I’m dismayed . I hope you can help. Its about Sara Palin, the woman who just mysteriously abandoned her position as Governor of Alaska. “If I die [politically], I die” Sarah Palin told us today. What mystifies me is the word “if”.
I understand how she was catapulted into the national spotlight to start: A bull-headed politician with a history of rash decision-making throws all caution to the wind and chooses her as a running mate in a desperate attempt to spice-up his failed presidential bid. I get that.
I can also understand why McCain’s plan backfired. Palin may have been the sexiest vice presidential candidate America had ever seen, but it was equally evident that she was also among the least qualified. Sarah Palin is, essentially, Dan Quayle with less experience and nicer legs.
Here is where it starts to get fuzzy for me. In interview after interview Palin has demonstrated her estrangement from the facts in every manner of domestic and foreign policy. The self-proclaimed “hockey mom” may have fielded questions with folksy charm, but her grasp of the issues was an insult to the mothers of young hockey players across America.
Then Obama is sworn in. McCain is quietly reabsorbed back into the Senate. And Palin becomes embroiled in legal battles over numerous violations of Alaska’s ethics code. (Ironically it was Governor Palin who fought to have the ethics bill signed into law. After it was disclosed that her own conduct was unethical, she marginalized the violations as “frivolous”. These violations were anything but frivolous when she championed them through her state’s legislature. It would seem the perspective gained while being hoisted with her own petard has changed the Governor’s view.)
Despite all this, Palin persists. Republican leaders, voters and pundits keep referring to her as the republican party’s shining star for the 2012 election. This is were I need your help.
Aside from celebrity and the MILF-factor, what does Sarah Palin have to offer that keep her in serious contention for the most intellectually and ethically demanding job in America?
Haven’t we seen enough over the past 10 months to ascertain that despite everything we may like about Sarah Palin, she’s just not up for that job?
And haven’t we seen enough in the eight preceding years to understand that it takes more than folksy homespun populist ineloquence to lead a nation?
Lastly, if we were not convinced a week ago, hasn’t her behavior over the past few days revoked her right to be taken seriously by anyone who cares about the preservation of our democracy?
First there is how she handled the announcement itself. Her decision to step down as governor was so rashly conceived that both politicians and friends were taken by surprise. Never a good idea in politics. In fact, the announcement of the press conference was handled in the same way one might announce a backyard keg party. “Palin hastily called a news conference Friday morning at her home in suburban Wasilla, giving such short notice that only a few reporters actually made it to the announcement.” (Rachael D’Oro, AP).
Second, there is the vague wording and cryptic reasoning she provided for her resignation. The people who voted her into office deserve a straight answer as to why she is abandoning their trust – sans the political double-talk and diversion tactics that plague “politics as usual”.
Third is the drama she is trying to stir up over her next move by dropping hints via Facebook and Twitter to a “higher calling”. Why not just tell people? If nothing else, she owes her constituents that much. This showboating is an insult to anyone who actually cares what she does. As for the higher calling, are we to assume she is about to enter the convent? (At least that way her legal fees would be subsidized by the Catholic Church.)
In any event, her 30-minute song and dance last Friday fell way short of the mark on every level. I interpret her inability to articulate why she is quitting the state’s highest office to mean:
- she doesn’t know
- she does know but it trying to conceal the truth
- she does know but is purposely using her position to create confusion and drama in the hope of furthering her career.
All of those alternatives are equally disturbing.
Given all this, can anyone seriously consider Sarah Palin as a candidate for President? Is celebrity and a certain MILF-factor the best credentials the republican party has to offer our political system? Or is that just the point? Perhaps the republican party is using Sarah Palin as some sort of political rodeo clown to keep us all distracted between elections so we don’t focus on the shambles that the party is in. Perhaps her job is to keep the party in the headlines until 2012 and keep the focus off people like Ensign and Sanford. Chances are she would self-destruct by the time the 2012 campaign started in earnest and then she could be sidelined so that people like Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee could take center stage.
My biggest concern is that Americans, and in particular republicans, will continue to take this woman seriously, no matter what. That hurts, because I want to believe that the days when being a plucky dolt with a homespun take on the world and marginal grip on the facts qualified you for president were over. I had hoped that was simply a phase we were going through in the 90‘s and that we, as a nation, had grown out of it with the retirement of George W. But the popularity of this plucky Alaskan dolt would seems to indicate that we never learn and that a significant percentage of our populous will always gravitate towards the dim and inarticulate for leadership.
Perhaps the real question with Palin is simply: How far can good looks and pluck take you in life? I’m hoping the answer to that question is Governor of Alaska, and no further.