Monday, January 4, 2010 1 Comment
Originally published July 6, 2009.
Remember the “Leave Britney alone!” kid, Chris Crocker? Given her speech last Friday, it sounds like Sarah Palin could use his support right about now.
In her rambling announcement, the soon-to-be ex-governor of Alaska gave few reasons why she plans to step down next month: refusing to continue with “politics as usual,” the freedom of Alaskans (which has apparently been in danger these last two-and-a-half years, if you believe Palin), and the almost $300,000 tab billed to Alaskan taxpayers thanks to investigations into 15 ethics complaints made against Palin.
However, it’s hard to break the cycle of “politics as usual” when you opt out of politics altogether.
Palin’s speech was disorganized, repetitive, and didn’t explain why she plans to resign. That is, all but the brief moment when she mentioned asking her children their feelings about her decision.
John P. Coale, a Washington lawyer who spoke with Palin this spring, hit the nail on the head when he quoted conversations with her. In a Washington Post article last Sunday, Coale explained, “She asked me, ‘Well, what do you think all this is? Why are all these people attacking me?’… she couldn’t ignore the hits on the kids. She said, ‘It brought out the mama grizzly in me.’”
There may be a small amount of chivalry left in politics, which at least last fall resulted in a swearing-off of candidates’ children as targets during the heated campaign rhetoric. But Palin insisted on leading her children to the media slaughter, shoving daughter Bristol into the jaws of the spotlight, as well as, albeit to a lesser extent, sons Trig and Track. Palin did little but complain in an effort to keep both news and entertainment media from sensationalizing the details of her family’s personal lives.
Taking up a career in politics is willingly exposing yourself and your loved ones to the scrutiny of others, including those in the blogosphere who will endlessly Photoshop pictures of you, your children, your great-uncle Bob and your dead mother. This not-unusual behavior, evidenced recently by Linda Kellen Biegel’s superimposition of Anchorage radio host Eddie Burke’s face onto Trig’s in a photo from the RNC, was only amped up by Palin’s characteristic defensiveness— illustrated clearly by her reference to the image in follow-up announcements about her resignation.
I hate to break it to you, Sarah, but no one will ever take you seriously if you believe the “right” response to any public or media scorn is to hold a press conference to whine about being teased and quit in an attempt to spite everyone.
After all, it doesn’t quite make sense to spend several minutes explaining how well your state is doing under your direction in order to make the case that it’s better for you to quit. If this whole quitting business wasn’t about Sarah Palin’s hurt feelings, I imagine she simply would have said, “I have personal reasons for declining to run for a second term, and my family needs me now. Thank you for your time, and for the opportunity to be governor of this great state.”
I certainly don’t mind Mrs. Palin unintentionally falling back into the obscure hidey-hole she crawled out of last year (despite her insistence that she’ll remain a strong advocate of change outside politics), but here’s something she should keep in mind. In many places around the world, bringing real political change often means death. She would do well to read up on events in countries like Iran, and count herself lucky that her greatest concerns are Tina Fey skits and insensitive media.