The end of Palin?

The end of Palin?
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So Sarah Palin shocked precisely no one this week by announcing that she would not, in fact, be running for the Republican Party’s 2012 presidential nomination. Logistically speaking, her candidacy would have been completely unfeasible at this point. Due to recent machinations, it’s looking like the Iowa caucus will be held as early as late December, leaving very little time for Team Palin to organize the sort of sophisticated campaign operation that would be necessary to play catch-up with the 10+ other candidates who have already had months to prepare. Similarly, with so many Tea Party types already in the race, it’s very unclear if a Palin candidacy would have had any natural base of support at this point. Whatever ideological novelty she once possessed has long been eclipsed by that of people like Michelle Bachmann or Herman Cain, who basically offer Palin-like views in a more attractive, articulate package.

But here I am taking Palin seriously. The actual evidence suggests that her decision to opt-out was not, in fact, strategic at all, but merely the latest stylized ritual in the former governor’s long-running act of pretending to be a serious politician.

Almost every word of Mrs. Palin’s official un-announcement is either disingenuous or phoney in some way. She says “family comes first” and that her life’s priorities have always ranked in the order of “God, family, and country.” She says this is “obvious,” but anyone who has actually followed Palin’s career over the last four years knows that the truly “obvious” reality is that the personal interests of Sarah Palin herself clearly outrank all three. This is the woman, lest we forget, who made the decision to run for Vice President of the United States a mere four months after giving birth to a disabled child, and knowing full well that there’d soon be another infant on the way, care of her knocked-up teenage daughter. Putting family first should mean literally that, but in her actions, Sarah Palin has given every indication that family is a mere inconvenience to be managed in the slim moments between running for office, making FOX News appearances, traveling out of state on publicity tours, and filming reality shows, rather than something serious enough to justify compromising the pursuit of any of the above.

Even more obnoxious, however, was Palin’s line — which she notes she “always says” — that “one doesn’t need a title” to peruse important political goals. This was the same justification she gave for abandoning her position of Governor of Alaska back in 2009, and it makes about as much sense now as it did then. The presidency of the United States is not a “title,” it’s the most important constitutional office in the country, and the world’s most powerful position of global leadership. If she feels she’s not qualified or talented enough to hold it — as the much humbler Chris Christie has been repeatedly willing to admit — then say so openly. But don’t belittle the Constitution by acting as if its offices are little more than glorified beauty queen sashes.

These are all common complaints of the woman, and judging from recent polls, the vast majority of Republicans are inclined to believe that she is, at the very best, a highly flawed vessel that does more to overshadow than strengthen the causes she supposedly believes in. But her decision to not run may actually expose a darker side of the woman, too: a greed so insatiable that it crosses the line from that of a harmlessly vain gadfly to an outright grifter.

As Jon Stewart wonderfully exposed the other night, as recently as September 20, Palin was actively soliciting donations from her supporters on the explicit pretence that she was very likely to run for president. This, despite the fact that as far back as June, Bristol Palin was going around declaring that her mom “definitely” knew what her decision was going to be (ie: “no”). Putting two and to together, we can now look back at Palin’s extravagant summer of “pre-campaign” bus tours, for-pay speeches, etc, as little more than a brazen attempt to syphon cash from gullible marks in order to fund the sort of glittery, high-profile lifestyle she seems to think she deserves.

As usual, it would be nice if other conservatives had the guts to point this sort of stuff out, but as it stands, only fringe outcasts like David Frum seem to have the courage. This is, I think, Mrs. Palin’s single most destructive legacy. She undeniably lowered the bar of conservative discourse, dignity, and credibility to rock-bottom levels, yet was still happily propped up by a conservative media machine that found her a glamours, easy source of copy. Any conservative wanting to be taken seriously by that same machine thus had to profess a level of polite respect for Palin that she obviously did not deserve, and the whole thing became this grotesque Emperor’s New Clothes situation where the truth of Palin’s obvious uselessness could never be openly stated, lest one lose standing within the oppressively conformist world of the mainstream American right.

Hopefully she’s done now. Her last lingering claim as a serious politician has been abandoned, making her, finally and officially, nothing more than a mere tabloid celebrity. One hopes the media will take this as a cue to begin writing Sarah Palin out of their scripts once and for all.


  1. Robert

    This has to be the best representation of Palin I've ever seen.

  2. Blake

    Excellent summary of one of the most disappointing political figures in living memory. I won't lie, I was willing to give Palin a shot in 2008 and thought people were too quick to pile on. However, everything since the 2008 election has served to show that Palin deserves no respect as a political figure whatsoever.

