Sarah Palin's resignation gives Republicans a new opportunity to see her plain—to review the bidding, see her strengths, acknowledge her limits, and let go of her drama. It is an opportunity they should take. They mean to rebuild a great party. They need to do it on solid ground.
Her history does not need to be rehearsed at any length. Ten months ago she was embraced with friendliness by her party. The left and the media immediately overplayed their hand, with attacks on her children. The party rallied round, as a party should. She went on the trail a sensation but demonstrated in the ensuing months that she was not ready to go national and in fact never would be. She was hungry, loved politics, had charm and energy, loved walking onto the stage, waving and doing the stump speech. All good. But she was not thoughtful. She was a gifted retail politician who displayed the disadvantages of being born into a point of view (in her case a form of conservatism; elsewhere and in other circumstances, it could have been a form of liberalism) and swallowing it whole: She never learned how the other sides think, or why.
In television interviews she was out of her depth in a shallow pool. She was limited in her ability to explain and defend her positions, and sometimes in knowing them. She couldn't say what she read because she didn't read anything. She was utterly unconcerned by all this and seemed in fact rather proud of it: It was evidence of her authenticity. She experienced criticism as both partisan and cruel because she could see no truth in any of it. She wasn't thoughtful enough to know she wasn't thoughtful enough. Her presentation up to the end has been scattered, illogical, manipulative and self-referential to the point of self-reverence. "I'm not wired that way," "I'm not a quitter," "I'm standing up for our values." I'm, I'm, I'm.
In another age it might not have been terrible, but here and now it was actually rather horrifying.
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
Sarah's 15 Minutes Are Up...or Should Be
I started out really liking Sarah Palin. As time passed, my enthusiasm waned. For me, the biggest blow was when Katie Couric asked her something along the lines of what she read to keep up with current events, and Sarah answered, "Oh, everything." When pressed, she couldn't name a single publication...if only she had said, "The Economist"! I'm not sure Katie was playing fair in the interview, overall, but this particular question was eminently fair, and the answer thoroughly disappointing. I knew then that we were in trouble.
Now she's resigned from her governorship, and I wish she'd just go away. Peggy Noonan (a card-carrying conservative, by the way) has put into words thoughts I didn't even know I had. Here's an excerpt from a recent Wall Street Journal column (emphasis mine):
If you'd like to read the entire column, it's here.