Chapters two and three of Palin's new book are rather dull, unless you like field guides for dressing a moose. I'm assuming she's drawing on some sort of weird Melville inspiration here, because she goes on for pages and pages about how to slice and cure meat, tan hides, and, at one point, the various uses of whale blubber.
Anyway, chapter four gets into the recent presidential campaign, and her first meeting with John McCain. She coyly skirts the issue of her pregnancy, however.
He was an old man who ran alone on the Republican ticket in the United States, and he had gone nearly three months without a bump in the polls. That’s how John McCain was introduced to me. I’d never heard of him before, then suddenly he was all I was hearing about.
In Alaska, I was up there governing so much I never really had time for politics. It’s not like I didn’t know what was going on--not at all!--but who has the time to pick over who’s running for what higher office when you’ve got government subsidies to spend? Plus, I was distracted by my pregnancy.
When I got pregnant, I didn’t notice it. People have criticized me for not making my pregnancy known, but the truth is, until I went to that conference in Texas to give my keynote speech, I didn’t know myself--I thought the pains were from that terrible foreign food I’d been eating in Texas. All those nachos and tacos can take a terrible toll on the system of someone used to seal meat and wolf burgers, which are much more delicate and natural.
My water broke just as I was about to take the stage at the Republican Governor’s Energy Conference in Dallas. Todd looked down at my wet shoes, then up at me, and said, “Honey, did you just pee?” I shrugged, unable to answer. It shocked me just as much as it shocked him, and I began to wonder if perhaps those sharp pains I’d been feeling all day were something other than refried bean gas.
It was then that I considered, for one brief moment, a terrible choice. Here I was in a state where no one really knew me. I could slip out of the hotel and down the street to one of the bodegas and get rid of what I now knew was inside of me. No one would know, and a nice Mexican family would have a strapping young white child to use as a bargaining tool should they want to become legal residents of America. I said a quick prayer to Jesus, grabbed a fresh dress from the suitcase, and said firmly to Todd, “I have a speech to give. Then we’ll deal with my incontinence.”
Some time later, John McCain was asking me to be his running mate.
The thing about John McCain is, he’s old. Which is fine, of course, but I’m a very youthful person used to jogging and fishing and swimming and hunting, and I don’t do very well when I’m forced to sit still in a stuffy room that smells of moth balls and stale gin, talking idly about strategy and policy. I work much better while in motion. You’d think my vitality and flightiness would have accentuated Mr. McCain’s weaknesses, making us the perfect pair of candidates to run for president. His experience, his caution, his ability to sit for hours at a time without movement, combined with my boundless energy seemed like a perfect fit. Sadly, it wasn’t.
The first time I met him, I met him alone. No Todd. No Cindy. No press. No advisers. No one. Just John, and just me, one on one. He came in secret to Alaska, and asked me one question: “Do you know the capital of North Carolina?”
“Sure,” I replied.
After a pause, he said, “....yes...?”
“Well, of course I know the capital of North Carolina. It’s the city with the capital building in it.” I winked, then made a click noise with my lips.
John shivered, and his skin grew bright red--the American blush strikes again! All men go rouge for me at some point--and he half-extended his hand to me. “Ms. Palin,” John said, his voice low and trembling, “I would be honored if you’d accept my invitation to join me on the campaign trail.”
Without hesitating, I asked, “In what capacity? Unless I’m capacitated, I can’t accept your offer.”
He grimaced, and pulled his hand away for a moment. Brightened again, as if he’d just gotten a joke. “Oh, I get it. Nice turn of phrase, little lady. You’d be capacitated into the role of my vice president.”
I accepted. Without hesitancy. Later, I looked up what it was exactly a vice president was expected to do. You know, our great founding fathers, in their infallible wisdom, had seen fit to not assign a specific role for the vice president of the United States. It was left up to me to decide, because the founding fathers understood the necessity of flexibility and vagueness in all things political. All other offices of government are given tediously-explained rules and regulations, but the vice president has only one defined task: ruling over Congress. Everything else was open--I could do as I pleased, and began to wonder why anyone would run for president when clearly vice president was where all the real power was.
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