So I’m following the 2008 US Presidential election from my perch in Queensland. We’re a year away from having held our own national election, upending the seat of power for the Liberal party and its leader, John Howard. (John Howard had held the office of Prime Minister for eleven years, and had actually been in Washington DC during the 9/11 attacks.)

While US politics were choosing presidential candidates, we were all still getting used to the new regime. I’m told the Labor Party’s previous reign was a financial disaster for the country, so pretty much the folks who remembered what it was like during that period had been relatively nervous about the party being in power again. It’s fair to mention, though, these same nervous nellies put the Labor Party back into power in an unprecedented landslide win, as the overwhelming majority of Australians blamed John Howard personally and the Liberal Party collectively for being (hold onto your hats) “a friend to George W Bush”.

Our new Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd (‘Kevi’ as he’s called) had the good sense to name Julia Gulliard as his Deputy. (That’s comparable to Vice President.) During his first month in office, as Kevi left the country on business, it was all over the news how for the first time Australia had a female at the helm. Ok, admittedly, those headlines confused me. What does that make the Queen? Hullo? Anyone out there? *tap*tap*tap*

At the same point in time, on the other side of the globe, Hillary and Barack were in heated debate duking it out in the Democratic bid for President.

When Hillary lost, like many, many others, I could not get my head around The Barack Hussein Obama platform. What did we know about this guy anyway? His place of birth was not clear. His religious affiliations were not clear.  His political experience was… what again? He’d literally emerged from obscurity like Superman from a phonebooth only none of us were buying his cape and tights.

Obama – Osama – not his fault what his parents named him but (I’m ashamed to admit this, now) it made me uneasy. I remember telling my spouse that America would never elect someone with a name resembling Osama Bin Laden and/or Saddam Hussein. I was even rather smug about it.

Chatting long distance with a few friends, it was clear a few of the Democratic Hillary supporters I knew were about to jump ship and vote Republican. I would have joined them, had I been there but then…

…along came Sarah Palin, and something just wasn’t right.

Call it maternal instinct. Call it outrage that Hillary was out and this unknown was getting all the glory that Hillary and all the women before her had worked so hard to achieve. Call it jealousy, immaturity, stubbornness, anything you like. But something wasn’t right. And it niggled at me like a leech caught in my sock on a hiking trip through Lamington Falls.

It was a perfectly awful feeling. Like opening the door to the refrigeratgor and having an acrid smell waft up your nostrils, and then not being able to find the source. It was the feeling you get when you first realize your child isn’t answering your call and you hear the voices of both panic and reason arguing inside your head.

Listening to Sarah Palin’s very first public address, even though she was standing next to John McCain, a man I greatly admired, found my gut twisting as it does when something is just… wrong.

It was most unsettling, and yet – here’s how the universe works:

At this exact point in time, I’d injured my knee. My doctor told me to stay off my feet until he sorted  out tests and a specialist exam. Twenty years ago that would have meant getting out the basket of yarn and knitting needles and plopping in front of the telly for a week or two. But it’s not twenty years ago it’s 2008, and vegging today means only one thing… google!

I started reading Alaskan newspapers and blogs. I looked up public records of when Sarah Palin was the mayor of Wasilla. I looked up voting records of her win as Governor. I joined a Sarah Palin chat thread made up of other people, Ozzies and Americans who, like me, also wanted to know the truth behind the woman people were calling Caribou Barbie. We all had open minds. We were all willing to go in either direction.

I listened to Alaskan citizens talk about their governor and just made this huge effort to educate myself. I really did want to calm the bickering voices in my head with logical, reasonable answers.

But for every step forward I took in trying to get to know the positive side of Sarah Palin, I’d be dropkicked ten yards back by some invisible bloke with cleats shouting ‘can’t go there’ just before the shoe made contact with my face.

By the third week in September I was covered with cleatmarks and pissing mad.

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