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Bryan's Blog

Sarah Palin Stumps at Rolling Thunder Rally

Tuesday, May 31, 2011
Sarah Palin in D.C. at biker rally.
Sarah Palin was in Washington, D.C. this past weekend for the Rolling Thunder rally. Though it wasn't an official press opportunity, do you really think that a shot like this showing Palin rolling toward the Capitol building is coincidental?
Sarah Palin at Rolling Thunder rally.
I’ve seen more publicity for the Rolling Thunder rally this year than ever before. Sure, a hundred thousand-plus motorcyclists converging on Washington, D.C. over Memorial Day weekend to pay their respect for our veterans who are either POW/MIA is newsworthy. Vets and bikers have been meeting in D.C. over Memorial Day for 24 years running to pay their respects to our men and women who have paid the ultimate sacrifice for our country. And generally, any publicity is a good thing. But this year, all of the publicity centers on a last second visitor, Sarah Palin, the former Alaska governor and most likely a presidential frontrunner for the Republican Party in the upcoming elections.

The major point of contention with her appearance is, according to an MSNBC interview of Ted Shpak, the national legislative director for Rolling Thunder, “It’s taking away from what we are here for. This is not a political event.” Shpak would also say “We didn’t invite her” and “We don’t endorse her.”

A blogger at MadeMark.net went even further, calling Palin “a shameless opportunist who thinks nothing of distracting from an event intended to honor our men and women who’ve served this country.”

It’s a public event and Palin had every right to attend. She was there with her husband, Todd, and daughters Bristol and Piper, as she is embarking on a national bus tour to visit historic sites across the Eastern U.S. And given the fact that she aspires to lead our country, there’s no question about her patriotism. But there’s a time and place for everything and many feel that although she claimed she was there to honor vets, her motives were much more focused on self-promotion.

Palin’s attendance called for additional last-minute security measures. She didn’t speak, but still commanded a lot of attention among the frenzied media. Though Palin wasn’t supposed to be in the spotlight, media reps and photogs chronicled her every move. She came in and was shuttled to the front of the pack while others waited in line for hours to take off. And she stole some of the thunder that was meant to be directed toward our prisoners of war and those that are missing in action. Inadvertently or not, Palin turned a day of remembrance and commemoration into a political stumping ground. If she intends to run for president in 2012, she played coy about it and artfully dodged the question. In 2008, Palin’s presidential running mate, Sen. John McCain, pulled a similar press stunt when he showed up at the Buffalo Chip during Sturgis.

Palin played all the politically correct cards. She rode in on the back of a Harley-Davidson motorcycle piloted by a female rider. She decked herself out in biker garb and wore a big wooden cross and surrounded herself with her family. To her credit, Palin did keep a low profile, eating lunch with wounded veterans from Walter Reed Army Medical Center in a tent away from the crowd. The Palin family left the National Mall in the early afternoon.

"There's no better way to see D.C. than on the back of a Harley!" Palin wrote on her political action committees website. "My family may be used to snowmachines more so than motorcycles."

