There are some initial introductions that, while not unpleasant, are also not memorable. Then there are others that are rendered unforgettable because of the mix of delight and awkwardness they simultaneously induce.
I met Cheryl Prater at CPAC 2010 beside Radio Row; she walked up and tapped me on the arm and I was instantly humiliated because all I could summon to mind was her Twitter handle: @cprater. That one extra step of calling to mind the remaining five letters of her first name was a bridge too far for my memory synapses that Friday afternoon. Happily for me, Cheryl is a forgiving sort and proceeded to introduce me to several of her friends from the blogging community.
In fact, to summarily describe Cheryl Prater as, in effect, simply having broad shoulders doesn’t come close to doing her justice. She is one tough, no-nonsense lady…but also tender and kind. Biting sarcasm tempered by timely compassion. Direct confrontation when needed…and an empathetic ear when the moment calls for it. Simple she is not, but one word comes to my mind when I think of my friend, Cheryl Prater: authentic. And there is nothing more that I admire in anyone.
Actually, I’ll beg editorial indulgence and offer one more descriptive term, because no concept sums up what Cheryl means to all of us more than “loyalty” does. If you have a friend in Cheryl Prater, you have an ally. For life. Sarah Palin doesn’t know Cheryl (yet), but she had in mind the fiercely protective instincts of Cheryl’s type when she coined her “Mama Grizzly” nomenclature.
I can’t wait to see her at Blog Con next week!
You know Cheryl’s Twitter handle. (You don’t? Why’d you skip the first two paragraphs??) If you don’t follow her yet, get on the bandwagon already and become her 2,762nd (or so) devoted fan.
10 Questions for Cheryl Prater
1. I don’t know your life story, but I know you grew up in Chicago and ultimately transplanted to Georgia. Tell us a bit more about what happened along the way. (This is my attempt at creativity in asking for a brief biographical sketch!)
I was born in Chicago, but my dad’s corporate job kept us moving. From Illinois, we moved to Ohio, then back to Illinois, out to Orange County, California, to Iowa, then back to Illinois again. After getting married, Mark and I lived in the Chicago area for about eight years before my job took us to New York and then, Georgia. We’ve been in Atlanta since 2002, but Chicago will always be my hometown. I’d go back, but that would violate the conditions of my witness protection agreement.
2. Tell us about your current role with the soon-to-be Governor of Georgia, Nathan Deal, and how you got into political consulting.
Up until two years ago, I had spent my career in sales and marketing, never dreaming I’d end up in politics. I’m embarrassed to admit that there was a time in the not-so-distant past when I wasn’t even 100% sure who my Congressman was! (He’s the awesome Dr. Tom Price, btw).
During the 2008 election, the introduction of Barack Obama and Sarah Palin to the national arena did two things: alarm and inspire me. I was very concerned about Obama’s spread-the-wealth-around ideology, his character and Chicago associates: Ayers, Wright, Blago and the rest of the gang.
I wasn’t thrilled with the wishy-washy Republican, McCain, either. But when Sarah Palin hit that stage as McCain’s running mate, with her palpable charisma and infectious passion for America, her faith, her lipstick quips and her five kids…her realness…I knew her. I related to her. She represented me. That’s when, like a lot of us, I finally got excited about the ticket. (And later, why I kept a bullhorn and a Gadsden flag in my car.)
I would explain the Palin phenomenon and her ushering in the era of the conservative woman like this: I never imagined being Captain of a Federation starship until “Star Trek: Voyager” came out, with Captain Kathryn Janeway at the helm. All of a sudden, a female captain was possible and I thought – What if that were me? If you’re not a Trekkie and that analogy doesn’t work for you, try this one: Sarah broke the seven-minute mile for lots of conservative women. And she did it in Naughty Monkey peep-toe pumps.
Anyway, I was so depressed after the election. At my husband’s urging, I started consulting and volunteering and protesting–anything to further the conservative cause and derail the Obama Administration’s agenda—basically, being a pain in the ass (something that comes very naturally for me).
That led to a lot of great exposure and connections to conservative movers and shakers. I edited an online magazine called “The Antidote” for Kevin Jackson of The Black Sphere. That project led me to Twitter, the magic rabbit hole to #Tcot-land, from which all good things flow. In turn, Twitter led me to ACTIVE, Pat Dollard’s grassroots activist group, where I met a lot of great patriots locally and marched on CNN. Another tweep, Kimberly Haney, turned me on to SGP and I attended Smart Girl Summit with my friend, Liz Carter, who decided to run for Congress that very weekend! I also went to CPAC and met so many of my new media heroes and online buddies.
