I went to see Sarah Palin: The Undefeated this afternoon with 2 avid tea party patriots. One who is a strong Cain supporter and the other (his wife) already a PALINista. I am a registered Independent (always have been) and could certainly be categorized as a conservative Christian.
Stephen Bannon, the producer/director/writer, claimed to Ben Howe of Big Hollywood in an audio interview that he made this documentary for the non-Palin supporter, and I don't think that will be primary audience. Certainly the first two thirds of the movie could be seen as such - but not the climax. In my humble opinion - it is a raw, bloody, Red Heifer USDA choice cut for those that already understand Reagan, conservatism and the Tea Party movement and are already somewhat sympathetic - if not outright supporters of the 2008 GOP Vice Presidential candidate.
Indeed - in my screening of about 40 people at a mid-day Saturday showing (opening weekend in a 125 seat theater) the affirmative "uh-huh's" and "Amen's" nearly drowned out the very powerful and emotional soundtrack. I suppose an antagonistic reviewer could fairly say 'manipulative,' but no more so than Mel Gibson did with THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST.
I did try to put myself in the shoes of a Palin or Tea Party "non-believer" and thought the movie would succeed in reselling the retelling of Palin, but it wouldn't necessarily change ideological biases going in. Just my gut sense.
I had previously listened to the audio book GOING ROUGE, upon which the movie claims to be 'inspired.' While a large part of the information wasn't new, I came out with some very definite conclusions about why Palin sought out this filmmaker, and conclusions about Palin herself.
As a backdrop, (and at risk of not being taken seriously), I have to describe two similar spiritual experiences I had in 2004 and in 2008. One was with Barak Hussein Obama, the other was the initial introduction of Palin by John McCain.
I remember being at my kitchen table when I first heard Barak Obama speak at the 2004 Democratic National Convention. Despite having been from Chicago (Go Cubs!), I'd never heard of him but was quite intrigued by the 15 minute buildup by the pundits prior to his speech. I was especially open to the idea of a minority President and - as an independent - was always willing to believe that EITHER party could eventually field such a candidate. At one point I remember even WANTING to like him. I remember the applause at his introduction being raucous and having my expectation abruptly shattered before he even uttered his first words. I felt I "heard" in my heart - or spirit - the words, "he's dangerous." For those of you who think it is weird for people to 'hear' God - you at least will enjoy making fun of me for the remainder of this review should you want to keep reading for other signs of my 'derangement.' For those of you that understand our Heavenly Father is ALWAYS speaking to us (we just don't often listen), this WILL make sense to you. Especially in retrospect.
I must say, it really screwed up my enjoyment of his speech. I heard nothing in his voice or content to give me even a muted alarm akin to a can of mild Chef Boyardee chili. But those words 'he's dangerous' didn't measure up to me as he spoke. He just seemed like another good looking, smooth talking Dem. In fact except for his loyalty to the evil White Sox, I had zero validation of any 'danger' until I heard he was the only state senator in Illinois who voted to kill an infant life when a baby survives an abortion. It wasn't until mid-way through the 2008 election when basic questions of his school papers, grades and records were buried I realized 'danger' wouldn't even begin to describe it. But it serves for that same 'Voice' I heard later when being introduced to Palin which I will describe later.
UNDEFEATED shows very cute photos and film clips of her childhood, but the Exxon Valdez spill is indeed the starting "inciting incident" of the journey (Robert McKee take notice). I won't reiterate the film structure which many other articles cover (especially Ben Howe's great article and interview).
But these points were very clear:
- What Palin accomplished in both local and state government is FACTUALLY heroic. And not just to conservatism but feminism.
- Palin will NOT be alone in defending her record and Presidency as she was (shamefully) in 2008. The repentance of Breitbart, Levin, Howe and others who have mentioned this, tells me a 2012 campaign will be nothing like the carnage we saw in '08. And that is important. One reason I didn't want her to run was it just seemed too hard. The avalanche of negative coverage seemed insurmountable. But then again - I don't even remember McCain defending her save a calculated, late statement. I'm no longer sure that would be the case. The film accurately brings up recollections of Reagan facing the same thing in an age without ANY alternative media. And if she would be smart enough to NAME her cabinet before the election (as suggested by my PALINista friend) - I feel the message would get through to the right people.
- The movie does something I didn't think possible. It finally gives a factual and final riposte to the question of why she stepped down as Governor. I read "Rogue" and listened to her defense many, many times and still didn't completely 'buy' that this was the best thing to do. The movie somehow puts to rest any concern that this was anything but a patriotic and selfless act - possibly because of the key first person testimony of her chief of staff. I knew that libs (and RINO's) didn't care about morality and right/wrong but in expediency of their cause. But hearing her describe the discussion with someone filing ethics charges KNOWING they had no basis - finally helped me to see Palin in the light of a true patriot, doing what was best for her constituency.
