I went to a Sarah Palin rally, but all I got was a lousy handshake from John McCain.

Notes from different corners of the world.
Sept. 10 2008 3:33 PM

McCain's Visit to Palin Country

I went to a Sarah Palin rally, but all I got was a lousy handshake from John McCain.

McCain buttons. Click image to expand.
Selling McCain buttons at the Palin rally

LANCASTER, Pa.—The line to see Sarah Palin is the longest I have ever seen this side of security at JFK Airport. It starts at the front door of the Franklin & Marshall College gym; goes out to Harrisburg Pik;, turns right and heads all the way down the block, almost to Wendy's; then turns right again and snakes through the parking lot, doubling back on itself so many times that people standing in the line are actually heckling those of us who are still searching for its end. "You're not there yet!" someone cracks when I sidle into a gap that I'd mistaken for the end.

I eventually find the end of the line and fall into conversation with the family that slides right in behind me: an auto parts dealer with his wife and two young kids. They drove an hour from Wilmington, Del., despite not having tickets. Like most of the crowd, they're not here to see John McCain. They're here for Sarah.


So is the guy with the "Taxpayers for Palin" sign, the young women with the "You Go Girl" signs, and the many "Kids for Sarah Palin." More than a few moms are sporting some variant of the Palin look, with their new icon's boxy glasses and piled-up 'do. They contrast oddly with the Amish men in beards and straw hats who also dot the line. Someone asks the question everyone is thinking: "I wonder if this many people would have shown up just for John McCain?"

Good question. Lancaster County, Pa., might well be described as the base of the Republican base. Megachurches dot the landscape, but the original Amish and Mennonite and Church of the Brethren settlers (whose descendants are still going strong) make the Wasilla Assembly of God seem socially liberal. SUVs share the road with horse-drawn buggies, McMansion developments rub shoulders with Plain People farms not served by electricity, and they vote in overwhelming numbers for Rep. Joe Pitts, who chairs something called the "Values Action Team," which is basically the congressional wing of James Dobson's Focus on the Family.

Sarah Palin supporter. Click image to expand.
A sign of whom the crowd came to see

But just a few weeks ago, you didn't see a whole lot of McCain signs around. And by and large, this is Sarah's crowd. She's the reason the two middle-aged ladies near me, members of a local symphony, called in sick to work today (which, in turn, is why they shoo away a TV reporter). There's a tiny gaggle of protesters, maybe half a dozen, preaching to the unconvertible. And as the 3:30 p.m. start time draws near, it's beginning to look like we might get stuck out here listening to them.

Soon enough a staffer delivers the Straight Talk: We're hosed. The fire marshals have said no more people can be allowed into the gym. Everyone sort of sags, and begins the long trudge over to the Auxiliary Viewing Area, where a JumboTron has been set up. Unfortunately, it's partly blocked by a fire engine and an ambulance, and a wall of Secret Service.



Talking White

Black people’s disdain for “proper English” and academic achievement is a myth.

Hong Kong’s Protesters Are Ridiculously Polite. That’s What Scares Beijing So Much.

The One Fact About Ebola That Should Calm You: It Spreads Slowly

Natasha Lyonne Is Coming to the Live Culture Gabfest. Are You?

A Jaw-Dropping Political Ad Aimed at Young Women, Apparently

The XX Factor
Oct. 1 2014 4:05 PM Today in GOP Outreach to Women: You Broads Like Wedding Dresses, Right?

Operation Backbone

How White Boy Rick, a legendary Detroit cocaine dealer, helped the FBI uncover brazen police corruption.


How Even an Old Hipster Can Age Gracefully

On their new albums, Leonard Cohen, Robert Plant, and Loudon Wainwright III show three ways.

How Tattoo Parlors Became the Barber Shops of Hipster Neighborhoods

This Gargantuan Wind Farm in Wyoming Would Be the Hoover Dam of the 21st Century

Oct. 1 2014 8:34 AM This Gargantuan Wind Farm in Wyoming Would Be the Hoover Dam of the 21st Century To undertake a massively ambitious energy project, you don’t need the government anymore.
Oct. 1 2014 6:59 PM EU’s Next Digital Honcho Says Celebs Who Keep Nude Photos in the Cloud Are “Stupid”
  News & Politics
Oct. 1 2014 7:26 PM Talking White Black people’s disdain for “proper English” and academic achievement is a myth.
Oct. 2 2014 9:19 AM Alibaba’s Founder on Why His Company Is Killing It in China
Atlas Obscura
Oct. 2 2014 10:42 AM The Hanging Coffins of Sagada
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 1 2014 5:11 PM Celebrity Feminist Identification Has Reached Peak Meaninglessness
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Oct. 1 2014 3:24 PM Revelry (and Business) at Mohonk Photos and highlights from Slate’s annual retreat.
Brow Beat
Oct. 2 2014 10:36 AM How Bad Will Adam Sandler’s Netflix Movies Be?
Future Tense
Oct. 1 2014 6:59 PM EU’s Next Digital Commissioner Thinks Keeping Nude Celeb Photos in the Cloud Is “Stupid”
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Oct. 2 2014 9:49 AM In Medicine We Trust Should we worry that so many of the doctors treating Ebola in Africa are missionaries?
Sports Nut
Oct. 1 2014 5:19 PM Bunt-a-Palooza! How bad was the Kansas City Royals’ bunt-all-the-time strategy in the American League wild-card game?