Ice queens

  • Jon Kelly
  • 3 Oct 08, 08:10 AM GMT

ST LOUIS, MO: You can keep your pundits and politics professors. I had some real experts to guide me through the Vice Presidential debate: a pair of all-American hockey moms.

I hadn't realised such a subculture existed before Sarah Palin burst onto the world's consciousness like a burly hockey-player - a defenseman bodychecking a rival.

But with commentators turning on the Alaska governor ahead of her encounter with Democratic rival Joe Biden, I wondered if the kind of American moms to whom she was tailoring her message would see things differently.

Lynne and LaurenI invited Lynne Schutz, 41, and Lauren Anderson, 38, onto the bus to talk me through the contest. Neither reminded me of pitbulls, although both were wearing lipstick.

Lynne's 13-year-old son and 10-year-old daughter both played hockey, she told me. Supporting their children's sporting ambitions was a big financial commitment while she and her husband were trying to keep their haulage firm running

"It's about 0500 starts and travelling out of town," she said. "It's about discipline and making sacrifices for your family.

"I wouldn't vote for Sarah Palin just because she's a woman. But I do think that she understands how things are for people like me."

Lynne was open-minded before the debate started. In the past she'd tended to choose Republican in presidential elections, but had also voted for Democratic senators and representatives.

Lauren - a full-time mom accustomed to ferrying three children aged 11, eight and five to hockey practice - was already leaning towards Palin, thanks to her commitment to family values. But she knew her own mind.

It was clear as the evening wore on, however, that both women were moving further into the Republican camp. Palin's folksy turn of phrase (Say it ain't so, Joe! Doggone it!) might have played its part.

But both women said they liked the way she related her own experience of juggling family and career to the post-credit crunch anxieties faced by households like theirs.

It also helped that neither were won over by Joe Biden.

"He's speaking way above what the average person would understand," Lauren remarked. "Everything he says has a negative purpose about it."

Watching the debate"On the other hand, Sarah Palin is holding her own. She's talking about education and how she wants things to change."

Neither Lauren nor Lynne had liked the way in which Palin had been attacked by the media in the run-up to the debate - the Saturday Night Live parodies, the mockery that followed her interviews with Katie Couric.

I couldn't help but wonder if they'd taken this backlash personally - so soon, too, after Hillary Clinton lost her bruising primary battle. Lynne acknowledged that she was riled by the double standards she saw applied to female politicians.

"You'll never see Joe Biden asked how he's going to look after his kids if he becomes Vice President," she frowned.

"But she speaks to me. I don't know if she speaks to everyone, but she definitely speaks to me."

You can argue whether Palin won or lost her bout with Biden. Certainly, I could just as easily have found two women who disliked her with equal passion.

But I don't think the merits or otherwise of her views on abortion, Iraq or offshore drilling were the point tonight. What mattered most was that, in difficult times, Americans wanted leaders who understood them.


  • Comment number 1.

    'Certainly, I could just as easily have found two women who disliked her with equal passion.'

    Please do, for the sake of objectivity and balanced reporting...

    I am reliably informed that there are hockey mums out there who feel Palin's performance gives them a bad name...

  • Comment number 2.

    What always amazes me about some American voters is that they seem to want their candidate to 'understand them' or to be just like them - same background, personal circumstances etc. While that might enable you to relate to them more easily, it doesn't automatically make them suitable to run the most powerful nation on Earth. There must be millions of Americans who are down to earth and understand the problems of everyday life in America - they're not all suitable to be President or VP. Look what happened with Bush: people voted for a (seemingly) down to earth bloke, the sort of person you might want to be your friend or neighbour, instead of looking at whether he had the ability to actually lead the country - and look what happened. Frankly I wouldn't care about the background of my President, I would only look for three things: one: are they aware of the problems I face; two: do they care about those problems and want to do something about them; three: do they know what to do about them? Their upbringing and education don't come in to it.

    It also seems to me that Palin wants people to vote for her because she has kids: I know that both sides are using the family thing, but she's always on about her five children, and carrying her baby out of the plane for the cameras yesterday seemed so contrived - could her husband, who came out behind her, not have carried the baby?

  • Comment number 3.

    It's so worrying to hear about people in the states warming to a candidate because she speaks in a 'simple' way and is always referring to home values as a way of getting out of difficult questions. I was astonished that the Palin reaction was so positive considering she was only able to answer questions with "we're gonna change..." and "Doe! Doggone it!"
    What ever happened to real candidates with real policies!
    Will America ever learn?

  • Comment number 4.

    "You'll never see Joe Biden asked how he's going to look after his kids if he becomes Vice President," she frowned.

    Joe Biden has two kids (boys)- Beau and Hunter - they are 38 and 39.

    I do hope I'm not looking after my kids at that age....

  • Comment number 5.

    Americans and especially american moms are not so brainless children-carrying drivers.... talking about out of touch for these two ladies, not to mention Sarah P. They even mention "post credit crunch..." jeez look around you people!! do you want another "folksy" redneck running this country again???

  • Comment number 6.

    Reading this worries me. People look at palin as who I can relate to her. She falter her eyes and plays I am a mum blah blah. Thats seem to get uneducated voter to voter for her because of her background.

    Maybe they are the same clueless about real issues and avoid question. I mean I really cant understand why mum and such would even think about her/McCain. Sounds to me they haven't look at there plan. Also really dont understand what the election is about. I mean if it American Idol?

    McCain has made the worst choice for VP ever! yet as he made the choice I wonder what of choices he going to mess up on! You just have to wonder!

  • Comment number 7.

    It's frightening that people like that are voting purely on the strength of a televised debate. If that's the depth of anaylsis that ordinary Americans bring to the ballot box, then God help us all.

  • Comment number 8.

    That's just great. So Sarah Palin 'understands' these women and Joe Biden was talking 'above' them? What the heck, I've only got a bachelor's degree -- basically a high school dipoloma in today's America -- and I had no trouble understanding what Biden was getting at. So how come these women don't? How is it that they (well, at least one of them) felt that he was talking down to them?

    Of course it's their right to vote for McCain and Palin. But you would think that people would have learned SOMETHING from the George W. Bush presidency -- mainly that dillitantes don't necessarily make great presidential material. And if McCain/Palin are elected, don't expect me or anyone else to pity your hockey sons when they perish in the next completely avoidable war. We've had enough of this redneck crap already.

  • Comment number 9.

    Laura summed up our leadership problems in her one observation, "he's speaking way above what the average person would understand". While I disagree completely with her assessment, I do not want any average person running my government. If Joe Biden was speaking above what an average person would understand, then I can't think of a more damning indictment of the educational system in this country. Laura and people like her need to get more involved, read more and gain a greater understanding of the issues both domestic and international because democracy cannot exist without an informed electorate. Also, how can Palin flip off the American people by declaring what questions she will and will not answer and get complimented on what I was raised to believe was arrogant and rude behavior? How would a hockey mom respond to her child, who answers her question with: Mom, I'm not going to answer your question, I do not care if I answer your question and I'm just going to talk straight with you? Is the straight talk the fact that we as a nation cannot be expected to have her answer our questions and be accountable because she does not want to? My wife and I never accepted such conduct from our children and I certainly cannot accept it in a leader. The debates were to provide us, the electorate, with the candidates responses to the questions on the topics selected by the moderator so we could judge them on their answers but Palin apparently believes we are not entitled to that opportunity or information. Also, I ask our international friends, do you not find some of her pronouncements inflammatory? She is a polarizing talking head. Finally, I do not want her talking to Putin when "he raises his head" at the diplomatic table by leaning over and giving him a wink. She is so immature and ill informed to be VP let alone President. Some of us here in the US want to bring back civility, rationality and balance to our country. By the way hockey moms out there, I am a soccer dad owning my own business, working long hours, coaching kids teams, chaperoning school trips and events, etc. You can find the time to learn the issues, facts and form informed opinions with greater depth if yu want to do so.

  • Comment number 10.

    This article gives a horrible impression of american "Hockey Moms". Driving hundreds of miles for games, spending thousands of dollars on equipment, and waking up at 0500 doesn't mean that we are all Palin Huggers. There are plenty of hockey moms out there who shouldn't be allowed anywhere near a seat of power (even on a team board). Also, simply because one's son or daughter plays hockey, it doesn't mean that the parent is an incompetent ninny who can't realize that throughout the debate last night, Palin actually had very little of value to say.

    It's frightening to me that these women are voters, but I will defend the position of Hockey mom. Like everything else in the US, this stereotype is very regionalized. Rest assured that we are not all won.

  • Comment number 11.

    Would like to echo concerns made by other comments here.

    "I want someone who understands me".

    So ... in the middle of a financial crisis, you don't want someone who understands economics.

    With America's reputation its lowest since Vietnam, you don't want someone who understands foreign policy.

    You just want someone who's a bit like you.

    How much worse do things have to get for Americans to associate "8 years of ecological, human and financial damage and destruction across America and the world" with "Republican"?

  • Comment number 12.

