Skip to comments.Palin is now free to exercise her real power
Posted on 07/09/2009 6:50:44 AM PDT by Al B.
The general who advances without coveting fame and retreats without fearing disgrace, whose only thought is to protect his country and do good service for his sovereign, is the jewel of the kingdom.
- Sun Tzu
Like virtually all political observers, I was at first surprised by Governor Palin's decision to hand the reins of Alaska governance over to Lieutenant Governor Parnell. On the national stage, it sent the entirety of the political and chattering classes hurtling into the air like a flock of geese flushed by a hunter, flapping wildly and honking their displeasure. Palin's announcement, made by the shore of Lake Lucille far from the centers of national power and culture, knocked Michael Jackson's death and the President's Russian visit out of the headlines for days, and sent network talking heads scurrying for their travel agents to book flights to Anchorage.
On the tube, in print, on talk radio and in the blogosphere, we were treated to an endless parade of pundits offering opinions. The same people who have been telling us since last fall that "Palin is finished, she has no future in national politics" were now saying "Okay, now she is really finished -- I mean it this time!" Political consultants who spent the last days of the 2008 political campaign telling us that the governorship of Alaska was an insignificant job not suitable to prepare a person for the office of Vice President, and who undoubtedly giggled behind their hands when then-Senator Obama referred to Palin as "The Mayor of Wasilly," suddenly were insisting that she was abandoning a critical post.
Alaskan critics -- in the press, local politics, and the blogosphere -- who had worked tirelessly to cripple even routine functions of the Palin Administration were suddenly tsk-tsking with concern and disappointment that Palin had "let them down." In most cases, notably among the Alaskan progressive blogosphere, the "disappointment" carried a heavy undertone of schadenfreude and self-congratulation. The national press went straight back to the same old Alaskan figures it has always relied on as foils to Palin -- French, Kerttula, Ramras, Gara, Hawker, Persily -- presenting their opinions as representative of ordinary Alaskans.
Speculation raged about her real motivations. In a notable nadir for cable news, Rick Sanchez of CNN opined that she must be pregnant again. Nearly everyone in the Beltway projected their own motivations onto her; politicos framed the debate in terms of her political future, consultants framed it in terms of book deals and paid speaking engagements, TV hosts framed it in terms of Palin herself joining their ranks. Others, encouraged by some particularly vile rumors created on the left side of the blogosphere, insisted that there simply HAD to be a huge scandal about to hit. After all, everyone knows that you only release news on a Friday to bury it! In the meantime, this "buried" news of her resignation was burning up every news source in the country.
More importantly, the news was burning up the venue in which Palin's core of supporters and advocates resides -- the conservative blogs. And it was the subject of endless discussion in the places where her national constituency gather and live...at backyard Fourth of July barbeques, in the bleachers at Little League baseball games, at small-town fireworks displays, in the kitchens and around the dining tables of family gatherings over the holiday weekend. These are people who don't obsessively follow politics, but are beginning to awaken with a deep sense of disgust for the condition of our national political discourse...and an equally deep sense of disgust for the politicians of both parties that have brought us here, and for the media that enabled them. To these folks, who often refer to Palin as "Our Sarah," each attack by the Beltway class simply slaps another layer of concrete on their support for her.
Along with most of those Palin supporters, I didn't need to speculate about some hidden Machiavellian reason for her resignation. Unlike the national punditocracy, I'd actually been following what Governor Palin had been doing in Alaska since her return from the campaign. And after overcoming the initial surprise and actually listening to her speech, I understood and agreed with her.
In our jaded and cynical times, we expect politicians to speak in the language of vagueness and spin, making it necessary to sift through endless verbal dross to find nuggets of truth. But Palin speaks plainly, and spoke clearly about her reasons in her Friday announcement, reasons both personal and political. They included facts that are beyond dispute - her children have been the subject of the most savage attacks in the history of modern politics. She's been subjected to a barrage of frivolous legal complaints that placed her family in deep debt and bogged down the mechanisms of state government. This has been accomplished with the cooperation of a complicit press that gave a pulpit to every one of her enemies, while denying her the opportunity to present her own defense.
