Monday, July 06, 2009

Sarah Palin: Exit Stage Right?

I was on vacation in my native Michigan when news broke Friday about Alaska Governor Sarah Palin stepping down from the governorship, so I've been slow in responding about this. I can say that it was somewhat surprising and a good way to make sure one isn't going to run for the Presidency in 2012. Palin herself noted that a lame duck governor with higher political aspirations (like Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty) would do start giving speeches and going on trips. Here is what she said:

So that Alaska will progress, I will not seek re-election as governor. And so as I thought about this announcement, that I wouldn’t run for re-election and what that means for Alaska, I thought about, well, how much fun some governors have as lame ducks. They maybe travel around their state, travel to other states, maybe take their overseas international trade missions. So many politicians do that. And then I thought, that’s what wrong. Many just accept that lame duck status and they hit the road, they draw a paycheck, they kind of milk it, and I’m not going to put Alaskans through that.

Of course, doing that would have allowed her a national spotlight and shown her governing. Had she simply stayed in office as a lame duck, she would have governed, gained experience and gone on those important trade missions that look presidential. But quitting before even finishing one term, puts her without the experience that she sorely needs if she wants to run for president. That's the general wisdom, but I think with Republicans in such an anti-government mood, it might not be surprising that some party activists would want a candidate with as little government experience as possible.

But the real thrust of this post is really about who is to blame for the governor's current situation? Was she taken down by the elites or did she bring this down on herself?

My answer mirrors that of blogger Radley Balko:

Here’s all I want to say: It is possible that Sarah Palin was both unfairly mistreated and personally attacked by the media and many on the left, and that her family was rather ruthlessly and mercilessly run through the ringer wringer . . . and that she’s a not particularly bright, not particularly curious, once libertarian-leaning governor who sadly devolved into a predictable, buzzword spouting culture warrior when she was prematurely picked for national office by John McCain.

I believe that Palin had been brutally attacked by the media and the Left. There were the odd conspiracy theories about Trig Palin, her son and those horrible jokes by David Letterman about her 14 year old daughter. Politics is a rough field, but it seems that it was incredibly rough on Palin.

But truth also is that she was not the brightest bulb in the bunch. The Vice Presidency isn't the most glamorous job in the land, but it is as they say, a heartbeat away from the presidency. One would hope that someone like Ms. Palin would have at the very least some "street smarts" when it comes to major issues, but in the end, she didn't even have that.

Even though she was rough handled by the press and liberals, the fact remains that politics is a rough business and you have to have a certain amount of fortitude to deal with it. The politics of personal destruction is not new to American politics and those who seek elected office have to develop a hard shell to repel the slings and arrows that come their way. Palin's resignation shows she didn't have what it takes to remain in the arena.

If she is planning to run for President in 2012, the only thing I can say about that is that it will be a rough ride. Leaving aside that she will still lack credible experience, her leaving office because people said bad things about her will come back to haunt her out on the hustings in New Hampshire and Michigan, two states that allow independents to vote in primaries. If she can't handle being governor of a small state, be sure that her opponents in '12 will tell voters she won't be able to handle the pressure that is the Oval Office.

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