I’ve been thinking about Sarah Palin’s weird announcement about stepping down as Governor of Alaska — and her follow-up Facebook posting about leaving “for a higher calling.”
The best I can say for her is she’s “one of a kind.” There’s no counterpart for her in Canadian politics, nor in the more volatile bear pit of U.S. politics.
But she’s got lots of supporters, as irrational as they may seem to the rest of us.
Check out some of the comments on her Facebook Wall.
“We are behind you and will support you to the end,” one woman writes. Another opines: “We (Americans) need you to unite and lead us to overcome the Obamans who are dragging us into an abyss.”
There’s also a few detractors. But there’s no doubt that the folksy, irreverent (except for religion) and striking lady from Alaska generates a fantastic response from a certain section of the electorate.
So what does Sarah Palin want? To be President, of course. Well, duh.
My hunch is that she decided the Governorship, with its real life responsibilities and the accountability that it imposes on her, has become a big nuisance.
Instead of meeting the challenges she faces head on, proving her mettle and working to set right her mistakes (remember what the ethics board had to say?) she’s decided to go out and run for the White House.
Plus, all the attention will help her cash in on the book she’s writing (supposedly) for Harper Collins.
There’s already a couple of books about her. Neither are big sellers, but Trailblazer: An Intimate Biography of Sarah Palin, will get a boost from the weekend’s happenings. It’s by Lorenzo Benet, an editor of People magazine. She’s enjoyed a close relationship with People, to which she has given a number of exclusives. And she’s no fool — she knows you reach more pliable voters via a celebrity mag than through the New York Times.
I’ve carefully read the statement she issued last Friday. It’s so full of vacuous nonsense that it’s hard to comment on it rationally. And therein lies her strength — and danger.
Her strength is that she attracts attention like lightning. Her danger is that she attracts attention like lightning. Example: The Huffington Post, one of the best news aggregators on the web, now devotes a dedicated page to her antics.
Does the Republican Party really want a candidate who is so impetuous, so unpredictable, so apparently ill-informed as this woman?
Or will her candidacy set off the most paralyzing fight in the history of the GOP, split the party up the middle and along the edges, and pave the way for Barack Obama to carry every state in the Union (yes, even Alaska) in 2012?
To most Canadians, the Sarah Palin Show is just a sideshow, another example of how the stupid, the irrelevant and the irrational increasingly dominates the tone and character of American politics.
Thank God she’s not one of ours!
While suturing a cut on the hand of a 75 year old rancher, whose hand was caught in the gate while working cattle, the doctor struck up a conversation with the old man. Eventually the topic got around to Sarah Palin and her bid.The old rancher said, ‘Well, ya know, Palin is a ’Post Turtle”.
Not being familiar with the term, the doctor asked him what a ‘post turtle’ was.
The old rancher said, ‘When you’re driving down a country road you come across a fence post with a turtle balanced on top, that’s a ‘post turtle’.The old rancher saw the puzzled look on the doctor’s face so he continued to explain. ‘You know she
didn’t get up there by herself, she doesn’t belong up there, and she doesn’t know what to do while she’s up there, and you just wonder what kind of dummy put her up there to begin with’.
I love John Allemang’s modernist verses that run every Saturday in Toronto’s Globe and Mail. His entry today is priceless:
Please call us rednecks, ’cause we’re proud
To be so rude and rough and loud,
And act in ways elitists think
Proves that we’ve had too much to drink
In some dead-end Alaskan dive
When, dude, it just shows we’re alive.
We love our church, our kids, our beer
Can tell you right down to the year
That God put Man upon the Earth,
Know life starts well ahead of birth,
Don’t give a darn about the arts,
And stay away from foreign parts
Until the moment that we’re sent
As John McCain’s vice-president.
The great thing, when your neck is red?
Nobody cares what’s in your head -
The voters seem to like ‘em dumb,
So why not pick a hockey mom
Who hunts and prays and procreates
To govern these United States?
If you can drive a snowmobile,
The people, bless them, think you’re real,
And in the end, who needs a brain?
Just tell your kids they must abstain,
Pretend that when your rule’s ignored
It’s some great gift sent by the Lord,
And prove you’ll go to any length
To make each redneck fault a strength.
There’s no doubt he’s made a sensational choice — one dramatic enough to take the spotlight away from Barack Obama during the same 24-hour news cycle that the Democrat had wowed 84,000 people at Denver’s Mile High Stadium.
By today (Saturday), the second thoughts were setting in. The Globe and Mail and the National Post brought their particular slant to the story. More interesting, perhaps, was the response of U.S. papers.
Up in Alaska, the Anchorage Daily News hailed Palin as “The Joan of Arc of Alaska politics.” The New York Post bannered WOW! and the New York Daily News called the new team THE ODD COUPLE. But most papers took the middle road, like the Indianapolis Star with its headline, AN UNLIKELY PICK.
The most intriguing item I could find came from the blogosphere. After reviewing local reaction, Alaska blogger Mudflats had a simple question: “Is this a joke?” Then he passed on a few trenchant comments Ms. Palin gave a week ago on whether she’d accept, if offered, the Veep nomination:
“I’d need to find out what is it exactly that the Vice President does. We want to make sure that that VP slot would be a fruitful type of position, especially for Alaskans and for the things we’re trying to accomplish up here.”
So much for a world view!
McCain’s only hope
John McCain’s real strategy, it seems to me, is circle the wagons, mobilize the Republican right-wing core (who’ve never been warm to him), and hope that the novelty of his bizarre choice will bring in enough Independents to let him squeak to victory.
The more likely outcome is that it will succeed only in saving the Republic party from total collapse. After defeat in November, the core supporters will still be there, ever loyal and ready to fight another day.
Barack Obama, meanwhile, will get the chance to make good on the issues he argues for in his book: get the troops out of Iraq, broaden health care, cut taxes for the middle class, get more kids into college, make sure free trade is fair trade, and be prepared to sit down and talk with adversaries like Iran, North Korea, Cuba and Russia.
John McCain’s choice can be seen in another light: the final and total repudiation of George Bush and evertything he stood for. With Palin at his side, McCain will campaign against the mistakes of the past, promising change for the better. And make no mistake, she’s likely to turn out to be an appealing and attractive campaigner in her own right.
But the choice also lets Obama off the hook on the experience issue. And Ms. Palin’s fierce right-wing Christian conservatism (she’s against abortion even if there’s incest or rape, wants to teach creationism in the schools) isn’t likely to appeal to many of those women who voted for Hillary Clinton.
In the words of Ronald Wright, it’s Backwoods America against Enlightened America. Right now the split is about 50-50. Let’s hope Wright’s metaphor about the USA proves there’s more enlightenment than back woodsism in the American electorate.