Monday, July 6, 2009

What's Up with Sarah Palin?

Okay, I wasn't even going to stroll through this neighborhood, but upon further reflection I've decided I can't in good conscience pass it by, either. For me, the whole Palin thing is reminiscent of walking down the street minding your own business and then suddenly realizing someone up ahead of you is moving your direction, exhibiting some pretty bizarre behavior. Happily, you're still far enough away to decide what you should do about it before this person is actually sharing your space. Do you pretend not to notice, even though what's coming at you is uniquely noticeable, even disturbing? Or do you glance over quickly before looking just as quickly away, acknowledging the situation yet attempting to underplay its impact? Perhaps you just decide to meet it head on, looking squarely at the object of concern while trying the best you can to act like what he or she is doing is "normal." Hey, maybe you just give in to your true feelings, turn tail, and run away looking horrified.

As I mentioned, I had just about decided to turn tail and run the other direction on this one, but time and reflection have made me change my strategy to that of meeting it head on. However, I don't think I'm going to be able to convince myself or anyone else that what's going on with the soon-to-be-former governor of Alaska is "normal." Because it's not, and no amount of acting as if it is can make it so.

Part of my discomfort in watching Governor Palin's resignation was the way she framed it. Leaving office 18 months early because you won't be running for re-election is not, as the governor would have us believe, an altruistic deed. Let's face it. Being a "lame duck" is neither a good reason nor an adequate excuse for shirking your responsibilities to the people you serve, and these responsibilities do not end just because your comfort level does. When constituents elect you to office in good faith, fully expecting you to serve out your term, quitting on them is not acceptable. And it's not doing them a favor, either. Palin is clearly doing herself a favor here, yet she glibly assures the citizens of her state that, unlike other lame ducks in other states, she is "not going to put Alaskans through" the apparently horrific ordeal of her lame duck-ness. Oh, the saintliness of it all...

After closing this part of her remarks with one of her signature sports analogies––namely, passing off the ball to her lieutenant governor so the Alaskan team can win––(Gee, I never thought of quitting one's team as an "assist" before), Palin then launches into a lengthy and somewhat manic diatribe detailing the way the press has hounded her. I don't doubt that the press has hounded her, and I even agree wholeheartedly that much or most of it has been completely inexcusable, but the governor's statement devotes considerably more time to talking about media persecution and her feelings/reaction to it than it does to supporting her initial "lame duck explanation" for quitting. Somehow, this leaves me with the distinct impression that being a lame duck may have very little to do with her resignation after all.

Don't get me wrong. I have no idea whatsoever why Palin is actually resigning, but I'd be willing to bet self-interest is involved. Whether she's just heartily sick and tired of political life and everything that goes with it or has just plain had all she can take of the press dogging her and her family's every move (a reasonable assumption), I am convinced that her reasons are anything but altruistic. Of course, Fox network would have us believe that she simply can't wait to begin the task of positioning herself to campaign for president, while MSNBC is blithely inferring that she is trying to dodge some criminal investigation that is pending. (I haven't yet heard CNN's take on it, but I'm sure they have an angle of their own as well.)

The thing is, I don't. Have an angle of my own, I mean. I don't know why Governor Palin is quitting. I don't even care why Governor Palin is quitting. What I do care about is the fact that she is quitting at all. I don't like it. I don't trust it. And I don't respect it. No matter the reason, quitting is quitting, and I am not impressed. 

I was also not impressed with Palin's demeanor, though I did feel some sympathy for her. I couldn't be sure whether she was nervous, unsettled, slightly manic, or a combination of all three...but she was talking too fast, stumbling over her words, and speaking in circles to the extent that I experienced a moment of relief that she wasn't the Vice President of our nation after all. And I don't point this out because she's a woman, either. We see women in political office demonstrating their leadership, ability, and stability every day, but (last week, at least) Sarah Palin wasn't among them. (My support of women in general as political leaders moves me to emphasize here that men have lost credibility––and elections––for similar reasons. Howard Dean, for instance, failed to keep the momentum in his presidential run when he failed keep his cool in a TV appearance.) The President of the United States needs to be able to stay calm under pressure...and not just stay calm, but look and sound calm.

