Yes, it’s old news that Sarah Palin is unpredictable and, in a move that some would liken to hopping onto a crazy train to Looneyville, will be resigning as governor and starting her run for the presidency in 2012 (well, that last part isn’t official…yet). But I have to giver her credit for the brilliance of her timing, tossing a bomb into the crowd right when the crowd scatters to distant lands. Everyone knows that if you’re going to do something stupid, or try and drag a skeleton out of your closet, down the steps and toss it into your neighbor’s yard, you do it before a big holiday weekend filled with food and shimmery things.
It worked on me. I spent the entire weekend doing everything that seemed right, I slept in, I relaxed with friends, watched some baseball games (though a single-A game might not be considered that by some) and was amused by the fireworks (except for those tiny ones that just make stupidly loud noises. Who enjoys that?). I didn’t man the blog, I didn’t sit on the computer and feverishly maintain the Twitter account. Cable news didn’t monotonously echo through my apartment. It was a nice isolation from the typical media barrage.
I suspect that the Palin situation played out similarly for folks nationwide. Oh, everyone heard about her resigning, but no one really cared. Family was visiting, burgers had to be cooked and all of that political nonsense had to be swept aside. And now that the long weekend is gone, it’s old news. No one wants to hear anything more about it. Political stories have very short lifespans. They’re fireworks, sent screaming into the air and they burst, sending awe through the crowd and belligerent hot air in every direction. But four days later, no one remembers the particulars, people describe fireworks shows in generalities, they’re “nice,” or “too loud.” No one dissects the particulars of the third rocket, no one wants to say much more about them and certainly, their shelf life is limited to the holiday. Set off a firework today and you’ll have old women hiding beneath their beds and overanxious cops peeking over your fence. Bring up Palin, and you’ll get a “Oh, that,” response.
There are two sides to the Palin story. One has her being chosen as a heartfelt maverick to bring some more spark into the life of a sellout maverick after enjoying the quiet of Alaska, and once thrust on the national stage, the media, vulture-like, preyed upon her personal troubles to a terrible degree. The other looks at this woman, and can’t understand how she was almost a skip and a hop from the Presidency, given her apparent lack of understanding of anything that had anything to do with governing (whether it be administrative or, if certain allegations are true, ethical).
I’ll shock the world and admit that I fall closer to the second camp, but I will say that demonizing her further is entirely counterproductive. If anything, while from a traditional standpoint Palin’s decision to hide her resignation beneath hot dogs and American flags was brilliant, it also deprives her of a chance to gamble for the devotion of her fanbase. The reason Palin has succeeded to the degree she has is not because of what she is, but because of what she isn’t. She isn’t a brilliant maker of policy. She isn’t a shrew tactician, she contributes little to ideological or philosophical discussions. She didn’t really accomplish anything during her runs through the Alaskan government. Instead, she does exactly what the average Joe would do if they decided to get into government, with their only experience being the student council in high school. She’s a normal person, with nothing truly spectacular under her belt (unless you count the fact that she’s a woman, but that’s a just reverse sexism, isn’t it?) and when the media jumps on her, for reasons legitimate or not, most folks can’t help but feel a bit of sympathy.
Had she taken the opportunity to play off of this sympathy, instead of quickly rushing through her announcement and then lobbing some idiotic spitballs at the media via Twitter and Facebook, I think she would have been in a much better situation than she’s in today, if only because it would have riled up her base, and besides, is there really anyone who’s still on the fence about Palin at this point?