Sarah Palin's natural combativeness -- something Alaskans witnessed firsthand during her 54 months as governor of the 49th state -- appears to be causing some national problems for the potential presidential candidate. The woman who takes pride in the nickname Sarah Barracuda is being taken to task by an increasing number of fellow Republicans for attacks on first lady Michelle Obama's efforts to encourage Americans, especially children, to eat healthier.
Diet and lack of exercise have been linked to a growth in American waistlines many doctors now consider epidemic. Some Republicans argue the obesity problem is big enough that the battle against it should rise above partisanship. But that didn't stop Palin from using her reality TV show, "Sarah Palin's Alaska," to mock the First Lady for encouraging American parents to watch what their children eat.
Palin instead suggested s'mores for everybody.
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, a Fox News celebrity like Palin and a potential Republican presidential candidate who lost 100 pounds of excess body fat, joined Republicans saying Palin should have controlled her urge to lash out at all things Obama.
Huckabee and other Republicans have encouraged support for Mrs. Obama's "Let's Move" initiative against childhood obesity, even though the first lady has suggested there is a role for government.
"...When our kids spend so much of their time each day in school, it's clear that we as a nation have a responsibility to meet as well," Obama wrote in an op-ed for CNN. "Parents have a right to expect that their efforts at home won't be undone each day in the school cafeteria or the vending machine in the hallway. And they have a right to expect that their kids will be served fresh, healthy food that meets high nutritional standards."
Palin, who became an anti-government crusader after her failed run for vice president alongside John McCain and her resignation as Alaska governor, sees the first lady's efforts as unwarranted government intervention in the lives of Americans.
"Take her anti-obesity thing that she is on," Palin told talk-show host Laura Ingraham. "She is on this kick, right. What she is telling us is she cannot trust parents to make decisions for their own children, for their own families in what we should eat. ... Just leave us alone, get off our back."
And Palin does have her supporters in opposition to Let's Move. Some argue the initiative could be linked to other government efforts to help finance businesses that sell healthier foods.
Others suggest legislation calling for healthy school lunches could empower "Washington to dictate which foods are appropriate in bake sales, PTA functions and local school cafeterias."
Contact Craig Medred at craig(at)alaskadispatch.com.