New reality series reveals softer, environmental side of the ‘rogue’

Column by Andrew Hammack. E-mail [email protected].

For Palin, there shouldn’t be a separation between saying and doing.

I was lucky enough to catch the premiere episode of “Sarah Palin’s Alaska” on TLC this past Sunday. I heard she was going to have a show coming out, but I didn’t really know when, and I didn’t exactly care.

When I first heard of the show, without thinking about it, I quickly assumed the plot: show Palin at home with her large, handsome family; show Palin going on various news interviews; show Palin as an “everyday mom.” I expected a lot of “drill baby drill-ing” and “mama grizzly-ing,” and I wasn’t disappointed. Pretty dull stuff.

However, I was surprised to see marvelous footage of Alaska, one of our most beautiful and naturally resourceful states. I thought Palin looked as if she belonged alongside Bear Grylls in the Discovery channel’s line-up of outdoor adventure shows. In the premiere episode, Palin is seen hiking the foothills of Mt. McKinley, fishing for Salmon in “bear country” and scaling a rocky peak with her husband Todd.

Palin’s show reveals her to be much the same as the slightly air headed, and surprising former vice-presidential candidate we know her to be, but it also shows her in a more interesting light.

It’s clear that Palin LOVES her home in Alaska and takes great pride in its natural beauty. So much so, that she always takes along at least some of her children on her outdoor adventures (and even tries teaching her young daughter, Piper, a lesson on human nature while they sit and watch two brown bears fighting).

Palin is much more complicated however, and her record as Alaska’s governor reveals a great divide between what she says on her show and what she does with her political voice.

In a recent New York Times article, Matt Bai says this of Palin’s political identity, “Ms. Palin expertly allowed herself to be shaped by the demands of the marketplace, and in this way she became the best example yet of a new phenomenon in our politics — what we might think of as the crowd-sourced candidate.”

In all conceivable ways, Palin has aligned herself with the conservative party in the past. She is an advocate for strong family values, small government and deregulation of corporations. However, with her show, and with her passion for the natural beauty of her home state, she has a chance to stand out from the political right and to break through the historically partisan defined issue — the environment.

As the emerging face of a new Republican party, Palin has the power to finally fix the disconnect between conservatives and failing to conserve our environment.

Palin says this in the premiere episode, “I love this state like I love my family.” Now, she should use her skyrocketing political fame to protect her state with the same “mama grizzly” ferocity she uses to protect her family.