Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

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Palin’s Boldness

Derided by the conventional wisdom (just see the front pages of any paper) as "bizarre," Governor Palin’s decision to resign is yet another sign of her determination to make herself the most credible challenger to Obama in 2012. Modifying Machiavelli’s advice, she will likely encircle Washington as a prelude to occupying it; one can imagine her rallying the red portions in both red and blue states. As much as I admire her character and cleverness, I hope it will be accompanied by a deeper prudence--the wisdom of serpents accompanying the innocence of doves.

Discussions - 14 Comments

Ken: The problem is, most Americans, unacquainted with the wisdom of Machiavelli, won't see Palin's move as anything other than impulsive and "bizarre." Although Alaska's governor insisted that she explained her reasons why, I'm not sure that her explanation was adequate to the moment. And so she leaves with less than one term as governor of a small state with the expectation of running for the highest office in the land. Sounds crazy to me -- and not in the "just-crazy-enough-to-work" sense of crazy.

I was favorable to Palin's candidacy in the fall, but not overly enthusiastic about it. I thought National Review anointed her prematurely, for example. I doubt that today's announcement ends the circus.

For what it's worth, I liked Philip Klein's take over at the American Spectator.

Gotta be honest. I'm not seeing alot of strategic genius in all this. Here are some thoughts,

1.How can she be a serious candidate for President when she hasn't even completed here frist term in statewide elected office...um nevermind.

2. She needed to show that she could govern during the coming hard years. A record of accomplishment would have been a major asset during a 2012 run. If she had that, and solid domestic policy proposals and good answers on North Korea and Iran, she would have been one heck of a strong contender.

3.This leaving in the middle of the term is weird, and Palin does not need her persona associated with more weirdness.

4.I've read that this helps Romney. Maybe, but I think it helps Huckabee most of all. Palin could have challenged him as the authentic social conservative. If she doesn't run or is crippled, Huckabee could have the voters for whom socially conservative concerns trump all others.

5.Would the last Republican office holder please turn out the lights?

I am afraid that I strongly disagree with this analysis, Ken, and your last sentence suggests that you're not entirely on board with it yourself. I think this was a bad move but I don't lament it. The sooner conservatives come wistfully to regard Palin as "the one that got away" the better. This move does not impress me as shrewed--and I have read Machiavelli. Part of being shrewd is understanding perceptions, after all. One needn't be beholden to them . . . one can work to change them . . . but one can't appear to be oblivious to them. She does. I defended her from unfair attacks during the campaign--particularly from those that insisted she was too parochial and "small town" to know anything worth knowing. I always figured she was wise enough to be president because the "wisdom" that impresses the elites does not impress me so much. But this move does not show her to be lacking in wisdom. It shows her to be lacking in judgment--and it nails for me a suspicion that has been growing in me that she lacks precisely that deeper prudence you speak of above. This, coming as it does on the heels of the ridiculous Letterman dust-up, ends my regard for her as a serious politician.

I think Pete is right, regrettably, about what this does for Huckabee. We need someone who can marry the social and fiscal conservatives and is, authentically, one of both kinds.

I want to gloat. Before the anointing of Palin, I was arguing here in the comments section that she was not ready yet. I was told that what was important was the public perception of her. It is not, was not enough to carry the political day. She was not ready for this and whatever promise she had for political office is wasted. So I cannot gloat, because the right needed the political talent.

With all you guys say up there, there is still something discordant and not-quite-right about this announcement. I listened and found myself thinking, "Then there is also ...." something. This is not just not quite right in Pete's sense of #1 & 2, but powerfully so in the weirdness department. It's like when my kids tell me something and I know what they are leaving out is the central point. What I really hate is finding out the truth from someone else. This feels comparable.

I respect all of your opinions, above; they certainly all make sense and could easily prove true.

But I think she figured she had hit bottom, and going to the people was the only way up. Sure, she could bomb (does this sound like Evita)? Maybe the travelling road show will quickly fold under the crushing weirdness label. Yet, recall that a presidential qualification the Washington elite gave the otherwise unqualified Obama is that he had been campaigning for the presidency for years. And that's what she'll be doing.