  3. @Andy928766

    Thinking about Palin, I am sometimes amazed that she actually used to govern a state. An entire state.

  4. Nick Wood

    Well, it was Alaska…

  5. @Kisai

    Visiting Alaska is like visiting a completely different country. It's not a horrible place, but to Americans from the lower 48 and even Canadians, there is a profound lack of services and competition. Nobody really wants to move there, not even wildlife and vegetation (there is like one kind of evergreen tree, nothing else.)

  6. Anang Bhai

    You are entitled to your sources, but your view of conservative americans is seriously tinged by left wing news sources parading as centrist or fair weather conservatives who espouse opinions that will keep them on the elite party invite list.
    Yes, Sarah Palin's will she won't she schtick got tired long ago, the resigning as governor thing didn't help one bit and her future on the conservative political landscape is uncertain. I will argue the "greed" aspect of it. She has more claim to profit from her career than the current man on Pennsylvania Avenue, who wrote 2 autobiographies BEFORE he became president.
    You wanna talk about greed, just look at the serial politicians in the DNC leadership. Private jets, cushy careers, trips to super-exclusive caribbean islands, special deals for relatives and cronies the list goes on. You think Jon Stewart's ever gonna talk about Nancy "daddy loved the mob" Pelosi or Barbara "Bollywood" Boxer?
    No, I'm not a fan of her post 2008 non-run for office. Yes, I admire her immensely for having become governor of the largest state in the union, for her patriotism and the courage of her convictions. She sent a son to iraq, her husband still works a "real job" and she gave a resounding answer to the pro-choice crowd's question of "well what if its a down syndrome baby?"

  7. paul

    Anang, you criticize Barack Obama for writing two books about himself before becoming president. Sarah Palin has written two books about herself, despite not being president. There are myriad fuckups in your post, but I felt this logical inconsistency was the most hilarious and the best for exposing you as a sycophantic, hyper-partisan asshole who has never read the wikipedia page for “confirmation bias”. Good day, sir.

  8. Anang Bhai

    Thanks for reminding me of the usefulness of anonymous commenting. Hillary got an $8 million book advance for being a presidential wife. Palin got $1.25 million for being a governor & vice presidential candidate. Of course she's the greedy one.
    My point remains. The level of condescension, scrutiny & vitriol directed at her for being an uncompromising conservative woman would have imploded anyone's career in politics. 3 years later the left has nothing in terms of scandal or corruption they have been able to find, unlike Perry's rather fast fall from grace. Any of the ancillary charges leveled at her: fame seeker, greedy, dumb are valid in the rational sense of judgment of character. She is still small fry when we apply those words to any that came before or after her in the political arena.
    Really, palin asking for donations for her PAC before she unannounced is what you have? That's supposed to be indicative of her lack of political acumen, vanity, stupidity…What? Hillary kept asking for donations after she lost. So does every other politician. Give Jon Stewart another Peabody already.

  9. Gastel

    Paul – Please don't attack Anang so aggressively. I am a solid left-wing individual, but I really like this site because although it has right-wing view points, I feel like they are well thought out and constructed arguments that allow me to consider the other side of the spectrum. I would say, nothing has swayed my overall leaning, but certainly allowed me a broader context in which to form my opinions of new ideas. Anang is very conservative and if he wants to be overly aggressive, lets just state our opposition in the intelligent manner that this site provides (basically, trolling and flaming bring down the caliber of the site). I'm not telling you to stop, rather asking.

    Anang, it is difficult to digest your argument when you list items like greed and only even think to attack one side of the spectrum. The greed is not the side of the person, but rather the attraction of greedy individuals to politics in general (not completely of course, but in general). I think the courage of convictions in Palin's case can also be considered in question as she has not shown devotion to those things she states are her priorities. Using her Down Syndrome situation to talk as a superior is downright unfair to her family and everyone in the debate. She is not an expert at 'Pro-Choice / Anti-Abortion' discussions simply because she has a child with a disability. She might have a new perspective based upon her experiences, but to hold up a young child as proof of your excellence is just plain demeaning. Although I don't agree with Paul's manner of attack upon you, I must say I totally agree with the basic sentiment.

  10. David Kendall

    "You're saying 'making her nothing more than a tabloid celebrity' like it's a bad thing!" – Sarah Palin

    Her actions since the moment she was picked as McCain's running mate shows that she views reality tv style stardom as laudable as, if not more so, than "real" stardom (ie merit-based). Sarah seemed to want to be the Snooki to Obama's Morgan Freeman, or John McCain's Clint Eastwood ('cause, hey, somebody's gotta be Snooki, she has a niche!)