In February, I joined Liz’s campaign and had a great experience, culminating with Liz winning a hotly contested primary without a runoff on July 20. After the Georgia Gubernatorial run-off in August, I was asked to join the Deal for Governor campaign to drive the social media effort.
In addition to Twitter and Facebook, I am responsible for blogger outreach for Deal for Governor. Basically, that means that I get to tweet about Caleb Howe’s face and hang out with Tabitha Hale, Lori “Snark and Boobs” Ziganto, and Bruce aka @GayPatriot, Jimmie Bise, Stacy McCain, Moe Lane and Melissa Clouthier and scores of other awesome bloggers at BlogCon in DC and the Red State Gathering in Austin. It’s no cake walk, lemme tell ya. All this to say that the Deal campaign understands that conservative bloggers have huge influence with the grassroots conservative effort and they realize that the new media and the tidal wave of conservative activism we’re seeing in the country go hand in hand.
3. You also have a side venture in (I lifted this from your Facebook bio) “collage and altered books”, with which I will not even pretend to be familiar. I think it must involve craftwork of some kind. Please enlighten me and the other clueless males and interested females out there!
Yes, I make stuff. I have co-authored a project-based art book called Mixed Mania with my friend, Debbi Crane. (It’s on Amazon, for realz; you can check.) I’ve been published in several art magazines and had a piece in a juried book of handmade dolls. I love working with all types of media, especially polymer clay. I make sculptured figures that I call Beezles. Since jumping into politics, I have all but abandoned my art and my art blog, Praterposte.blogspot.com. I just don’t have time for it and only go to the art store to buy supplies for making protest signs.
4. This question will be a standard feature for the foreseeable future, so here’s your chance to take a crack at it. What does being a conservative mean to you?
Preserving the Constitution. American exceptionalism. Personal liberty and responsibility. Small government. Free market principles. Sports venues that forbid vuvuzelas.
5. I admire people with a finely tuned sense of timing/humor. You belong squarely in that group. Has it always come easily?
It became easier once I stopped taking the medication.
6. Tell us about your family and how you juggle being a wife and mother with your pressing obligations in the campaign, in addition to other duties?
When our twin boys were around seven, we instituted the “If you can reach it you can eat it” rule.
This meant they were old enough to know to avoid anything that had a skull and crossbones on it. That is the key to balancing family life. I have a great husband and we made good kids. They know that the sacrifices we make are small, compared to what others have given for our country.
7. Name some of your favorites: Books, movies, musical artists, vacation spots, sports and a couple miscellaneous items of your choice.
Jane Austen Novels
BBC shows: Bleak House, Foyle’s War, Poirot
Sci-Fi movies (our boys are Reese and Connor after the Terminator protagonists)
Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts in Gatlinburg, TN
The island of Santorini
Michael Buble, Frank Sinatra, Mel Torme, Louis Prima
White water rafting
Hashtag games on Twitter
8. I didn’t spend a lot of time with you at CPAC, but it was sufficient for me to ascertain that you are a person of deep conviction. When you introduced me to Robert Spencer and Pamela Geller, you got tears in your eyes…can you explain your reaction?
CPAC was a really emotional experience for me on a lot of levels. It was great to meet so many online friends in real life and to have brushes with heroes to the conservative cause like Andrew Breitbart and Allen West, but Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer’s seminar on Radical Islam was very powerful in driving home the seriousness of the war being waged on America. So when you and I bumped into them, it was the first time I’d talked to them since the panel and I was overcome. Pamela Geller is a hero. Robert Spencer is a hero. All of their expert witnesses to the truth of Islam at their seminar are heroes. I blogged about it here: http://applecrossmedia.wordpress.com/2010/02/28/truth-is-the-new-hate-speech-pamela-geller/.
9. Who are 3 of your heroes/role models and why and who are 3 public figures whom you find repulsive and why?
Again, Pamela & Robert are heroes. Allen West is a great man whom I had the privilege to interview at CPAC. He says and does what’s right, even if not PC or popular; he exudes great strength and leadership.
After meeting Lt. Col. West, I understood why soldiers follow their commanding officers into battle. Our combat troops and veterans are heroes, especially the fallen.
As for three repulsive public figures, how many women host “The View?”
10. What 3 goals would be on your bucket list if you had to draft one today?
a) See Italy, especially the Amalfi Coast
b) Go to the Holy Land
c) Learn how to fold a fitted sheet