Monday, July 13, 2009

Part II -- Sarah, We Hardly Knew Ya

This is without a doubt, swear on a stack of Bibles, the last article I will post on the announced soon-to-be resignation of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin -- until she actually contributes something of value to national politics. This is not a political obituary for she shall return as certainly as Gen. MacArthur promised, a chap she fondly quoted recently.

I take Sarah Palin for what she is. A former beauty queen, mother of five children, an ambitious politician in the tiny confines of Wasilla and Alaska, a passionate defender of limited government with a strong military -- but hopelessly ill-prepared and thin-skinned to a higher calling of national office at this period in her remarkable life. In short, she's not ready for prime time.

Think what you may of Sarah Palin, but her charisma and energy translates to the "it" girl of the 1920s and high "Q" factor of instant name recognition in today's society. That's why she has attracted a loyal conservative base and constant media attention, if, for no other reason, she's a fresh new face in politics and definitely different.

As far as lack of depth of wonkish national issues, the same was said by detractors of Ronald Reagan's early career in politics. In many respects, she's her own worst enemy. It is insulting to hear her refer to the president's legal counsel as the "Department of Law." I'm sorry to sound snobbish but a fifth grader should know that.

Name any former unsuccessful candidate for vice president in which seven months after the election people were still talking about, let alone remember their names. Not Palin. In the past several weeks, Vanity Fair wrote 10,000 words which depicted her as a narcissistic, one-woman demolition derby. On Monday's websites, The New York Times and The Los Angeles Times followed with essentially unflattering accounts. I would be the first to admit that all three publications can be considered liberal organs but in all fairness they articulated many truths about the woman her passionate followers would reject or ignore.

The lede in the NYT article was telling. It said the Republican Governors Association sent an emissary to Alaska to counsel Palin and advised her to get her family life in order and focus on her gubernatorial duties. She happily took the advise, the article said, and then tossed it in the trash can on her route to quit after serving only 2 1/2 years in her first term. The article did not mention that in her resignation announcement she said she was saving Alaskans $2 million in legal costs caused by the filing of at least 16 ethics complaints against her. Within days of the announcement, The Anchorage Daily News reported less than $300,000 was budgeted in anticipation of processing the complaints of which all but one was found baseless.

The LAT article was more devastating. Among Republicans:

"I am of the strong opinion that, at present day, she is not ready to be the leading voice of the GOP," said Todd Harris, a party strategist who likened Palin to the hopelessly dated "Miami Vice" -- something once cool that people regard years later with puzzlement and laughter. "It's not even that she hasn't paid her dues. I personally don't think she's ready to be commander in chief."


"I can't tell you one thing she brought to the ticket," said Stuart K. Spencer, who has been advising GOP candidates for more than 40 years. "McCain wanted to shock and surprise people, and he did -- in a bad way."


"People at the grass roots see a charismatic personality who is popular with other people at the grass roots. But their horizon only goes so far as people who think like them," said Mike Murphy. The veteran GOP ad man eviscerated Palin -- a "political train wreck," "an awful choice" for vice president, her resignation an "astonishing self-immolation" -- in a column published Thursday in the New York Daily News.

But, here's the enigma. The recent USA Today/Gallup poll found seven in 10 Republicans said they would likely vote for Palin if she ran for president. It begs the question: Are the people right and the pundits wrong?

"Professional operatives keep their eye on a broader horizon and understand, without independents and swing voters, she can't win," Murphy said. "She's a stone-cold loser in a general election."

Murphy gets really nasty, again quoting the LAT article:

Some blame sexism, though again there is sharp disagreement between Palin's supporters and detractors. Some think the former beauty queen has always been hurt by her looks, whereas others think her appearance has helped her considerably. "If Sarah Palin looked like Golda Meir, would we even be talking about her today?" Murphy asked.

For balance, the LAT offers:

"The fact that she is a woman who's extremely attractive and dynamic and charismatic throws them for a loop," said Bay Buchanan, who strategized for her brother's two insurgent presidential campaigns. "Once they sense the first little sign of weakness, that's when they go in for the kill."

They say a cat has nine lives. Sarah Palin might be the symbolic Cat Woman who may return to the national stage with a vengenace.

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