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A new article in the New York Times outlines the path that Sarah Palin has taken from the 2008 election to her recent resignation. It is clear from their reporting that Palin lost interest in being governor after the 2008 election. Her family drama, the state’s economy and ethical accusations all hastened her decision to bail out of an increasingly unsatisfying job.  She waved off what appears to have been good advice about how to survive the situation and kept edging toward the door.  Having tasted celebrity and tiring of notoriety, she now seeks fame, fortune and respectability. As unimpressed as I am with Sarah Palin’s judgment and intellect, two areas in which she is seriously underpowered, she may be lurching uncontrollably into her best option.

Palin’s resignation is likely to result in a can’t-lose situation for her. First, of course, she’ll have to get past the bad taste that her gubernatorial performance and  resignation have left in many people’s mouth, not to mention the political and economic fallout she’s leaving behind. My prediction is that Alaska, being mostly out of the public eye except when Palin is in it, will be left to its own devices after she leaves office and its economic predicament will gradually fade from view, unless a smoking gun is found. Sarah has left the building.

Palin has made another career change and is now reinventing herself from politician to standard-bearer.   As she builds her constituency and fills her pockets she can become an influential power broker or even a candidate, although if she’s elected she would have to serve and display the kind of perseverance for which she’s not known. Soon it will be lucrative speeches and the release of her book, both of which will keep her firmly in the spotlight.  She will build her image as the maverick outsider who takes on Washington, Big Government, the Mainstream Media, and “politics as usual” without having to worry about her job performance or pointed questions at news conferences.  She will be the spokeperson for “traditional family values,” chatting up her fans on the right, thrilling them with her personal story.  The sound of cash will drown out those back home who are cleaning up her messes.

All of this creates a huge potential headache for the GOP. The moderates and pragmatists who want to build the party and regain its former influence will again find Palin a polarizing force who does little for the party as a whole. She will remain an easy target unless she uncharacteristically develops some intellectual curiousity and actually learns what others have tried to teach her.  She may have some influence on the mid-term elections, but I suspect that her star will begin to fade thereafter.

Those who see Palin as the future of the party seem blinded by her dazzling smile, unable to see her flaws, which in the context of politics outweigh her mostly superficial strengths.  She could be the Democrat’s new Best Friend Forever.

sarah_palin_wtfI had promised myself to take a break from Mme. Palin.  I frankly felt sorry for her kids whose personal lives were being unfairly played out in the media. But Palin’s resignation left me no choice.  I asked the same question thousands of Alaskans and pundits posed: WTF? They said it more diplomatically, but it was essentially the same question.

Whenever I encounter inexplicable decisions I ask but one thing: whose needs are being met?  In Palin’s case the answer appears to be obvious. Her decision, no matter how she couches it, is about her, her career, and her future. While others may benefit from her resignation, her family and the state of Alaska comes to mind, make no mistake, this is all about Sarah.

Having been thoroughly spanked by all but the most conservative voters and media, Palin retreated to her familiar underdog position, which has now devolved into her familiar victimhood position. She fails to see that she has earned much of the enmity that has been heaped upon her. She performed poorly as a vice-presidential candidate, underwhelming all but the right wing of the GOP.  She became an object of fun, the Dan Quayle of the new millenium. She proved to be immune to constructive feedback and is clearly not a scholar. After returning to Alaska she appeared to have lost interest in governing the state. Now she has shed the shackles of gubernatorial responsibility. With weak oil revenues and the bloom being off her personal rose, being governor just ain’t fun anymore.

This is not leadership. Leadership involves persistence, determination, and a willingness to put one’s own needs aside for the greater good, sort of like parenting, but without the diapers. Palin’s willingness to dump her current job so that she can pursue a job with more glamor and money (talk show host) or fame (tell-all book) or ambition (presidency) tells you everything you need to know about her.  Like most politicians she is an opportunist. However, unlike smart politicians she doesn’t understand that the tough options are almost always the right ones. Seeking the presidency is usually a long journey during which the candidate builds coalitions and establishes his/her credentials, sacrificing and sweating well out of the limelight. Quitting one’s highest elected position three-fourths of the way through a lackluster first term accomplishes neither.

