Sunday, July 05, 2009

Revisiting the Palin Resignation

This has been a busy weekend. I had company from Austin so, although I heard about Sarah Palin's resignation as governor, I didn't actually watch the entire nineteen-minute video from her press conference until today.

The edited text of her speech appears on her Facebook page here. The quotes below, including caps for emphasis, are from that text.

Palin took a meandering path to her resignation; she spent nearly eight minutes talking about Alaska's history and touting her accomplishments in office. She only broke from her relentless good cheer twice: First, to take a jab at the media's "slings and arrows" and then to snipe at the "obscene national debt that we're forcing our children to pay because of today's big government spending."

At 7:50, she finally got down to business, complaining about the "political operatives" who descended on Alaska last August, trying to dig up dirt on her. She then offered a laundry list of the reasons for her resignation with very little specific information about what she will do afterward:

1) The Financial Burden: The fifteen "frivolous" ethics complaints against her have cost the State of Alaska $2 million. And "Todd and I are looking at more than half a million dollars in legal bills in order to set the record straight."

2) The Wasted Time: "And one chooses how to react to circumstances. You can choose to engage in things that tear down, or build up. I choose to work very hard on a path for fruitfulness and productivity. I choose NOT to tear down and waste precious time . . . Productive, fulfilled people determine where to put their efforts, choosing to wisely utilize precious time... to BUILD UP . . ."

3) The Enormous Need: "And there is such a need to BUILD up and FIGHT for our state and our country. I choose to FIGHT for it! . . . I'll work for and campaign for those PROUD to be American, and those who are INSPIRED by our ideals and won't deride them."

At that point she announced that, not only would she not be running for reelection, she would be resigning her job as governor--a year early.

This was where she wandered into territory so obviously self-serving that I wondered if the Washington Post cut a piece of the speech from their video here on the press conference. The part in italics is missing from the WP's coverage:
And so as I thought about this announcement that I wouldn't run for re-election and what it means for Alaska, I thought about how much fun some governors have as lame ducks... travel around the state, to the Lower 48 (maybe), overseas on international trade - as so many politicians do. And then I thought - that's what's wrong - many just accept that lame duck status, hit the road, draw the paycheck, and "milk it". I'm not putting Alaska through that - I promised efficiencies and effectiveness! ? That's not how I am wired. I am not wired to operate under the same old "politics as usual." I promised that four years ago - and I meant it.
The last seven minutes of the speech were sort of anti-climatic except for the final sentence: "In the words of General MacArthur said (sic), 'We are not retreating. We are advancing in another direction'."

The press is having a field day trying to figure out what is going on, posting all kinds of reason for her resignation:

1) The most obvious one is that she is prepping for a run at the White House in 2012. I don't buy it as her only reason. Her resume is already thin. Her title as governor of Alaska is her sole credential. Leaving her first term early does not enhance her future prospects as Commander-in-Chief. If you thought SNL made hay with "I can see Russia from my house," just wait for Tina Fey to get her hands on this.

2) The second most advanced reason is that there is a big political scandal about to break that would embarrass her. The FBI has already come out to say there is no federal investigation at this time. Of course, that still leaves a window cracked. Just because the FBI has not opened an investigation, it doesn't mean there aren't any problems on the horizon. A preemptive resignation could help to defuse any resulting media uproar. But I don't know that I believe this one.

3) Rick Sanchez from CNN speculated that she might be pregnant again. This might actually be supported by Palin's own tweet on Twitter: "We'll soon attach info on decision to not seek re-election... this is in Alaska's best interest, my family's happy... it is good, stay tuned."

Do we accept her at her word that she is just fed up with "the politics of personal destruction" and not seeking "a title before one's name"? Her Fourth of July message on Facebook would seem to contradict that notion:
I am now looking ahead and how we can advance this country together with our values of less government intervention, greater energy independence, stronger national security, and much-needed fiscal restraint. I hope you will join me. Now is the time to rebuild and help our nation achieve greatness!
Okay, this is my blog so here's my opinion.

Back on May 18, Publishers Lunch had this tidbit:
Sarah Palin's memoir, "a wonderful, refreshing chance for me to get to tell my story, that a lot of people have asked about, unfiltered," on both her personal and political life, from "her childhood in Alaska and last year's campaign to her political beliefs and her family life, including the pregnancy of her teenage daughter," to Brian Murray at Harper (which will co-publish with Zondervan), with Adam Bellow editing, on an exclusive submission (said to be "first and fervent in pursuing this project" by Barnett), for publication in Spring 2010, by Robert Barnett at Williams & Connolly (world).
I remember thinking when I read the announcement, "Damn, that's a short turnaround for a large publisher."

