Sad news last week – it’s official that Sarah Palin resigned as Governor of Alaska, presumably to attempt to burnish her leadership credentials at the national level. This means we will have to suffer her pretensions to the national Republican leadership, and be constantly reminded of the bone-headed move by the McCain campaign to select her as Vice-Presidential candidate in 2008.
Some are comparing Palin’s exit from the Alaska stage to Richard Nixon’s self-described “final” press conference after losing the California Governorship in 1962, telling assembled media they would not have Nixon to “kick around anymore.” He was elected President of the United States 6 years later.
Her media-bashing is the only thing she has in common with Nixon. By 1962, Nixon was a former Congressman, US Senator, 2-term Vice-President of the United States, candidate for President, and candidate for Governor.
As a candidate for Vice-President, Palin could not even explain the Bush Doctrine. And said with a straight face that her foreign policy experience was enhanced by living close to the Soviet Union.
She was an embarrassment as a candidate, and is a continuing embarrassment to the Republican Party, which ought to pride itself on its strong tradition of offering the best qualified, and most prepared candidates for our nation’s highest offices. Palin is neither.
It is telling indeed – and frightening — that McCain and his advisors thought so little of the position of Vice-President that they would actually select someone with so little depth and experience. There were other Governors and former Governors with much more gravitas, depth, and experience. Tim Pawlenty in Minnesota created a solid track record in health and education reform. Mitt Romney is credited with the nation’s first “universal” insurance program for the uninsured in health care. These are just 2 examples of “progressive” conservatives that McCain could have chosen.
It is interesting that McCain advisors Steve Schmidt and Nicole Wallace are busy telling everyone who will listen how horrible Palin is. They have been fingered by some as sources for unflattering Palin profiles in recent publications like Vanity Fair.
But they certainly bear some responsibility for springing her on our National Party, and ought to have to explain to future clients what they learned from their obvious bad advice in 2008.
In the meantime, Palin will have her work cut out attempting to re-brand a tarnished image. Recent opinion polls show a growing “unfavorable” impression of her.
While she remains popular with some elements of the Party, and she was an undeniable attraction on the circuit in 2008, it is unclear whether she will be able to convince a national electorate that she is, indeed, a viable candidate, and not just a glib attack-dog.
There is certainly nothing wrong with being an attack-dog. Especially in the Republican Party, there is a proud history of the Vice-President or VP candidate playing that role.
Vice-President Spiro Agnew cheered conservatives during President Nixon’s first term by attacking Nixon’s critics as “nattering nabobs of negativism.” Agnew kept the conservative base fed with red meat while Nixon was busy running the country.
But few people gave serious consideration to Agnew as the heir apparent to President Nixon, even before Agnew was felled in 1973 by tax-evasion charges.
Can Palin dust herself off, re-brand her image, and learn something about national affairs in time for 2012? Time will tell.
It’s in all Republicans’ interest that she do so, inasmuch as the Republican Party has an annoying habit of nominating, not necessarily the best political candidate, but the candidate “whose turn it is.” See McCain 2000, and Bob Dole 1996.
If it’s Palin’s turn in 2012, Republicans better hope she gets more prepared, fast.