I am not a good example of thoughtful career planning. My own has been characterized as much by sheer chance as by hard work.  But if chance favors the prepared mind, one has to ask for what Palin is prepared. And isn’t finishing what you started a “traditional family value?”

no whining

From politico.com: “Republican Govs. Haley Barbour (Miss.), Mark Sanford (S.C.), Bobby Jindal (La.) and Sarah Palin (Alaska) have all said they intend to turn down some of the funding. Other Republican governors have said they will generally accept all the funds allocated to their state, though some have hinted they may join the group over certain portions of the bill they oppose.”

Putting ideology before practicality is not unfamiliar territory to the GOP. In this case citizens in at least four states may not reap the full benefits of the stimulus package because their Esteemed Leaders disagree with the rationale behind it, primarily the idea that Big Gummint may exert some influence on their fiscal policies. This should be especially worrisome to Alaskans, who face a particularly difficult situation because oil prices are down, undermining their chief source of tax revenues. Ironically, Palin traveled to Washington in January to press the case for federal assistance. Now that it’s forthcoming, thanks but no thanks?

What I’m curious about is this: if their objection is truly heartfelt then why don’t they refuse all of the stimulus package? If this is about ideology, then why waffle and pout and reject “only” $50 million? Because it’s not about ideology. First and foremost it’s about scoring a few political points, potentially at the expense of your constituents who are struggling to make ends meet and keep a job. Jindall has said he would reject a portion of the money aimed at expanding state unemployment insurance, fearing that it could lead to a tax increase down the road. While that could happen, this rejection of funds will be long remembered by the unemployed and not-yet unemployed. And they vote and pay taxes.

Rigid adherence to ideology contributed to the Republican spanking in November 2008. Some seem determined to repeat the experience, suggesting that spanking holds a certain appeal to them. If that’s the case, enjoy. Your next opportunity for a bit of voter-imposed discipline will be here before you know it.

Just in case there was doubt in anyone’s mind, Sarah Palin announced the formation of her political action committee with accompanying web site. At the bottom of her web page is the following statement: “Paid for by SarahPAC. Not authorized by any candidate or candidate’s committee.” The only explanation I can come up with is that she is completely unaware of the groundswell of interest in her political future. Right.

Palin PACThe web site goes on to say, “Your support of SarahPac will make it possible for Gov. Palin to continue to be a strong voice for energy independence and reform. By supporting SarahPac, you will allow Gov. Palin to help find and create solutions for America’s most pressing problems; priority number one is building a strong and prosperous economy that recognizes hard work, innovation and integrity by rewarding small businesses and hard working American families. SarahPac will support local and national candidates who share Gov. Palin’s ideas and goals for our country.” And to clear up any ambiguity, we are told that she is the “honorary chair” of SarahPAC.

In other news, she reportedly has an $11 million book deal in the works. I’m trying to understand what publisher believes they can make a profit on an $11 million book deal in this or any economy. I’m also trying to imagine the outline of this book being anything other than a whitewashed account of her performance during the presidential campaign in which she blames the McCain camp for keeping her under wraps.

Palin has always been entertaining. Her performance on SNL was better scripted than anything she did on the campaign trail. Now she’s working without a net, it’s just her and the media with no one else to blame when she does a face plant. Let’s see what she can do.

As Alaskans endure their long winter’s night, one in particular is howling at the moon. Just when you thought (or hoped) you’d heard the last of Sarah Palin for a while, she pops back up with more complaints about her alleged shabby treatment by the press. The relationship between the press and Caroline Kennedy, whose closet not only lacks skeletons but much of anything, seems to have prompted the diatribe.

no whiningIn a recent interview reported by the Washington Post, Palin described some of the press coverage she and her family received as “very scary.” Without question, some of the coverage was tasteless and vicious, such as suggestions that Palin’s baby was actually her daughter’s. She also cited reports that her daughter Bristol and her putative fiance, Levi Johnston, were high school dropouts. With respect to the latter, she’s on shaky ground. Johnston recently was dismissed from an apprenticeship program because he lacked a diploma or equivalent. Apparently there was some dropping out somewhere.

