Opinion: Palin’s Resignation

by Christopher D. Berger

As most of you reading this are no doubt aware, Sarah Palin has resigned the governorship of Alaska, sparking a media firestorm in the process. The questions that remain are what her continuing political aspirations may be, and whether she has effectively taken herself out of the running for the Republican 2012 presidential nomination.

My analysis begins with why she left in the first place. Being a governor can’t be an easy position, much less when you’re targeted with a political ‘scorched earth’ campaign by a party whose political scruples and ethics went out the window with Teddy Kennedy at Chappaquiddick. Her children are the butts of horrifying jokes on syndicated television, her oldest daughter is now an unwed teenage mother herself, and her youngest son has Down’s Syndrome. As governor, the state has spent more than $2 million investigating her for a series of specious ethics violations, another of which drops literally every two weeks, and she’s accumulated $500,000 in legal bills defending herself against these charges.

She is reviled and despised by so many left-leaning groups it’s hard to count them all. Feminists hate her because she proved it’s possible to have political success and raise a family. Pro-choicers hate her because she did all that and chose to carry a baby with Down’s to term. Elitists hate her because she didn’t go to the right schools and speaks with a folksy accent and unsophisticated diction. The political class generally fears her because she proved it’s possible for one of the unwashed masses, one they consider inferior to themselves in intelligence, comprehension, and gravitas, to transcend the normal political stepping stones when she went from stay-at-home mom to the governor’s mansion. Alaskan politicians hate her because she got things done and kept them from skimming off the top in the process. Liberals hate and fear her because she put the fear of God into them, inspires Reaganesque loyalty, and can expound cogently and simply exactly why they’re wrong.

Where things get particularly scary for her is when you consider who that (admittedly partial) list comprises. Not only have I described the feelings of the substantial majority of the Democrat party, I’ve also described a fair number of Republicans, particularly the more squishy intellectual moderates (e.g. David Brooks, token ‘conservative’ at the NY Times). They even describe most of the McCain campaign. Under those circumstances most people would run for cover. One of the few I can name who didn’t was Bush 43, and for that I commend him.

Her continuing ability to get things done in Alaska is now hampered by the fact that she earned the ire of so many political thugs in the ’08 election, but her lieutenant governor is not so encumbered. By resigning as governor, she is doing the best thing for her state, her family, and herself, given the plethora of bad choices before her. Her agenda can move forward with a new face at the helm, she can attempt to shield her family from the petty vicissitudes of politics, and she can go on the lecture circuit, support other conservative candidates, and pay off that half million in legal debt.

Right now, and for the foreseeable future, she’s the hottest item on the lecture circuit, and that will have other advantages besides the obvious financial implications. Had she stayed on as governor, she might have had an easier time keeping herself in the national spotlight, setting up a 2012 run at the White House, but the attention would have been fairly negative. There would be stories about the mounting concerns over the sheer number of ongoing ethics investigations, stories about her financial maelstrom (and how could she thus be credible in discussing fixing the national finances), stories about what a horrible mother she was for exposing her children to national politics like this, stories about how, after her initial successes, she was ineffective as governor, with nary a mention of the speciousness of the ethics charges or their connection to her financial situation, her effectiveness as governor, or the cumulative effect on her children. And by Election Day 2012, people would be completely burned out on Sarah Palin. By doing this, she can end her administration on a high note, ensure her state is responsibly run, maintain a position in the national consciousness, fix her finances, continue energizing to the base, and avoid a lot of negative press. There will still be some, but the media will have to work a lot harder to find dirt on her going forward.

That said, I don’t think she’ll really be running in 2012, not seriously anyway. She may throw her hat in the ring to maintain a presence, but I suspect her real shot will be at 2016, if she’s going to make one at all. By that time, her children will be older and less vulnerable politically, her personal finances will be in much better shape, and Obama won’t be running. 2012 will be a bloodbath probably resulting in the re-election of Obama in which the moderate wing of the Republican party has a last gasp at getting their guy nominated and forcing the party to run as Democrat lite and on the hatred of Obama, which will cause much of the conservative vote to simply stay home and won’t generate much excitement for the Republican candidate. It will be 2004 redux with the roles reversed. Palin, I think, realizes this.

Even if she did win, she’d then likely be stuck with the horrendous inflation resulting from the Obama policies of print and spend. With the savings rate up to 6.5%, astronomically high by recent standards, most of the new money he’s printing is being sucked right back out of the economy, staving off inflation until the economy recovers. When that happens, be it in three months or three years, all that money currently being hoarded by gun-shy investors will flood back into the economy and we’ll witness Carter-style stagflation, which will likely be the prevalent perception of the economy through the putative Obama second term. Unfortunately, tying it back to Obama will be more difficult if he’s not president and will put whoever’s there in a very sticky spot.

No, Palin will keep her powder dry until 2016, at which point Obamanomics will have exhausted the country and the Republican party may be ready to embrace a genuine alternative to Obama. And there she’ll be, the ready-made candidate who’s a proven crowd favorite, is adored by the base, and has the credibility, exposure, and experience to make a serious showing, to turn out people who love her, not just who hate the other guy. If she has any plans on the White House, that would be my bet, and that’s why I think she quit, not because she’s a whiner, but because it’s the best, most viable option available to her at this point.

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