    I'm a working mom too, but being busy doesn't mean I can't think straight. Do I want a candidate who "understands" me personally? No, I want a candidate who understands the problems facing the country and knows how to find solutions to them. Sarah Palin has only the most superficial understanding of the problems, so how can she possibly solve them? I thought her winking and contrived "folksy talk" during last night's debate were nauseating. I hope your "hockey moms" aren't representative of the people who will be voting next month!

  • Comment number 13.

    "Americans wanted leaders who understood them."

    This American wants a smart leader who understands the issues at hand in detail, from a number of perspectives. As far as I'm concerned, Palin does not come close to having that important level of understanding.

    Biden uses straightforward if smart language. An "average" person should be able to understand him, as long as they are willing to listen.

    These women do not represent me nor a large number of American women (nor Americans, nor women).

    Sure, I might like to sit down and have a beer with Palin. No way does that mean I'd ever elect her to political office.

    And I also take issue of the media, especially the media overseas, of continually representing 640 million diverse Americans with the same group of lower-middle class, uneducated white people. Please, get a real sample next time.

  • Comment number 14.

    This is an embarrassing piece. It is people like the two women interviewed in this article, those who shun anything that comes across as in the least bit 'above' their heads who choose candidates like Sara Palin over a substantive candidate like Joe Biden.
    Sad to say that we live in a culture where being a hockey mom, wearing fashionable eyeglasses and sounding downright folksy (cringe) can gain you votes. Talk about pandering!

    "Golly gee", what about economics and foreign policy? And why is it that there is not enough focus on how often Palin chose not to even answer questions.
    Palin is not qualified to be Vice President. Period. And Biden was in a very tough position, given that strategists on both sides were saying that if he came across as forceful it could be disastrous. He certainly answered the questions asked of him. Doesn't that count for something?

    Mr. Kelly's piece is not balanced at all. Palin is a fraud.

  • Comment number 15.

    I find it very sad that millions of Americans will be given the chance to vote for someone who does not read a newspaper (probably very much like the voters themselves). There seems to be a huge amount of ignorance here, although to be honest it does not seem to me to be avoidable as the candidates don't seem to have policies.
    I am seriously concerned about the 'political' landscape here. Millions of voters seem intent on voting based purely on the personalities of the candidates. The USA has dug itself a massive hole over the past decade or so and it seems that it is intent on making that hole bigger, rather than making any attempt to repair the damage.
    The problems we are facing with the banking and credit crisis been the result of the public themselves, the financial services industry and the government who de-regulated the sector and made the banks unaccountable. The American dream of mass consumerism and the obsession to have bigger, better, newer etc, have helped shape the country into what it is today and I think it is time to stand up and be counted. Just because we might relate to any of the various candidates does not give good enough reason to vote for them! No-one has forced you to buy that gas guzzler, or that 6 bedroom house and now you find yourself in too deep you are trying to lay the blame on someone else and seek help to get you out of the mess that you helped create.
    Take a stand! Don't make the mess worse, think for yourselves, make your vote really count. You can help shape the country for future generations and they may thank you for it. I feel though that if change does not come then there will be nothing to save.

  • Comment number 16.

    I cannot express enough how much I agree with posters jamal-london and Knevovitch. The single most alarming aspect of American politics (and I say this as an American) is the desire to elect presidents "just like us." I think it's important to realize, however, that this is not a new phenomenon. The quintessential example remains Andrew Jackson, whose lack of education and extraordinary truculence played a huge role in one of our country's most embarrassing "foreign" policies: the eradication of thousands of American Indian peoples.

    The point being, this hope for the average guy to lead the way is nothing new. But for the sake of all Americans—not to mention the rest of the world—I hope we can get over it.

  • Comment number 17.

    For the first time i am compelled to register with the BBC so i can post my comment.

    I really don't get this election and voter thinking in America.
    Ms. Palin comes across as a good neighbor, someone that shares similar values and beliefs to myself. But she is vying for a VP role to the single, most powerful nation on Earth. This brings huge responsibility and anyone applying for this position MUST come suitably equipped.
    I can churn out analogies all day long....but really the one that brings it home is quite simple, you visit a doctor because of his years of study and experience in his field. You don’t go because they happen to be a Hockey mom with kids, or a Soccer dad - you go because they are qualified in their field. It is not a bad thing to demand our politicians and leaders be highly intelligent people, with solid academic and industry experience. Of course, they need to understand the needs of the people and the Country - but surely, we need to demand the highest quality in their credentials. I say again, our leaders represent our Countries - they make local, national and international policies affecting the lives of millions. Of course they need to understand foreign policy, be highly literate, speak several languages (this is an incredible asset), be rational and bright thinkers - and in touch with common needs. You should pick the brightest and most gifted person for, what i consider to be, the most important job in the World. Forget the lipstick gloss, the number of kids, what sports they play…..look beyond all of the superficial to their actual capability, credentials and their policies.
    Empathy is wonderful, but hey, unless you have a doggone clue on how to really sort out all this mess, to work on international and local policies and with people across the Globe – it matters not an iota.
    Stob dumbing down our leaders! SP and Mr. Bush for that matter, for all their kindly ways are poor choices as leaders in such an important Country. They are massaged and controlled by a host of nobodies in all they say and do, they project incomprehension most of the time and really 'dumb down' politics. I take no pleasure in seeing their gaffes for entertainment, a modern day stocks for people to ridicule. But really, why are we choosing people like this to lead a Country! Please, please stop voting for people like this - pick leaders that are intelligent and rational, that can think on their own, challenge and project confidence and deep understanding on a plethora of key issues and above all stand up as leaders on their own.

    Kind regards.

  • Comment number 18.

    Just one question:-

    What is a "Hockey Mom"??

  • Comment number 19.

    It is important for the rest of the world to see that we do have (unfortunately) a lot of voters in this country who want someone just like them in major positions of power. But, I assure you, at least half of us know better. Bush got in both times with a minority of votes, especially if you include citizens who could not or did not vote, and even despite the ongoing racism, Obama continues to show a slight lead. There are (some) intelligent, thinking people in America. Really.

    For the record, Palin was a PTA and hockey mom at some point around 10 years ago. It's not like she's currently getting up early and taking her kids to sports practice and then spending her days or evenings helping out at the school. No one really knows who has been taking care of her kids. Her husband owns a company that requires him to be away for weeks at a time, and many of her extended family live just down the street but won't associate with her. And, she's a millionaire, not "middle class". Graft, financial mismanagement and personal vendettas have been part of every step in her political career. The story that has been put out to make her appear to be a "regular mom" is just that: a story, a fabrication.

    The lying doesn't stop with her public persona. It's one of the most maddening things about politics these days. Most of what Palin and McCain say on camera are things that anyone within reach of a computer and quick fingers can debunk before they've finished the sentence. There's no shame anymore.

    It is sad to realize that so many of our citizens disrespect the very things that could get us out of the mess we're in: intelligence, education, and long-range thinking. Many of us true conservatives (the Republican party continues to call themselves conservative, but they aren't anymore) are publicly stating that we are insulted and horrified by the party's platform and by McCain/Palin.

    Obama/Biden isn't perfect, and isn't even close to most people's first choice, but the alternative is beyond the pale.

    Don't panic yet, though: I think there are enough intelligent people left in America to vote against McCain/Palin ever coming into ultimate power.

  • Comment number 20.

    I'm part of middle-America, and these women certainly don't represent me. Sarah Palin's "folksiness" and "Look at me, I'm just like you" should not eclipse the fact that she didn't answer the questions posed to her. Her answers to those were more important to me than whether or not I related to her. Hopefully other "hockey-moms" not interviewed in this article recognize that--style is great, but certainly far less so than substance (which she did not offer) and won't hold up in the tough times we Americans have ahead of us.

  • Comment number 21.

    Thank you very much Jon,
    I do feel that it's important to do more in depth reporting of individual voters opinions especially ones that have reacted so strongly in favor of Palin . Personally, I didn't know if "hockey moms" played hockey themselves or just drove their kids to the rink. If possible could you find out who the "Joe sixpacks" are?
    Unfortunately one of the findings of the polls shows that voters are influenced by their emotional perception of the candidate rather than voting records or objective facts. I think that your reporting has added another proof to that finding. I just hope that enough voters have understood what this type of bonding can lead to as evidenced by by the last two presidential terms.

  • Comment number 22.


  • Comment number 23.

    I have a couple of neighbors who want to vote for Palin because she is "like one of us", but I find her affect extremely contrived, and most of the women I know find her offensive. It might just depend on whether or not you watch the Fox news network, or listen to Karl Rove's "objective" opinions.

  • Comment number 24.

    Jon, are you aware that the line "Say it ain't so, Joe" came from another source and was used without attribution, i.e. plagiarized?

  • Comment number 25.

    I take issue with the kind of American mentality that produces a criticism like: "He's speaking way above what the average person would understand." As an American and a student of history it saddens me to see intellectualism turned into a flaw. By the standards of these hockey moms, as well as many Americans, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison would be unelectable. Abraham Lincoln would seem like he was too lofty and bookish. Palin may not be stupid, but I hate to see Biden's intelligence and command of the issues turned against him, and Obama's background as a Constitutional law professor seen as a elitist.

  • Comment number 26.

