Does Sarah Palin Go Away Mad, Or Does She Just Go Away?   Leave a comment

January 28, 2013

Maybe It’s Time For Palin To Just Go Away. . . .

The buzz this week around the former Vice-Presidential candidate is her contract renewal talks with Fox. These weren’t so much renewal talks as Fox was canny enough not to repeat the stupidity of NPR when it parted company with Juan Williams in 2011. (See this link for some background.)  In this case, it was more like an annual review of Palin’s contributions to Fox News that let Fox off the hook—technically—for getting rid of her. Fox didn’t fire Palin. She chose not to renew at a fraction of the reported $1 million per year she was paid under the old agreement.  Chris Cillizza, in an interesting piece in today’s Washington Post, wrote “What Sarah Palin Meant“. He chose to consider the Palin that really never was. As she prepares to leave the spotlight (whether momentarily or not) Cillizza offers, in part,

In truth, Palin had largely disappeared from the political conversation once it became clear she wouldn’t be running for president in 2012. But, now that she is officially gone — without the Fox News platform or an elected office, it’s hard to see how she continues to get attention — it’s worth revisiting (or maybe visiting) what she meant to the political world. Let’s start with this basic, unassailable fact: From the moment she was picked to be John McCain’s running mate in 2008, Palin came to dominate the political/media culture like few politicians before or after her have done.

Cillizza goes on to describe what he learned from Palin in a February 2008 interview, and reflects on the transformation in who or what Palin became.

The Palin in that interview was candid, self-effacing and charismatic.  And that was the Palin who spent the first few weeks as a candidate largely impressing both the McCain campaign and the Republican base. Remember that she was massively outdrawing McCain on the stump for much of the final few months of the campaign. Then something changed.  It’s impossible to trace what began the transformation in Palin but it’s a fair guess to say that her interview with Katie Couric was the spark.  Palin seemed to be either over or under-briefed for the interview and came off as standoff-ish and, worse, not up to the job for which she was running. In the wake of that interview, Palin had a choice: Would she acknowledge she was off her game and try to re-boot with another (or several other) major network interviews or would she bunker in, insisting the fault lied with a “gotcha” media?

She chose the latter, and Palin’s downward spiral was set in motion. She became the poster-child for the anti-media crowd in general, as she evolved into the most strident anti-media person for the next two years. Not all media, but the media that didn’t embrace every syllable uttered by the VP-wannabe. Palin saw an enemy at almost every turn: The press (excluding Fox News), politicians (except Tea Party faves,) former “friends” (like John McCain,) the federal government (almost everyone there,) and anyone who hasn’t or won’t subscribe to the far, far-right agenda.

Beyond these points, I’m obviously pleased that Sarah Palin’s “fifteen minutes” may be coming to an end. But let’s not forget that Palin has shown an ability to morph, and I wouldn’t be surprised (now that she has more time on her hands) if she spends a year under someone’s grooming, and runs for president in 2016. I have no reason to believe that Palin has developed the sufficient intellectual curiosity within her to do the work needed. She clearly showed no such curiosity in the run up to and the execution of the 2008 campaign, and none in her post ’08 life. Unfortunately Palin has continued to espouse her own version of the facts. Whether an original thought of Daniel Patrick Moynahan, Ellen Hume, James R. Schlesinger, Bernard Baruch, or anyone else, Palin never understood that everyone has a right to his or her own opinion, but no one has a right to their own facts.

That being said, if Palin spent an honest and earnest year’s effort to get her act together, I believe she would prove a sufficiently viable GOP candidate for 2016 and accomplish one of two things: either get the nomination, or amass a sufficient amount of leftover cash from fundraising or PAC efforts during the primaries to create her own post-politics career and/or a very comfortable retirement by channeling campaign consulting fees to her husband, children, or some other entity, i.e., a “Palin Foundation” with her as future exec. (Even Dick Armey found a way to work for the election/reelection of GOP candidates and leave with an $8 million “pension”.)

I, for one, am pleased that the entire Palin episode happened. It helped strengthen the resolve of Democrats in 2008, and helped push the GOP into the hands of the Tea Party. Republicans became a caricature of themselves by stampeding as far to the right as possible, and that reinforced a widely held perception (and understanding of reality) that the GOP is primarily, if not exclusively, the party of the privileged; and the privileged have made it clear that they wish to stay that way. For that Sarah Palin deserves our gratitude. And now, I would ask her to ignore my suggestions about 2016 and please, just go away.

David Steffen

© 2013 David Steffen

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