Saturday, July 4, 2009

Palin: The Human(e) Perspective

The rather shocking announcement by Sarah Palin that she would resign as Governor of Alaska---an announcement made with very few, if any, substantive reasons given---is a curious one to be sure. Or is it? For just one moment, try putting yourself into the running shoes of Palin and imagine how impossibly difficult it must be to be a mother of a special needs baby, mother of an unwed and unattached teenage mother, a wife, a governor, a national punching bag for those who despise her, and a cultish hero to those who admire seemingly charged with saving the entire Republican party from extinction. That's a rather large burden to place upon anyone's shoulders, but certainly a heavy one to place upon someone so inexperienced on the national stage.

Whatever else Sarah Palin may be, and she's plenty else, she's still a mother and a wife first and foremost of all. It's not entirely unreasonable to give her the benefit of the doubt and assume she's making this decision not with any long-term political aims in mind, but more so with an eye toward her family and its quality of life. One has to wonder if her recent tussle with David Letterman over an edgy joke about her underage daughter having sex gave Palin pause as she looked ahead at her political future. Yes, Palin could have handled that incident (and others) with a bit more aplomb than she did, but looked at strictly through the lens of a mother, the joke is a nauseating jab that is not dissimilar from others that have and will continue to be made about the Palin family. Palin would prefer to blame the liberal media for this ceaseless assault...but don't blame the player, blame the game. What mother wants that game for their children?

It's been less than a year since Palin was thrust into the national consciousness, and in that time her infamy has continued to grow, not abate. My own gut feeling is that she's decided it's simply not worth it. Constant criticism, constant ethics complaints---valid and otherwise, constant all takes a toll. Some believe there's a larger scandal brewing. Maybe. Some believe she's doing this to raise her profile in advance of a run for the 2012 nomination. Again, maybe. But when you look at the totality of the situation, I believe the simplest explanation is the best...and it's one offered up in her rather silly point guard analogy from her exit announcement. It's time to pass. She's not the star, no matter how many people tried to make her into one. She's Michael Finley...not Michael Jordan. Of course, the Republican's don't have anything even close to resembling Michael Jordan (in more ways than one), so it's almost understandable why the party would mistakenly put her forward in the absence of something more legitimate. Finley was a "star" for the lowly Dallas Mavericks at one point, too.

This is not to say that Palin will shrink from the national scene. There's likely some endgame that will keep her in front of the cameras...perhaps a television show not dissimilar to what Mike Huckabee has over on Fox...a show which is probably helping his own bid for the 2012 nomination. We don't yet know. But, for the moment, I'm giving her the benefit of the doubt and assuming this is nothing more than a selfish decision...about family, not ambition. If so, it's the only sound judgment I've seen her make since being named McCain's running mate.

I expect to be proven wrong.


Anonymous Brian said...

Just one point: in regard to the Letterman thing, you buy her argument that the joke was about her "underage daughter" and not the one who has actually been knocked up? To me it was pretty obvious (if not from the joke itself then from his reactions after) that Letterman in no way intended the joke to be about her 14 year old, and that she was deliberately misunderstanding, to a slanderous degree, the punchline.

July 7, 2009 at 10:49 AM  
Blogger Kraig Smith said...

I don't buy her argument that that's what Letterman meant, but I think it's possible it's what SHE actually believes. Accusing her of deliberately misunderstanding something gives her far too much intellectual credit. It's more likely she just didn't get so many other things she also doesn't get. I'd say she's justified in being pissed at the joke, but I'd also say her reponse to the situation is just further evidence of her incompetence. Even when she's right, she's wrong!

July 7, 2009 at 10:56 AM  

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