You have to be living under a rock not to have received the ‘Sarah Palin email’. Hot Moms Club talks to Anne Kilkenny, the normal mom behind the infamous email, now uncomfortably thrust into the spotlight herself. Hear her tell us about it’s aftermath and what she hopes it will achieve.
Before August 31st, 2008, I had no idea who Sarah Palin was, but as soon as she had been added to the McCain Presidential ticket, I became very interested.
Within 24 hours of it being announced that she would be the first female GOP vice presidential candidate, the internet became a mecca of information for anyone who wanted to about Palin. Problem were the majority of people sure to know what was true, false, and simply name-calling of this little known Alaskan governor?
As I tried to sort through it all, I came across a letter that had been circulating the internet at lightening speed and gave some insight about who Sarah Palin is as told from someone who’s known her for awhile.
The letter, simply titled “The Presidential Candidates About Sarah Palin” started out as:
I am a resident of Wasilla, Alaska. I have known Sarah since 1992. Everyone here knows Sarah, so it is nothing special to say we are on a first-name basis. Our children have attended the same schools. Her father was my child’s favorite substitute teacher. I also am on a first name basis with her parents and mother-in-law. I attended more City Council meetings during her administration than about 99% of the residents of the city.
The writer continues on to explain Palin’s popularity as well as her strengths and numerous shortcomings including Palin’s tendency to rule as a “my way or the highway” type of politician (as many do), her alleged abuse of power, and her overspending.
But who was the person behind this letter? To better clarify, was it even a who? Could it be a group of people or “dirty political tricks,” as the author told me. Could it simply be the start of a new urban legend?
After some research and digging, I found out that not only is this person real, but she’s describes herself as “not a babe, but middle-aged house wife, sitting at a computer that’s a dial-up connection.”
Anne Kilkenny made headlines with her well-written letter about Governor Palin. Instead of resorting the junior high act of political mud-slinging and avoidance of the subject, she backs up her statements with specific events and concerns. Although, her letter isn’t without subjective commentary, she does clarify these with using “in my opinion” and the like.
Despite Anne describing herself as simply a housewife with dial-up, I knew there was more behind her than anyone had reported.
And I was right.
She’s a Berkley graduate in Social Science and became a mom in her forties. She’s been involved with local politics for several years and has helped author papers for local government. She’s involved with the PTA, is an adventurer, and well read.
Since sending out her letter, she’s received up to 1000 emails a day and she’s been interviewed by local, national, and international publications, radio personalities and been featured morning shows. The letter simply started as a note to thirty friends and family, then after sending it out, she started getting emails from people she didn’t know. “I started asking ‘now how do I know you?’ and they said they were friends of friends.”
After a measly ten days on the internet, her letter has reached millions of people and given us more information than we all had before on Alaska’s popular governor. The response has been overwhelmingly positive and many people have written to her, simply to say “thank you for the information.”
So it seemed an obvious choice to write about Anne instead of Palin or even Anne’s letter about Palin.
When I talked to Anne last week, I asked her if we could talk more about how her life had changed since her letter went out. I explained that I’d rather talk more about her than then letter, but surprisingly, she answered, “I don’t want to do that.”
Then she followed it with, “People really need to learn about the candidates if they have time.”
She made me stop the interview for a moment and made me think.
What do I know about the candidates?
Do I have any idea what Barack Obama’s view on foreign policy is?
What about John Mccain’s view on health care reform?
How has Senator Joe Biden’s experience in Washington helped with better educating our children?
What is Sarah Palin’s voting record on the environment?
Do I agree with any of them? All of them? What do I even know about them?
Anne said, “I mean, that’s what we need to be focusing on is who are these people, who are, you know, choices for, uhm, president and vice president.” She goes clarify, “I’ve done a few things about myself only just so that I could put an end to the circulation of whether or not I’m a real person.”
She’s been contacted by Snopes, Wikipedia, and multiple other outlets simply wanting to verify she’s an actual person and the author of the letter.
Yes, she’s real, but despite what you might have read or heard, as of the time of this interview, she has no blog or a website. Anne requested that her email not be posted with this article. She has enough emails coming in as it is.
Anne says she’s amazed the power of her email. “How many emails do you get that you actually read? Or how many emails do you send that go viral?” she laughs.
“I used to work on the PTA and send out 600 or more emails and I’d bet that most people didn’t even read them, so why is this one any different?” She thinks her letter “filled a void” where so few of us knew anything about Alaska’s governor and needed a quick fix just to get started.
What about in her hometown? Has anything changed? “Not really,” explains Anne. “My son says his teachers tell him they’ve read the letter and that most are supportive and if there are those who just say they read the letter and they don’t say anything else.”
Other than the 1000 emails she’s received a day, how has Anne’s words affected the world at large?
First, it can be seen as a distraction and Anne agrees. “I think this is a big red herring,” explains Anne. “I think it’s distracting us from the real subject here, the candidates.”
It had me thinking on a broader scale. The smear campaigns, the celebrity endorsements, and answering questions with the canned responses are all ways we are bombarded with information.
How does it help us know more of what the candidates actually stand for?
We have to ask ourselves, what do we know about the people who are seeking our votes?
Who are these people who want to run our country and how exactly do they plan to do this?
Second, the letter can be viewed as the beginning of addressing our own problems of ignorance. I realized after reading Anne’s words I know knew more about Palin than I’d taken the time to know about the other three candidates who’d been in the news for weeks prior.
And now that I understand how little I know, what am I going to do about it? Anne encourages all of us to get involved, read, and ask questions. “I don’t claim to be a political analyst,” says Anne, but she still got involved.
If you think the task of understanding what the candidates stand for is too overwhelming or you think you aren’t “good at politics” think again. There are multiple outlets out there where you can go to get straight to the point on multiple concerns.
If you feel intimidated with the issues (health care, education, the economy, Iraq, etc), check out On The Issues. Instead of having to sort through the candidates wordy explanations of the issues (which many times only ends up saying a whole lot of nothing), this site lays it all out in plain English.
Why not get involved? The candidates are the people who are going to decide how our taxes are spent, how much of our hard earned money we get to keep, reform health care, and decide when our troops will come home from Iraq. They will decide if legalized abortion will stay that way. These people so many of us are choosing not to read about, could improve the environment, worsen the economy, or change how well our children are educated.
So why aren’t more of us involved?
Anne simply sat down and wrote an email of what she knew and what she’d seen as an observer and active participant in local and state politics. Although it’s obvious that Palin isn’t Anne’s favorite person and they won’t be sharing recipes anytime soon, Anne is one of the few of us who’s actually taken the time to be informed and to be involved.
Are you going to do the same?
If you want to send any words to Anne, you can email me at Hot Mom’s Club and I will forward them to her. Out of respect for her privacy, I will not post her email.
If you haven’t already seen the hilarious video of Gov. Palin and Senator Clinton addressing the nation please click here