    Many Americans do not want their president to be a policy wonk. They want the president to be an executive who hires good policy wonks. Thus the president, and by extension, the vice-president, need to be good communicators who are seen as having the judgement and strong convictions to choose among all the policy wonks available. Both Palin and Biden exceeded my expectations for their performances. The media vultures were waiting to pounce on any gaffes, so I am glad that both did well in the debate. Biden was much better last night than in his Democratic primary debates and had many good responses, but at times he focused too much on numbers. Frankly, most Americans don't care to focus on the details. They want the big picture about what the goals and visions are for the two tickets. Palin's job was to channel "the great communicator" Ronald Reagan, the Republican with folksy appeal who scored well with middle-class and working-class voters called "Reagan Democrats". Her other job was to silence media parodies that she is an idiot "hick from the sticks" (an unsophisticated rural person). The Democrats rightly fear a backlash from small town America if the attacks on Palin offend people with backgrounds similar to Palin - especially in the battleground state of Ohio. The Palin parodies were very funny, but they were also cruel and belittling. I voted for Hillary because I admired her Senate work and thought she was most likely to lead from the "center" rather than from the left or right, plus it felt good to support her against a spate of unfair attacks. Although it drives Democrats crazy to think that a Hillary supporter might vote for McCain, I believe that McCain has a better track record of leading from the center than Obama does. I lean to McCain, despite Obama having closer adherence to Hillary's proposed policies. Why? Because the proposed policies are the starting points, not where the final legislation will end up after the compromises needed in Congress to get a bill passed. The key to good governance in the USA is via the center - regardless of party. My concern about McCain is that some of his own Republicans hate him because he has not always followed the party line.

  • Comment number 27.

    The 'shout out' was a jaw dropper, gosh darn it don't cha know? Did she forget that it was a debate for Vice President of the United States, and not VP of the Wasilla High School Student Council? Whereas I can tolerate the 'homespun folksy speak" from the waitress at the diner or from my auntie from east Texas, it's not what I want to hear from potential leader of my country. We've (painfully) seen what happens when we put an uninformed dolt with brazen folksy charm into the White House. As George W Bush says, "Fool me can't get fooled again".

    In these uncertain times, I don't like the erratic, forever unpredictable behavior of these so-called "Mavericks".

  • Comment number 28.

    Sarah Palin is very familiar to me, as there are thousands just like her here in Texas. She is the type who would hire a hit man if her daughter didn't get to be cheerleader.

  • Comment number 29.

    I, as an American, don't want someone like me to run the country. I want someone smarter, way smarter than I.

    I hate the term 'Joe six-pack.'

    We've dumbed down to Bush and look at the horrible mess he's made of it!

  • Comment number 30.

    I am an American mom that wants my children to grow up in a country that values intelligence, education, equality, and our constitution. Shouldn't the people that lead us also be people that we look up to and that emulate the best of us? Shouldn't we be employing the sharpest and the brightest to lead us? If the choice is "folksy or intelligent". I want my kids to be intelligent.

    I have to agree with chgo_liz. I am not completely thrilled with either Presidential candidate, but I was impressed with Joe Biden's performance. Palin played her mom at the dinner table routine and Biden showed a side of him, (that I have not seen) a caring father that also has had to worry about the needs of his children. He is clearly a well rounded, well read, intelligent, articulate person that is WAY more ready to lead this nation if need be. I am glad that he is in Obama's corner and that he will be his confidant. He is a definate asset to the Obama campaign.

    Sarah Palin is way out of her league. Yes she held her own at last nights debate, but the bar was set so low what does that mean? Are we supposed to applaud her for not making a complete fool out of herself. Why am I not hearing more about her comment on the power of the Vice President? Where was she going with that?
    Joe Biden did a great job setting her straight. There are checks and balances in place so that no one person has too much power. Leadership is not about grabbing more power it is about using the power that you do have wisely for the good of the people. A leaders needs should NEVER come before the needs of their people.

    I will be terrified if McCain wins the election. If something were to happen to him, and it could, we would be in serious trouble. In choosing Sarah Palin he made an extremely poor judgement call.

  • Comment number 31.

    Hockey moms may be Palin voters, but talk to some female hockey players and I think you'll find they lean more to the left.

  • Comment number 32.

    I consider myself an average American woman, and Palin doesn't understand me. If she did, she'd know that I don't need someone elected that empathizes with our plot, but plans to do more than be a cheer leader for McCain and subvert our U.S. Constitution by trying to entwine the office of the V.P. with the legislative branch as V.P. Chenney attempted in avoiding having to testify.

  • Comment number 33.

    "It's frightening that people like that are voting purely on the strength of a televised debate. If that's the depth of anaylsis that ordinary Americans bring to the ballot box, then God help us all."

    Well, you'd better start praying because that's how many voters get their information. I was a little skeptical of the "low information voter" until I started talking with friends and family members. We discussed conversations with people who seemed to get their talking points straight off television commercials. It's astonishing the lack of effort some people put into choosing a person for office. Obama wasn't my first choice, and I was not enthusiastic about Biden, but I cringe at the unmitigated disaster that is McCain/Palin.

    I'm also offended at the idea that if you're "from the sticks", you talk like a yokel and have an uncontrollable eye tick, but that's just me. I'm one of those "hicks" that went and became citified and got herself a high-falutin' education and now thinks she's better than everyone else, or so the conventional wisdom goes.

  • Comment number 34.

    I'm simply appalled.

    And you could say I'm "Joe six-pack" since I'm named Joe and my friends and I tend to have a few beers in the evening. I suppose my current low-paying job and lack of funds to continue my education factor in as well- so I'm one of the groundlings Palin hopes to court with her patronizing attitude?

    The American people really are so stupid as to be sold a politician on the grounds of being "folksy?" Yes, of course they are.

    A quote:

    "He's speaking way above what the average person would understand," Lauren remarked. "Everything he says has a negative purpose about it."

    Negativity? How dare he! At a time when the loose leash given to super-rich financiers came back to bite us, when our unilateral actions on the world stage have eroded the respect we once garnered from our neighbors, at a time when we hang out to dry the health and education of our citizens in the name of corporate greed under the guise of "self-determination"- how could a politician have the gall to approach anything negative? Let's just focus on terms like "family," "hope," "puppies," and..."pipeline."

    And Joe Six Pack of Belleville, Illinois (10 miles from Saint Louis, "plain, simple, stupid, middle America") could understand Biden's every word. Joe Six Pack also felt fear creeping in after every comment made by Palin. In my opinion, Palin is very much like Bush- winning over the masses through "down-to-earth" mannerisms and appealing to their oh-so-simple desire to "live the American dream" and see that their good American family can be successful.

    In a dark turn of mind, I'd hope the idiotic public who has been brainwashed by our modern culture of sound bites and media overload get what they deserve by voting for the ticket that comforts them with cute talk and appealing phrases. Perhaps another eight years of disastrous policy put forth by leaders fixated on their own personal "god-given" agendas will bring my country to its knees, that we may finally open our eyes.

    At one time, I'd never say it, or even think it. I still see it as an idiotic, reactionary comment, but...what's the rent for a flat in some nice little town in England? Maybe a 5 year vacation would do me good, and maybe seeing a good match on Saturdays would take my mind off this quagmire.

  • Comment number 35.

    A number of those posting on this story should be ashamed of themselves.

    These are two women that reflected on the debate as they saw fit. The are certainly worthy of having their own opinion - even if you don't happen to agree with it!

    It's a typical "progressive" response that comes across as "your opinion doesn't count because, well, if you don't agree with me there must be something wrong with you".

    Just allow people to have and opine, as they see fit, their own opinions. It's all part of the great marketplace of ideas.

    Or has the concept of Free Speech fallen on deaf ears?

  • Comment number 36.

    Hold on! I'm a hockey mom (for the last 8 years). I am also a progressive. I will be voting for Obama/Biden.

    Frankly, I was insulted and annoyed last night by her constant winking, her arrogance in stating she would not answer the questions given, and her "folksy" manner of speech. She in no way represents me or my values. You betcha;)

  • Comment number 37.

    Since no one will likely read down this far, I will keep it short. As a disclaimer, I have vote Dem., Rep., and I even voted for Nader in 2000 (Green).

    This comment board seems to be outraged at the proposition that Americans want "someone like us" in power. I believe this is wildly misunderstood to mean that we want to pluck some dude out of a pub and set him in the Oval Office. Some might assert that we've done that very thing on a number of occasions. However, that definition is not what Americans mean.

    Most Americans are actually very responsible, motivated, courteous people who understand that accomplishing goals requires work, and the accomplishment of those goals should not be cause for jealousy and vitriol. Rather, most feel that if you win or if you're the best, you should be applauded. If you didn't win or you're not the best, pick youself up and try again rather than give up or give in. Americans want these qualities in their leadership...the qualities they see in themselves by and large. That's the "somebody like us" they're talking about.

    What you're seeing in these two women is a realization that NO ONE is "intelligent" enough to to run the largest economy in the world that's made up of a third of a billion people by themselves. What they're reacting against is what has become the core principle of American Liberalism outside of any altruistic motive, and that core principle is Central Authority.

