If there's a lesson I've learned from family conversations over the past couple of years, it's that I should avoid talking politics. I probably should have learned this lesson long ago — and I'm sure there are some family members who wish that I had — but I have my bullheaded moments. Still, I do try to overcome them, particularly since the politics of the past few years seem to have become more divisive than ever in my own family.
Politics has always been a divisive business and rarely pleasant, despite everyone's tendency to long for some unspecified past period where political disagreements were all sunshine and roses. What many of us are actually longing for are the days when our parents didn't listen to Rush Limbaugh (or that we didn't know about it).
Still, I love my family more than I love my political opinions, in general. There are some specifics that may still be up for debate, but I've decided that holidays are a season to take a break. This year I studiously avoided talking about my personal opinion beyond expressing some happiness over the repeal of ''Don't Ask, Don't Tell,'' a position that's totally noncontroversial in my fairly conservative family.
It's worth remembering that about the only place where repealing DADT was controversial was within the confines of John McCain's brain.
Anyway, although I avoided talking politics and did a bang-up job of not getting baited into a discussion of health care, Mitch McConnell or Fox News — oh, the temptation — I did listen to what other people were saying, especially one thing that kept cropping up.
People really don't like Sarah Palin.
Honestly, I did nothing to prompt the comment, regarding Barack Obama, that ''at least he's not Sarah Palin.'' I did not encourage the consistent eye-rolling that accompanied nearly every utterance of the half-term former governor's name. I just sat there and nodded and let the comments hang in the air because I didn't want to ruin a good thing by opening my own mouth.
These are not Democrats I'm talking about. I am from Kentucky, after all. And none of this means that any of them are likely to stop sending Republicans to Congress. But, being from a part of rural America where guns and hunting are common, where hauling hay was the most desirable summer job, where my uncle's cattle outnumbered the population of my hometown, you might think they would have a little more admiration for the Alaskan presidential hopeful.
I suspect that Palin's repeated excursions into reality television — especially her misguided hunting escapades — haven't played as expected.
Whatever the reason, it leaves me feeling rather unconcerned about such brouhahas as trying to decide if Palin is pro-gay — or, more accurately, not totally anti-gay — on the basis of a retweet of a comment by lesbian right-wing commentator Tammy Bruce. As people pore over the tweet as if it were a Rosetta Stone into the workings of Palin's mind, it's not that hard to follow the lead of reporters and bloggers like David Badash, who quickly pointed to Palin's actual record of anti-gay actions during her so-brief time as governor. Really, if your first veto is to deny health benefits to partners of gay and lesbian state employees, you are by definition anti-gay, no matter how many homosexuals you retweet.
But I'll just take a cue from my family, say a quick ''thank you'' that she's on television and not in the White House, roll my eyes a bit, and move on to the next one. Lest we forget, there are plenty of anti-gay politicians out there who haven't quit their day jobs.