Suddenly, I’m a fan of Sarah Palin’s. No, not because she bailed on her job as governor of Alaska midway through her term and put her political career in jeopardy. But precisely because she didn’t care — other things, she said, were more important.
While the former vice-presidential candidate for the Republican Party tried to put a positive spin on her decision to quit the governorship at the end of the month, the news didn’t sit well with many Republicans and conservative radio shock-jocks and columnists around the country.
But while the GOP was debating whether she blew it or whether there might be a spot for her in the party’s shrinking tent a couple years down the road, Palin was nonplused. She told Fox News, as politely as she could, that she was not going to “get wrapped up into a strong political machine that hasn’t been extremely successful in some ways,” and she told ABC news bluntly, “You know, politically speaking, if I die, I die. So be it.”
Spoken like a true Alaskan; like someone so far removed from the political beltway that they actually know there is life after politics. That they know, in fact, that there is a life that is preferable beyond the political beltway. It is exactly the type of comment that endears her to so many conservative Americans. “Hey,” she is saying, “my family and my life is more important than putting up with the media onslaught over family values and the alleged improprieties of my campaign. You can take this job (governor and any potential run for the presidency) and shove it!”
Yep, that radiates with the 15-20 percent of right-wing conservatives out there who love to hate politics.
But it’s hardly a feather in the cap of someone running for the nation’s top job. As conservative commentator and former Reagan administration official Linda Chavez wrote, “barring a looming medical or family crisis, which she did not cite (in her speech announcing her decision to step down as governor), it is inexcusable for an elected official to walk away from his or her post because the going got rough.”
Peter Wehner, who worked in the administrations of Reagan and both president Bushes and was deputy assistant to George W. Bush, admitted that Palin has star power, but said it would be a grave mistake for the future of the GOP to make Palin their poster child.
Since her acceptance speech as vice-presidential candidate, she has done “much damage to herself,” Wehner wrote. “In interviews she has come across as unable to offer up more than a sound bite argument on virtually any issue (with the exception of energy). She seems to have memorized answers rather than thought through issues. She doesn’t seem able to articulate a core philosophy. And her announcement that she would not complete her term as governor was rambling and at times incoherent… If Sarah Palin becomes the face and future of the GOP, it would take a huge step toward securing its position as a minority party for many years to come.”
Wow, that’s harsh. But does she care?
In some ways, we don’t think she does. Political stardom, D.C.-style, doesn’t really fit the Alaskan profile. And while she found fame quickly on the political stage, she may have realized she doesn’t gravitate to the depth of politics like she should and she may now understand that you can’t just dish out one-liners and act simple (as George W. did) and get away with it in the long term. Politics is serious business and it takes a depth of understanding and a keen intellect to serve the country well.
Perhaps hosting a Northern Exposure version of Saturday Night Live would not only bring her more fame and fortune, but would put her star-like qualities to better use.
-Angelo S. Lynn