    Europe has grown into a parlimentary system out of various centrally authoritative governments over the centuries so the viewpoint from the east shore of the Pond is somewhat clouded on this subject. The Americans have never been subject to a central authority of their own design, and thus, they are deeply distrustful of it. Like the Roman Republic's distrust of Caesar's design for the throne, America is increasingly feeling the pressure of authority.

    Let's just pray that Brutus stays home.

  • Comment number 38.

    I wish this reporter had found a balanced view to give a more accurate impression of how Americans are feeling during this election. The choice of two hockey moms rating the debate is insulting and I'm disappointed in the BBC for choosing these women as the 'panel'. Their views make American seem charicatures. Most American's 'get it' after 8 disastrous years of Bush-Cheney policy on our economy, our relations with the rest of the world, the climate, etc.

    Sarah Palin does not represent me or most Americans I know. I do not want someone 'like me' running the country. I want someone smarter than me, a leader the world can look up to admire and respect.

    Poor Joe Biden, after decades of work in the Senate and all of his work on foreign policy, having to humor this ridiculous situation of debating someone whose foreign policy experience is limited to the last 5 weeks of memorizing sound bites on the issues. Biden did a phenomenal job last night. He was substantive and thoughtful.

    Palin did well enough (though not 'well', she just switched topics when she didn't have the answer), her performance in the debate will only mean her ship will stop taking on water, and she will not be the punchline she was in danger of becoming over the past week -- it does not mean that most of us think she is actually qualified to deal with the critical issues of today.

    Norman Mailer said that George Bush should be ashamed for accepting a job for which he knew he was unqualified. Palin should also be ashamed. The issues of today are too important, the dangers too imminent, for her to be campaigning for a job so far above her qualifications. John McCain has made an extremely irresponsible choice in choosing her as his running mate.

    Again, I'm disappointed with the BBC for presenting such a slanted view of Americans to the rest of the world.

  • Comment number 39. I feel sorry for Lauren and Lynne. I read this article because I wanted to read a quick story about a couple of moms who were asked to attend a BBC event in my town. Little did I know how nasty people were when it came to a few comments they made after being questioned by a reporter. Since none of us were there, isn't it a little harsh to demean them with your comments when you have no idea what was truly said or what little was picked out of the full conversation for this article? Obviously we have a bunch of uptight folks out there not willing to let people have their own opinions on anything. Do I agree with their comments? Does it truly matter? That is simply what they did...comment. Did either of these hockey moms say anything derogatory about anything or anyone? Absolutely not - they were asked their opinion for a BBC story and actually gave their thoughts. Oh, God forbid. I think some of you need to realize that there are others such as Lauren and Lynne above who do have lives other than ripping others every chance they get. I do truly feel sorry for all of you - it is rather appalling, actually. Maybe we're just too nice in the Midwest. Or, maybe you are just jealous because you weren't asked to join in....mmmm....I think that could be it.

  • Comment number 40.

    thoughtfulAmerican (#38), yet another reader complaining about supposed lack of "balance." Mr. Kelly has not presented a "slanted view of Americans," he has merely presented a view of two particular Americans who he thought would be interesting to some of his readers. Kelly avoids taking political positions himself, and on the whole has been balanced in his work on this blog. He has no duty, either under BBC rules or under journalistic ethics generally, to meet anyone's idea of "balance" in a single report.

  • Comment number 41.

    Yes, this article failed to show how many of us are frustrated with Palin here. I think many conservatives even realize she was chosen only so that McCain could win the election with disgruntled Hillary supporters. She offers absolutely nothing and it is terrifying that someone with such little support could be one step from the presidency.

  • Comment number 42.

    Back in Nigeria, most people jubilated when for the first time since we had independence from the British in 1960, we elected the first ever COLLEGE EDUCATED president. He even had a ph.d. No more would we have to listen to presidents who could not pronounce the word house, or speak without rehearsing their speeches for months. We finally had a president who knew where Germany was.
    Many people leave their countries so that uneducated power hungry dolts would not continue to make their lives a living hell by their ignorance......... Then we come to America where people actually want to be ruled by such dolts.
    anyway, when McCain kicks the bucket after blowing up in congress soon after being elected, and Sarah Palin gets in and begins a war with Russia, because she saw them from her backyard looking back at her and after "Putin rears his head over the Alaskan skies", I will safely be in Nigeria. I will not even bother renewing my Immigrant Visa. from what I hear, Nigeria is desperately hiring people like me with foreign obtained degrees.

    The movie Idiocracy hits too close to the truth, one day Americans would vote for presidents based on their sexual prowess.

    The Palin lady sounds too much like the incoherent blonde guy from that King of the hills Cartoon

  • Comment number 43.

    It seems to me that everyone is missing the point: Americans do NOT have a choice in this, or any, election. Americans get to vote, yes, but we get to choose between two or three hand-picked individuals.

    Hand-picked by whom? I'd like to know that myself.

    Look at what just happened in America's government:

    A Congress that has an 18% approval (18%!) just passed a bill that they were receiving phone calls from their constituents about at a ratio of up to 300-1 AGAINST. A bill that takes $2500 out of the pockets of every citizen in the country and uses that money to buy the worthless assets of the top 1% of the populations' wealth. So the uber-rich get to keep the money, and everyone else gets to eat their excrement.

    And Americans think their vote MATTERS?

    Grow up. Just one time face up to reality:
    The entire Planet just got handed the ultimate proof that Americans don't matter to their government.

    Oh, right, never mind... American Idol is on and there's greasy fast food to be consumed....

  • Comment number 44.

    I want Joe Biden for President.

    Even as though I am just starting college, I could understand exactly what he was saying. I did not always understand Palin, however.

    Can I be Joe Biden when I grow up?

  • Comment number 45.

    I rather enjoyed this perspective, which is revealing and insightful even if some of us Americans find it distasteful. Good imagination on the reporter's part, but I am not crazy about the notion that a blog has widespread ability to reveal what is true in a method readily accessible to the hockey moms, soccer moms and swim dads out there.
    Blogs, like moms everywhere, have so many differing opinions and views. I'm sure that it is true this holds even within the same party, or subset of sport those parents' children are involved in, or even among volunteers of those candidate they support. We are a nation of so many interests, backgrounds and varying opinions that it is a wonder we can agree on anything - never mind a candidate for the presidency. Of course, patriotism galvanizes us to action. That is why you would have noticed both candidates sported an American flag on their lapel. Imagine if one had a flag and not the other, well, that would certainly have become the biggest talking point of the post-debate panels.
    Watching the debate, I was struck by a nagging question in my mind. Allow me to express it in the same form as one of these popular bracelets promoted at one time by the American Christian right, the WWJD bracelets as in "What Would Jesus Do?" My question was "WWDTP? as in "Who Would Donald Trump Pick?" to run the country? Sadly, the selection would probably Sarah Palin. She would have the most success selling ice cubes to Eskimos. Or, maverick that Trump is, he might fire both candidates.
    I was sad in thinking this becuase that is what America has come down to. A popularity contest, a beauty pageant, a choice not based on policies and diplomatic agendas but a choice based on who wore the best lipstick, who looked good on television, who made the pulse meter of the unaffiliated voters rise and fall and of which sex hooked up to a galvanic sensor in some pollsters' secret soundproofed studio chamber.
    For the Democratic party, no one found Joe Biden, a veteran of 35 years of living inside the political Washington beltway, offensive when he referred to the people of Bosnia as "Bosniacs"?

    And no one was bothered by Sarah Palin's rush to put together sentences and phrases that made sense on policy she obviously never thought through until the last two months since being nominated? Who was she winking at?

    Of course those third graders back in Wasila, Alaska can't vote. So giving them a "shout out" was cute. But their parents can vote. Palin might have solidified their support if she actually grounded her remarks in actual experiences they shared rather than smiling and parroting the prepared policy platitudes given her by the Republican handlers.

    Of course she is the real thing. But the pressure of what was at stake clearly prevented her from simply being at ease and appealing directly to the heart of the American people.

    As for poor 'Say it Ain't So, Joe' (A headline reference to an American baseball player, Joe DiMaggio, whose own personal life caused him and his fans great consternation) Barack Obama's camp must have said the same thing. In his constant attack of John McCain, he could not shed his image as a slick Washington politician, as far removed from Joe Six Pack as you could get. No wonder the Hockey Moms are 'conflicted' as analysts here like to say.

    And so are the rest of us.

    Not quite the same as the 'barf' comment, but I wanted to raise the level of dialogue up a bit. Thanks for devoting the resurces and attention to our presidential campaign.

  • Comment number 46.

    First off, it boggles my mind that anybody in the UK or the rest of the world would give a darn about who will be the new Vice President of the USA. It is the most useless position in government.

    Second, I am going to cackle with glee when John McCain wins the election and all you socialists have a Screaming Hissy Fit!

    Thank GOD you don't have a vote.

  • Comment number 47.

    While Palin may have appealed to the regular folk with her 'folksy' way, we as Americans need someone stronger in foreign policy, someone who understands the intricate cogs of the wheel that perpetuates our economy and someone that will help get our men out of a war that we have absolutely no business being in. Palin has no answer for that.

