Tuesday, July 7, 2009

She Did What?

Well, she does play by her own set of rules. Unlike Mark Sanford, Sarah Palin seems to have relinquished presidential aspirations voluntarily.

Like many Americans who were actually paying attention to news on the Friday before the Fourth, I was dumbfounded to learn that Alaska Governor Sarah Palin was resigning, effective July 26.

Such a decision was out of the blue. The spat with David Letterman had subsided and she defeated another ethics charge, so why would Sarah Palin suddenly resign? As Mark Sanford’s political star has all but certainly been sucked into a black hole, Mrs. Palin had every reason to believe that she would be a frontrunner for the GOP presidential nomination in 2012. Either way, she had more charisma and a wider national appeal than the now-shamed South Carolina governor.

As soon as the news hit, I thought to myself, Mitt Romney is probably having one hell of a party at his mansion tonight, with his family and yuppie guests probably being waited on by an army of illegal immigrants, no less.

There have been a few theories peddled over why she would resign at this time. Could she no longer take the heat of being a public person? If so, why now? She readily bore her claws like a mama bear when her children once again were deemed newsworthy, so it’s doubtful she suddenly can’t take the heat. Anyone who believes Palin has a weak constitution is only watching the parodied Palin and not Sarah Barracuda.

Is she stepping down, as she said, to relieve the taxpayers of Alaska of having to pay the burden of her constant legal fees which have now reached over half a million dollars? I’m willing to believe that and if it’s true, then it’s the most fiscally sane move by a Republican since Mark Sanford decided to wait to see his mistress until he was on state business in South America.

But the most prevalent explanation is that she is resigning in order to stage a run for the presidency in 2012. If that is true, she is undoubtedly wasting her time. Resigning before her term is up, absent a scandal of Watergate or blue dress proportions, labels Palin, unfairly I believe, as a quitter, by critics on both the Right and the Left.

The most common refrain, predictably, is that she is unqualified for the job of president. Examining the U.S. Constitution, Article II states, “No Person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President; neither shall any Person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States.” Let’s see: born in Idaho in 1964 and living at least 14 years in the United States. Check. Sarah Palin is officially qualified to hold the position of president of the United States.

But, if one looks at the massive (and utterly unconstitutional) bureaucracy that pervades Washington D.C. and considers how involved the American president is expected to be not just in American life but in events around the world, no one is “qualified” for the job. Therefore, if Sarah Palin is fundamentally “unqualified” for the job, it has more to do with today’s federal government than Governor Palin’s "inexperience."

Of course, her critics assume that she is resigning in order to run for the presidency, perhaps in a strangely lustful desire to continue pummeling a favorite target. It’s difficult to see how even the governor can consider running for president. If she does, Mitt Romney’s line of attack will be that at least he finished a term as governor of his state before ever embarking on a presidential campaign. Personally, I am altogether untroubled that she is resigning. I am unaware of any law that states that once elected, a politician is barred from leaving office, even if they are without scandal.

But the media reaction to her resignation has actually been quite comical from both sides, even reminding me of the hysteria cooked up while Mark Sanford was on his final trip to Argentina. With Sanford it was, Where is he?! We demand to know where our elected officials are at all times because if things don’t go kablooey while they’re away, then people might start to think that they don’t need government in charge of everything after all! Whereas with Sarah Palin it’s, How dare she quit before her term is up! I know she’s an idiot and I hate her, but I demand that she stay in office! How dare she abandon her people! How, oh, how, will the people of Alaska be able to put food on the table if they can’t be sure of who their governor is?!

Or as Tucker Carlson said on the July 6, 2009 episode of Sean Hannity’s television program, “People who think Sarah Palin is dumb and/or insane seem mad that she’s not governing the state of Alaska.”

The point of this little anti-government tirade is to show that states and people actually have the ability to operate without minute surveillance and babysitting from our overlords. It is also to highlight what I found to be the most revealing statement in Governor Palin’s otherwise rambling resignation speech:

“Rather, we know we can effect positive change outside government.”

What a libertarian and non-presidential thing to say.

Readers of this blog (it’s up to four of you now) should know that I am not a Palin-aholic, have been critical of some of her policies, but that I have a mild admiration for her.

Sarah Palin has a nice story, worked hard, defeated an incumbent Republican and almost became vice president of the United States. She espouses pro-life views and walks the walk. I question whether a real conservative would really join the ticket alongside John McCain. I was troubled that such a stalwart conservative would adopt the reckless foreign policy rhetoric of McCain and that she would parrot the it’s-amnesty-but-we’re-not-calling-it-amnesty illegal immigrant policy of the Arizona senior panderer. Despite these troubling issues, I felt like battling for Sarah Palin just because of the ruthless attacks on her from an elitist media. And the enemy of my enemy is my friend.

