Deep End | Smarty Pants: My summer of love with sassy Sarah Lou Palin. | Deep End | Salt Lake City Weekly
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Deep End | Smarty Pants: My summer of love with sassy Sarah Lou Palin.


People would be making a big mistake if they underestimate my old girlfriend Sarah Palin (when we dated, I knew her as Sarah Lou Heath.) She’s been getting a lot of grief from cynical elitists for her ignorance of American history and foreign policy, trying to bluff her way through her interview with the condescending male chauvinist Charlie Gibson, who tried to trip her up by asking her if she agreed with the Bush Doctrine.

You’ll remember that she was absolutely clueless about the Bush Doctrine, staring at Charlie with a blank look of incomprehension. “In what respect, Charlie?” she finally said, obviously playing for time and hoping for some indication of what in Sam hell the veteran ABC anchorman was referring to.

There was a time when Sarah would have been able to provide a learned disquisition on the Bush Doctrine. I remember, for instance, one night when we were double-dating with Art Van Tusenbrook and Tanya Woodruff at a drive-in movie show and Sarah talked for a full half-hour about the 1903 Roosevelt Corollary to the Monroe Doctrine. She was so intent upon analyzing the Roosevelt Corollary, and conveying its implications for American foreign policy, that she totally ignored Art and Sally’s pleas for her to shut up so they could enjoy the movie (as I recall, we were at a double feature, Smokey and the Bandit and Uncle Buck.)

The point I want to make is that Sarah Lou is not just another pretty face, or even just a “hockey mom,” as she likes to call herself. She certainly was not oblivious to good grooming and all that that entails (for instance, she was a stickler for lipstick, and because of her habit of licking her lips after she made what she considered a devastating argumentative point, she was always pulling out her ChapStick to prevent dryness); nevertheless, Sarah Lou didn’t much care for teenage chitchat.

No matter what the topic, Sarah Lou always sought to elevate the conversation. And for her, the most elevated topic was political science. Even though we had rather pedestrian jobs at the time we were dating (she was working at the Polar King in Pocatello, and I was selling magazine subscriptions door-to-door), everyone knew that Sarah Lou was destined for greater things. On our first date, I vividly remember how she pressed her lips together and announced that some day she was going to be president of the United States. The way she said it, with that insistent nasal drawl, and the way she pulled out her ChapStick and almost violently applied it to her lips, left me in no doubt that she would indeed make it to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

Already Sarah Lou had a formidable command of constitutional law. In addition to her ChapStick, Marlboro Lights and Juicy Fruit gum, Sarah Lou always carried in her purse a tattered copy of the Constitution. It wasn’t clear why she carried it on her person, since she seemed to know the document by heart. Fairly early in the course of our summer of love, I learned that she was a strict constructionist. It was probably our third date, or perhaps it was just our second, when I got a good lesson in constitutional law. I had picked her up after work at the Polar King (despite the ketchup stains on front of her Polar King uniform and the smudge of chocolate on her lower lip, or perhaps because of them, she was looking particularly appealing).

We had been having a stimulating discussion about the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act of 1930 when, moved by my inalienable rights, I apparently made an incursion across an inviolable border. Almost immediately, Sarah Lou cited the Fourth Amendment, declaring (a bit self-righteously I thought at the time) that she “had a right to be secure against unreasonable searches.”

I gained new respect for the power of our Constitution, and for the rest of the summer, we conducted our romance according to Robert’s Rules of Order. I made motions and she would deny on some obscure point of order. I would withdraw my motion and request a decision on a certain day. Or I would petition for redress and my motion would be tabled. I would attempt to override a veto, and once in a great while, rules would be suspended and legislation would be introduced without debate.

We sang in the sunshine and then went our separate ways. I can’t wait to visit her in the White House.

D.P. Sorensen writes satire for City Weekly.