Monday, July 6, 2009

Sarah Palin's surprise

UPDATE 7/7: Parable of the Doubting Ace

PREVIOUSLY: From my latest American Spectator column:
"Her national political career is done," NBC's David Shuster declared, even before reports of her plans to resign had been confirmed. Other media types joined the rush to write Palin's political obituary, with a Greek chorus of "conservative" commentators transparently eager to agree that her resignation represented proof that Palin is both unelectable to and unfit for higher office.
Of course, she had just exposed as fraudulent the pretended omniscience of the commentariat. None of them had predicted Palin's resignation, and yet their latest oracular pronouncements -- Ed Rollins told CNN she looked "terribly inept" -- were treated as authoritative.
The punditocracy can't predict Palin because she shares neither their perspective nor their assumptions. Her ascent to political stardom has been treated as a fluke by most of the GOP establishment for the simple reason that she doesn't slavishly follow the standard script of Republican politicians.
Of course, in recent years this script usually has ended with "…and then the Democrats won," suggesting the need for a re-write. . . .
Please read the whole thing. Sunday morning, I was driving back from Lake Weiss -- where we'd shot our fabulous annual Fourth of July fireworks show -- when the editor called asking me to write the column.

Of course, not all the commentators rushing to write finis on Palin's career were of the Ed Rollins/David Schuster variety. Both Ace and Allahpundit hastened to endorse the pundit consensus.

I've got MSNBC on my office TV and the mid-day newsette just referred to Palin's "baffling" resignation. It's not baffling. Palin explained her reasons, and her reasons sounded entirely plausible to me. What baffles the pundits is the fact that it was (a) unexpected, and (b) doesn't fit the established script for presidential hopefuls.

The people who pronounce themselves "baffled," and who conclude that Palin has made a stupid move by resigning, are leaving a couple of things out of their calculations. First, Palin is a Christian who, in the past, has made straightforward reference to the will of God. What she believes -- what she must believe -- is that if it is God's will that she become president, she will. Therefore, the conventional wisdom of the commetariat and all the advice from political "experts" are just so much noise to her.

Second, Palin's closest adviser is her husband, Todd. He is not stupid. He is also not a man who will show up on TV and blabber his every thought for the sake of creating the impression that he knows everything.

Just because you don't know what Sarah Palin is doing doesn't mean that she doesn't know what she's doing.

UPDATE: Karl at the Green Room refers us to Ace's NSFW thoughts on "magical thinking" in politics:
This is fucking insane and it must stop. I will not be bullied by this ludicrous magical thinking brigade who insists that only Nice and Positive Words must be uttered or else one is contributing one’s Evil Energy to the Wrong Side.
It’s insane. . . .
Stop jumping to claim some one is not just wrong but actively malicious.
Very good, very true and very timely. On the other hand, there is this: In politics, perception has a way of becoming reality, and one way to win -- as Obama has recently demonstrated -- is to promote the impression that you are unbeatable, and that your victory is inevitable.

First, the winning candidate wishes to create that perception within his own campaign. It does wonders for morale -- as also for fund-raising and volunteer recruitment -- to believe that your team is the winning team.

Next, the campaign team then works to create that perception of electoral inevitability in the minds of voters. Bandwagon psychology has a powerful effect in politics. Undecided "swing" voters are especially vulnerable to the vote-for-the-winner appeal.

Finally, the campaign team desires to convey the perception of electoral inevitability to its rivals. If the belief that you're on the winning team has a positive morale factor, the belief that you're on the losing team obviously has the opposite effect.

You saw this very clearly in the Democratic primary contest last year. Team Hillary had been fostering the perception of inevitability ever since the beginning. However, once she began to stumble -- when Tim Russert tripped her up with a debate question about drivers licenses for illegal immigrants -- and Obama pulled within range, a fearful defensiveness took hold in the Hillary camp. After Obama won the Iowa caucuses, you couldn't find a single member of the campaign press corps who really thought Hillary could come back to win. (See Josh Green's memorable account of what went wrong inside the Hillary campaign.)

