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Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Sarah Palin's Brilliant Career Move

Sarah PalinRereading Sarah Palin's resignation speech, I realize that it's impossible to exaggerate it to the point of absurdity. It reaches that point on its own. "Our destiny [is] to be reached by responsibly developing our natural resources," she said. "This land, blessed with clean air, water, wildlife, minerals, AND oil and gas. It's energy! God gave us energy." Reading it over, you see it's peppered with exclamation points and odd capitalizations, all while making very little sense. She said that she wasn't going to "appease those who demand: 'Sit down and shut up,'" because that's the "quitter's way out." So it just naturally follows that she had to quit being governor. Only a quitter wouldn't quit.

At first, everyone (myself included) assumed that she was trying to get out in front of some looming scandal. The reasons she gave in her resignation speech were an unfair media and accusations "of all sorts of frivolous ethics violations." But that didn't make a lot of sense -- you don't leave an executive office because the job becomes difficult. If that were the case, no governor or president -- or even mayor -- would ever finish a term.

No. It had to be some sort of damage control. There wasn't any other logical explanation. But in Sarah Palin's world, logic isn't really a consideration.

"There is absolutely no truth to those rumors that we're investigating her or getting ready to indict her," said FBI Special Agent Eric Gonzalez, shooting down the looming scandal scenario. "It's just not true."

Of course, it may be that something is going on, that some sort of investigation is happening, just not by the FBI. But if Palin didn't resign because of some sort of Alaska-gate, then seriously, what the hell's the deal?

What the hell the deal is is that Sarah Palin is just plain odd. While I'm not ruling out the scandal explanation, the statement by the FBI definitely devalues it in my eyes. If she didn't resign to avoid the sort of "will she resign?" talk that follows Mark Sanford everywhere he goes, then she resigned because she's just flighty and bizarre.

Of course, it all depends on who you ask. I always have a little trouble reading right wing pundits; do they seriously believe what they're saying or are they just hoping I'm dumb enough to believe it? I suppose there's always a mix of both; the true-believers and the spin doctors. Some are applying typically stretchy logic, while others are just nuts.

"I think it's brilliant. And I'm baffled by people being baffled by it," said Ann Coulter. "Um, I mean, she's a huge, huge star. And meanwhile she's stuck up in Ulan Bator, she can neither respond to her many admirers who want her to come speak down in the Lower 48, and want her, you know, to be raising money for them, starting PACs, and being the voice of conservatism, which she is. She can't do that, or she'll be neglecting the state."

Coulter told FOX News that Palin is "a huge, huge star" and she had to quit the governorship because she's "too big for the position now."

Also at FOX. former Reaganaut Peter Ferrara writes that "Sarah Palin's resignation as Governor of Alaska is a brilliant liberating move for her career, and a potential turning point for the national conservative movement."

"The biggest problem with her responsibility as Governor of Alaska is that the state is so far away from the rest of America," he argues. "No one hears of the good work she has been doing there, and the left is free to paint their own false caricature of her. And because of the long distance and her family, as well as governing, responsibilities, she can't get down to the lower-48 enough to build her national political presence."

The piece is titled, "Sarah Palin Outsmarts the Left."

"[T]here's a parallel right-wing universe out there in which Palin is a victim not of her own incompetence but of a profoundly corrupt and vicious media, and being governor leaves her unable to defend herself against outrageous innuendos," writes Michelle Goldberg in a great piece at American Prospect. "In this universe, it is Barack Obama who is the shallow intellectual lightweight, helpless without his teleprompter. As he marches America toward socialism, and spineless Republican elites dither, the country cries out for a leader, a cry that sounds a lot like, 'SARAH! SARAH! SARAH!' Plenty of her supporters see her as a hero, a martyr, or both. Maybe she sees herself that way, too."

So my confusion over the right wing punditry may have a solution -- yes, they do believe the crazy stuff they're saying. And so do a significant number of Republican voters. A Rasmussen poll finds that 40% of Republicans believe that Palin's abrupt move doesn't hurt her presidential chances in 2012 and 24% believe it helps.

"In general, the higher a Republican voter’s income level and educational achievement, the more likely he or she is to think Palin’s decision to resign will hurt her bid for the GOP nomination," Rasmussen found. So the poorer and less educated the GOP voter is, the more likely it is that they'll think it was a good move. This is mirrored in the respondents' self-identification as "conservatives" -- 52% of moderates said resigning hurt her chances, while only 37% of conservatives thought the same. So, if you're the stereotypical undereducated, white-trash, talk radio-informed wingnut, the odds are good that you think this was just the smartest thing anyone ever did. Think Sarah Palin's a genius for resigning? Well, you just might be a redneck.