Since the resignation, there's been speculation about the future of that memoir. Today the Wall Street Journal had a blog by my favorite columnist, Jeffrey A. Trachtenberg, in which he responded to that question:
The answer, say those in the book publishing community, will depend on whether she’s still active in Republican politics. If she is generating headlines while promoting other Republican candidates, chances are that her book will still be of significant interest. Otherwise, the venture could be riskier.
I have no doubt that Sarah's eyes are still fixed on the presidency. However, she has several HUGE problems:

1) Alaska is her base of operations, but the state is no place from which to mount a national campaign for President. She can't just take an afternoon off from her job to campaign in the lower forty-eight states the way other governors have done. She actually acknowledges that in her speech. It's a big deal to fly anywhere from Alaska. She's already had a taste of that during McCain's campaign.

So running for re-election is out. I think she was being absolutely honest when she said yesterday on Facebook: "And once I decided not to run for re-election, my decision was that much easier – I’ve never been one to waste time or resources."

2) I think the financial burden she talked about is real. This is a blue-collar husband and wife with no family wealth to back them. I don't know what kind of an advance she got for her book, but I'm guessing the money is needed. I'm further guessing she probably has a deadline somewhere around Thanksgiving. Even with Adam Bellow, conservative editor and author helping, she's got some tough days ahead.

3) This morning, Thomas M. DeFrank, the Washington Bureau Chief for the New York Daily News talked of an interview he did with Palin last November: "I can report the Alaska governor was engaging, authentic, gracious and appealing . . . Except for energy, however, her grasp of issues was woefully superficial. She was easily the most inarticulate veep candidate I've interviewed while covering 11 presidential campaigns."

That's a serious problem. Before she can be ready for prime time, the girl will need some heavy-duty tutoring in the issues. You might scoff that such a thing is possible, but I live in the state where George W. Bush went from governor to president--something I did not believe possible when he announced his run for the presidency. And let's face it. Both of them are charming, folksy and about as intellectual as my cat Bob.

4) There have been endless comparisons between Palin and Nixon. Both gave speeches in which they withdrew from public life, blaming the media. Today's New York Times pointed out what Nixon did after his resignation: ". . . Nixon used the next six years to quietly refurbish his image, building ties with the conservative wing that was becoming ascendant in the Republican Party, ingratiating himself with Republican senators and candidates for governor by campaigning on their behalf, and becoming better schooled in issues."

Palin is hugely popular in conservative circles. That makes her a big draw for Republican candidates at a time when Republicans need all the help they can get. She can campaign around the country, keep her name out there and build some political capital among legislators, whom she will later be able to call upon to support her.

All four of the above have one common theme: TIME. Palin needs time to finish her book, to study the issues, to travel around the country and to begin to build her own political network. That's the real reason she's resigning.

And call me cynical. I'm betting she and Todd are knocking boots every spare minute they have together. Because a pregnancy will help erase that black stain her resignation put on her record. I expect the announcement of a pregnancy to be forthcoming, and I suspect the reasons she hasn't announced it yet are (1) She may not yet be pregnant, and/or (2) Why give up an opportunity to hit the news waves twice--once by announcing your resignation and again by announcing your pregnancy?

Stay tuned . . .

Here's the first part of that press conference from YouTube and here's the second part of the press conference.


redvel said...

The reasons of Palin resignation are controversial. What could be the real cause of her decision? Vote on the most possible one -

Aimless Writer said...

Every time Palin opens her mouth I wonder how one person can use so many words to say so little.
I'm curious to see what's the real reason she's quitting.

Cathy in AK said...

If she was concerned about being a lame duck governor who gallivants about then she could have kept her decision not to run again to herself and still do her job until time to declare. No one had a clue about her decision not run for a second term (tho that's no surprise considering the 2012 push she's been getting) let alone quit in the middle of her term. Not the lt. gov or the reps in the US House and Senate. No one.

Yeah, there's something fishy going on here and it ain't the salmon.

Sandra Ferguson said...

Insightful and blessed accurate. Maybe you should be writing for the NEWS circuit. You seem more on-target than most of the fluff I heard on the national media bits. I, honestly, don't know whether the woman is smart enough to handle the job of president or not. She was woefully unprepared the first go round -- that was for certain.

I'll take issue with Georgie . . . the man is intelligent, check his college stats (yes, I know he was an ivy leaguer because of daddy) but that doesn't take away from what he accomplished. What is was terrible at -- public speaking. He sounded slow and dim-witted every time he opened his mouth. I could never figure out why with all the money spent, they didn't bring in professional speakers and train him how to handle the media. Now, maybe he didn't want it. If that's the case, he's not as common-sense smart as I believed. I'm not discussing his political idealogy, only that the man has intelligence, he just never communicated that fact.

Personally, I can't imagine wanting the job of president. It makes the holder old before their time and guaranteed, at least half of the country will hate the pres at any given moment.

Me? I'd like to be a weather person. I could be wrong 50% of the time and still keep my job. How sweet is that?

Happy writing!