    Stop being 'Joe Hollywood' you 'hockey moms' and take it from a former 'soccer mom'. Being female and folksy does not qualify you for VP and much less, President. We have already had enough of the last 8 years of blunder under the last regime. She is definitely not ready.

    So what, some didn't understand Biden's responses. To you, I say if you didn't understand, then you have no business voting until you fine tune your stance on important issues. Would you rather have a person who likes hockey or a person who is a major player in the political processes as future President?

    Holy cow, it's people like these two female idiots that have me bury my head in the keyboard.

  • Comment number 48.

    Yea great. The inmates want to control the asylum. The past 8 years have been about just this - dumbing down our policy to the point these two gleefully ignorant folks feel they can grasp the dialog. It might be good for them but a disaster for the rest of us.

  • Comment number 49.

    Hi, as an American, this latest blog is very depressing. I honestly don't understand how anyone in their right mind could possibly think Sarah Palin is quailified, much less intelligent enough to run the country. Please don't think we're all like this. Its gonna be a bleak four years if McCain wins....

    Palin did horribly in the "debates" in my opinion. She was all talking points with no substance. Whether you agree with Obama's platform or not, at least they tell you what it is instead of playing up to such simple patriotic themes alone like Palin.

  • Comment number 50.

    As for the person that asked why it around the world care about the VP, because if McCain wins, he's old and has numerous health problems. There's greater than 1 in 3 chance that he will die before his first term is up and then this bimbo will be president.

  • Comment number 51.

    *Shudder* I never really met a soccer/hocky/otherwise-little league mom that I could really be friends with. Some are real nice ladies when they're not in the stands chewing out the referees during a game, but I wouldn't want to send one to the UN to make a speech.

    I think it's more important for the VP to understand what he/she is talking about than to understand me personally.

    Let's get over ourselves, shall we, and realize that a hick from nowhereville doesn't know what she's doing behind the VP controls. I am middle class college graduate just like Palin... and smart enough to know that I'd be grossly disqualified for the job.

    And it freaks me out that she wants control of the senate too...

  • Comment number 52.

    To reply to YankaGeordie's question:

    "For the Democratic party, no one found Joe Biden, ..........., offensive when he referred to the people of Bosnia as "Bosniacs"?"

    No, I doubt anyone was offended as "Bosniak" is the correct term when refering to Bosnian Muslims , the other 2 largest ethic groups being Serbs and Croats.

    Biden is educated and worldly enough to know this, hallebloodyluljah. (yeh, I just made that up)

  • Comment number 53.

    I want a VP who understands government, knows how to get things done, has a good understanding of the issues facing America, our country's role on the world stage.
    Our elected officials should be above average citizens. They represent who we are to the world. A folksy hockey mom does not represent what we need.

  • Comment number 54.

    I grew up in the St. Louis area and even though I left in 1979 the people haven't really changed. They have this image of themselves as 'common folk' and they're quite proud of it. Unfortunately what they think of as 'common' the bulk of humantity thinks of as narrow minded. They respond to cue words like 'values', 'shucks', 'golly', and 'Christian.' They are very uncomfortable when forced outside of their worldview by reality and will withdraw into a shell of self-righteous indignation. They are not bad people. They are poor thinkers...and quite proud of it.

  • Comment number 55.

    I regret that you chose these two people as examples of the American electorate. They are a poor example.

    At the same time that Sarah Palin is heavily criticized, I see no criticism of the many things that Joe Biden said that were flat wrong.

    He erred when he talked about the U.S. Constitution and the role of the Vice President, when he claimed that John McCain has no plan to end the war in Iraq, when he claimed some credit for kicking Hezbollah out of Lebanon (Hezbollah is, now, in fact part of the Lebanese government) when he mis-stated some claims about taxes and when he mis-stated the Iraqi government's current position on American troop withdrawals.

    I'm not saying he lied. He just didn't seem to know what he was talking about.

  • Comment number 56.

    In the past week, I like many of my fellow Americans have with much apprehension watched TV, listened to radio and read newspapers as an unprecedented event of national crisis unfolds, the collapse of our financial markets.

    Amid Americas' anger, frustration, fear and concern many questions make their way to the forefront: How did this happen? Who is responsible? Can it be fixed? Who will fix it? What can I do?

    It happened due to corruption, greed, gross negligence and apathy. Not just from CEO's but also by those who enabled them, our elected officials, many that now would have us believe they will supply the fix. The rest of us should not piously exclude ourselves for many have allowed instant gratification to cloud judgment, resulting in poorly managed finances.

    As Americans we survived 911, then fought to inoculate ourselves through stronger defense and safeguards against those who would destroy us. Will this cancer from within now do what the terrorist failed to do?

    We have an obligation to our children and grandchildren to successfully end this crisis. Look into their expectant faces: Will apathy and inaction cause them to stand in bread lines or will our work and determination secure the happiness they so rightly deserve.

    One of the most powerful tools we have at our disposal is the handle in the polling booth. Use it wisely on November 4th.

    My name is Richard Neal Huffman, and I approve this message.

    ** This was published on Wednesday Oct. 2nd, 2008 in 'The Herald-Paladium' which covers southwestern lower Michigan. You may go to their web site to view it as it appeared on their page.

  • Comment number 57.

    After reading the posts below I just wanted to say that there are a lot of women (mom's and otherwise) in the US who do feel that Palin is not ready just to take office. Being a college student in the US, my friends family and I are taking this election very seriously. I know plenty of women who can see past Palin's 'charm' and recognize that she is in no way ready to take on being VP of the United States. In fact, it personally scares me that someone so uneducated and lacking a general interest and knowledge in politics (both US and world wide politics) can even be taken seriously as a VP candidate. I'm also embarrassed that she is representing the US and more specifically women on such a large scale.

    I hope that people realize these are just two out of millions of women in the US and not all of us are swayed by someone who can 'understand' us.

  • Comment number 58.

    Give the two hockey mums a break. Reading the comments of those who have derided the views of the two “hockey mums” makes me think that perhaps the authors of those comments want voters to sit an intelligence test before they are eligible to vote.

    Any “emotional” response by the average voter to Palin is no different from the emotional response of some of those who go gaga over and are enamoured by Obama. Palin represents the average person. She is a working mum and has a modest income (not a millionaire) and is the least wealthy of the four Presidential and Vice Presidential candidates (“Palin's Disclosure shows Modest Wealth”, Mary Jacoby and T.W. Farnam, WSJ, October 4, 2008).

    Palin may not have subscribed to the Wall Street Journal and Washington Post, or read the BBC website, but has enough intelligence to grasp the issues. She will be able to understand economic issues based on her experience – handling of the Alaskan budget and the small business that she and her husband ran. That experience will give her enough grounding to understand national and international economic issues. It seems that in her time as Governor, she has focused on practical matters rather than detailed policy issues, but up to now has not failed in that job. One would say that she has been tested in governance as opposed to Obama.

    The reported analysis of Obama by the British diplomat, Sir Nigel Sheimwald, is spot on (as reported by the BBC in “UK diplomat 'says Obama aloof”).

    “In the Senate ... his voting record was decidedly liberal. But the main impression is of someone who was finding his feet, and then got diverted by his presidential ambitions.”

    What is known about Obama is that he is highly intelligent, has the gift of the gab and is “mesmerising”. Will that necessarily translate to his being a better president than McCain or Palin?

    People also seem to think that Obama can be trusted more to deal with the economy. What is his credential? He is in no better position than either McCain or Palin. In addition, isn't the current economic difficulties partly caused by some of those intelligent folks and graduates of the prestigious business schools occupying Wall Street (if they are still there)? Each party will have expert economic advisers so it really depends on which advisers they appoint. The Bush administration, after all, selected Paulson who seems to have impressed Obama as well.

    The McCain/Palin ticket has an experienced leader and understudy, but the Obama/Biden ticket reverses the order. If Obama wins, will he be shimmying around in the oval office trying to find his feet?

  • Comment number 59.

    Jon, everybody's ganging up on you, good buddy, and the two hockey moms to boot.

    No, these ladies are NOT intellectuals.
    But neither are they stupid.

    Perhaps on balance they may 'over-parent', but with the country plagued with kids who are severely 'under-parented', or 'unparented', they should not be the object of ridicule. Successful parenting is really hard work, and the successful, accomplished young people I know all share the common factor of deeply involved and proactive parents.

    These kinds of parents should deserve our attention, not our scorn. They are trying to cut a path through the cultural jungle, with the goal that their kids arrive at adulthood well-equipped to face its challenges.

    Very naturally, these sorts of moms will identify viscerally with Governor Palin, and I guarantee you(as the husband of one the 'hockey mom' types) they deeply resent the ridicule and condescension hurled in her direction. They get enough of it every week, from bosses, school principals, the entertainment industry, and the media-babes like Katie Couric.

    Are they policy-wonk types? Nope.
    Are they intellectuals? No again.

    But they are not stupid. And they will vote for the person they trust, not the person with the most impressive resume.