Which, of course, doesn't really explain Coulter or Ferrara. They're both conservative, but neither is hurting for money and neither lacks a scholastic career. I suppose they could be the outliers, the minority that doesn't match the trend. But the safer bet is that they're BS artists and spin doctors. They don't believe what they're saying, but they can't bring themselves to say anything critical of Palin after being such shameless apologists for her during the campaign.

In any case, if Palin does manage to swing the nomination in '12, the people who think this was the best strategy anyone ever came up with are in for a cold shower. The conservative voters aren't all voters. In fact, in the grand scheme of things, they aren't really even that many voters. The average voter will see this move -- and don't think it won't be an issue -- as strange and inexplicable, an example of inconsistency and unreliability. Most people will see Sarah Palin as what she seems to be; someone you can't count on when the chips are down, someone who folds when things get tough. That won't be that easy for the right wing punditry to spin away.

Not that they won't try.


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Mr. Murphy said...

Why do you speculate so much about Sarah Palin? It's no different than all of the other pundits and bloggers who drone on about this person. In particular, I think your speculation about right wing pundits such as O'Reilly and Coulter causes you to overreach on the subject. Convervative media personalities make statements to support the political "positions" they assumed long ago. They must do that in order to sustain their celebrity. Deviating from that only erodes their audience since there is always someone out there who is more radical, nutty or outspoken. Glenn Beck seems to be the most recent manifestation of this dynamic. Why would they do something to diminish their standing? It would only dampen their ability to make money, which seems to be much more important goal than offering logical commentary.

Anonymous said...

When she accepted the VP nomination, she knew she needed to bring her professional game up to another level, she never did. She knew that her family would get attacked as did Hilary and Chelsea before her (by even her twin maverick brother McCain in 1998), let face it she knew her family affairs would come out. But now she plays the victim card again, a card she played after those comical first extended interviews that we all enjoyed and SNL immortalized. But for the icing on the cake, she quits, because she does not want to be a lame duck governor, because the lawsuits keep coming, because it was the media’s fault, because seeing Russia from her house finally got to her, because its not fair that Alaskan’s paid her salary while she was running for the VP position, take your pick. So what does she tells us? Dear Mr. President, when things get tough, quit. Dear military men and women, if you are not having fun, quit. Dear son or daughter, if things are not going your way, quit. Sure, I agree when she first was introduced and gave a descent speech, sure the polls went up, but after the extended interviews, they went where they ended, down. She showed her true character, I real hope the book deal, Radio/ TV shows and the lecture circuits make up for what her party has lost by her actions. She may go down in history as the quitter that twittered.

Paul said...

Can anyone real tell me that you were impressed by her exit speech? You know, if she can’t take a joke, don’t get in the game, its politics, they all get kicked around. My beef is that she reminds of unqualified people like Ronald Reagan, Dan Quayle, and George “W”. She is just another “W” in heels and she is stringing the religious right along, she will sell you her books, her radio/TV shows and speaking engagements. Let me paint you a picture, in my opinion, for the last eight years where the mantra was no regulation and no oversight and spread to all federal agencies and the justice department was filled by unqualified religious types and the dullard (ex-drunk) religious president started two wars of choice with extreme tax dollar spending, is anyone real surprised with our current economic situation because of those choices. Sure “W” sucker the religious right to vote for him (and it didn’t hurt that they were promised federal dollars) and that’s why he placed unqualified people in positions of responsibility and they failed (almost a “plan to fail”), do you forget Katrina, where the Director of FEMA Michael D. Brown, was relieved of his duties because of incompetence? Or can you forget disgraced White House correspondent James Guckert, AKA Jeff Gannon, the male escort, why was a male escort getting into the Whitehouse, hmmm? I know it was Barney Frank’s fault, he controls the county and republicans had their hands tied (even though 7 of the last 8 years they had the majority and the presidency to do something (fact or fiction?), but not the will to act). Oh, by the way I read that God blog, very funny, it reminds me of those TV evangelists who claim the talk to God and want so and so foreign country leader to be killed or such and such a us state to be punished by God for a court ruling that intelligent design is just another word for religion. If you believe that the USA has strayed from God then go out to your communities and preach to your neighbors, the sick, the shut ins, the poor and invite them to take part in your church, build a community. But I know that’s hard work we want a government official to do that for us, well they tried that and look where it left us, in the gutter, but our country does not quit and we will rise again. I am so tried of unqualified religious zealots controlling the government and their attempts to make the second coming of Christ a reality, their hatred of women, gays, minorities, and immigrants (even though they use them to reap higher margins for their businesses) disgust me. Do you remember how Ronald Reagan got us out of a recession? By spending and we will do the same. Lastly, I do not want you to believe what I believe, so please keep writing, feel free, I am starting to enjoy this.