I think Kate is right. When I first heard it and did not read the follow up from commentators, my assumption was that she had probably just had enough. I figured she was looking for an easier gig on Fox, or something like that. 2012 did not even cross my mind. Maybe all the 2012 talk is just a cover to maintain interest?

She's JV and this confirmed it. Huckabee is no different. Conservatives need to realize that just because it is exciting to see a politician with a solid moral grounding who is "one of the folks", it doesn't mean said leader is necessarily a good leader (let alone capable of getting elected).

If the best way for Palin to serve the people of Alaska is to step down as governor, then surely the best way for Palin to serve all Americans is to never run for president in the first place.

Surely she has a future at Fox "News" though, where she can play up her tales of tragic victimization to the hilt. Between that and her book deal (I'm picturing promo copies tucked into the backs of church pews), she and Todd should be able to feed their quiverfull, keep their homes and plane, and stuff a garage full with snowmobiles.

I'm a big Palin fan- I think she is a decent person and a good conservative- but this move I don't understand, just like I didn't understand why she listened to McCain and his bad advice during the campaign. This will play out poorly for her, although she remains half of my dream ticket- Romney/Palin in 2012!

The first thing I thought was is this what Thatcher or Mier would do? Palin demonstrated her weakness yesterday and effectively excluded herself from contention. I agree with Ben, Pete, and Julie here. Kate too, who may be right there's something else.

Art Deco: The "quiet" life is exactly what I think I was hinting at with my second comment. My first thought was that she just wanted out--was horrified at the way that her family was being torn apart, and finally realized what I said when I first heard her name tossed about as a contender: she had too much on her plate and this was not a wise move. I think she made the right decision, probably. But I think it is a shame that she had to come to it in this way. I do think it shows a lack of sound judgment. It does make her look like a stereotypical indecisive woman. But I don't think it speaks to her understanding of political things except insofar as they relate to her actions. I think her wisdom and experience would have contributed something valuable to Washington. But I feel vindicated in my earlier arguments against her where I suggested that she was not a practical choice. She should have waited, as Steve Hayward argued at NRO, until her children were all grown.

Art Deco:

Yes it did occur to me she wanted that (the quiet life), but that was not my point (and it is beside the point).

As to your posts on the other 2 heroines--this is no time to go wobbly as one put it. Palin did. She's finished for the short term.

Andrew it is not that she is JV, it is that she is Varsity in Alaska. The big fish in a small pond. To be JV at harvard, or work on the 4th floor of the Sears tower is less damming than to be Varsity Governor of Alaska. Alaska is to the american empire what Uganda was to the Victorian british. A 25 year old from a university can be placed in charge. Obama went to Harvard(the premier school in the world) and taught and lived in Chicago(one of the worlds greatest cities). The difference is between varsity at Ashland Football Div II. and JV at Florida, USC, OSU.

And I say this as someone who was JV at Ashland.

This is why P. Diddy(Los Angeles) was right to stress Alaska with incredulity...you aren't going to find Harvard grads in Alaska(maybe high speed, geologist/glacial scientists, maybe some MIT peutroleum engineers)

I do think that Bill Clinton and Wal-Mart proved that Arkansas wasn't quite Alaska, so Huckabee is ahead...still when you say Huckabee is JV you are really dissing the whole state of Arkansas...because Huckabee is Varsity in Arkansas, just as Palin is in Alaska.

You know that Michael Jackson didn't die in Juneau, he died in Los Angeles, home of the world champion LA Lakers(not exactly Palin's state championship basketball team)

And Obama was from Chicago, home of the Bull's and a more honorable Michael with the surname Jordan.

There was once a saying that all roads lead to Rome, but no roads lead to the capital of Alaska, it is not LA it is not Chicago, it is not London...Tocqueville made the mistake of saying that no great city would ever be built where Washington D.C. sits today, but to stay away from future projections we can simply say of the present that no city that is even JV exists in Alaska.

The sorts of experiences and difficulties and character that it would be reasonable to expect from a Palin or a Huckabee are not altogether the same ones that one would expect from inhabitants of great cities with diversified local and global economies. Some cities just have a critical mass that brain drains the lesser areas. This notion can be overbought, as it is I believe in the Civilization game, with the cultural victory option. But the game tells a truth that is just as visible in the JVness of Palin and Huckabee as it is when Michael Jackson dies in LA and events in Tehran are forgotten.

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