If Palin were truly the power-hungry, narcissistic backwoods grifter that her opponents eagerly attempt to portray her as, she would have stayed in office and enjoyed the title and the perks. (Such perks that remain - after all, she got rid of the state jet, the Governor's chef, turned in the state SUV in order to drive her own Jetta, and slashed her expenses to a small fraction of her predecessors'.) She could have coasted along as a do-nothing Governor - making no waves, introducing no controversial legislation, keeping the legislature happy by obtaining as much vote-buying pork for them as possible, and acceding to the wishes of their corporate and union campaign donors. But Palin is not the type to be a do-nothing Governor, she has a vision for Alaska - a vision that includes a major role as a source of energy for the nation, a strategic role in national defense, and local destiny in the hands of the people, not far away in Washington.
But Palin can no longer achieve that vision as Alaska's chief executive. I've watched her try heroically since her return from the campaign trail. As she gave only a handful of interviews to the national press, Alaskan critics accused her of seeking the spotlight. As she practically glued herself to Alaska, leaving only for a few short trips, she was excoriated for "abandoning the state." Her admirable work in obtaining charitable assistance for economically suffering Western Alaska villages, and in facilitating employment for their residents, was thrown back in her face by critics who insisted that federal handouts were the only way to really help. And the drumbeat of frivolous complaints continued in the background, eating up the time and resources of her staff and the financial resources of the state - while legislators actually complained in the press that she no longer brought them bagels.
The only choice left to her, if she truly wanted to see her vision for Alaska carried forward, was to pass the ball to a teammate. To continue the work she's started, work that will continue past the end of her term in 2010, she had to put that teammate in a better position to win the 2010 gubernatorial election. By passing to Parnell now, and giving him time to establish himself as a leader with the people of Alaska, she greatly improved his chances.
Palin's power now lies in her role as a spokeswoman, an advocate, a symbol. Like it or not, she is now the most famous Alaskan ever to have lived - a situation likely to continue through our lifetimes. She has never failed to advocate for Alaska and its future, and I'm certain that she will continue to do so in whatever role she plays on the national stage.
And what of that national role? There is a deep fracture in the Republican Party; this is a situation that anyone can see. Palin didn't cause it, but she has come to symbolize it...because she is loved by the grassroots of the party, and that same grassroots has come to despise the party leadership. While professional GOP politicians in Washington engage in games of incumbency, triangulation, and vote-buying, conservatives across the country have never given up searching for another Reagan - a conservative politician who can imbue optimism, carry forward a message of pride in our country, strong national defense, and fiscal conservatism - thus reuniting the traditional factions of the party. Many already believe that Palin is that person, and will accept no substitute.
Sarah Palin already has the power to destroy the GOP, simply by taking her constituency off the field with her. That's why I've always viewed the attacks on her by other GOP politicos to be colossally stupid - especially given the fact that she strictly obeys Reagan's Eleventh Commandment and never herself criticizes another national Republican figure. But her power base also gives her the ability to remake the party, and apparently this is the role she has chosen. By using the financial resources, volunteers, and bully pulpit that she can command, she can shape the candidates and the message for the conservative movement. And this is a role in which national Democrats should fear her, not some purely speculative 2012 or 2016 presidential run.
It's going to be fascinating watching her on the battlefield, free of the constraints of both Alaskan state politics and the incompetent McCain campaign. I can't wait.
Thank you for posting that. I loved reading it...
should it be Sarah Crockett or Davey Palin....
Could these wise words describe, Obama, Pelosi, Huck, and Mitt?
This is how I see it as well. I have had a few muckity mucks bad mouth her intelligence and it really t’s me off.
Smart enough to gt the VP nomination, from a man who found himself carrying her luggage.
They resent her because she is the real American deal. Tough noogies.
A very large steam roller of everyday Americans is slowly moving up the road.
Ignore the naysayers, the Lady is a winner.
Mikey the RINO Steele will get the first buzz
Yesterday, I received an official invitation from the RNC to become a Lifetime Member. Well, like I’ve done with about 4 other RNC fundraising letters, I annotated it that all my donations are going to SarahPAC and told them the amount contributed to date. The mailman just picked it up.
I’m hoping that SarahPAC’s numbers (they’ll be released right after Palin steps down) are significantly more than either Romney or Huckabee combined, from a much larger donor base, to really send shockwaves through the RNC. It would be great to see the MSM melting down over the fact that she raised so much money.
I hope so!! Thanks for the ping.
That would be me. In fact, I'm changing my tagline!
Great article. BTTT.
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