I was also disappointed earlier this year when she initially held her hand out for stimulus money when she had promoted herself as a fiscal conservative. She did, however, pull her hand back a little and returned some of the money while all the faux fiscal conservatives in the Republican Party cheered.

But I do not consider Sarah Palin’s actions to be those of a quitter. Saying she is a quitter to her state is to hold quite a dim view of Alaskans, as if they won’t know what to do with themselves unless they have Sarah Palin as their governor.

But back to the line highlighted earlier: “Rather, we know we can effect positive change outside government.”

That is perhaps the most likely long-term reason for her early departure from office. Her political action committee, SarahPAC, is doing even better now that their namesake has resigned.

Similarly, the message of Ron Paul’s presidential campaign did not end when the Texas congressman ended his campaign last summer. The Campaign for Liberty, the unofficial extension of Dr. Paul’s campaign currently has over 170,000 members who are dedicated to educating people in their communities about a message of freedom from government and the advocating of sound money -- all this from a presidential candidate who was routinely ignored or mocked by the media and party elites for over a year. Just imagine how many people a similar Sarah Palin (who has garnered exceedingly more attention than Ron Paul) group might attract around a message of energy independence and the preservation of unborn life.

So maybe, just maybe, she does want to enact change in the country or just the state of Alaska by an avenue other than government imposition – education.

Good for Sarah.

5 comments:

The Law said...

State politics is a completely different beast from politics. And while I think Palin is the absolute worst kind of candidate for the national/international stage, I always believed she was a perfect fit for Alaska. This is because she is *really* in tune with her people. She lives the same life as them. She gets fish guts on her overalls.

As a New Yorker, we had brilliant politicians like Hilary Clinton who really understood New York values. Guliani can be a real (explitive) but for all is issues, he was a true and blue New Yorker. We're getting on the case of the Honduras leadership for trying to change the constituion so he can stay in office another term, yet Bloomberg did the same thing! But for better or for worse, he gets New York.

Sarah Palin gets Alaska. And I have the utmost respect for here as a mayor and as a governor. I also think you have to finish the job you were elected to do. You can't just quit being the President (if she still has that ambition). So while she may not be a quitter, she did quit, and politicians have suffered through far worse accusations.

I think most people would agree they never had a problem wit her being governor of Alaska, but as far as a national candidate, that's where the line in the sand is drawn.

Steel Phoenix said...

Quite a post.

I've never found Palin worthy of much notice. She was going for the sympathy vote, which includes a chunk of starry eyed evangelicals, but not much more. The Paleocons and Libertarians would never follow her.

Swarzenegger found out in a hurry that big muscles don't help you much in politics; the barracuda would have found out the same about her attitude. If you want to see a master politician, look to Obama. I only wish his skills came with a different ideology.

On the other hand, Palin is doing exactly what Bill Clinton should have. Had he stepped down when his scandal hit, he would have likely handed Gore the next election, since it was his personal failings rather than his policies which lost him public opinion. By stepping aside, she gives her Lt. Governor a big boost in the coming election.

I don't think she is a quitter, I think she is keeping her options open, but likely will find few. I'm not a big believer that you need a certain level of experience to be president, but if she couldn't even handle a few softballs from Katie Couric, she is blatantly not qualified. Sure, she got hit with plenty of gotcha questions, as did everyone else. McCain, Obama, or Ron Paul wouldn't have stumbled on any of them.

The last head to head poll I saw between Palin and Ron Paul had them in a dead heat. I'm not convinced she has 'defeated' many ethics charges. It looks to me like, having been caught with her hand in the cookie jar, she put some cookies back and backed away slowly.

I'm quite certain that if one of her rivals had stepped down mid-term, she would be the first to incite a media firestorm of false outrage. She gets no sympathy from me.

Carl Wicklander said...

Law,

I wouldn't worry about her running for president if I were you. She has her diehard supporters, but it's nowhere near enough and the party won't support her if she tries to come back and run for president. I can already tell that she is seen as a quitter
by the GOP at large.

Thanks for stopping by.

Carl Wicklander said...

Steel Phoenix,

When I hear Republicans complain about Obama being the Messiah and just having a group of cultic followers, I think about how Sarah Palin gets much of the same treatment. I've already seen on some blogs that all Palin has to do is leave the GOP and form a third party because she has enough support to win the presidency. There's a cult of personality around her too, so "starry eyed" is probably right.

TRUTH 101 said...

As a partisan Democrat, I hope she runs for president.

As an observer, I hope she realizes the job and the responsibilities that even come just with running for president are beyond her. There is no shame in that. When I was active with the Union, there were assignments that were just beyond my training and capabilities. It was painfully obvious, and still is, that Governer Palin does not have a grasp of issues. Her answers during interviews consistently show that. Maybe she just saw the light.