Sarah Palin and the Long, Shiny Road to Irrelevance
Sarah Palin is not running for the presidency. I’d been waiting to hear that since the day after the 2008 presidential election, which is ostensibly when she began running for the presidency. From the moment she “went rogue” on the campaign trail, calling out then-candidate Obama for “pallin’ around with terrorists,” and contemplating an unauthorized trip back to Michigan to try to win a state that the McCain campaign had given up on, she had ideas and plans of her own. She lamented in her book Going Rogue that the campaign had shackled her. Why couldn’t they just “let Sarah be Sarah?”
After the ignominious defeat in 2008, she paid no heed to the advice of longtime friends and political allies in Alaska who suggested that to win the White House she should form a PAC, keep her head down, study up on global affairs, and work diligently to be re-elected for a second term as governor. Instead the siren song of a book deal, a reality TV show, six-figure speaking engagements, Fox News talking headery, and a life of international celebrity hypnotized and guided her political ship in a strong and steady course right for the rocks.
She did form a PAC, and said she might be interested in the presidency. She painted a bus to look like the Constitution and drove across the land upstaging other candidates, and visiting historical landmarks for her family vacation. She bought a house in the Lower 48, an easier “home base” than Wasilla from which to launch a candidacy. She criticized her “competitors” from both sides of the aisle, and told us how she would handle things, if she were in charge. She could beat Obama, she told us. Her unofficial campaign film The Undefeated (albeit a huge flop) showed in theaters, and just recently made its debut on the shelves of Wal-Mart. Not one, but two books written in her name have been published, and a nationwide book tour gave her ample opportunity to shake even more hands. Even the day before she quit the candidacy she never really had, her lawyer made calls to key states to find out about filing deadlines.
So, why would anyone do this if they weren’t going to run? Palin was either praying (literally) for a last-minute mandate from the people, so she could rise as the reluctant leader (ala her favorite founding father George Washington), or she’s a delusional self-promoting narcissist who has made a lucrative career as a Shiny Object off the backs of the gullible. Or both.
And let’s not discount the assessment of former senior political advisor for the McCain-Palin campaign. In an interview about her new novel Wallace said, ” The idea of a mentally ill vice president who suffers in complete isolation was obviously sparked by the behaviors I witnessed by Sarah Palin.
But don’t worry about the Palins. A few extra weeks of donations to SarahPAC came in after a letter was sent to the faithful from Treasurer Tim Crawford who said that she was “on the verge” of making a decision. And the thing that would help her make that decision was your one-time most generous contribution. Sarah needs to know she’ll have your support. It ended up being less like Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, and more like the snake oil salesman on that episode of Little House on the Prairie who brings his covered wagon to Walnut Grove, and swindles the kindly trusting townsfolk out of next year’s seed money.
The confused muddle of loyalists at the blog Conservatives4Palin didn’t know what to do when they heard the news. With no “official” statement from the blog for hours after the announcement, they were left to gather tentatively in the comment section of the last post, where they wandered like dazed refugees, not knowing what to do or where to go. Anger, sadness, denial, embarrassment, sheepishness, despair…
Adam Brickley, the former college student who started the Draft Sarah Palin for VP blog (the actual ‘blogger in the basement’) has tried desperately to rally the confuzzled, with a flowery, fiery statement on behalf of the candidacy that might have been.
But at the end of the day, it was not to be — at least not this year. And in a weird way, that might be a good thing emotionally for people like me (and there are a lot of us) who have been so ill-treated by many in the GOP that we wanted raw catharsis as much as we wanted victory. However, anyone who thinks Gov. Palin or any of us “cultists” are going to go away has another thing coming — in fact, a reinvigorated Palin movement is already coalescing. The people who would have been the core supporters of a Palin campaign are now the biggest and most powerful bloc of free agents in the 2012 primary, and I’m practically salivating at the idea of watching the establishment candidates trek up to Wasilla to genuflect and beg for an endorsement. Every last one of them. [snip] If you thought we were going to make your life hell as a campaign, wait until you see what we can do as a pressure group.
They’re just licking their wounds, hugging their Teddy bears, and having some good old fashioned emotional catharsis before they make everyone’s lives a living hell. The shackles are off now, baby! They’re just reloading!
Well, you know they had to come up with something. And that was it.
Meanwhile, back at the hive, another dyed-in-the-wool Palinbot (albeit one whose faith had recently started to crumble) wasn’t feeling quite so charitable. The Palin bathwater, it seems, is no longer his beverage of choice. The filmmaker of the puffumentary “Media Malpractice, How Obama Got Elected and Palin Was Targeted,” John Ziegler, posted an open letter to Palin on his website. It begins:
Dear Governor Palin:
Wow. So, is this really how your political saga is going end? By letting down your remaining supporters and telling them, with a straight face, that you can do more to impact change as a Fox News Contributor than you can as President of the United States? [snip]
Now that you aren’t running you have made yourself almost totally irrelevant. Unlike with Chris Christie (did you notice how much more passionately the media pined for him than you?), no one with an actual chance will want your endorsement. Once the nominee and the new VP candidate are chosen you will be very old news, and with no elected office (or, thanks to you’re your incredible lack of popularlity in Alaska, even the theoretical chance of one), you will have no opportunity to alter your narrative or make any news.
My guess is that you won’t even end up speaking at the convention because you are too big for a minor slot and too dangerous for a prime one.
The whole thing is pretty much a metaphorical kneecap to the forehead. It was interesting that Ziegler noted Palin’s “incredible lack of popularity in Alaska.” It’s true. The former golden girl of Alaska politics, whose favorability rating as governor hovered at one time near 90% is now no more than a source of eye rolling, and face palming here in the Great Land. She isn’t even a punch line because nobody wants to hear the jokes, and nobody wants to bother to tell them. She has crossed over. She has become irrelevant.
Moments after the Anchorage Daily News posted that Palin had decided not to run for the presidency, the first six comments told the story:
We’re perfectly happy to foist her, and the former First Dude off on Arizona where they recently bought a house. If, some day she decides to run for a senate seat in Arizona, the excommunication will be happily complete. Until then, Sarah, don’t let the panhandle hit you on the way out.