OK, so let's relate this back to Ace's defense against "magical thinking" by (some) Palinistas:
I do not mind being called wrong. I do, however, greatly mind being called a traitor, of harboring a secret agenda I hide from you in order to advance the MSM's interests, etc., and all the rest of this insane bullshit. . . .
Ace is entirely correct in saying that this is bad sportsmanship: X disagrees with me, therefore X is an enemy of All That Is Good And True. On the other hand, the fanaticism of Palin's supporters, and the fury with which they attack Palin's critics, constitutes evidence of why Ace is wrong.

Sarah Palin inarguably possesses the kind of charisma that inspires fierce loyalty. This is a valuable political resource and, if could be harnessed and channeled into productive organized activity, could easily carry her to the nomination in 2012. "If" is the key word there.

So there is, then, some rational substance in what Ace calls the "insane bullshit" of (some) Palinistas. Conservatives who derogate Palin's aptitude for the presidency, or who disparage her in terms of "electability," may be damaging the prospects of the one candidate most likely to achieve a quick reversal of the GOP's fortunes, by defeating Obama in 2012.

Further, while Ace is obviously not angling to "get invited to these famous DC dinner parties," there are people whose career ambitions and political elitism are very much implicated in the anti-Palin agenda. Because of Palin's populist appeal (something that seems innate, rather than conscious on her part), she attracts followers who are sick and tired of The Republicans Who Really Matter.

As is always true in any engagement between populism and elitism, the elitists always have the most articulate writers on their side, while the populists seem to be full of incoherent rage. But the rage of the populists does not mean -- repeat, does not mean -- that they have no legitimate grievances, or that they're all a bunch of lowbrow yahoos.

Instinct counts for something in politics. Having been around the Beltway GOP for nearly 12 years now, I agree with the populist instinct that the national Republican leadership has succumbed to political elitism -- a deadly temptation in small-d democratic politics.

Like the Buchanan Brigades of 1992, or like the Tea Party movement, the Palinistas represent an effort to get the GOP establishment to acknowledge the party's conservative grassroots. If they sometimes commit rhetorical overkill -- including demonizing everyone who is not a True Believer -- this should be understood in context.


  1. "What baffles the pundits is the fact that it was (a) unexpected, and (b) doesn't fit the established script for presidential hopefuls."

    Gasp! She didn't inform the Beltway Idiots prior to making a decision? The audacity!

  2. What our liberal friends forget is that she doesn't need to please them. She knows she doesn't have their votes and doesn't expect to get them.

    That's why their reactions are to be laughed at and ignored. If Palin could raise the dead they would complain that she was causing overpopulation.

  3. Amen. This also points to the huge disconnect between the party grassroots and the party intellectuals. On Fox yesterday, Liz Tratta was practically sneering as she discussed Sarah. When she evoked WFB I thought I was going to hurl. I think this will be a good move for her, but what do I know? I willing to wait and see how it all plays out.

  4. Her political career is hardly over. Leftist spokesholes everywhere are just preemptively peeing their pants. Wait and see is my approach. I the fight has "not yet begun" and when it does, the gloves are off.

  5. Palin’s move puts yet more pressure on Obama to finally get some results, as the soaring rhetoric isn’t hypnotizing the plebes like it used to.

    Last week Helen Thomas, Colin Powell, and Warren Buffet all turned on him. Polls are looking droopy for The One lately.

    And Obama’s porkulus program is a train wreck, all it’s done is bump interest rates and tank the dollar. We are being laughed at by bad guys like Tehran, Pyongyang, and Al Qaida who amazingly turned-down Barack’s friend-requests.

    Palin could trounce him in 2012, when Americans would vote for the Gipper-in-Heels in droves- while begging for lower taxes, free enterpise, a defense posture with some backbone… an end to the radical, anti-American nightmare we’ve got now.