    Illogical? Maybe. Or perhaps, they operate out of a different logic developed at 5:00 am on the way to hockey practice.

    Even if BHO wins, he will have to govern a country full of these sorts of ladies. Even if they vote for him, they won't cut him a moment's slack.

  • Comment number 60.

    I give up. After reading this blog and realizing I am sick and tired of yahoos from square states picking our Prez and VP, I think it is really time for the US to split up. I think it was a mistake that we (the north) won the Civil War. We don't belong in the same country. And even though the blog is about St. Louis folk, they are rednecks, pure and simple. It's time for New England and the Northeast of the USA to get out. You can keep your folksy idiots, I'll take the likes of FDR and kennedy any day!

  • Comment number 61.

    Judging from the people you have irritated you may have gotten a true sense of what is going to happen on election day. Honestly. The woman may relate to people in a real way, but she is a professional, and quite good at her job. Seems like a lot of the Obama crowd are scared. You can tell, because they always mention Bush. It is quite funny now. See you in Nashville.

  • Comment number 62.

    I used to admire McCain. I lost complete respect for him when he chose Palin.

  • Comment number 63.

    Just a few observations:

    #60 says he/she will take the likes of FDR and Kennedy any day. Well, reference the debate between Kennedy and Nixon. Nixon was by far more knowledgeable in all areas, had all the facts lined up and articulated them in his answers. Kennedy, on the other hand, although an intelligent man, won clearly on "style". Kennedy connected with the American people; Nixon did not. This popularity style "emotion based" election contest did not begin with Sarah Palin.

    Which brings me to my next observation. The first 15 months of Obama's campaign was clearly an emotional swing. Change, change, change you can believe in with little to no details before his plans and policies found ink, and half the country rallied to him with pure, raw emotion.
    McCain's base has rallied to Palin with that same raw emotion, so it seems hypocritical to say that M/P supporters are all red-neck, uneducated, low-income hicks who couldn't shoot their way out of an ammunition box. (and by the way, for the low-income comment, low to no-income voters swing for Democrats---that's a huge chunk of their base. Without the Dems most of those huge government handout agencies would be scaled back or disappear).

    Lastly, BBC has another "America" blog (Justin Webb) and the thing I detest about it is that the posters have sunk to a miserable degeneration of supporting one candidate so ferociously that any counterpoint is treated with vicious, intolerant insults that trash the concept of free speech.
    Either you agree with the "JW" crowd on that blog or else you are (fill in the blank with whatever vile, hideous, shaming, detestable insult you can think of because it's all been typed over there).
    What I enjoyed about this blog is that we seemed to be much more civilized in respecting each other's political opinions.
    Regrettably, with only a month before election day, I guess we're headed that way as well.

    Does any INTELLIGENT person using insults against an opposing point of view actually believe that this tactic will work? Do you actually think that geographic, vernacular and personal insults will shame others' opinions to jump on board with your own when the attack tactic you employ is so unattractive?

    Try some respect. Present your opinion in such a way that your "superior" intellect makes sense. The insults are counter-productive.

    Look at comment #62 (just an example). SydneySD-6 makes his/her opinion known, yet insults NO ONE. No vicious embellishments toward McCain to make the opinion appear more than what it is, no putridly spewed bile toward other posters who disagree. Just a stated opinion that, although I disagree with, I absolutely respect. Civilized discourse!

  • Comment number 64.

    Please don't think that all americans, and more specifically, all hockey moms are so gullible. Sarah Palin has no business anywhere near the White House. She clearly doesn't have the experience, but what is even more glaringly obvious is that she lacks the knowledge and good judgement to be in the position for which she is running. We need to elect someone who will work to undo the damage done in the past seven and a half years, not someone who will continue the madness...

  • Comment number 65.

    I think your halfway through The States, I'm feeling a little melancolie(?) It will be too soon before it will be 20 year ago that you did this tour.
    Anyway, keep up the good work.

  • Comment number 66.

    This was hard for me to read, but sadly not surprising.

    What I saw in that debate (and granted, I'm one of those evil university students Sarah Palin so despises), was one candidate who spoke plainly but professionally, answered questions politely and had a strong command of the issues facing us as a nation (not to mention English grammar)... and one candidate who dressed up in phoney, frankly offensive platitudes and between her lies was arrogant enough to say, "I'm not going to answer the questions the way you or the moderator wants, I'm gonna speak directly to the American people..." (The moderator allowing that comment to go unchecked was unconscionable to me, but I digress.)

    I was just thinking, "Joe Biden is able to speak to the American people while answering the questions politely. He is speaking to you and Gwen and us all professionally and respectfully. I don't believe in that all-too-common garbage of picking the guy or girl next door to be president, but if I _had_ to vote based on how he/she connected with the people, it would be a no-brainer. I'd pick the one who _respected_ the American people, not the one who blatantly, offensively talked down to us."

    Too bad we don't seem to deserve that respect.

  • Comment number 67.

    A big thumbs down to Sarah Palin, after reading the above comments.

    As we say in Canada, Anything But Conservative!

  • Comment number 68.

    I am going to paraphrase a quote from Winston Churchill. Democracy may not be good, but it is the best we have.

    Are you saying these two particular hockey moms should be stripped of their vote? Isn't that what you are really saying?

    As complicated as the world has become, that means you would have to pass a highly difficult exam to be allowed to vote. OK, who is going to enforce that? I hate to say it, but to a certain degree, Mao was right. Politics (sometimes, my comment) comes out of the barrel of a gun. Will the voters become my nobility and I get to go up to them, doff my cap and say "Thank you m'lord?" Are you saying the American Revolution (as John Cleese says tongue in cheek,was a grievous error in judgment, eh?";-)

    I am going to paraphrase John Cleese again. He wrote two books with his psychotherapist and friend Robin Skynner. The second is called Life and How to Survive It. On of the chapters in it is about the United States.
    (Sidenote shame to the person picking on Andrew Jackson, Ol' Hickory). Anyway, one thing they spoke about. Traditionally (for good or ill), Americans do not like hierarchies and that includes education. Education for learning's sake is seen as snobbishness. Education is for a certain goal (I am going to school to become a doctor). Their theory is that is why celebrities have become our unofficial nobility. Anyone from all walks of life can make it there.

    If you want to blame a particular ethnic group for how the U.S. turned out, blame the Scots-Irish who first "settled" in Appalachia. (The Injuns got thar first).;-)
    They make up much of our military. I bring this up because of an earlier comment here about the hockey mom's possibly burying a son because of a war. They would look upon that with pride. Of course, they would mourn, but it is a part of that. (Read Professor James Leyburn's The Scotch-Irish and Senator Jim Webb's Born Fighting). The Scots-Irish put into American culture the idea of a distrust of government and arcane legal statutes along with loving a good brawl.

    Especially for those of y'all outside the U.S., you need to understand this in order to fathom what these "hockey mom's" are about.

    I do want my President to understand my economic fears, protect me from outside enemies and otherwise, leave me alone.

    BTW, to close I am not supporting Sarah Palin (only the other Palin Michael Palin LOL)! I am not sure either candidate is up to it. I feel as though I am being force marched to the edge of the Grand Canyon, ordered not to turn around and then just stand there and hope I am not pushed. With either candidate, we are headed for the unknown.
    Then again, much of life is an unknown.

  • Comment number 69.

    #68 tucsonmike: I can identify with your Grand Canyon analogy. My husband commented just recently, "A year ago we had all these candidates to choose from; how in the heck did we get stuck with these two?"
    It all seems so grim now.

  • Comment number 70.

    I'm writing as a Minnesota hockey mom to defend the ranks of hockey moms everywhere. Most of us are intelligent, informed citizens who vote based on the issues. I'm frankly quite embarrassed by the two hockey moms chosen to represent us in this article.

    Joe Biden was not speaking "well above what the average person would understand." I cannot fathom how any person of normal education and intelligence could make such a statement.

    I do believe, though, that Joe Biden's depth of knowledge goes well beyond the basic facts he outlined in the debate, while Sarah Palin barely understands anything beyond her recently-memorized talking points.

  • Comment number 71.

    Please forgive my 'Old World' ignorance, but are 'folksy' and 'red-neck' euphemisms for 'retarded'.

  • Comment number 72.

    Knevovitch, I could not agree with you more. It is truly astonishing how many people in the United States will vote for a candidate simply because he or she talks folksy or appears more down to earth than their "elitist" counterpart. Their inclinations may have more to do with personal built-in biases favoring one candidate over another, and less with being rational.

    As far as my personal built-in biases go, I prefer my leaders to be a group of rational educated elitists and not a bunch of "good-ole boy joe six-packs" (e.g., george bush). Last time we tried that, it didn't work out so well.

  • Comment number 73.

    So the BBC bus was parked outside of the Pageant on Delmar Avenue thursday evening (I drove this way thinking I could avoid the debate traffic--wrong!) Your team was in one of the most diverse, inclusive, and open-minded parts of St. Louis. And evidently you interviewed two "hockey moms" from the far exurbs, for whom voting is no more than a popularity contest.

    I suspect their "she's likeable" and "she knows about the challenges families have" is really code language for "she's an evangelical christian, and that's how I vote."

