Sarah Palin: The Vacuousness Has Returned (And with a vengeance)

There is a key to figuring out Sarah Palin, and it has more to do with her over-weening ambition than anything else. From her first run for mayor of  Wasilla to her ill-fated acceptance of John McCain’s indecent proposal, Palin is driven by ambition that is as impervious to reason as it is to pain. The basketball tournament in which she played with a fractured limb may have been more  instructive of her modus vivendi than at first thought.

Sarah Palin in Tina Fey form on eve of Independence Day 2009. A not totally surprising way to exit what had become the small stage of Alaskan politics. Photo: AP - The Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman-Robert Deberry

Sarah Palin in Tina Fey form on eve of Independence Day 2009. A not totally surprising way to exit what had become the small stage of Alaskan politics. Photo: AP - The Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman-Robert Deberry

Sarah’s ambition is like a giant stellar body that warps everything around it,  her judgment included. It warped her judgment when John McCain, as the Grand Sugar Daddy of election 2008 popped the question, and she breathlessly said yes. It is again warping her judgment as she most probably contemplates running for president under her own power in 2012 after resigning the governorship of Alaska, 16 months before the end of her term. There is a simple explanation to all of this.

After a little taste of national attention under John McCain, no local politics or politicos could deliver what the Grand Poobah could have; i.e Washington on a necklace.  Given the seductive possibilities of life on the political “A list” and the possibility of running for President in 2012 or 2016, the prospect of returning to her old moose-hunting grounds must have been as appealing as doing dishes after a night at the opera. And to add insult to injury, the public scrutiny and media grind had never let up after her return to Juneau, Alaska.

Once Upon A Night In Phoenix: One has to go back to the night of November 4, 2008 to understand how traumatized Palin was,  not only by the loss of her chance to be Vice President, but also by the decision of John McCain and staffers to not buck tradition and let her speak after his Phoenix concession speech. The visual cues were on naked display. Palin perked up and fought back  visible tears when John McCain thanked her for contributions to the campaign and graciously suggested that she had a future in Republican Party and national politics.  Its not much of a stretch to think that Palin would have wanted to put her own spin on the debacle … with a most probable eye towards the future.  Its equally not much of a stretch to think that this was probably the most difficult day of  her run with John McCain because everything came together in that ten minute concession speech: The doubts about her and the rumors and innuendos that she had cost the old man his presidential bid.

John McCain looked frail, tired and touchingly human as he hobbled over to the edge of the stage to shake the hands with staffers and supporters. Sarah Palin was never the same after that November night. The decision to be “her own man” and run for President  in 2012 could have very well been made that night. And after the adrenaline  of national politics,  going back to Juneau, AK must have felt anticlimactic.  Could she sustain the governance of the state beyond the act of going through the motions?

The Day Before Independence Day: So from that long perspective, the resignation from the Alaska governorship, came as no surprise. Ditto the announcement she made on July 3rd  from her home in Wasilla. It was typical Palin in its rambling, self-serving and disingenuous tone.  But given the substance of what she was doing, what could she have possibly said?  “After the jolt of national politics, running Alaska with detractors snipping at my heels sucks?  Fat chance.  A Republican operative aptly described her speech as incoherent. The political assessment behind that description was spot on.

The reasons Palin gave for summarily resigning from the governorship sound disingenuous to all except the most Kool Aid-addled supporters. The delivery was vintage Palin as channeled by Saturday Night Live’s Tina Fey. And on a subconscious level Palin’s red top reminded viewers of another one of her disastrous showings; the interview with Katie Couric in which her folksy quips, not to mention befuddled pauses (in which the perceptive could hear her mental flywheels spinning) did little to carry the day.

Palin rambled for a full 12 minutes before making the first statement about why she was had called the press conference in the first place: her decision to resign from the governorship by July 26 after ostensibly after deciding not to run for re-election in 2010.

Getting to the essence of her speech involved something akin to using a juicer on an orange.  Here is what we got:

1. I am resigning because it is the right thing for Alaska …. and my family.

2. I am resigning because the cost of defending attacks from my detractors is draining state resources. The press has been digging dirt on me since I was nominated to run with John McCain on August 29, 2008.

3.  I am resigning because governing as a lame duck governor is neither fun nor effective. It is “apathetic”.

4. I am resigning so I can be free to effect change from the outside.

Final Word: In the depressurized milieu following the presidential  election of 2008, Palin’s critics are coming from all quarters. The more note-worthy digs are coming from Republican operatives who realize what a polarizing force she could be  going into the 2012 election.  Most Democrats are chortling at the possible Nader effect Palin may bring to bear on the electorate. Meanwhile Saturday Night’s Tina Fey has just garnered more job security than she ever dream of.

copyright© 2009

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