    Go get ‘em Sarah-

  6. "It's not baffling. Palin explained her reasons, and her reasons sounded entirely plausible to me. "
    Really? Well, I guess every reason she gave, as well as the contradictions she gave to the reasons she gave, make sense to you.
    On the one hand, her kids convinced her she should quit because of nasty "bloggers". On the other hand, her first aborted term as Governor has achieved more than most full term Governors. Etc.,etc....
    Her supporters/cult followers will destroy the Conservative movement by way of mob rule. You can look forward to a Palin nomination that will remind the rest of America of Bush/Rove style politics.I don't think that style will fly anymore.
    And wait til everyone gets a hold of the whole " biblical Esther"-Palin connection. Won't that be a hoot!
    It's funny to see how her supporters have browbeaten Conservatives/Republicans into taking her seriously.
    In the meantime, she can polish up on her Hannity talking points, and on her appeal to "real Americans"....
    oh boy.

  7. This isn't the first time Palin has resigned, the last time turned out to be a bloodbath for those who had crossed her.

  8. As long as she continues to be the face of the opposition over the next few years, I am very excited. To me 2012 is too far off considering the money spent and legislation passed over the last few months, so to get folks informed in any fashion I am excited. People listen to her, whether they like her or not. Particularly since the left cannot handle the fact that she is attractive, intelligent and attracts the average American, has not succumbed to the no-nonsense – yes I am a female – haircut like that of Janet (Reno or Napolitano), chose life rather than abortion (which we all know is the wrong choice for the left) and has not gone to an ivy league college is simply an added bonus. The fact that the elite right is throwing in the towel for her is another good sign, she is not their puppet either. Hoping and wishing for the best, we deserve better than what our government has given us.
    BTW - what will A. Sullivan do now? Is there another down syndrome baby he can attack?? Maybe a blind homeless person or an elderly person in a wheelchair? Oh wait! Its summer time – how about kids w/a lemonade stand! Yes that seems appropriate for the useless SOB.

    Get em Sarah is right!

  9. "Palinistas represent an effort to get the GOP establishment to acknowledge the party's conservative grassroots."

    That seems kind of counter-intuitive. If that's what the Palinistas wanted, why wouldn't they pick, well, a conservative to rally around?

    Palin started off her political career as a self-identified "progressive" mayoral candidate, and doesn't seem to have changed much since [insert offensive references to putting lipstick on things here as desired].

  10. @Y4E:
    You can look forward to a Palin nomination that will remind the rest of America of Bush/Rove style politics.I don't think that style will fly anymore.
    I agree. The progressive/centrist theme will be as effective for her as for John McCain.
    However, my gut is that she'll come out with a Constitutional platform and a streak of panache 80 miles wide.
    Could be the biggest populist uprising since Andrew Jackson. Hopefully without so much genocide against Native Americans.

  11. Sarah Palin is not:

    1. Washed up -- she is in fact just getting started. She did not say she was bowing out
    of politics, she simply said she was going in a different direction (which means "national level").

    2. Unelectable -- she will win by a margin in Reagan territory because she can and will draw more of the independents and for the right reasons.

    I simply smile at the punditocracy's strange take on Sarah Palin. Ace and Allah are entitled to their opinion even if it is wrong. It reminds me of the sniping that went on about a certain GOP candidate leading up to the 1980 election. I still chuckle at "voodoo economics" barb. He was also "too right wing" and "divorced" (and this was from the GOP side).

    Tell me, what was McCain's margin of victory again? He was genteel, "moderate", and a war hero on top of that. Boy, he creamed Obama, didn't he?

    There's a reason for this uncivil attempt to bury Palin by the left -- they know what she represents. And nothing warms the cockles of their hearts like reading other conservatives parrot their words and sentiments about Palin.

  12. Fourth try. This comment box is the worst I've seen. This is not an Anonymous post. I just have to lie to the thing to make it work. I also have to use IE, which is really irritating.

    Posted by K~Bob:

    The traffic at Ace's place was quite high ove his comments, and others. The response I made was regarding a critical aspect that the elites (Brooks, Noonan, and sadly, Krauthammer) pointedly ignore:

    Reagan was the epitome of the unhip, unsophisticated, gee-whiz, schmuck when he crushed the "conventional wisdom" in his two Presidential elections. The left made him their laughingstock. He was laughed at as, "President Pruneface," and those who joined the Heritage Foundation were held to ridicule by the cool, urban elites of those days.