  • Comment number 74.

    Thanx TiptopLisa. I am trying to stay positive, (I know, as my wife would say, also rather trying LOL)!

    Y Grover, at least you are speaking up now to counter the two St. Louis hockey Mom's

    Monisaint, the simple answer is, a retard can be a redneck, but a redneck does not have to be a retard.

  • Comment number 75.

    I'm from St. Louis, and walked watched you interview the woman in blue.

    In defense of this mid-western city: I've lived here for all of my 35 years, and have never met a "hockey mom". Those women weren't even representative of the Republicans I know. They almost seemed to be in costume.

    "...Americans wanted leaders who understand them": many of us want leaders who are uncommonly smart.

    While rural areas are very Republican, the city is predominantly Democrat. Obama has pulled ahead even in states like Missouri, where there is a legacy of racism.

    I've been volunteering, registering voters, and the love for Obama on the streets here is almost electric.

    Scott Smith

  • Comment number 76.

    To further expand on comment #68, the "redneck" class in America is rather unique, especially on the world scene. Rednecks were in a way created by King James the first with the way he treated the flax merchants and linen workers in Scotland and Ireland hundreds of years ago. This is where they original distrust of "entitled" authority and outsiders comes from. They were poor simple folk that worked hard to just get by under a regime that was wrenching every little thing out of them that it could. When these people left en masse to the shores of the new world, they didnt fit well into genteel city life. The english governors of the time "encouraged" them to go out and settle the new frontier (the west then or what is now the midwest). These were rough and tumble people who were capable of dealing with the indians, the french and the spanish that were already there. As the land was "settled" and society moved progressively west, some stayed behind, setting up areas like Appalacia and some moved west to continue the lifestyle they had become accustomed to. As they scattered out across the continent, they still had the distrust that had been passed down for generations and tended to stay away from large towns and cities.

    It wasn't just the english that spawned these people however. People were escaping oppressive regimes from all over Europe during this period. Germany, Poland and many other countries contributed to this socioeconomic class growing in the new country. They used to be called mountain men, labor class or just working class and genteel society had no place for them except at the bottom of the totem pole where they would forever remain.

    Today we call them rednecks. They now follow Nascar passionately, make up a good portion of the military and have a clear identity connection with the Blue Collar comedy guys. Other than that, the fears that have plagued this class for the last few centuries are still there. they still feeel that they are the underclass and have no real chance at anything beyond the mundane. They still distrust outsiders, especially those with big city names as they (as a class) have been burned too many times in the more recent past by deals with people of similar distinction. Big city companies have come into these small towns and taken their environment, their hours and their health and in many cases, left them with nothing more than a pathetic wage which doesnt come close to covering the health bills they have later that were caused by injuries on the job in the first place. This is probably also the reason they dont have much trust for highly educated people because it was the lawyers for these companies that finalized the screwing they got.

    We have many issues in this country: the economy, our place in the world, health care etc. All of them needed attention 20 years ago and even more so do today. We have one other major issue though that we have to deal with first and that is communication with ourselves. The "elite" types think they dont have to talk to the rednecks because they feel that they are dealing with underlings but who would grow their food, they cant grow enough to feed half of New York city if New England decided to seperate. It just isnt logistically possible and the growing season wouldnt be long enough anyway. The rednecks have to realize that if they were a country unto themselves, they would be on par with lower first world countries, the kind they look down upon now. They need the "elites" to assure their place in the world. The college class of people that they distrust also come out with many of the inventions that make their lives easier. We, as a country, are not going to be able to solve the governmental problems until we can sit at the same table without class between us being the major topic.

    How this relates to the original story is simple. Given the obvious chasm present in this country, one candidate (Palin) has attempted to bridge it by making a show of who she may have once been. People have flocked to her in droves. Why haven't the democrats made even an attempt? The only time they came close was Clinton and he ended up looking like the slick lawyer type that they distrust but before that he had a good approval going on with the redneck classes.

    Not even trying in this makes it look like, once again, they are confronted with a leader, or a party, that just doesnt care about them. the leader shouldn't make a fake show of trying to be one of them but should at least try to learn what makes them happy. One other side comment, Bush wasnt a redneck, he was a college elitist dumba$$ who happened to come from Texas. the one time he tried to do something that that Mr. Red Neck could identify with, he screwed it up. I'm referring to the Texas Rangers here.

    Would you vote for someone you believed didn't care about you or your well being?

    One last note, I think neither set of candidates are well suited to solve the problems facing this country. I am neither Democrat or Republican, I am Independant. As Palin is now a politician trying to look like who she was, just like Clinton was a lawyer / politicain trying to look like a good ole boy, the rednecks will figure it out and she will lose favor in a hurry with them. The underlying problem with this is that this will further distance them from trusting anything with national politics and make them even more of a HUGE unpredictable voting group. They are the tiger in the cage and the politicos have been poking them with sticks for centuries. I dont know what the end result is gonna be but I'm pretty sure it isn't going to be pleasant.

  • Comment number 77.

    Hey #60, teh4125, about the New English succession...

    Good riddance!

    I hope all you big city intellectuals "Back East" like paying extra for all those commodities that you consume, because they all come from "Out West". I've got no problem raising my asking price to just below what it would cost for you to import them from overseas.

    And just so that you and your ilk don't get too comfortable in the saddle of your high horse, some of us "Out West" have Ph.D's, P.E.'s, and S.E.'s. The last two stand for Professional Engineer and Structural Engineer (so you don't have to Google them on you Mac), which means that I'm real damn smart.

  • Comment number 78.

    I find it amazing.
    1) Bush was born rich and power and people consider him down to earth as he protray himself in that manner.
    2) Palin is a millionaire with lots of influence, especially with oil companies. And people feel she is like them because of the image she protray.

    For goodness, it is just spin doctors and hours of coaching in speech.

    3) Obama born poor and work his way to the top with hard work consider an elite???? This is crazy. Didn't these hockey mums sent they kids to school to work hard and make it in life. Just like OBAMA.

    Well, something is very wrong in the way these people think.
    People that work hard and achieve is elites and people that are born rich are down to earth just like them.

  • Comment number 79.

    These two "hockey moms" are what we are constantly bombarded with by our media in the USA, now the BBC too has joined them. Immediately after the "debate" (which Palin refused from the start to participate in, by not answering questions, that was great) the pundits and such on public and commercial tv just swooned over the fact that Palin wasn't as bad as expected and Republicans must be so elated. She's fine if she is well rehearsed, I guess. If you call that fine. Her "colloquialisms" as one put it were so endearing to us - the ignorant masses. Well, we've been pushed to be as stupid as possible by the corporate owned and controlled media, but Americans don't want a president or vice president stupider and more backward than themselves. We don't want to have a beer with them or identify our lives with them, we want leadership, intelligence, compassion, and yes, someone we can trust to make our lives and the world better. That would not be McCain-Palin. As a woman I am insulted the Republicans nominated her - it's a joke on us, but not very funny. If you want to know what women think of Sarah Palin check out

  • Comment number 80.

    From an American hero in the lower 48' an urgent call went out to the governor of a far northern state, “Our country needs a great VP, will this position you fill?”
    A quick answer came back from the governor of a state known for its Permafrost, “Yes, I will.”

    The two stood in unison, one a Vietnam vet, the other a soccer mom, known for her true grit.

    A campaign was raging, one to decide the vote. Would it go to a man of courage, or to one known for his association with those who support violent revolt?

    The American people watched as this new VP candidate took the stage, “Who is she, what does she stand for? For our troubled country can she turn a new page?”
    Without a moments hesitation Sarah went into battle, challenged by a biased press. After all, they said, “She's a woman and even wears a dress.”

    To defeat the accusations, many of them morally sick, she countered with a question, “What's the difference between a soccer mom and a Pit bull? Lipstick!”

    Mainstream media still refused to accept her as a viable VP choice, using lies and innuendos in an attempt to silence her voice.

    Her chance to prove them wrong came with a vice-presidential debate. A nation watched with apprehension as she spoke with surety and articulateness, giving intense support to her running mate.

    History will reflect how effective she was. However, this much we know we need more Sarah Palins'. Moreover, yes, she has proven Alaska has more to offer than ice and snow.

    Written by,
    Richard Neal Huffman
    Saint Joseph, Michigan, USA.
    (Author of, Dreams In Blue: The Real Police)

  • Comment number 81.

    This is an appeal to American voters out there.
    We the citizens of the world have no say in who you choose to be your next President.
    However, that does not mean we do not have a stake; we do.
    Every person around the globe will be changed by the choice you make, whether directly as in Iraq or indirectly by the policies your next leader introduces.
    So I appeal to you, when voting, to think not only about the potential benefits your selection will have for your own communities, but to accept that with great power comes great responsibility. America needs to reach out to all those people around the world, who have previously held the United States in such high regard, and placed such trust in her, and restore confidence in them.
    Now would be the moment to rediscover and therefore re-assume the mantle of true leadership; which is not brute force, but rather statesmanship.
    With the world economy faltering America mustn't fumble the torch of hope. If it continues to believe the myth of all great civilizations that have preceded it, that it has an inherent right to rule, it may not be long before that baton is passed on to the next great power.
    So please Americans:
    1. Vote
    2. Vote for real change

  • Comment number 82.

