Sarah Palin quit on her stool as governor of Alaska Sunday night, talking about leadership as she did. She clearly imagines herself to someday be the next President of the United States, getting to tell guys like Mahmoud Ahmadinejad where to get off, yet leaves whining about a bad joke from David Letterman. You rarely get political farewells this funny outside the state of New Jersey.
Palin doesn’t actually leave the stage now, just goes off at intermission to write a book and get herself some kind of television gig on Fox. Once there, the most famous hockey mom in America — another of the cute catch phrases that replace actual ideas with her — will try to find a way to drive Newt Gingrich, another presidential pretender, right through the boards.
Sarah Palin hadn’t even served two full years as governor when a desperate candidate, John McCain, picked her out of the chorus. She effectively stopped being Alaska’s governor that day. When she finally walked away from the job this weekend, it was just bookkeeping.
The governor as quitter, sharing these deep thoughts with us on Twitter: “Wrapped up Anch (Anchorage) Gov’s Picnic, awesome. Now road trip to Fairbanks for farewell speech/changing of the guard. Camper full of kids and coffee.”
Compared to most of her other public utterances, this came out sounding like Churchill telling us England was going to fight them on the beaches.
Always with Palin there was this cockeyed idea, usually from the yahoos on the right, the frauds who treat her as being real, that if you attacked her, you were attacking working moms and the “real Americans” she talked about in her speeches, the ones who live far from big cities. Or that you were somehow threatened by this strong woman. From the start, there was as much substance to that as there is to her political thought, which you could fit inside a golf ball.
And there were probably working moms all over this city, in Queens and Brooklyn, as much the heartland of this country as anywhere else, asking this about Palin from the start, like she wasn’t from Alaska as much as the moon: Who is she, and what in the world is she talking about?
Arnold Schwarzenegger, former actor, stands in there in California in the worst times his state has ever known. Palin cuts and runs. The other day a spokeswoman said this to the Associated Press when asked about Palin’s decision to step down: “The decision [to quit] was made in the vacuum of what was best for Alaska …”
She could have stopped after the word vacuum. This has nothing to do with what’s best for Alaska and everything to do with what’s good for Palin. For the last year, the people of Alaska were props for her the way that kid, Levi Johnston, the father of her grandchild, was when the Palin family first hit the national consciousness, and we found it was the political version of “Jon & Kate Plus 8.”
We should have known right then what kind of opportunist Palin was, how intoxicated she’d become with instant celebrity, as she took an unwanted teen pregnancy and tried to make it sound like some sort of pro-life sacrament. Now Levi Johnston makes the rounds on talk shows and tries to start an acting career by trading on Palin’s name and her celebrity, using her the way she used him. Hand it to the kid. He learned fast. At least he doesn’t try to make himself out to be noble, being out on the hustle this way. The woman who was never going to be his mother-in-law can’t help herself, starting with a resignation speech that sounded as if she were delivering it to a high school assembly on Career Day:
“It may be tempting and more comfortable to just keep your head down, plod along, and appease those who demand: ‘Sit down and shut up,’but that’s the worthless, easy path,” Palin said when announcing her resignation earlier this month. “That’s a quitter’s way out. And a problem in our country today is apathy. It would be apathetic to just hunker down and ‘go with the flow.’ Nah, only dead fish ‘go with the flow.’”
Wonderful. In her mind, being governor of Alaska is the worthless, easy path. She wades away now, fancying herself as the future of her party and the future of the country. If she is the future of the Republicans, they’re in even more trouble than anybody dreamed. If she’s the future for the rest of us, we’re screwed.