Clueless editorial

October 6, 2011

Normally I like the Washington Examiner; it’s a great center-right paper and they feature some excellent columnists. I highly recommend it.

But, in an editorial saying Sarah Palin was right not to run, the editorial writer showed himself to be intellectually lazy and shallow:

As he bowed out of next year’s race, Christie said President Obama “has failed the leadership test.” Christie added: “Everything else you can be taught. You can’t be taught how to lead and how to make decisions.” The reality is that by resigning her post as governor of Alaska — citing as her reason an ethics law that she had championed — Palin failed the same leadership test as Obama. It does not matter how deeply unfair the press was toward her during the 2008 presidential cycle, when John McCain chose her as his running mate. By quitting the job she was elected to do, Palin essentially acknowledged her critics’ most essential contention — that she was not ready for higher office. Nothing she has done since then has changed this.

Oh, boy. Here we go.  It’s the “quitter” argument, again, the favorite of people who look at one fact —“She quit!”— and then shut off their brains. They only look at it from a national perspective, not recognizing or acknowledging or perhaps even caring about differences between states and their laws.

To whomever wrote this editorial: it wasn’t the 2008 press coverage that made her quit. It was the campaign of unending and baseless ethics charges that were aimed at her political paralysis and financial ruin. As I wrote to a friend when we were discussing this yesterday:

The law in question was the Alaska ethics statute. Under it:

  • All complaints and charges had to be investigated. There was no preliminary vetting.
  • The accused had to pay for their own defense, no state resources. In other words, the state AG couldn’t lift a finger, unlike other states.
  • All document requests had to be honored. Given the number of requests filed, this ate up an enormous amount of staff time and public money.

By the time she resigned, the Palins had accumulated $700k of legal debt at least on a combined salary of (roughly) $200k. Again, there would be no reimbursement from the state, nor anything paid by losing complainants. I think asking someone to continue as governor and take bankruptcy on the chin is a bit much. (Regarding some sort of a legal defense fund, they tried that, a predecessor to SarahPac, and it was challenged under the ethics law, too. The money was locked up. I donated to it and was eventually given a refund.)

The ethics law was well-intentioned but (as is so often the case) poorly designed and fraught with unintended consequences. Not surprisingly (as I understand it), it was changed under her successor.

So I ask the editorial’s author: How would it be passing a test of leadership to hang on to an office at the price of it being paralyzed by the complaints (thus being unable to do “the job she was elected to do”) and her family being bankrupted? Would you seriously call that leadership? Honestly?

Sure, the rest of the editorial is largely complimentary, but the heart is in the quoted paragraph. This editorial wasn’t even a backhanded compliment; it was a thinly-disguised patronizing slap to Sarah Palin’s face from a mouthpiece for the Beltway Establishment.


AFTERWORD: My understanding of the Alaska ethics law is based on several years hashing over this topic. My apologies for not having a link handy. If I’m wrong in my summary, I’ll gladly stand corrected if someone can cite the relevant text from the law as it existed during Palin’s administration.

RELATED: Stacy McCain has a good article on Palin’s decision at The American Spectator.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)

So, why’d she do it?

July 4, 2009

I still don’t have a satisfying answer for why Governor Palin resigned, and Tito’s magic 8-ball is on the fritz, but I’ve read some interesting speculations this morning -some more believable than others- that I thought I’d pass along:

  • Max Blumenthal: Getting out ahead of a scandal? Reliant on rumors and unsourced rumors from “Alaska political circles” (Where she’s always had enemies), this is my candidate for “least credible.”
  • William Jacobson: It has always been about Trig. There’s no doubt that the Left’s obsession with her toddler has revealed something vile in our politics, and I wouldn’t blame a mother for saying “I’m taking your target away.”
  • Mark Steyn: An ordinary citizen cuts bait. The “I’ve had enough” reason. After what we’ve witnessed, I could believe that.

Both of the latter beg the question of “Why not finish her term and then retire,” while the first provides a possible answer, but one I hope is baseless.

Meanwhile, Victor Davis Hanson says it’s not about why she did it, but what she does with her new free time:

In the long run, she can lecture, earn a good income through speaking, develop a coterie of advisers and supporters, take care of her family, not have the constant political warring on all flanks, and invest time in reflecting and studying issues, visit the country, meet leaders, etc. She’s not looking at 2012; but in eight years by 2016 she will be far more savvy, still young, and far more experienced. It matters not all that the Left writes her off as daffy, since they were going to do that whatever she did; the key is whether she convinces conservatives in eight year of travel and reflection that she’s a  charismatic Margaret Thatcher type heavyweight.