Near the end of her statement, as a means of further justifying her actions, Sarah Palin quoted General MacArthur. "We're not retreating; we're advancing in another direction," were his words. As for me, I prefer the words of Winston Churchill: "Never give in. Never, never, never, never..." Quitting is quitting, and the citizens of our great nation need to know that they can count on elected officials to faithfully execute the job at hand, even when it becomes difficult. The governor is a young woman, with lots of time to accomplish whatever it is she want to accomplish, and 18 months of committed service (no matter how unpleasant it might be) would be a small price to pay for honoring her promise to the citizens who elected her, teaching her children the value of perseverance, and proving to the country that she is a reliable person who makes good on her commitments. 

After this resignation, whatever the reason for it turns out to be, I will not be voting for Sarah Palin under any circumstances, for any office. Period.

And I can't imagine why the Republican Party, of which I am an increasingly dissatisfied member, seems determined to champion her.


em said...

i was really thrown by this too? ploy to focus on running for prez herself in 4 years? not a good way to start if you ask me, but what do i know, i'm JUST a stay at home mom;-) right????? lol thanks for the insight sue!

Carolyn said...

This is why I avoid politics. I prefer watching my ducks swim on the creek...doesn't make me irritated at all :)

KC Mom said...

I've been thinking the same thing...although you described it perfectly with your walk in the neighborhood...that one had me laughing right out loud.
I really think there is a lot more to the story then we are hearing. I hope so anyway because if not, she has surely disappointed me with her reasoning for dropping out now.

anders21 said...

Sarah Palin

Sarah Palin make no sense,
Sarah Palin oh so dense.

Sarah Palin beauty queen,
Sarah Palin dumbest V.P. candidate this country has ever seen.

Sarah Palin all the time,
Michael Jackson looked like a mime.

CNN, MSNBC, FOXNEWS please no more!
Palin and the king of pop over and over and over again... what a bore!

I dedicate this little poem to my mother who I got all of my talent and ability from. Thanks mom. Your the best.

Michaela Stephens said...

I don't like her resignation either, but I can kind of understand where she's coming from.

Imagine for a moment that every single thing you do or say in public is criticized by everybody. Imagine having your supporters criticize you for trying to reach out to your opponents. Imagine your opponents criticizing you for standing with your supporters. Imagine everything you do becoming instant news, from going to the grocery store to where you send your kids to school.

The bizarre focus of attention is enough to drive a person mad. The unending criticism is enough to drive a person into the depths of depression. ("Everybody hates what I'm doing!") It takes someone with either a bulletproof superiority complex or someone with deep stores of emotional resiliency to get through something like that.

Yes, I don't agree with her quitting, but I can't condemn her for it, because I suppose that if I had been in her shoes, I would probably would have quit a long time ago.

Reading the biography of Ezra Taft Benson and about his stint as Secretary of Agriculture really opened my eyes to what public figures go through, especially ones that have strong moral values. Even Ezra Taft Benson (as sec of ag) asked the president periodically if he should resign when the heat was on. The president refused to let him go.

Sue said...

I don't condemn her either, Michaela, not as a person. As I said, I'm sure she's been hounded to death.

The thing is, I'm just not going to be voting for her, under any circumstances, because (sad, but true) that kind of scrutiny is part and parcel of politics, these days. Seems to me like being able to stand up to it has become part of the job description.

I do wish her well. Just not as a politician.

Sue said...

And your talent is considerable, Todd.


karen said...

As usual, I agree with you. I sympathize with her "plight" but she should have stuck to her obligation to the people of
Alaska. Politics is not for the faint hearted.

Jill said...

I hear you. I don't get it either, and I have wondered many of the same questions you have.

Fiauna said...

I just don't get it. I wish she'd just been upfront and explained clearly and with conviction why she is really stepping down. Ugh! Politics!

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