- The film title should really be THE UNDAUNTED. She is the female political equivalent of ROCKY and I think the warning cry from liberals over this film are justified. They ought to be changing their Fredrick's of Hollywood panties about 10 times a day over the prospect of her running.
- After hearing the response of the WOMEN who have seen the film, I also believe Sarah can NOT be stopped should she run. Too many Hillary followers have unreleased (and warranted) injustice willing to be rectified. Too many conservative women have had no place to manifest the life long beating they've taken from our culture and society not only for being conservatives, but believing in and practicing traditional family and values. As these women band together - the traditional MSM will NOT know what to do. If a Paglia, or Barbara Walters openly endorses her - it's all over.
- The idea that Sarah Palin was the tip of the Tea Party movement was underscored by the woman with whom I attended the screening. She said her rallies 'felt' like what we know the tea party events to be now. I also think Rick Santelli should be immortalized once he is freed from his institutionalized masters of the MSM. He is the Thomas Paine of the Tea Party.
- The film is not a lucky charm that will pull support away from other deserving candidates. The husband of my female friend - the Cain supporter - grew in appreciation of facts about Palin, but still is for Cain. (If only CAIN had a movie I could watch that would be helpful!)
So that brings us to the other time I heard the 'Voice' was regarding Palin. This film reminded me of it in living color. (Unbelievers commence rolling your eyes now.)
Like many, I was extremely dissatisfied with McCain and eagerly hoped in a miracle VP choice (followed by a sudden resignation by McCain himself). I think the documentary does a great job of showing how sudden this was for Palin. But when I first heard McCain was to announce the Governor of Alaska I was tempted to think, "Alaska has a Governor"?
And this time not only did I hear "a Voice" - but perceived a "power" I had not enjoyed since Reagan. None other than the uber-liberal columnist, Camille Paglia, described it as nearly falling out of her chair." I recognized something greater than just a good looking politician, or a well put together cadence of political inspirations. What I heard both empirically and Divinely was, "this woman will be President."
At the time I rationalized that she would succeed President McCain to fulfill that prophecy either in 2016 or perhaps (Lord forbid) something earlier due to a health condition or something with McCain. Maybe it would turn out he wasn't eligible to be President or something. But, when the financial crisis hit and defeat certain, I still couldn't shake an expectation of her becoming President.
However, post election, her ensuing interviews and a non-inspiring stint as a Fox News contributor only created more confusion where the Palin that Paglia and I had heard ....had gone?
But when I heard that Palin had sought out film maker Bannon, followed by a bus tour no one could understand the purpose of - I became more and more certain that she was going to run. After seeing the film, I'm convinced of it. There is NO other purpose for this film! As the film underscores, Palin doesn't care about legacy. She stands to get nothing financially. No, using my keen sense of B minus college dropout math skills, there is no other solution to solve for than a Presidential run. Is there?
Bannon and Levin make a case that she is in the mold of Reagan. I haven't quite bought into that yet. I believe she has shown capable as her GOP nomination speech aptly proves. She has the ability to draw attention and 'energize the base' - both critical. But Reagan elegantly and simply TAUGHT us about conservatism with humor and wit. Even enemies had a hard time NOT liking him and I have yet to see that impact with her. I'm most curious how WOMEN independents receive the film. If it impacts them positively - it's not just 'game on'... it's 'game over.'
The film convinced me of something else. Her experiences in fighting those who would 'vote for themselves funds out of the national treasury,' and succeeding - were not a fluke. The movie proves that not only did she face an impossible task in getting elected at a city and state level - she actually annihilated corrupt systems. Moreover, she IMPROVED them and left them better. In very, very short spans of time. What politician - man or woman - can make that claim in the past 20+ years? With results left in those governments to prove it. If Alaska (or Wasilla) were bankrupt - believe me.. that is ALL we would hear in the press. But it isn't the case.
And not at all to 'slam' or slight her level of intelligence, but even Wililam F. Buckley, Jr. could not have orchestrated the poltical juggernaut and the ensuing fruits she has achieved from Mayor to Governor.
In the Bible, a giant that is tormenting the entire Jewish nation. The nation seems doomed and has no response for the constant challenges to their sovereignty. A red faced, boy-shepherd is questioned by the supreme governmental authority why he believes he - of all people - can defeat the giant. David explains that God gave him a power he didn't naturally have. He came across a lion and defeated it. Then a bear and defeated it. To him - Goliath was simply a less hairy beast that held no intimidation for him.
This film firmly entrenched my.... 'hunch' (I suppose is the best term)... that Wasilla and Anchorage were her lion and bear. With the systemic corruption in Washington at every conceivable level, (and even in the GOP) I think Palin has already asked and answered the question: "What is 2012 but but one more beast that needs to be tamed by Lady Liberty."
If she runs, I'm voting for her.