OPINION

Low in the weeds no more

The speech was over and the song “Barracuda” was playing after Gov. Sarah Palin dazzled the Republican National Convention crowd, a media moment that played on her “Sarah Barracuda” nickname from her high school basketball days.

But I couldn’t help but place the scene in a more regional context. She was more like the barracuda’s cousin, the Great Northern Pike.

Like the song by Heart says, the fish lays low in the weeds, ready to strike. If you have ever seen a northern pike low in a creek, you know the song should really be about a pike, not the marauding barracuda of the warm oceans.

This summer I saw a big pike swimming against the current of a Yukon stream, right down there in the weeds, just waiting for a school of grayling to rush by so it could nail one. It ignored every lure I flung at it, knowing exactly what it wanted.

I saw this kind of action during the speech. Sarah was a bit star-struck by all the attention. You could tell it in the first few minutes out there. She was swimming against the current. But when she saw all those “Hockey Mom” signs, she diverted from the prepared text and struck, “You know the difference between a hockey mom and a pit bull – lipstick.”

She had them. She was comfortable out there. From energy issues to earmarks, she nailed every topic familiar to her. Then she launched into canned campaign attack language – really not her style – but she delivered it in the peppy manner we’ve seen before, and the audience loved it.

Make no mistake about it, our governor is a political phenomenon unlike anything this country has ever seen. Skagway can truly be proud to have been her first Alaska home.

Now lured a bit out of the weeds, the governor will be less likely to be a maverick and have to play more party politics. But we hope her streak of independence that got her to the governor’s office will not be lost on the campaign trail, and that she will never forget where she came from.

Now the national media is examining every speech she ever gave, every church service she ever attended, every bill she ever sent the state for per deim. That’s their job. It has happened to Obama and McCain. There will be some explaining to do, and she shouldn’t dodge those questions.

Can she be lured further out of the weeds, even, dare we say, caught?

Again, you have to consider the Great Northern Pike. When I told our fish columnist, Andrew Cremata, about my pike encounter this summer, he said there was a tried-and-true method to catching one.

“You have to work as a team. Two lines, each fisherman drawing a lure from opposite directions, so the pike can’t help but notice and go for one of them.”

There’s your advice from us, governor: watch for those crossed-up lures out there. But if you do take the bait, just tell the truth and you just might snap their line. Your shiny teeth are still pretty sharp. – WJB