Sarah Palin Stumps at Rolling Thunder Rally
Tuesday, May 31, 2011
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?
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.
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