Sarah Palin's Latest Crazy Move: Are Republicans a Danger to the Republic?
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Sarah Palin’s abrupt decision to resign as Alaska’s governor -- and her rambling explanation -- underscore again how the Republican Party over the past dozen years has put up candidates for top national offices who are unqualified or ill-suited for those sensitive positions.
Like Palin, George W. Bush was a charismatic underachiever who hadn’t accomplished much in life and showed little intellectual firepower but was nevertheless presented by the GOP as its candidate for one of the most powerful jobs on earth.
However, unlike Palin who lost her vice presidential bid, Bush won the presidency for two terms -- in two dubious elections -- with disastrous consequences for the nation.
Then, even amid the wreckage of the Bush administration’s final days, the Republican Party enthusiastically nominated first-term Alaska Gov. Palin to be a heartbeat away from the presidency, which they hoped would be filled by 72-year-old cancer survivor John McCain.
The Republican Convention in St. Paul, Minnesota, was a glimpse into Crazy Town, with a national party gone giddy over the folksy Sarah Palin, who we were told could "field-dress a moose." The dominant chant of the convention -- sometimes led by Palin herself -- was "drill, baby, drill."
On the campaign trail, Palin tossed out the reddest of red meat, accusing Barack Obama of "palling around with terrorists" and whipping angry white crowds into anti-Obama shouts of "kill him" and "traitor." She seemed oblivious to the demagogic passions that she was unleashing -- or she simply didn’t care about the possible consequences.
Palin finally unraveled with her simple-minded answers to simple questions during network TV interviews.
In trying to burnish her foreign policy expertise she famously declared, "you can actually see Russia from land here in Alaska." In elaborating on the point, she later said, "As Putin rears his head and comes into the air space of the United States of America, where do they go? It's Alaska."
As Palin flamed out, her defenders claimed that the "liberal media" was picking on her. On one radio talk show, a caller complained to me that CBS News’ anchor Katie Couric had asked Palin unfairly tough questions. I responded by noting that one of those "tough" questions was what newspapers Palin read, to which Palin couldn’t manage a coherent answer.
By the end of Campaign 2008, most American voters had concluded that Palin was simply not ready for prime time. But she remained beloved by many rank-and-file Republicans and had staunch advocates among the GOP establishment, including leading neoconservative voice William Kristol.
In looking toward Campaign 2012, political commentators counted her among Republican top-tier presidential candidates. (So, too, were Sen. John Ensign of Nevada and South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford before those moral-values champions admitted to extramarital affairs,)
Now the impetuous Palin has decided not even to complete her first term as governor, quitting with 18 months to go. In her stream-of-consciousness resignation statement -- that veered from self-righteous to self-pitying -- Palin seemed to suggest that she was quitting so she could avoid the lame-duck temptation to take junkets.
"I thought about how much fun some governors have as lame ducks, travel around the state, to the Lower 48 (maybe), overseas on international trade -- as so many politicians do," Palin said Friday from her home in Wasilla, Alaska. "And then I thought -- that’s what’s wrong -- many just accept that lame-duck status, hit the road, draw the paycheck and ‘milk it.’
"I’m not putting Alaska through that -- I promised efficiencies and effectiveness. That’s not how I am wired. I am not wired to operate under the same old ‘politics as usual.’ I promised that four years ago -- and I meant it. It’s not what is best for Alaska. I am determined to take the right path for Alaska even though it is unconventional and not so comfortable."