Dave Barry

Lots of hot air at the Windbreak Cafe


As the Republican convention nears its conclusion and John McCain prepares to make his acceptance speech, we in the news media, having finally grown weary of the endless speculation and gossip about Sarah Palin, are turning our attention, at long last, to additional speculation and gossip about Sarah Palin.

This seems to be all anybody talks about at this convention. It is Palin-Palooza. Critics continue to ask how much McCain really knew about Palin before he selected her as his running mate, especially in light of that fact that he keeps referring to her, in speeches, as ''whatshername.'' But McCain's staff insists that it conducted a thorough investigation of Palin, which included not only inspecting her driver's license, but also, according to a campaign spokesperson, ''reading almost her entire Wikipedia article.''

Still, questions remain. Right now there are reporters swarming all over Wasilla, Alaska, digging up information about Palin's past. So far, this is what they have learned:

• Wasilla is not a hotbed of luxury hotels.

• Likewise, restaurants.

As a trained investigative journalist, I decided to do a little ''poking around'' myself, so I called a Wasilla establishment called -- I am not making this establishment up -- Trout's Place & Windbreak Cafe (www.windbreakalaska.com) which bills itself as ''The Best Small Cafe/Hotel/Bar in the State.'' I spoke to a woman who identified herself as a member of the housekeeping staff, declined to give her name, and pointed out that it was still pretty early up there. She did, however, tell me that people in Wasilla are excited about the Palin nomination, and do not care for the fact that some newspapers have referred to Wasilla as a ''village.''

''We're a city up here,'' she stated. ''We're not a village.''

I asked her if visitors ever were amused by the name ''Windbreak Cafe.'' She told me I would have to call back later and ask management.

Based on this representative sampling, we can conclude that Alaskans are a proud non-village people living in an earlier time zone who stand behind Gov. Palin. But the rest of the nation is not so sure. One ''hot-button'' issue is whether a woman with young children could be a good president and still handle her domestic obligations, or would she become conflicted, so that, say, if the Russians were getting ready to launch nuclear missiles at us, and the president was supposed to get on the Hot Line, she would instead be seized by an uncontrollable maternal instinct to make a pediatrician appointment.

I don't know about Palin. But I do know this: women in general are WAY better at work/home multi-tasking than -- to pick another gender at random -- men. I base this statement on my wife, who recently was in Beijing, reporting on the Olympics, while I was at home, theoretically getting our 8-year-old daughter ready for third grade. We had several phone calls like this:

MY WIFE (answering her phone while typing a story on an extremely tight deadline in a very loud sports arena): Hello?

ME: Hey, sorry to bother you, but I can't find the...

MY WIFE (typing): It's in the drawer under the kitchen phone.

ME: Ah! Thanks. Also, which...

MY WIFE (typing): Her pink sneakers.

ME: OK, I know you're busy, so I'll let you...

MY WIFE (typing): You have a booger poking out of your right nostril.

So I think it's time for the voters, Republicans and Democrats alike, to set this whole ''Mommy Wars'' issue aside and agree that what qualifies a person to be president of the United States is NOT that person's gender or domestic situation. What qualifies a person to be president of the United States is whether or not that person is my wife.

Unfortunately, she's not running. So you voters are just going to have to choose from the currently available candidates. You may rest assured that we in the news media will continue to find out everything we can about them, leaving no stone unturned, and no wind unbroken.

©2008 Dave Barry

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