It’s hard to feel sorry for Sarah Palin.
She recently resigned as governor of Alaska because she felt she was the victim of the “political of personal destruction”.
This is curious from a couple of perspectives.
First, I agree with her. The level of abuse that public officials take these days does seem extreme. It’s hard for me to understand why anyone would willingly submit themselves to what in many cases amounts to slander.
On the other hand, knowing that the politics of personal destruction are a part of the reality of political life in this country, it’s also hard for me to square her concerns and her clear ambition for national office. It’s as if she is saying that she wants the spotlight, but doesn’t like the glare.
It has to be crystal clear to those who have political ambitions that even a hint of impropriety these days can be blown into a career threatening incident. So one of the new qualifications for office is your ability to recognize what could become toxic and avoid those situations. Rather than avoid situations which could cause controversy, she seems to thrive on them and then bleat to her supporters about how she has been treated unfairly. Either she is inept, or she is manipulating both the press and her supporters who eagerly rally to her side and donate to her cause when they feel she needs defending.
For example, I agree that families of politicians should be off limits as long as the politicians themselves don’t make those families an issue in the campaign. So it was way off base when Rush Limbaugh and John McCain made jokes about Chelsea Clinton because the Clintons kept her out of the spotlight. Palin, however, used her children to support her claim that she was qualified for office. She introduced them to the nation and they campaigned with her. You can’t have it both ways.
Similarly, you can’t condemn the politics of personal destruction (a term coined by President Clinton) when they are directed at you and liberally employ them when it suits your purposes. If you recall, it was Palin who coined the “pals around with terrorists” phrase. She was also eager to bring then candidate Obama’s relationship with Rev. Wright into the debate over the objections of her running mate.
Finally, ethical concerns remain unanswered from her campaign and her time in office. Whether or not these concerns were legit or politically motivated really isn’t the issue. Clearly they are politically motivated. But so were the eight years and millions of dollars the Republican congress gave Ken Stark to dig up something on President Clinton and his wife.
At the end of the day, I find myself agreeing with Levi Johnson. He has said that it is all about money. According to him, his almost mother-in-law felt her opportunity to cash in on her new found notoriety was now. If she waited until her term expired, she would risk being discredited by one or more of the ongoing investigations as well as the short attention span of the American public. She will make lots of money from book deals, speaking engagements, and fund raisers. She will be free to comment on the issues of the day and keep herself in public view. It is likely that she will also mount another campaign in 2012, God help us all.