The emerging convention wisdom among the Religious Right and conservative commentators regarding Sarah Palin’s abrupt decision to resign before the end of her sole term as Governor seems to be that she was hounded out of office by Democrats, bloggers, and mean people who criticized her.
Gary Bauer says “she was tired of being harassed” but that her decision is “a move that could end up serving her very well.”
Janice Crouse of Concerned Women for America decried the “dirty politics” that forced Palin out, saying no other politician in “public life has ever had her children and family so maligned and attacked so brutally, explicitly, and disrespectfully” but likewise believes that Palin will “find a way back into national politics, and she’ll be a formidable force when she does.”
Matthew Continetti of The Weekly Standard, who has a book called “The Persecution of Sarah Palin” coming out next year, just wrote an article for the next issue in which he explains that she has been “trapped” in the Governor’s office and has now been set free. Continetti explains that, in her short time in office, Palin has been so successful that not only did not need to run again, but that she didn’t even have to finish out her first term and that she had finally become fed-up with the incessant attacks:
As the months passed, Palin arrived at the conclusion that she didn’t want a second term as Alaska’s governor. She had achieved what she had set out to do, so why bother with one more lame-duck legislative session in 2010? “I know that we’ve accomplished more in our two years in office than most governors could hope to accomplish in two terms,” Palin said. “And that’s because I hired the right people.” For Palin to remain shuttling between Juneau, Anchorage, and Wasilla would waste both her and her constituents’ time. And “I cannot waste time,” she said. “I cannot waste resources.”
Why is Palin leaving? At this writing, there is no reason to doubt her stated position: Her enemies’ concerted efforts to tear her down have caused her family financial stress and distracted her from her duties as governor. Since she returned to Alaska in November 2008, she has been hemmed in. Ethics complaints, insults, invective, undue attention, and legal bills have been all-consuming. “I can’t fight for what’s right when I’m shackled to the governor’s seat,” Palin said. For the last seven months the governor’s office has been a ward. A trap. She is breaking free.
Unable or unwilling to grasp her true accomplishments and character, the media shoehorned Palin into a ready-made caricature of the know-nothing Christian PTA mom who enters politics because of “those damned lib’ruls.” The reality is far different. Palin is a savvy and charismatic politician whose career has been filled with courageous stands against entrenched authority. Ideological or partisan attachments do not concern her. She has her flaws–who doesn’t?–but they should be measured against her strengths. Instead the media ignored the positives and colluded with Palin’s adversaries to reduce her to a cartoon.
Oddly, the only one who doesn’t seem to be buying into the “Palin-as-vicitm” explanation is Alan Keyes, who accuses her of dereliction of duty and “bad statesmanship”:
In her speech, Sarah Palin refers to a “recent trip to Kosovo and Landstuhl, to visit our wounded soldiers overseas” and “what we can all learn from our selfless troops … they’re bold, they don’t give up and they take a stand …” Here words are an apt reminder of what the faithful performance of duty requires. Soldiers take a stand in the very teeth of enemy fire, even though it means certain death or grievous wounds. There is a word for soldiers who quit their posts because the enemy is shooting at them. It is not intended as a compliment, especially when it’s their own bad judgment that has put them in the way of enemy fire in the first place.
Sarah Palin calls to mind our wounded soldiers in the very moment when she fails to follow their heroic example. In the process, she acknowledges that, thanks to the provision of Alaska’s taxpayers, she has successfully evaded the cost-free political attacks allowed by “the ethics law I championed.” She won! Had Custer won the battle at Little Big Horn, I doubt that anyone would have questioned the money expended for the guns and bullets required to do so. He had a duty to defend his command, especially after his own mistakes exposed it to danger.
Of course, resignation would have been in order once he acknowledged and took responsibility for those mistakes. But Sarah Palin has done no such thing. She claims Alaska is being damaged by the attacks against her, but that the fault lies entirely with the bad motives and actions of others. She says her tenure as governor has been successful; her judgments and actions sound; her record all for the good of the state and its people. But if this is true, it makes no sense to deprive the state of the governor duly elected by the people simply because bad folks attack her. In that case, resigning simply lets the (political) assassins finish their work. How can letting the duly elected governor be taken out in this way be consistent with her sworn duty to defend the state?
If she is without fault or blame, then Palin’s explanation makes no sense except as a clear dereliction of duty. She swore faithfully to perform the duties of her office. She claims to have done so. Others have abused the law to attack her. She successfully defended against them. If, as she contends, she has simply been performing her duties, her defense of herself is in fact simply a defense of her office, in the literal sense. To preserve that office with integrity is one of her duties as governor. By resigning, she fails in the performance of that duty. She encourages the “politics of personal destruction” in much the same way that allowing terrorists to succeed encourages further acts of terrorism. This cannot be good for Alaska, and it does not keep faith with the people who elected her. They rightly expected her to defend the integrity of the office, which obviously means standing firm against those who attack its occupant without good reason.
If her stated explanation makes no sense, we are forced to look for an alternative that does. Absent that, we are forced to conclude that her decision to resign is, like championing the law used to harass her, just another example of her bad statesmanship.
You know something bizarre is underway when the only person on the Right who is making any sort of sense is Alan Keyes.