.

Photos by Dave Davidson

 The Iowa Republican