Fear not – “Caribou Barbie” is just fine. Her political career, on the other hand, just went to The Great Beyond – and I’m not talking Wasilla …
To me, Sarah Palin is an enigma. On one hand, she’s carrying the banner for conservative politics, and clearly has a large number of supporters. On the other hand, she seems at times to be dumb as a stump and not in the least bit politically astute – like right now.
Palin is currently the Governor of Alaska, not traditionally viewed as a steppingstone to national politics. But when John McCain was looking for someone to share the Republican presidential ticket last year, his aides recommended the 44-yr-0ld self-described “hockey mom”. I, like most others, had never heard of Palin, and was intrigued initially. That pretty much ended when she opened her mouth, of course, but it did make for an interesting election season. The last thing I expected was that nearly a year later, we’d still be talking about her – and yet here we are.
In the aftermath of a horrific defeat at the hands of Barack Obama and the Democratic party, the Republicans were desperate for fresh leadership. Still stinging from McCain’s centrist brand of conservatism, many turned to Palin. She’s unquestionably more conservative than McCain or most any other potential candidate in the party, but she comes with her own share of baggage, largely in the form of a series of ethics investigations back home in Alaska.
Many wondered if Palin would choose to run for office again in 2010, or opt to focus on a possible presidential campaign two years later. But Palin shocked supporters and foes alike when she announced on July 3 that she’d step down from her position at the end of July, suggesting that it was a better path than serving as a lame-duck governor.
And so as I thought about this announcement that I wouldn’t run for re-election and what it means for Alaska, I thought about how much fun some governors have as lame ducks… travel around the state, to the Lower 48 (maybe), overseas on international trade – as so many politicians do. And then I thought – that’s what’s wrong – many just accept that lame duck status, hit the road, draw the paycheck, and “milk it”. I’m not putting Alaska through that – I promised efficiencies and effectiveness! That’s not how I am wired. I am not wired to operate under the same old “politics as usual.” I promised that four years ago – and I meant it.
It’s not what is best for Alaska.
I am determined to take the right path for Alaska even though it is unconventional and not so comfortable.
OK, I guess that’s one way of looking at it. Of course, you could also look at it as someone who wants to exit the spotlight before it gets too hot, choosing to retreat and plan for 2012 rather than serve out the term to which she was elected. As our own first lady, Maria Shriver – herself the wife of a lame-duck governor – pointed out, how you choose to use the end of your term is up to you.
“You can be a lame duck..the entire time — or you can be inspirational, empowering, focused,” Shriver said.
Seems to me that Palin is losing sight of that which brought her onto the national stage in the first place – a fresh approach to problem-solving and a willingness to roll up her sleeves and get the job done. Instead, she’s going to run off and hide while others clean up the mess she’s left behind.
Much like a bloated corpse from the bottom of a lake, she’ll resurface at some point. When she does, and looks for your support – and she will – remember how she left last time, and ask yourself how she’ll handle the challenges next time …