Friday, July 3, 2009

The Being of Unbearable Lightness

Owing to my Alaska background, I’ve been asked a few times already today what I think about Sarah Palin’s resignation. I couldn’t fit it into 140 characters (I tried; see below) so I’m expanding a bit here.

I’m in no better shape than anybody else to sort out the “Huh? Why now?” question that’s on everybody’s mind at the moment. I didn’t know Sarah Palin in Alaska; when I left she was 30 years old and nobody much beyond Wasilla knew her name. I know a lot of folks still active in Alaska politics and public affairs who’ve told me about her, and I’ve watched her meteoric career with grim, embarrassed fascination since the first email alert notified me of her VP selection.

If I was guessing, I’d say “impending further scandal” is just about tied with “selfishly wants spotlight without accountability.” She seems addicted to the adoration of unquestioning zealots, which she can continue to find on a carefully selected lecture circuit; her departure speech was calculated to tap into the conspiratorial obsession that animates the extreme right wing in this country: “they” hounded poor Sarah out of office. In case you hadn’t noticed, “they” also hired a sultry Latina to seduce Mark Sanford, according to wingnuts in South Carolina. You see how this works? The greater your fall or your more profound your ignorance, the more that proves you’re right and the victim of the Liberal Media Complex.

Sarah can make a bunch of money out there, too, if she acts while her star is still bright in those precincts. Don’t underestimate the attraction of sudden wealth on anybody from Alaska – and certainly not from Wasilla.

Far more important is what this spectacular meltdown says about John McCain and the political cynics who played out the rope with which Sarah has now hung herself. Americans have always thought McCain a decent man; if he has a shred of it left, he’s sobbing himself to sleep tonight about this proof of how recklessly he sought the presidency. Bill Kristol and other discredited neocons who saw her as an empty vessel into which they could pour their own ambitions rolled the dice on the country’s security by backing her – thank God they lost that wager.

It pains me as a native-born Alaskan with 45 winters experience there to think what my home state must look like to Americans now. Sarah Palin, Frank Murkowski, Ted Stevens and their posses do honestly reflect what Alaska became in recent years, but they don’t represent the best of it. Somewhere in the vastness and grandeur of that most beautiful place there is something much finer, more decent, and more admirable. Perhaps it will now rise again.

Early @howardweaver Tweets:

David Gergen: "I think most of us long ago gave up trying to figure out what goes on in Sarah Palin's head." Whoa. (via @brianstelter)

Surely, somewhere, John McCain is shaking his head and sobbing silently.

Anchorage Daily News held contest to name Palin's upcoming autobiography. One favorite: "The Being of Unbearable Lightness."

People are speculating about Sarah Palin and reality TV. I'm thinking surreality TV might be a better fit.

Scandal's always good bet in cases like Palin resignation. But I think she's become addicted to adoring crowds of zealots, will seek more.

Basic logic in Palin statement: I love Alaska so much I have to quit half-way thru to ensure success. Seriously disconnected from reality.

Palin quotes in Anch Daily News really sound like she's gonna run, at least campaign. Another disastrous decision, IMO.

Here's my bet as 40-yr Alaskan: Palin either has a big scandal about to break, or wants to make as much money as possible while she's hot.


F. Andy said...

Howard: I think you've hit the nail on the head. My wife and I were speculating over dinner what the *real* reason was--you know, the one Palin did not mention in her rambling.

We concluded exactly as you did... a tie between a) pending future scandal and b) time to go cash in on her moment in the spotlight.

I find it real, real hard to believe its because she thinks she can do more good from outside or that the strain from some adult not in politics (i.e., Letterman) is just to much for her family to bear.

Gina said...

I suspect she just digs the adulation and the money on the wingnut lecture circuit.

Nathan L. Walls said...

I'm also viewing the move as 1) getting in front of something about to emerge, like an indictment or 2) lay groundwork for a 2012 run.

If it's the former, fantastic. I actually like when politicians step aside vs. drag out the inevitable downfall (see several prominent NC Democrats).

But I'll expand on the second possibility:

I am not in her target demographic but are there seriously enough voters willing to say "yeah, I want the person who quit when things got a little tough as my president."

Didn't we just have a two-term president who looked like he wanted to check out the last two years?

I'm not a political strategist, but I'm not seeing the sell -- librul media aside -- to Iowa of quitting because the job wasn't fun anymore when generations of farmers stick through weather, pestilence, fuel prices, etc. to make a living.