We’re in the midst of the most talked-about election in years; I’m completely absorbed in politics like everyone else—and a woman who is a key figure in the political drama happens to be in town tonight. I can’t resist going to see her speak.
…..You can’t possibly think I’d go to see Sarah Palin. Not that they’d bother sending her to California anyway. The woman I wanted to hear–and hopefully meet–was Arianna Huffington. (especially since I’ve blogged on the Huffington Post.)
Though Arianna and Sarah definitely have their differences, I was surprised tonight to notice that there are some things they have in common. Besides the fact that Arianna used to be a Republican. And they both wear lipstick. Both women have admirers, and detractors—and they’ve both attracted controversy during this election. Which they both seem to welcome.
The crowds are coming out in droves to see Sarah. And right now, Arianna’s getting lots of attention, too– since the Huffington Post is a popular destination in the current political climate–and has gained 16 million new readers in the past two weeks.
They both have that all-important quality everyone wants this year: executive experience. Like Sarah, who put the state jet on Ebay, Arianna is also cost conscious. Her bloggers include people like Alec Baldwin, Nora Ephron, Russell Simmons, Jamie Lee Curtis–and she gets all of them to work for free.
Arianna is a working mom, too, with teenage daughters. But she doesn’t use them as props, and didn’t even bring them along tonight.
Arianna reeks class, and I’m guessing she’s never been within a mile of a moose—unless it was stuffed, or chocolate. But you’d never know she was rich and powerful, since she’s warm and friendly in conversation. Like Sarah seems to be.
Once you put Arianna onstage with a mike, she’s right there with Sarah—poised, strong, tough, opinionated, with an independent streak. Like the Republicans went crazy for Sarah, the audience tonight loved Arianna, and hung on every word—even though unlike Sarah, Arianna uses big words. And she writes them herself.
And like Sarah took on the Democrats, Arianna took on the Republicans. Only Arianna did this with substance and logic, not with exaggerations, invented stories, or cheap shots.
Maybe the biggest difference between Arianna and Sarah is what happened after the speeches. So far in the two weeks since her nomination, Sarah has not answered any questions. Arianna sat onstage for almost an hour, answering questions from the audience. No puffball questions, no pre-screening, no prepared scripts. She was articulate and thoughtful, just like she is in her blogs, columns and books. I’m thinking maybe she’s read some of those books they have up there in the Wasilla library.
As Arianna said tonight, we’re told that in American elections, feeling trumps logic and people vote with their gut and not their mind. She’s hoping that will change–but would agree that right now, issues are taking a back seat. So in that spirit, aside from the fact that they have opposite positions on pretty much everything, I’d have to say the most noticeable difference between Arianna Huffington and Sarah Palin— Arianna doesn’t wear glasses.