her resignation, was that it is a political Rorschach test for all who view it. Depending on what
you think of her, it was a brilliant move to cut her losses as she positions herself to run for
President in 2012; or she is a nut case who quit her job when the heat got too intense.
When Richard Nixon lost to Pat Brown in the 1962 California governor's race, he
famously declared the end of his political life with the now famous sign off, "...you won't
have Richard Nixon to kick around anymore". Journalists, pundits, and his own party
believed he was done as a politician. Instead, he arose like a phoenix, and when Lyndon
Johnson didn't run for another term and the Democratic Party was fractured; Nixon was
in a perfect position to win the Presidency in 1968. He hadn't been tarred by the disaster
which was Barry Goldwater's landslide defeat in 1964, and back he came.
Sarah Palin looked ahead, and this may be what she saw. Her popularity in the
state was dropping. She faced a veto override by a Republican controlled legislature. She
had little chance of getting much done over the next year and a half; which could be used
against her as proof that she wasn't an effective administrator. She faces numerous ethics
investigations and if she waited to announce a decision not to run again, it might look like
she was driven out of office. On top of all that, her star is high now. She may get $5-7 million
dollars to write a book. She will also claim Bill Clinton-like numbers to make speeches
($1000,000+ per speech). She will be free to spend as much time crisscrossing the country,
raising money for local Republicans and banking IOU's for support to run in 2012. There
is also the possibility that Fox News could give Sarah her own show, and thus a national
platform for her ideas and image; or someone could syndicate her for a national radio
If you are not a Sarah Palin fan, this decision is flaky and makes little sense at all.
When John McCain picked her as his running mate, he touted her experience as governor
as one of her most attractive features. She was sold as someone who took on her own party
in Alaska to fight for a principle. She was popular, a shining example of family values, a
hockey mom and a rock-ribbed conservative Republican. She benefitted from a lack of
scrutiny by the national media, and was someone who "...could get things done in her state
and thus in the nation too". The resulting media attention definitely did not benefit her.
From her "not ready for prime time" interview with Katie Couric, to her $100,000 plus
wardrobe, to ethics questions about how she ran Alaska; these things made her a liability
for McCain. However, at the end of the day, it was McCain who was blamed for picking her
and running a poor campaign at the end. Now, Palin announces she is quitting. Why?
No one knows. Her speech was a rambling, disjointed combination of sports metaphors
and cliches. She was quitting because the media was beating her up too much. (When
Hillary Clinton complained about media coverage, Palin criticized her for whining, and
said it made women candidates look weak.) She said the media had picked on her family.
(She is the one who preaches abstinence rather than sex education for teens, and then
has a pregnant teen daughter. She creates the image of a happy couple getting married
and settling down, only to find out that was a myth too.) She said she had to quit so that
Alaska could move forward. (?) She was quitting to preserve American values. She was
the point guard of a basketball team; and as such,she knows when to pass the ball and
whom to pass it to. (Maybe not being governor anymore lets her play more pick-up games
with her political team.) In all, she appeared to give at least five different reasons for
quitting. As you parsed her speech, it seemed rambling and incoherent at times, and flaky
and ditzy at other points.
So what do all these ink blots look like to you? First and foremost, this appears
to be a decision about money. If she strikes while the iron is hot, she makes millions. Her
brand is still popular among conservatives, and that could change rapidly. That kind of
money can sustain her for four years of unemployment, as well as pay for her travel and
expenses as she attempts to stay visible and relevant on the national scene. She also quit
because things were not going well in Alaska. The old saying is that if you are going to be
run out of town, get to the front and make it look like you are leading the parade. Palin
had no guarantee she could win re-election, and a defeat would end her political career;
so she got out now rather than wait. In other words, she is willing to break her commitment
to Alaska's voters because things were getting tough and she got a better offer.
Is her bid for the White House over? Yes. She was never going to be President
before this latest stunt. What she has done is to take advantage of the times, and take
the money and run. She quit for her own personal self interest at the expense of her
constituents. She quit and she didn't look good doing it. Her political life is not over.
She will cover the nation in a book tour next year. She will be ll over Fox News and
Hannity/Limbaugh will have her as a guest constantly. She will campaign for Republicans
in the midterm election and raise money for them. Hers will be an endorsement sought
by early contenders for 2012, but she will get no closer to the White House than a visitor's
pass allows her. Between her, Mark Sanford, and John Ensign, the party of family values
is taking on some serious water. Her brand may still be popular, but she exploits it at her
own party's expense; and that doesn't seem to trouble her at all. For Democrats, her
presence on the national scene will only reinforce the clear differences in both talent
and ideas between the two parties; and that will be to their benefit. What do you think?
I welcome your comments and rebuttals. Please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org