    His "Morning in America" speech was pure cornpone, then. It's looked back upon now as one of the greatest speeches ever. That's how history works. The "elites" fail to grasp this. I Wonder how well they grasp other aspects of reality.

  13. So, just to clarify Robert McCain's totally unclarifiable point:

    Sliming anyone who says that Sarah's lastest move is baffling is okay because Robert McCain knows that Sarah knows what she's doing, even though he doesn't *know* what she's doing, but he's sure that he knows that she knows.

    ...Thus, criticizing Sarah is not okay, because she knows what she's doing, and at some point in the future, she might actually let us know what's going on too?

  14. Stacy, soon to be Ex-Governor Palin is a quitter. I expected a fighter, and I think you did too. Yeah sure, she's going to (¢ash in) battle in other ways, but this delusional Resign Early With Honor strategy rewards the character assassins and makes backers like you and me look like fools. You can keep blogging in blind support, but to me your continued Palin writing looks like lipstick on a pig.

  15. By the way, where's the fierce campaign of Not One Red Cent for SarahPAC (or should I say QuitterPAC)? I loved the online tribute to your father, but it implied a strong conviction that quitters never win and winners never quit.

  16. To: Anonymous (aka useless and too scared to put you're name out, aka July 6, 3:54pm comment...)

    What? English please?

    Grow a set and put a name to your comment. Just a suggestion. And while I am at it - another suggestion, since Joe "I'm off my rocker VP" doesn't have a clue, he might actually let us know what's going on too...Oh wait he did and well I still has no idea...

  17. "my gut is that she'll come out with a Constitutional platform and a streak of panache 80 miles wide."

    Maybe this is the surprise everyone is talking about?
    Seriously, panache just won't cut it. And she has yet to embrace a Constitutional anything. Smitty, you're my homie but don't fall into the wishful thinking routine like the rest of them.
    The fact is that she cut and run on her official duties to pursue what' best for her: In Palin speak, when she says that she is doing what it best for Alaska, she means she is doing what is best for HER.
    It's like if I were to leave my wife and I tell her that it's really what is best for her( in effect taking the "it's not you it's me" routine to the zenith of it's illogical conclusion).
    What cracks me up is all the spin and all the memes that followed her zany resignation speech.My favorite so far is the one where her supporters insist that now that she is out of office she can really say what she wants.Really? So her quitting her post allows her the room to be a critic? Great.
    Just what his country needs.
    Like I've said, between her delusional identification with the biblical "Esther", and her supporters insistence that she is the second coming of Reagan, Conservatism is on the fast track off the cliff.

  18. It find it strange how so many people can believe Sarah Palin is exactly the candidate they want her to be. From the right she is the female Rongald Reagan with a little Maggie Thatcher thrown in. For the left she is the next GWB.

    Weird. Truth is most of us don't know very much about the kind of campaign she may run, the kind of candidate she really can be without incomptents at the top of the ticket telling her how to behave.

    Only time will tell. Two things are certain her intention to resign speach was terrible. Her innauguration speach at the RNC was brilliant.

  19. As far as I can tell, Sarah Palin quit because the ethics investigations would cost Alaska two million dollars, which is maybe 0.001% of its annual budget.

    At least that's what her lawyer said today in an interview and she mentioned in her speech although she never quite said exactly why she was stepping down.

    RSM says: Palin explained her reasons, and her reasons sounded entirely plausible to me.

    Could someone please explain those reasons to me?

    I find it hard to believe she bailed after half a term to save Alaskans one one-thousandth of a percent in this year's budget. She could have saved the same amount of money by cancelling any random little highway project.

    Somewhere, Mitt Romney is smiling.

  20. Great article & terrific point about the advice of political experts being just so much noise to her. She's definitely not a typical politician, she's the face of a movement & that's what all the excitement is all about.

    Her resignation makes her even more formidable, the libs and rinos know it. They're not scratching their heads trying to figure out what she did. They're scratching their heads trying to figure out how to stop her.

    Palinista? How about Palindromes? *Star comedy by Democrats*, *Draw a slot, sir - Bristol's a ward*, *Harass sensuousness, Sarah*! Or maybe Palin-drones? Nah.. I think I prefer Palinite.

