By Alan Caruba
Sarah Palin’s stunning announcement on July 3rd that she would step down as Governor of Alaska at the end of the month left all the political pundits gazing into their crystal ball desperately looking for an explanation.
The most obvious answer was the one she offered. She had done as much as she thought she could do for Alaska and now she wanted some time with her family. We are conditioned to never believe what politicians tell us and, in most cases, that is the wisest thing, but Palin breaks the mold in many ways.
The first thing everyone wants to know is whether she will run for President? She is enormously popular with many rank and file Republicans, but probably not with the power brokers within the party. She is, unlike John McCain, a true “maverick” because she actually believes in the major tenets of conservatism, limited government, strong defense, and fiscal prudence.
The GOP has long since strayed from those Reaganesque values and there is no better recent example than George W. Bush. For the life of me, I still have no idea how McCain got the nomination and things got really bizarre when he plucked Palin out of the wilds of Alaska and near total obscurity.
She was, after all, a woman. The last time a presidential candidate selected a woman as his running mate was Walter Mondale who chose Geraldine Ferraro and that turned out to be a Democrat disaster. What was McCain thinking? Of course, that’s what Republicans keep asking no matter what McCain says or does as he seems like some kind of stealth Democrat most of the time.
Palin was an instant hit; a sudden political superstar and, at the same time, also a candidate in over her head when it came to a national election. The press quickly lampooned her as a Moose-shooting rube from the only state less far away from the lower 48 than Hawaii. Even so, she was dynamite on the stump. And she still draws large, enthusiastic crowds to the consternation of Democrats and some Republicans.
Palin suffered from one of the worst political campaigns in recent memory. McCain had no central message, few new ideas, and poor delivery whether delivering a speech or in an interview. The man was painful to watch. He looked old. He sounded old. The contrast with his young running mate made some think the wrong person was on the top of the ticket running for president.
Palin was, by virtually any political standard, unique. Plain-speaking, possessed of a photogenic family and with personal, religious, and political values that rang true with a lot of people who sensed she was the real deal as a conservative.
She also did not appear to have much depth when it came to the major issues challenging the nation. She tended to speak in clichés and still does.
She brought out the very worst in Democrats/liberals. I cannot recall when a candidate was so viciously attacked. The mainstream media parachuted reporters into Wasilla, Alaska in a desperate effort to find anything bad to say about her. On Saturday Night Live, a devastating satirical portrait by Tina Fey turned her into a joke; someone who “could see Russia” from her front porch.
If the GOP could bottle whatever it is she does that drives liberals like New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd insane, we could begin to win some elections again. Citing another hit job, a profile by Todd Purdum in Vanity Fair, Dowd notes that some regard Palin as suffering from narcissistic personality disorder, but clearly has not noticed any evidence of this in President Obama.
So why did she quit and what will she do now? I think the girl from Wasilla wants some time with her family while she and they are still young. She has five children and one grandchild. They are Track, Trig, Bristol, Willow and Piper. Unwed, teenage Bristol is the mother of Tripp. This is definitely not the Brady Bunch.
She probably also needs time away from the horrid attacks. I don’t think most of us give much thought to the toll such savagery takes on a public figure. She surely has done nothing to deserve it other than to become a rising star among a fairly dull Republican roster of potential presidential candidates.
Larry Kudlow, the columnist and radio host with a brilliant take on economic issues, thinks she is the new head of the Republican Party and I think he may be right.
And, finally, I keep thinking she would really like to take off the gloves and tear into Barack Hussein Obama. The Alaskan Governor’s office is not the right place to do that. Combine that will a quarter million in legal expenses to defend against spurious charges, and the reason for leaving early seems fairly obvious.
She needs a bigger platform and her new freedom gives her one.
The President becomes more vulnerable to serious criticism with every passing day and, so far, Republicans have been too quiet. Palin is likely to do politically to Obama what she has already done to a Moose.