    Sarah, and her handlers, are good at sending mixed messages to the sheepish masses:

    **I'm a GREAT MOM of five kids (one a special needs baby of 4months)!

    I feel sorry for her kids, as much as people are trying to make the obvious lack of attention to her children by mom a non-issue by calling people who mention it "sexist". A GREAT MOM puts her kid's needs, especially a newborn (I guess breastfeeding is sexist too), before blind ambition. They are only young once and grow up fast. They are not accessories to carry out of a plane for photo opts... She uses them when convenient and enjoys the ensuing "sexist" calls by the PC Americans. The similarity with GREAT MOM ends once she passes off the baby after the cameras are gone.

    **I'm an average Jane/"Joe 6-pack" like you!

    (6 pack of beer a day drinker is Joe 6-pack, the constituency she's trying to reach...a very low bar.)

    **I'm a great leader for our country!

    (As long as these 3x5 cards keep appearing with what to say).

    **She's like the girl next door!

    She talks like the constituency she's trying to reach: "bless your heart", "golly gosh"...she smiles a lot and is non-threatening unlike those feminist females. She's not a minority!

    When's the last time you saw a black Hockey player?

  • Comment number 83.

    I would like to point out 2 things that seem obvious to me:
    1. Most Obama supporters are long winded. If you can't make your point in a paragraph or two, I will not be reading your post.
    2. You are "scared" of anyone who does not think like you do. Why is this, are you all-seeing and all-knowing?

  • Comment number 84.

    I'll say three things

    1. I too was disappointed to see people whose minds would be made up so easily by so little - though I would imagine they have a certain amount of bias for other, more complicated reasons.

    2. I was heartened to see all the valid points made in the comments above about why these two women's opinions from the article may be uninformed. I am an Obama supporter myself, and I agree with what most of his supporters had to say here.

    3. Don't shoot the messenger! I think Jon Kelly is doing a great job of getting across a taste of both sides of the American electorate, and am fascinated by the rich portrait he is painting of my country. Calling this article biased is just unfair. Just because someone reports on a voter's choice doesn't mean they share that voter's view.

  • Comment number 85.

    # 80 gunplay3

    All I can say about this is - anyone who enjoyed this 'verse' should investigate the work of William McGonagall AKA 'The Great McGonagall'

    The Wikipedia page is here -

  • Comment number 86.

    Maureen, there are black hockey players out there. Thought I would answer that. There could be more but it is tough to freeze the ice in the Congo, eh.;-)

    Having said that, as a mother of five with a special needs child I admire you and at least, you are not using your kids for photo ops.

    For Balanced. It is not my duty to vote for the rest of the world on November 4th, but to make the best possible choice for me and mine. (Don't know where you are from, but I would not interfere in your election). It is hard enough taking care of my own backyard, (lawn needs mowing weeding etc).

  • Comment number 87.

    Great! Hockey Moms, simple minds for complex times. Just what we need!

  • Comment number 88.

    I have seen my earlier post cut and pasted on a few other places. Practically everyone missed the point. Let me explain this a different way.

    First, it was not an attack on Europe or the UK. I was just stating historical fact as to the origin of this group of people.

    The democratic and republican parties are completely irrelevant as are any of the schmucks they put up for election. Neither one will have the tools to fix the overriding issue that affects this country and by proxy, the world. The toolbox is empty.

    The reason the toolbox is empty is internal socioeconomic class turmoil. There are 3 groups in this country: the "rednecks", the "elites" and Joe Averagecitizen. The two largest economically are the elites and the rednecks (by sheer numbers). They cannot even talk without allowing their speaking to dissolve into preconcieved notions and prejudices. They refuse to work together on ANYTHING. Joe Averagecitizen is caught in the middle without much of a clue as to why it got to this point. He doesnt get much attention because he is only about 10% of the population.

    Now, listen close to this next part:

    Elites - Whether or not you want to admit it, you need the rednecks. Without them, who would grow your food, fix your car, repair your roof or keep the water and gas flowing to your house? Could you take care of those things on your own? Could you either live in the "breadbasket" of the country or work in it to provide the food? There are always exceptions but, rednecks are not inbred, uneducated, drunk lazy idiots that the stereotypes have made them out to be. They are people trying their best to support their families by working the jobs that you dont want to.

    Rednecks - Not all college graduates are elitists. That new combine that helps you harvest quicker was designed by someone with a degree. That new seed you use to get more production was engineered by someone. The computer auto diagnostic machine at work was programmed by someone. The elites give all of us the technology that makes our lives easier just like you give us the necessities of life that they dont want to because it gets their hands dirty. Elites are not all the wine and cheese party snobs that the stereotypes say but most of them are working in labs, doing 40 hour weeks, coming up with the inventions and improvements I mentioned above.

    The world is upset because everyone's sewers are backing up and flooding our collective basements with nasty stuff. We are all complaining about the nasty stuff ie:economy, warfare, healthcare etc. These are all symptoms. The real problem is the sewer line is clogged up but nobody is looking at that, they just want their own basement clean and smelling fresh again. This is understandable but it will never solve the real problem.

    In the 1950's, there were rednecks and elites. They actually got along far better then than they do today and the country worked. If we cannot reach a compromise that suits both of these main groups, the country and, on a larger scale, the world will continue to suffer.

    All the people that are tied up in the "party politics" look at this are just watching the dog and pony show and are missing the big picture as no politician will ever be able to solve this. The people like comment #60 and many others like it are the ones that are perpetuating the problem. Comments like that will ALWAYS recieve reception like you see in #77. The same goes for comments about elitism. This just goes to prove my point, we cannot talk as rational countrymen anymore. Until we can, we are incapable of solving anything.

    To the rest of the world, I am sorry for the turmoil that this has caused. Americans tend not to understand ripple effect very well. The people over here that do think about things tend to do so only on a limited basis as in how the ripple will affect me when it returns back. I dont really know what to suggest to you other than to please try to educate the "elites" of this country as they tend to respect you opinion more than anyone else's. They won't listen to me as I dont have alphabet soup hanging on my wall. The rednecks will compromise but they want the respect they deserve. Joe Averagecitizen will continue to be oblivious.

  • Comment number 89.

    I feel a lot of sympathy for these two moms who honestly expressed their thoughts and are being insulted for their comments. Their opinions and thoughts are just as valid as those of any other voter.

    The sneers from Obama supporters toward people who admit they find a resonance with Sarah Palin are counterproductive in a tight election race. If some of the Obama supporters participating in this blog are so well-educated and so smart, then why are you doing exactly what McCain/Palin want you to do by insulting a huge portion of the voting population ??

    Instead of saying "those voters are stupid ", you should be saying "we want those voters... we love those voters....we want to understand know how they feel and what is important to them. How can we reach those voters?".

    Obama is trying hard to connect with average voters in order to win the needed electoral college votes from states located in the middle of the country.

    When Obama's supporters mock Palin for her speech patterns, they are mocking voters who speak the same way. When they mock Palin's education at state universities, they forget that the vast majority of Americans have college degrees from state universities. When they mock Palin for not being an expert in international relations or national economics, they forget that the governors of most states in the US have a similar lack of experience, yet 4 out of 5 of the most recent presidents were state governors (Carter, Reagan, Clinton, and the current Bush). When they mock Palin's religious beliefs, then they risk offending voters who believe that everyone's religious beliefs should be respected.

    To Europeans who are startled that Americans seem to elect US Presidents based on "gut feelings.... Perhaps the "checks and balances" designed into our federal government combined with the fact that we have only two major political parties is the reason. Regardless of who is elected, the main change will be of style and attitude toward how to solve problems. Either candidate will inherit a host of tough problems, and the solutions will require participation by both political parties for changes to be enacted.

  • Comment number 90.

    Ohhhhh noooo!

    "He's speaking way above what the average person would understand," Lauren remarked. "Everything he says has a negative purpose about it."
    -Hockey Mom, 2008

    "On the other hand in America, in the Republic, one has to spend the
    whole weary day paying serious court to the shopkeepers in the street,
    and must become as stupid as they are; and there, one has no Opera."
    - Stendhal, 1839

    Well shucks, at least we do have an opera these days.

  • Comment number 91.

    #25 "As an American and a student of history it saddens me to see intellectualism turned into a flaw."

    I was reading a comment on one of the other blogs a few days ago, and a Republican supporter called quite a few Obama supporters what was obviously the vilest word he could think of.

    It sailed past the censors and moderators.


    That word was 'intellectuals'.

    As a person similarly 'burdened' with 'intellectualism', and with a joint degree in American Studies, it genuinely saddens me that a certain portion of America will never make the connection between all that horrible stuff that's happening now (y'know, that scary, scary stuff that's all on NBC y'all?) and the incumbent government. You think the economy's in trouble? You betcha, and what are that section of middle America going to do? Try and vote the party that got America into this mess...straight back in again.

    What's the saying I'm thinking of?

    Oh yes.

    "Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it." ~ George Santayana


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