Alex Massie

Sarah Palin’s Resignation Still Makes No Sense

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Never let it be said that Fred Barnes can't take the long view. While he concurs, with regret, that Sarah Palin has dashed her chances of winning the Republican nomination in 2012, he still sees a path to the White House for Palin:

But there is a way: win Alaska's lone House seat in 2012 and oust Democratic senator Nick Begich in 2014. A term in the House and another in the Senate--nothing would do more to groom her for the White House than this and transform her into the best Republican candidate for the presidency in, say, 2020, when she'd be 56.

Well, sure, in theory this could work! But lots of things can work in theory. In any case, surely she'd be better-placed to win the House seat in 2012 if she had completed her term as governor? Any opponent would be perfectly justified in asking her if she'd actually serve her full term in office if she was elected. Doubtless she would say yes, but she'd have a significant credibility problem.

Marbury*, meanwhile, suggests that "This is her least bad option, even if it is a pretty damn awful one." That's a mildly contrarian take and it's true that it's diconcerting to find oneself on the side of the majority (it doesn't happen often!) and that this in turn should prompt one to re-examine ones position. But, having done so, her decision to resign her post still makes no sense whatsoever. My old pal Toby Harnden, no-one's idea of a bleeding-heart liberal bed-wetter, is pretty blunt:

How much more plainly can I put it? In terms of national politics, there’s no there there. The empress has no clothes. And the sooner people realise this, are honest about what the reality is rather than what they want it to be and stop allowing themselves to be taken for a ride the better.

The problem for Palin boosters is that she seems to have no desire to talk to anyone who doesn't already agree with her. There's no curiosity, no sense that there could be any legitimate alternative view and precious little evidence that she understands that successful politics is, in part at least, a matter of persuasion. She may still excite the Republican base but the base is not necessarily enough to win the GOP nomination and, these days, it's certainly not enough to win the Presidency. 

And style is not enough. At the weekend Bill Kristol suggested that Barack Obama had become a national figure on the back of one great speech (at the Democratic convention in 2004) and that Palin was in the same position, having given a rip-roaring speech at the GOP convention last year. Well, up to a point Lord Copper. Apart from anything else, Obama wrote his own speech, Palin's was prepared for her (by Matthew Scully).

Palin has definite political gifts, but she's shown little sign that she's interested in truly engaging with the realities of the American political system. Running for national office is hard work. And it requires enormous discipline and, you know, knowledge. At the moment, Palin doesn't seem to have much of the former and she's certainly inadequate in the latter department. Style is not enough.

But the circus will continue, that's for sure. But it is a circus, not serious politics from a serious candidate. Still, you can keep up with it by following Palin's Twitter feed here.

PS: wasn't  Palin's comment that "only dead fish go with the flow" rather strange? I mean, new born salmon "go with the flow" to reach the sea, while the pacidif salmon swims against the flow to, sure, give birth and then die. Perhaps this is, after all, an appropriate metaphor for her own political career?

*You can buy his book, To Be President: Quest for the White House, here!

Written byAlex Massie

Alex Massie is Scotland Editor of The Spectator. He also writes a column for The Times and is a regular contributor to the Scottish Daily Mail, The Scotsman and other publications.

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