Quote of the Day: Good Bye and Good Riddance to Sarah Palin
Our political Quote of the Day comes from GOPer David Frum, who quotes Sarah Palin’s announcement that she would not jump into the 2012 Republican Presidential nomination race but would continue to “driving the discussion for freedom and free markets” and predicts it ain’t gonna happen. Unlike some pundits are writing about how her moment may be passed but — using journalistic hedges — she could be heard from in the future Frum, in a post titled “Palin: Already Almost Forgotten,” thinks her moment is gone and American politics is better off for it:
Sarah Palin’s political voice had dwindled well before she announced her decision not to run. Now it will sink altogether into inaudibility. She will be no kind of force in future national discussions. She will have no sway over party debates. She will retain some starpower for a little while longer. She may for another cycle or two be able to help certain candidates for certain political offices raise some money. Even that will fade within two more years or four. Her political career was brief, bizarre, and sordid. But now at least it is definitively finished.
Palin will never become a party elder stateswoman. Over the past three years, it became apparent to all but a handful of cultists that her only interests were money and celebrity. She had no concept of public service, and no capacity to serve even if she had wished to do so. Soon even those last cultists will quietly abandon the argument. We talk often these days about makers and takers. Sarah Palin was the ultimate taker. She abandoned her post as governor of Alaska to cash in on lectures and TV. She squeezed her supporters for political donations and spent the money on herself. To adapt an old phrase, she seen her opportunities and she took ‘em.
In the end, she exploited, abused, or embarrassed almost everyone who had believed in her. Most embarrassing of all: she was never even a very good con artist. Everything that was false and petty and unqualified in her was visible within the first minutes of encountering her.
Indeed, some of Palin’s supporters have almost become like cultists and they go ballistic over anyone (particularly registered Republicans) who don’t see her as this absolutely brilliant person who symbolized the epitome of leadership, wisdom and “real” conservatism (take THAT John McCain!). To those who don’t belong to what Frum calls the cult, the Palin appeal has been dismaying.
How far has she fallen since the days after the 2010 election when she was perceived as the person who could most likely get the 2012 Republican nomination due to the sway she had on Republican voters — but didn’t have in 2008 on independent voters and had made no sign of trying to win over? Two things to keep in mind:
(1) When Palin did her first big speech on foreign policy the cable networks all covered it as if it was a Presidential speech. I know because I was on a talking head panel on CNN. Her role in politics at that point was considered so pivotal and it was a must-cover event. Would that happen again if she gave a speech? How much time would the broadcast networks give her in their broadcasts now? She is just one more voice now — a voice under contract to Fox News who had an impact on the 2010 elections with her endorsement but has no discernible political power points otherwise (she is not in office and polls have shown most Republicans do not want her to run)..
(2 )Fox News’ Roger Ailes comment that he hired her because she was hot and would get good ratings. Liberals and conservatives will likely argue over what kind of “hot” he meant (nice to look at on the tube or a hot political property?). But she wasn’t hired for her substance (at least not yet but we might expect some CYA statement from Ailes if he sees his quote being used the wrong way). Where in Ailes quote does he say he hired her for her views, thinking, analysis or because she was a vital voice in the Republican Party and had a strong political future?
Palin changed one important narrative in the ever changing journalistic and political analysts’ conventional wisdom: for years the assumption in any discussion of a future woman as President was that the woman would be a Democrat or a liberal. Even when Hillary Clinton came along and made it near reality it was a confirmation of that seeming assumption. Palin changed and obliterated it. Now people were considering that Palin might be the first and as it became clear that she was opting to become a media political celebrity and that public service (or even studying to become a more informed candidate) was not what she was about Michele Bachmann became the person some could envision in the White House.
Palin’s most likely future: as a kind of female Mike Huckabee with her own Fox News show. She may find book publishers aren’t willing to pay big books for her future books based on sales of her last and her diminished role in the GOP.
But Palin in the White House? Palin being a major force directing the dialogue of the Republican Party? Highly unlikely. She will still have well founded groups that can endorse (think of all the contributions made to Palin over the past few years and the money she garnered on her bus tour).
But with her announcement, if Sarah Palin shows up on her bus during primary season, don’t look for reporters to drop covering a candidate to race out there and cover her press conference or do a story on her travels.
Any future bus tour would have as much interest and “legs” as a show Palin might make about her and Alaska.