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Palin, Politics, & Punditry July 4, 2009

Posted by Kate Ryan in 2012, National Politics, Sarah Palin.
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palin2Is it a brilliant political move, an exit in advance of something really damaging coming out, or something less fascinating but more practical – like being able to make a boatload of money with little restriction?  Whatever it is, Sarah Palin’s surprise resignation of Governor of Alaska certainly has deeper meaning than her explanation of “wanting to take a stand and effect change.”

If Palin had 2012 presidential ambitions, this move is certainly not the conventional way to go.  Most candidates have long records of public service.  Though some like JFK and Barack Obama broke this mold, Sarah Palin is no JFK or BHO.  GOP pollster Whit Ayers said yesterday that her resignation at this time will do little to “shake the ‘lightweight’ monkey off her back”.  Ayers said, “If you’re a serious politician and you’re seriously interested in higher office, the best thing you can do is as good a job as possible in the current office…It does nothing to enhance the image she has that she’s not material for the president of the United States.”

But Palin has been dogged by severe criticism in Alaska, especially since her meteoric rise in national prominence.  For a governor that once enjoyed unprecedented approval ratings of over 80%, her popularity has been eroded by continuing ethics scandals and budget problems due to declining oil revenues.  On the national stage, her weird and shrill attack on David Letterman didn’t win her any new fans outside of the ultra-religious conservative Republican base.  The final nail in the coffin, however, had to be the savaging she received last week at the hands of Todd Pordum in Vanity Fair  magazine.  Pordum, who called Palin “Dan Quayle with an updo”, concludes that “Palin is a cipher by choice. When she chooses to reveal herself, what she reveals is not always the same thing as the truth.”

Some defend Palin and believe she is doing this as a smart move regarding 2012.  Her resignation allows her to concentrate on speaking engagements and appearances at political events – she still has star power among Republicans – all without being accused of ignoring her job as governor (some of the most persistent intra-Alaska criticism).  Bill Kristol, editor of the Weekly Standardand Palin defender-in-chief, said that Palins move was an “enormous gamble” but could pay off big.  Democratic strategist Bob Shrum said yesterday that “She brings no real experience to the table at all, but now this frees her up to carve out her own Goldwater-like movement.”

No matter what reason people ascribe to Palin’s decision, she is done as far as further political ambition goes.  Really, stick a fork in her that way.  What she has done, however, is set herself up to use her considerable celebrity to make enormous sums of money on speaking, writing, TV, and radio deals. 

And isn’t that what Sarah Palin is all about?  It seems to me this is a woman who is driven only by her desire only to be prominent in some way –  hence the beauty pageants and brief broadcasting career.  Her entry into politics, even on the local Wasila level, was marked by controversies aimed at sparking news coverage.  The ascension to be John McCain’s running mate was perhaps the epitome of her desire for fame.  

The revelations during the campaign that Palin was an intellectual midget should have surprised nobody that ever went to an American public high school.  Palin was the pretty, sporty girl that got through school because she was pretty and sporty.  She was used to receiving the acclaim and adulation of others – and had all expectations that she would just continue to receive them for the rest of her life.  Like many of the high school heroes we elevate in this country, however, Palin advanced to heights that required actual knowledge – and that is where she experienced her first failure.

After the disastrous 2008 presidential campaign, people who do know things advised Palin to go back to Alaska and do a great job as governor.  They told her to get some real education on national and international issues so that when events occurred around the world, she could release smart, reasonable statements of agreement or opposition.  But like the high school beauty queen that she revealed herself to be, Palin just stomped her foot and whined that that would be “too hard.”  By resigning her office now, Caribou Barbie can continue to play to the anti-intellectual Christian right, and hope that they get powerful enough again to elect an absolute idiot to the highest office in the land.

It worked with George Bush.

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