Then there were the famous interviews in which Palin stammered, dodged, and darn it, and made it breathtakingly clear that she was utterly clueless about the vice presidency and just about everything else. Now she blames the campaign for sending her back to Katie Couric for an attempt at redemption. I suppose she has a point. The campaign surely recognized by that time that she was hopelessly unequipped to think on her feet. Still, keeping Palin under wraps wasn’t a winning strategy. Palin was the “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” candidate.

Palin seems to forget that others in the campaign were also targeted by attack bloggers on both sides of the aisle. Obama was characterized as a Moslem sleeper terrorist who was born in Africa. McCain had his own headaches, including a NYT story that a former lover had to be kept at a distance by staffers, a story that still has legs since the alleged lover has now filed a lawsuit against the Times. And let’s not forget the stories about his temper, gambling, and wife Cindy’s drug history.  However, neither Obama or McCain have publicly pouted about their treatment. Both have the good sense to ignore what they cannot change or disprove, and that is one of the qualities that makes them better leaders than Palin.

While Palin has a point, it’s lost in the whining in which she always seems to package it. This approach  may play well with the Hard Right, but let’s be clear, the rest of America has moved on and is far more interested in how we’re going to solve tough problems than in Palin’s family problems. If Palin wants to prove herself a leader she needs to focus on being an effective governor. If patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel, then blaming the press is the last refuge of the incompetent.

“Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” (Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina)

Some years ago the Admiral and I lived next to a family we referred to as “the Clampetts.” If ever there was a hapless collection of individuals, it was they. We loaned them our lawnmower, they put in the wrong kind of gas and ruined it. We loaned them a ladder, it mysteriously disappeared. Their 14 year old daughter got pregnant. He lost his job. She was too distractible and unstable to work. And yet, somehow they maintained their good humor, kept plugging away and all things considered, we liked them and admired their perseverance.
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Dear Alaska:

I am writing to let you know that once again your dog, “Sarah,” has shown up in my yard. She had no collar or tags; however I recognize her from her previous unwelcome visits to the neighborhood. She came to my attention when I heard her endless, shrill barking. Of course when I came to my window to investigate there was nothing there except Sarah, barking to hear herself bark I guess. I have tried to quiet her; however she ignores everyone who doesn’t fawn over her. I do not want to tell you how to raise your dog, but I think she needs entirely too much attention. As a working dog I would assume that there are things she could be doing at home if she was simply kept there. I realize, having been around her for a while, that she wasn’t the sharpest pup in the litter, but there must be something that she can do besides make noise.

Please understand that I am a dog lover and have three dogs myself. However, I do not let them run wherever they want. While I absolutely do not approve of chaining a dog in the backyard, I believe a tall fence around the home could work wonders. Furthermore, when my dogs do their business in someone’s yard I always clean up after them. I would appreciate it if you would do the same. I don’t know what Sarah eats, but it is my impression that she is full of, well you know.

Please come and get Sarah as soon as possible. I do not want to call the authorities, but if you do not take care of this immediately I will have no choice. Finally, I noticed that Sarah was wearing some very expensive doggie clothing called “Doggie Style.” You may want to look into what she is doing in order to get it. It may need to be returned.

Sincerely,

Georgia

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Has anyone in Alaska seen Sarah Palin lately?

It would appear that the fortuitious timing of the Republican Governor’s Conference has delayed her return to Alaska, where rumor has it she is governor. Meanwhile, here in the Lower 48 Palin’s reception at the RPG has been chilly and she continues to atract negative attention from the media (i.e, Katie Couric.)

She has appointed God to be her political advisor, and will await His divine advice before pursuing future political goals, such as Senator in 2010. Meanwhile, in what can only be considered poetic justice, Mark Begich’s lead over loveable curmudgeon Ted Stevens continues to grow, giving my Alaska friends reason to hope that the light at the end of the tunnel isn’t a train.

Stay tuned…