Making the incoherent, coherent
syndicated column in the July 7 New York Post
, Richard Lowry does something that no one else has done: he makes sense
of Sarah Palin’s resignation. Which doesn’t mean that he is being is complimentary to her. The piece is not only insightful, it is well-written.
Sarah Palin: Up and Out
- end of initial entry -
She didn’t do it for Alaska.
By Richard Lowry
In all the speculation about why Sarah Palin quit the Alaska governorship, no one—right or left, supportive or critical, rational or conspiratorial—has credited her stated reason that she had to do it for the sake of Alaska.
It’s just too absurd. Palin mentioned Alaska or Alaskans 34 times in a 17-minute statement that must be a new record in the history of protesting too much. Palin says she hates politics as usual, and true to her word, on July 3 she staged a spectacle in politics as unusual. But she still proved adept at the traditional political art of extreme disingenuousness.
She didn’t want to put Alaska through the hell of a lame-duck governor who would “hit the road, draw the paycheck, and ‘milk it.’” Never mind that if she feared becoming a lame duck, she could run for re-election—especially if “serving [Alaska’s] people is the greatest honor I could imagine.” Or that she could endeavor to work her hardest at her job until her last day in office. That may sound outlandish, but it’s been done before.
Sarah Palin’s words served only to throw a tissue of rationalization over a calculated choice made in her personal self-interest. In all likelihood, Palin is going to embrace her political celebrity with gusto, freed from the burdens of the geographic isolation of the Alaska governorship and its (relative to national politics) petty distractions. Her decision wasn’t particularly public-spirited, but neither was it crazy. She has seen her opportunities, and she’s going to take them.
Juneau had become to Palin almost what the Tower was to Anne Boleyn. It pinned her down so opponents could ding her with picayune complaints under the state’s ethics law, forcing her to pile up $500,000 worth of legal bills. She had to deal with restive state lawmakers and an increasingly skeptical Alaskan public. Who needs that? After her frenzied turn as a vice-presidential candidate, returning to the Alaska governorship must have felt like descending all the way back to mayor of Wasilla.
Now she can travel the country headlining Republican events and campaigning for candidates, unencumbered by other professional responsibilities. Wherever she goes, she’ll draw crowds and attention. If she can command $60,000 per paid speech, as an aide speculates, she’ll match her annual gubernatorial salary with a mere two gigs. That’s welcome income for a woman who isn’t rich and who has five children and one grandkid. This is why she quit the Alaska governorship while inveighing against quitting—her personal odyssey as a national figure is only beginning.
Whether this makes sense politically is another question. It’s fashionable to opine that the culture wars are over. Palin proves that they still burn hot. Her very existence is a cultural provocation. Before she had been on the national stage five minutes—before the Katie Couric interview, before the Tina Fey parodies—she had earned the eternal enmity of the liberal elite for the affront of who she was: a working-class, pro-life woman with decidedly red-state mores. Conservatives loved her for the same reason. She had a true magnetism. The more she repelled one side, the more she attracted the other.
This push-pull dynamic will hold Palin up for a long time, but it can’t propel her into the presidency. For that she needs substance, not the hackneyed sound bites she clings to for dear life. For that she needs a positive program, not just the hatred of conservatism’s favorite enemies. On this score, her premature exit from the governorship makes her task all the more arduous. As the soon-to-be-former half-term governor of a small state, she makes that other prominent populist social conservative, former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, look formidably credentialed in comparison.
Whether she becomes more seasoned and more policy-oriented is the key to whether she cashes in her charisma for something more meaningful. As for Alaska, it will be a beloved afterthought.
[end of Lowry article]
Terry Morris writes:
Richard Lowry wrote:
“As the soon-to-be-former half-term governor of a small state, she makes that other prominent populist social conservative, former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, look formidably credentialed in comparison.”
What does that mean? Palin pales in comparison to Huckabee in every way that I can think of other than that she’s a lot prettier than he is. But maybe the presidency really is just a sort of beauty contest, come to think of it.
But I did like Lowry’s explanation of the premature resignation—she’s human; she’s not in politics for altruistic reasons. What a novel thought!
Prakhar G. writes:
Great article, it really is. Palin is human and this explains her actions as a human. However, there is one point where I have to disagree:
“This push-pull dynamic will hold Palin up for a long time, but it can’t propel her into the presidency. For that she needs substance, not the hackneyed sound bites she clings to for dear life.”
I think the author places too much confidence in the public here. Palin’s current “push-pull” appeal fits in well with the historical conservative groups: lower-income whites, farmers, southerners, etc. Her platform may not be substantial (or even existent) by our standards but it would be foolish to think that the average American cares to (or is even capable of) paying that much attention. A program of anti-liberalism (in the superficial sense) could be enough to turn out a large portion of the aforementioned group. She may even be able to crack the black community (though obviously not against BO).
Real “substance” could be a hindrance here as it would splinter her core support group.
James N. writes:
It WAS a very well-written piece, and it echoes what a lot of “responsible” conservatives have been saying, basically, that she has the charisma but needs to study policy (with them) because she isn’t wonky enough.
Here’s an off the cuff reaction: Guys: we just got our behinds kicked by a guy with NO executive experience, NO policy background, NO record of writings regarding policy, and NO knowledge of foreign affairs. Why are those deficits, which were no problem at all for Obama, a problem for Palin?
In 1999, after meeting George W. Bush, I posted the negative comment on FR that “He’s our Clinton”. Perhaps Sarah Palin is our Obama.
Obama is a smooth character and showed he could at least “talk the talk.” And you’re ignoring his main talent, his exceptional composure and unruffled quality.
Posted by Lawrence Auster at July 08, 2009 01:58 AM | Send