  21. Heck, if she can win, it'll be nice.

    If she can't, we've got Romney.

    Either way, I'm fine with it.

  22. I don't get it.

    I don't understand why some of the 'elite' conservatives don't like Sarah. They say she's flighty and too pretty and from a whatever college. They say she's out of her league. Well, I agree. I've considered those things.

    But the President we have now fits their wish list, and look how unimpressive he is. I would argue that our mold for President needs reconsideration, because it's getting us the same guy every time.

    I like Sarah Palin. And I think those conservatives should at least consider WHY I like her despite their observations.

    1. She looks shocked that she found herself in the national conversation. This is good to me, because it means she hasn't been groomed into the acceptible candidate. It means she's still saying what she thinks. It means she hasn't had the time to become jaded or corrupt.

    2. She's a hard worker. She's a wife to a husband that is frequently gone, mother to 5 kids, AND she holds down a job. Normal people relate to that story, because it's their story. Rather than her coming from an academic environment with dissertations and whatnot. What does that MEAN?

    3. She seems to have normal people common sense, a trait totally absent in DC. We are paying a lot for oil? Common sense says drill for it. We have economic problems? Common sense says tighten the budget. Bad people want to threaten us? Common sense says to protect yourself. Elected officials aren't doing America right? Fire them, or at least make it well known so the people can fire them.

    4. I see in her HOPE that a candidate might finally cut through the BS going on in Washington. I'm sick of the schmoozing and playing by the rules. That's not what Americans pay elected officials for. We want them doing the hard uncomfortable business of the people.

    Polarizing: One side likes something about her, and one side is scared of her. Both of those can be a very good thing.

  23. Sarah Palin can't handle a half hour of 'Meet the Press' because she'd just give 'Saturday Night Live' weeks worth of material.

    "She's inarticulate and uneducated"
    -Liz Trotta on Fox News.

  24. Common sense says drill for it. We have economic problems? Common sense says tighten the budget. Bad people want to threaten us? Common sense says to protect yourself. Elected officials aren't doing America right? Fire them, or at least make it well known so the people can fire them

    Let me add a few:

    Bankers stealing money by pulling bonuses WAY ahead of Bank profits from deals? Jail'em.

    Mortgage brokers who made Liar Loans (and then sold their company for $billions and gave their money to (D)'s?) Execute them and confiscate the money.

    Investment banks defrauding pension funds by selling shit packaged as cheese? Jail'em.

    GSE execs cooking the books? Hang the bastards.

    By the way, this thread-head post is dead-on. The (D) and (R) elites are scared to death of Palin for one major reason: she has integrity.

    They don't know how to compromise someone who actually has integrity--and they are deathly afraid of that. After all, if GE can't buy her, what good is she to GE?

  25. I have to say, it is a surprise that Gov. Palin is resigning. But, look at the current president. He won a senate seat in 2004 and by 2007 was running for president. Sure, he did not resign the seat, but he might as well have. And, did Sen. Messiah Barack have any, I mean any accomplishments as a senator. State or federal? Sound of crickets chirping. No, no, no!!! Somehow, we are led to believe that President Obama is the smartest man to ever be president. I am still waiting for his college records to be released. I think that Gov. Palin will do just fine. I have written some of my thoughts on the pundit class, a great platform for soon to be Mrs. Palin
    Sarah Palin will prove the critics wrong and it will drive them bonkers.

  26. Maybe Sarah Palin is just going into the political wilderness for a while to develop her national political contacts and written position papers.

    Similar to Churchill, Nixon and Reagan.

    Time will tell.

  27. OK, just what does this mean?

    ""No productive fulfilled people determined where to put their efforts choosing to wisely use precious time to build up — and there is such a need to build up — and fight for our state and our country and I choose to fight for it."