We’ll see. I’d love to see her come back refreshed and ready to run in 2016. I still think she offers what the country needs and that, more than any other likely candidate, she stands for the common person – the ordinary barbarian, as some put it. Some have compared her to Ronald Reagan, and Palin herself often quotes the late President, but I think the fairer comparison is to Harry Truman – not the Hollywood star, but the Missouri haberdasher: tough, scrappy, full of common sense. The Wise wrote off Truman in 1948, and we know how that turned out.

So, to answer the question in the subject line:

Sarah Palin shrugs during a campaign stop in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, on October 11.

It’s about the future, now.

LINKS: Sister Toldjah reflects on the morning after. Rich Noyes on 10 months of media scorn (via ST). Adam Brickley looks at internal Alaska politics and thinks she’s extended her influence. Slublog doesn’t believe she’ll be back and says our loss is her gain. On the other hand, Mark Levin thinks she’s running:

Out of left field

July 3, 2009

To say I’m surprised and disappointed at the resignation of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin is an understatement by an order of magnitude. The news hit me like a ton of bricks. Anyone who knows me or looks in the archives of this blog knows that I became a great fan of Sarah Palin and looked forward to seeing her inaugurated as President of the United States in 2013.

It’s almost impossible to believe anything other than that this announcement is a self-inflicted, below-the-waterline torpedo hit to any presidential aspirations she had in 2012 – or beyond. I’d like to think otherwise, but it’s hard not to see this as political suicide. The question is, why’d she do it?

I don’t know.

To be honest, many of the reasons she gave in her address seem, well, nonsensical. Didn’t want to be a lame-duck? Huh? You’re not a lame-duck if you run for reelection and, besides, her current term wouldn’t end until 2011, even if she were defeated or chose not to run. Resigning now to avoid being a lame-duck is just a lame reason. If that were logical, shouldn’t every president have resigned to make way for his successor?

The legal bills she and her family racked up defending her against ludicrous ethics complaints? A single fundraising drive and conservatives around the country would have been happy to contribute to retire her debt. In fact, the blog Conservatives for Palin did just that, raising over $100,000 for her with minimal advertising. A national campaign with direct mailing would have cleared the debt easily. As for the money Alaska was spending to deal with the charges? That’s part of the state’s job: to handle these kinds of complaints. If there’s a fault in Alaska’s ethics laws that allows someone like Celtic Diva to become an abusive complainant, then the law should be amended to discourage nuisance filings. By giving this for a reason, Sarah has said that any elected official who becomes a lightning rod should resign to spare the state the expense.


And then there’s there question of what this tells her supporters in Alaska and the other 49* states. As Ed Morrissey puts it, leaders don’t quit. And the people of Alaska elected her to serve a four-year term. It’s one thing to run for reelection with the idea of running for president in the next cycle; lots of governors have done that and been open about it. And it’s fine to say “I’m not running for reelection because I plan to run at a national level, and I want to be fair to my state.” Many (including me) would respect her for that. But to quit in midterm? Isn’t there an obligation to finish the job owed to those who agreed to vote for you?

No one who has any sense (or any sense of decency), can doubt that Sarah was subjected to a level of savage attacks from the media and operatives in both parties that, as far as I can recall, is unprecedented in the modern era – especially for someone who only ran for vice-president. The attacks on her children have been particularly vile. It’s a sign of the deep sickness in our political system. I wouldn’t blame a political figure for refusing to move to the national level and declining to run for reelection after that, but to quit early?

It may be, as some such as William Kristol have said, that she is taking a shrewd gamble to clear the decks for a national run. Perhaps, and it may be that she’ll rise from this even faster than Nixon rose from his defeats in 1960 and 1962. Maybe. I’ve said for months that she’s just the kind of person -the character, the common sense, the ethics- I want to see in office. But this bizarre move has thrown all sorts of question marks into the mix.

And I want a better explanation than I read today.

*(56, if you’re President Obama)

LINKS: Tim Lindell on Sarah crossing the Rubicon; Quin Hillyer – “dereliction of duty;” Sister Toldjah; Jim Geraghty; The Anchoress has lots of links and wonders if there isn’t something else behind this. As do I. I dont know