Buying Sarah Palin | Part II

Buying Sarah Palin | Part II

The “Dinner With Sarah Palin” eBay auction came and went with Ms. Cathy Maples, a grandmother who happens to be a military contractor, winning with a bid of $63,500. Good for her. That I participated is a good thing, even though I didn’t win. As there were only seven bidders, each of us played a role in advancing the final tally for the benefit of Ride2Recovery.

However, I remain concerned over issues I raised when earlier explaining my participation:

As the auction never was designed to provide intellectual meat as its main course, I’d have either been turned down under the rules of engagement or disappointed in the discourse. However, ‘what-if’ notions continue to nag me. What if it were possible to have meaningful dialogue with this woman who leads her party? What if intelligent minds that happen to disagree could meet over dinner and explore political ideology?

In the great American spirit of never say die, here’s my challenge: I will donate $100,000 to veterans’ charities for a second dinner with Sarah Palin and four guests, this one on-the-record and taped so as to minimize misrepresentations. In the name of fair play, my list of invitees will include a subset of Rachel Maddow, Keith Olbermann, Thom Hartmann, Oprah Winfrey, James Carville, Randi Rhodes, Arianna Huffington, Frank Rich, Mudflats’ Jeanne Devon, Jane Hamsher and Shannyn Moore. On her side, Sarah Palin may invite guests as well (how about Bill Kristol and Glenn Beck?). The only additional conditions are that the dinner/event last the entire four hours and questions asked are answered and discussed civilly. No filibustering, no third party prompts, just face-to-face honesty. Hostility by any invitee will be cause for removal. No discussion of children, Vogue, Katie Couric, The Enquirer, or Levi Johnston permitted.

This could become a win/win for everyone: Sarah Palin gains political chops and has a launching pad for her ideas while dispelling suggestions that she fixed the first auction to avoid debate; progressives and conservatives finally gain an in-depth understanding of her intellect; and veterans’ charities benefit from some much-needed support..

As for me, I get to be an observer to one of the greatest meetings of the minds the twenty-first century has yet to assemble. Tres cool.

There exists an emotional divide in this country that I’ve not experienced since I attended the University of California near the end of the Vietnam War. While leaving scars that thickened the hearts of many from that era, the ending of the war allowed for a healing to begin. Painful, but now mostly a distant memory.

Today’s rancor, however, troubles me more profoundly. Why? Maybe it’s because I don’t see a catalyst-like the end to a tragic war-that will magically lead us to end this political divide. This period has more the odor of the Civil Rights debate that ripped apart the South during the administrations of Presidents Kennedy and Johnson; a rift that has never been bridged.

How, I’ll ask Ms. Palin, can we work together (“we” meaning not just her and me, but all people on both sides of the political fence) to begin to fix this? I’ll ask her a few questions that might seem harsh, but aren’t intended to offend-after all, we must be honest, no? Do you regret saying several hundred times that our president “palled around with terrorists?” Do you really believe that providing health insurance to all Americans is socialism or fascism or Naziism, or that there are truly ‘death panels’ in these proposals? I’ll likely feel compelled to suggest that she doesn’t, in her heart of hearts, actually believe any of these things (if she does, then this will give her a chance to educate and win me over). In any event, doesn’t she think we should all tone down the rhetoric? Angry mobs and gun-toting advocates can’t be in anyone’s best interests.