  28. When she accepted the VP nomination, she knew she needed to bring her professional game up to another level, she never did. She knew that her family would get attacked as did Hilary and Chelsea before her (by even her twin maverick brother McCain in 1998), let face it she knew her family affairs would come out. But now she plays the victim card again, a card she played after those comical first extended interviews that we all enjoyed and SNL immortalized. But for the icing on the cake, she quits, because she does not want to be a lame duck governor, because the lawsuits keep coming, because it was the media’s fault, because seeing Russia from her house finally got to her, because is was not fair that Alaskan’s paid her salary while she was running for the VP position, take your pick. So what does she tells us? Dear Mr. President, when things get tough, quit. Dear military men and women, if you are not having fun, quit. Dear son or daughter, if things are not going your way, quit. Sure, I agree when she first was introduced and gave a descent speech, sure the polls went up, but after the extended interviews, they went where they ended, down. She showed her true character, I real hope the book deal, Radio/ TV shows and the speech circuits make up for what her party has lost by her actions.

  29. Posted by K~Bob:

    Notice how all the anti-Palin posts here (and pretty much everywhere else) don't bother with either her record or her positions on anything? It's just more of the same old accusations, with nothing more than one single interview (which was not live and unedited) to base them on. Well, that and "Trig Trutherism" a la Sullivan. Trutherism always sells well to those who like to be told what to think.

    The reason they resort to these thin, monotonous accusations is because their idol is hammered daily on positions, platform, and total lack of both foreign policy substance or economics capability. It's clear from what the Administration says, and from the bizarrely constructed, tabula rasa "legislation" he is enabling. No one need resort to repeated claims about how inept, or how stupid, or how unpolished he is (hey, maybe Palin should stammer more and pronounce "baby" the way Elvis did? Would that help?). It's easy to hit him on substance all day long. You anti-Palin folks have nothing, and it's hilarious to watch.

  30. RS sho is smart.

  31. Mrs. Palin's future in politics is going to be decided by Mrs. Palin's actions, not by anyone's bloviating about her.

  32. "Sarah Palin can't handle a half hour of 'Meet the Press' because she'd just give 'Saturday Night Live' weeks worth of material."

  33. Obama can go on TV and have a serious poliical discussion. He does it all the time. So can Newt, Mitt and hey, even Joe Biden.

    Sarah Palin cannot. When she tries she looks like "your mom" trying to have a serious political discussion. (Or maybe that should be "somebody else's mom". No offence to moms).

    Her folky populism certainly has it's appeal, but it's inches shallow.

    Reagan was a guy who could speak the folksy-talk and still be razor-sharp on policy issues. Sarah Palin simply cannot.

    No-one is saying (I think) that Sarah Palin's defenders think she is perfect, or a shoo-in for 2012, or anything like that... But it is bizarre to watch their vitriol being directed at anyone on the right who speaks their mind about her and says, ya know, she just isn't anywhere near ready for the political prime-time.

    It's a sad, bad say for the American right when one right-o blogger describes another right-o blogger as '"conservative"' (his quotes) just because he blapshemes against the holy Sarah Palin...

  34. Frederick: liar.

  35. "Sarah Palin will prove the critics wrong and it will drive them bonkers. "

    Um, she's has consistently proven us right up to his point, why should that change?
    You see, you can try to spin it whatever way you want, but unlike BO, she QUIT her post. She caved. She gave in.
    You might think that he might as well have quit his Senator seat, but just imagine what you would have said about him for doing so.

    "You anti-Palin folks have nothing, and it's hilarious to watch."
    K-Bob, we Palin herself! That is more than enough material. Attack her on policy? Well, what are her positions besides
    the run of the mill Conservative platitudes? Abortion? Taxes? What exactly has she accomplished as a halfterm Governor?
    Or aren't you paying attention to the state of Alaska at the moment?
    No, K-Bob, your wishful thinking about Palin won't change the fact that she is nothing more than a Beauty Contestant who
    was able to work her folksy schtik on a somewhat provincial electorate. BO, for all his shortcomings, has raised the intelligence
    bar for POTUS, something you Palin supporters cannot grasp because you do not posses it.
    Palin can sure pander to your resentment towards those who educated themselves! Maybe it's something she learned at
    journalism school?
    But Elvisthewhatever has the best round-up of all: yes, Palin was put on this green earth to wage war against...the MEDIA and ELITISM!!! Because that is what this country needs. You know, with this kind of thinking, the founding fathers would have been lynched before signing the papers!