  11. Anang Bhai

    1. God: up to her & her religion. I espouse pro life views, but let me abort my down syndrome child to avoid the lifelong struggles that come with it. Any intellectual argument I make to explain this will be considered over the lefts faux outrage & charges of hypocrisy.
    2. Family: let me retreat into obscurity because I have a down syndrome child on the way & would rather make a governors salary over a chance at worldwide fame & at least a million dollar book deal that could lead to financial betterment for my large family. It's better for my children that my husband return to backbreaking work as a fisherman & oil rig worker than help my political career.
    3: country: I supported the Iraq war & had no qualms with my son going into active service. I love my home state & had a chance to use my fame to promote it as a well known tourist spot, but I don't want to be on TV because people who hate me hate the idea of it.

  12. James Vincent Plett

    "Her last lingering claim as a serious politician has been abandoned, making her, finally and officially, nothing more than a mere tabloid celebrity. One hopes the media will take this as a cue to begin writing Sarah Palin out of their scripts once and for all."

    You could have said this after 2008, after her resignation as governor, etc, etc. I wouldn't get my hopes up.

    I mean, JENNIFER ANISTON is still regularly in the news. Aside from Friends and dating Brad Pitt, she hasn't done anything of note in years. Expect the American tabloid machine to keep Palin afloat.

  13. Anang Bhai

    She's TOTALLY irrelevant!
    I mean, it's not like she has a million dollar political action committee that could be used to fund other candidates. How would that even work?

  14. OldsVistaCruiser

    You are aware that many of us in the "lower 48" refer to Sarah Palin as "Caribou Barbie", correct?

  15. Jon Bennett

    Not running for Prez frees her up to be more annoying. Y'know how Bachmann is pretending to be mainstream for the next couple months? No such constraints on Palin.

    Personally, I think she should've been discounted by all when she resigned the governorship to better feed her ego.

  16. Brady Postma

    I don't closely follow Sarah Palin's life nor particularly like or support her actions, but most of what I hear from and about her seems to suggest she has become a political activist and fund-raiser with no particular interest in running for office ever again. She seems neither interested nor capable of a Presidential election campaign, so why does everyone keep expecting it? She keeps showing up at political hot spots, sure, but that seems a plausible plan for fund raising and political activism without any need for a Palin candidacy. She ought to be treated as the Republican version of Howard Dean, not Dennis Kucinich.

    Seen in that light, the "greed" accusation begs the question of who or what she is gathering money for. Is she using it to prop up her own lifestyle as greed suggests, or is she funneling the money into political causes and candidates in unusually flashy but otherwise standard ways?

    "anybody can make a huge difference in this country, without a title, without an office, just being out there as an advocate for solutions that can work to get the country on the right track. And that’s where I am now." — Sarah Palin, from Anang's link to Slate.

  17. Thomas

    The republican party, once seen as the party for rich business types, now seen as the party to get rich quick by joining?

  18. Guest

    "little more than a brazen attempt to syphon cash from gullible marks in order to fund the sort of glittery, high-profile lifestyle she seems to think she deserves"
    JJ, In the most recent discussion about Canada's female premiers, you (correctly) called out dodgy criticism of Clark, writing "Seems to me that her flaws only seemed to be the "worst" if one defined the traits of an annoying woman to be objectively worse than the traits of an annoying man."

    Given that the avenues for self-promotion open to and useful to Palin (whose persona looms larger than her policy platform) will be different to those open to, say, Ron Paul (whose politics, whatever you may think of them, are more defining and more clearly defined)… to what extent is Palin's candidacy really different from any of the other Republican candidates who don't have much chance? Other than the fact that she is just far more indiscreet about the whole business, I mean. In terms of spending, again, are we just witnessing the difference between male elite spending (which we're used to dismissing as 'necessary'/'inevitable') and female elite spending?

  19. J.J. McCullough

    I don't think so. I think the media has always been interested in Palin because she's an attractive woman, but it was Palin's own decision to consciously embrace a political persona that was so aggressively ditzy and materialistic by any gender's standards. I don't even really know who I would compare her to, as far as a male equivalent goes. I guess Donald Trump, maybe. And he gets as much deserved flak as she does, for largely the same reasons.

  20. Brady Postma

    "to what extent is Palin's candidacy really different"? The fact that there is no Palin candidacy, and that there was no reason except idle speculation to imagine there ever would be, makes it pretty different.

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