While many supporters welcomed her, there were many more that were put off by her grand entrance and the way she took the media spotlight off Rolling Thunder itself. One thing is for certain – bikers, especially ones that are vets, can see through veils. They can tell if a person is sincere about something, kind of like the way dogs can sense fear. I would have respected Palin more if she just came out and said, “Yeah, I’m running for president, and I’m kicking off my campaign here.” Instead, a day set aside for honor was reduced to a venue for politicking.
Post Tags: Sarah Palin, Rolling Thunder, Rolling Thunder rally, Sarah Palin on a Harley
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GB June 14, 2011 12:16 AM
GlennJ, you gotta be kidding me. i'm not a political person but she is a media loving whacko who had no business using this ralley to keep the limelight on her. shame on her, she knew what she was doing. i know enough to know a real American when i see one and she is not one, just a closed minded fool.
TonyDee June 4, 2011 08:13 PM
Bryan, Not to go off subject but do you really get to go to all these events you write about? Can we swap jobs? Now to stay on topic, anyone is welcome to public events, that's why we call them public.
wildpig June 2, 2011 06:26 PM
pay yer dues harley a fore u run yer mouth........seen yer type back in late 60's.. you woodnt know a whole helluva lot bout riding harleys in the 60's 70's or prolly even the 80's i spect.................
GlennJ June 1, 2011 05:31 PM
RE: "One thing is for certain – bikers, especially ones that are vets, can see through veils. They can tell if a person is sincere about something, kind of like the way dogs can sense fear." My response: Good, then the bikers and soldiers who interacted with her will know that she is sincere. The ones who think otherwise- including the author of this article- either did not personally interact with her or are not as skilled at reading people as they think they are. Rolling Thunder gained by having her in attendance. Since the goal of the event is primarily POW awareness, ask the organizers which they would prefer- the attendance of Palin or the past snubs of Obama? Regarding the claims that Palin was not invited: "There’s a problem with this story, but to be fair to everyone, it seems to be an honest case of an internal miscommunication at Rolling Thunder. After I read this story last night, I got in contact with Christine Colborne, who handles the media for Rolling Thunder. She explained that Shpak didn’t know that Palin had been indeed invited to ride at the event. The invitation came from a retired board member, Michael DiPaolo, who had connections in Alaska and got Palin to agree to attend." Obviously, Shpak — a Vietnam veteran himself — feels passionate about defending the organization, but went on NBC with faulty information. Shpak, Colborne, and almost everyone else at Rolling Thunder are volunteers, just ordinary people doing extraordinary work, and that means they get the occasional hiccup. http://michellemalkin.com/2011/05/29/rolling-thunder-rolls-into-dc/ In other words, Sarah Palin showed up on very short notice because she was asked to show up, and it is safe to say she did so out of respect for the US Military and the mission of Rolling Thunder.
MarineSister June 1, 2011 01:04 PM
As a family member of an injured Afghanistan vet and who was sitting under the Walter Reed tent I saw nothing but camera crew as she walked in. Most politicians and celebrity at least have the common decency and respect to know that some of these guys don't want to be documented. To waltz into a tent of newly injured vets who have a tent for their privacy was shameful and down right disrespectful! She should be ashamed of herself!
Transporter June 1, 2011 10:26 AM
I Disagree !!! Palin was ALL about Palin....What better way to get your face in the news.!!!! This was SHAMEFULL !! If Palin was SOOOO Concerned ..and wanted to Honor our Vets.....Where was she LAST YEAR....or the year BEFORE...or the Year BEFORE That ???? She SUCKS !!!!
Eric June 1, 2011 09:20 AM
"I can see self-promotion from my back seat" - SP
willegge May 31, 2011 06:45 PM
Hey Brian totally disagree with you. She had every right to be there. She did not make it a media circus, the media tried to. She tried not even to speak to them and avoided them, Also Sarah Palin doesn't need any lessons from you concerning bringing attention to the Military . Not only was her son in Iraq, she has traveled there also to encourage the troupes. Sarah Palin hes been one of the biggest supporters of our military in the country as a leader also when she served as governor.And little message to (Irksome), your an idiot and SHAMELESS, she's a patriot, and you don't know what your talking about.
98 Roady A VET May 31, 2011 05:21 PM
I honestly don't think that any way she would have gone there would have made a difference. The media would have found a way to spin this against her. (Why is everyone so afraid of her?) The thing about Memorial Day is that it is a day to Memorialize and Remember the SACRIFICES our Fallen and MIA/POWs, so keep the Media out of it and no matter who goes, it won't be an issue. I didn't see Governor Palin getting in the way of bikes, but I did see several of the media almost get run over. Let's keep things in perspective, she was "there" get over it, the only thing getting accomplished by folks belly aching about her being there is that what our Fallen VETS stood and died for is getting trampled. Those folks died for our freedoms, and regardless of how anyone feels about anyone, it isn't about any of us, it has to be about MY FALLEN BROTHERS AND SISTERS and what they stood for. Enough said, move on...
irksome May 31, 2011 04:07 PM
A person with every right to attend should do it the way the rest of us do; quietly and respectfully. Ms Palin is a shameless media whore. Also, please note that her "bus tour" consists, as always, of her flying to wherever the bus is scheduled to meet her.