The Star That Burns Brightest Burns Fastest

7-4-2009 12-16-49 PMOn this 4th of July holiday, amidst all of the celebrations, let’s take a moment to note the passing of Sarah Palin’s political career; it was just 17 years old and in the last year briefly captured our attention and a few hearts along the way. The cause of death is still unknown, but it’s clear the wound was self-inflicted.

Forget all of the “political analysis” that’s filling the internet about what a smart move this was because it’s bullshit.  Yesterday, Sarah Palin drove a stake right through the heart of her presidential prospects.  She might become a talk show host, she might go on the radio, become an advocate for causes and a fixture on the speaking circuit.  She will not, however, ever be a credible candidate for president again.

Sarah Palin did not cost John McCain the election, but she made the trainwreck worse.  Outside of the hardcore movement conservatives who respond to her emotionally, the rest of us saw a women ill-prepared for the national stage, uneducated and unsophisticated about the critical issues of the day,  and emotionally and intellectually immature.  Questions about her judgment made questions about John McCain’s judgment a legitimate campaign issue.  Throughout the fall, her standing among the American electorate dropped faster that an SUV gas gauge on the highway as each exposure made it clear that the woman who would be a heartbeat away from the Oval Office was a scary prospect indeed.

Ms. Palin might have had a chance to run in 2012 if she had gone back to Juneau, governed effectively, spent as much time as possible on the lower 48 fundraising/political circuit (admittedly no small feat for a sitting Alaska governor) and brought in a faculty to provide a three-year crash course on the policy issues and political skills (message discipline, interview skills, etc.) that she tried to skip over last year.  That way, when the spotlight came back around, the public would see a Sarah Palin ready to govern the most complex country in the world during one of the most complex periods in world history and she would have built up a record and political organization to support a campaign.

A very tough, narrow road to walk, admittedly, but the only one I can think of that would have possibly undone the damage she did among the 75 percent of us who found her varying degrees of scary.  If she could persuade a third of  us that she was qualified, she could have been a contender.

Instead, she has done the one thing I can think of to effectively cement her image as a capricious and emotionally immature personality; she’s elected to simply walk away from her job as governor with 18 months to go.  And to do so because it’s become a burden.

Ms. Palin may or may not chose to try to run for president in 2012 or thereafter.  If she does, however, her entire campaign will be defined by a single question that she can expect to hear over and over and which – for her – there is now no correct answer:

“Governor Palin, you abandoned your responsibilities as the governor of one of our nation’s smallest (other than geography) and least complex states; what makes you qualified to serve as President of the United States?”

RIP.

– Austin

Election Night Prep: Senate Curtain Raiser

While the Minnesota Senate race has generated a fair amount of visibility, Senate races overall have been mostly ignored across the nation as the presidential contest has sucked up nearly all of the oxygen in the room.  That’s too bad, because there’s an interesting macro story there as well as a number of fascinating local races worth watching.  As you settle in for a long evening of election viewing next Tuesday, here’s a quick snapshot of what to look for in these races and an overall story that will unfold all across the nation and may make it worth waiting up to see what happens in far-flung Alaska.

The Big Picture: The Democrats currently have a 51-49 advantage in the Senate.  That majority is about as thin as possible because it is achieved through the support of Joe Lieberman, Independent (and McCain supporter) of Connecticut, and Bernie Sanders, Independent of Vermont.

Continue reading “Election Night Prep: Senate Curtain Raiser”

“…A Conservative Feminist Role Model”

There’s a question: “Governor Palin, do you consider yourself a feminist?

I’m guessing the answer might be, “No!” but maybe I’m understimating the governor of our 47th largest state (beating out North Dakota, Vermont and Wyoming).

Governor Palin is facing criticism from a new front today: the right.  Writing for the National Review Online, Kathleen Parker says that Governor Palin is so far over her head that she has become a liability to the ticket:

It was fun while it lasted.

Palin’s recent interviews with Charles Gibson, Sean Hannity, and now Katie Couric have all revealed an attractive, earnest, confident candidate. Who Is Clearly Out Of Her League.

No one hates saying that more than I do. Like so many women, I’ve been pulling for Palin, wishing her the best, hoping she will perform brilliantly. I’ve also noticed that I watch her interviews with the held breath of an anxious parent, my finger poised over the mute button in case it gets too painful. Unfortunately, it often does. My cringe reflex is exhausted.

Ms. Parker also points out a Palinism that anyone who’s actually parsed one of her interviews has noticed; she doesn’t actually answer many questions, she responds instead by throwing up a blizzard of soundbite, cliche fragments.  Or, as Ms. Parker put it, “If BS were currency, Palin could bail out Wall Street herself.”

Jack Cafferty of CNN was a little less restrained, but made pretty much the same point yesterday.  After playing an excerpt of Governor Palin’s interview with Katie Couric, Cafferty called it “one of the most pathetic pieces of tape I have ever seen from someone aspiring to one of the highest offices in this country.”  When Wolf Blitzer replied to this comment by stating that “she’s cramming a lot of information,” Cafferty literally yells, “There’s no excuse for that! She’s supposed to know a little bit of this….You know, don’t make excuses for her! That’s pathetic.”

Here’s the segment:

Ms. Parker correctly points out that Senator McCain can’t dump his VP choice, but that Governor Palin could save the GOP – and the country – from national embarassment (or worse):

Only Palin can save McCain, her party, and the country she loves. She can bow out for personal reasons, perhaps because she wants to spend more time with her newborn. No one would criticize a mother who puts her family first.

Do it for your country.

Please.

– Austin

PS – Which state has the lowest population per square mile? Got it in one, didn’t you?  Yes, Alaska has 1.2 people per square mile, the winner by far.  The next least-populated state?  Wyoming at 5.2 people per square mile.

PPS – For a round-up of reviews on the latest Palin disaster, click here.  Also, now that I’m looking for it, there’s a growing “Sarah’s gotta go” sentiment percolating through the media.  Check it out at Newsweek and the New York Times. grant applications fine