OWENSVILLE, OHIO--A zealous crowd and an off-key high school band greeted Sarah Palin at the Clermont County fairgrounds last night. Deafening cheers filled the small venue as the Alaska governor took to the stage, the First Dude by her side. But the locals weren't so welcoming of the press. Each time Palin reminded the audience of the media's failure to uncover Obama's dark side--his dangerous tax plan, his associations with extremists, etc.--two gentlemen in front of the press riser would turn to yell at the reporters, as compatriots cheered in agreement. "Thank God for YouTube! Why won't you do your jobs?" one of the men cried. "Oh ho ho, look who failed! Shame, shame shame!" Smiling awkwardly, members of the press exchanged side glances over their cameras and laptops that read, "Should we be scared?"
Media-hating aside, the evening's biggest glitch came when the crowd dispersed--or rather, tried to. As Palin glad-handed with her most eager fans, thousands of people were halted as we tried to leave the premises. We stood crammed together for about half an hour, and all anyone could figure was that no one was allowed to leave until Palin and her motorcade had departed. "They need to get their asses in gear! This isn't the way to keep voters happy," one man fumed.
Standing uncomfortably in front of a row of smelly Porta Potties, I happened to overhear an illuminating conversation between a local man and woman. The man--we'll call him Pom Pom, because he was holding a red one--was a staunch Republican, while the woman--we'll call her Stripes, because she was wearing them--had been an undecided voter, until Palin swayed her with her speech. "I like her personality," Stripes said. "I admire that she balances a baby and work."
Pom Pom, however, was more interested in criticizing Obama, who had been speaking to crowds in the tens of thousands all day throughout Ohio. "He's probably got those Greek columns in front of him, descending from the heavens like the Greek god he is," Pom Pom said. He then produced a litany of complaints straight from the GOP playbook, from Obama's dealings with ACORN--"that stuff is unbelievable!"--to his ties to Louis Farrakhan and other questionable characters. "I don't know how a Jew could vote for him," he added, shaking his head. "He let [Rashid] Khalidi babysit for his kids." Pom Pom even lit into the election process. "Early voting is ridiculous. What if a nuclear war happens?" (My guess? No one would be voting anyway.)
Pausing thoughtfully after his tirade, Pom Pom shifted gears to explain why exactly he thinks Palin would make a good veep. "She's actually more attractive in person than on TV," he said. "It's pretty hard to believe."
In Southwestern Ohio, score one for style over substance.