On One Hand

July 3, 2009

A Shot in the Dark

Filed under: Uncategorized — ononehand @ 11:50 pm

Prediction: the reason that Sarah Palin is resigning from the governorship from Alaska is that something from her emails (which are part of the public record) as the governor of Alaska would incriminate her in a scandal, as she is fighting against their release. She’s either hoping that in resigning and retiring from the spotlight she can avoid having their release by escaping public pressure to open them, or is hoping that she will be far enough from the spotlight that the turmoil after their release will not be as intense so she will have the chance of running for office again.

The higher you go in public office, the more you must clean up your act because you’ll come under greater scrutiny. Politicians tend to rise slowly and therefore can “grow up” over time (think of George W. Bush’s 1976 DUI arrest, 24 years before he became president when he was 30), but Palin was thrust into the spotlight so quickly and unexpectedly that she didn’t have the chance to prepare, or at least didn’t have the chance to let her past activities become old news the way most politicians college days, bad habits, DUIs and personal issues fade from importance.

**Update July 5, 2:00pm MT**

Sarah Palin’s attorney released a statement threatening to sue for defamation any publications that allege Sarah Palin could have been involved in unsavory activities leading up to her resignation.

For her attorney to do so would be laughable, because Sarah Palin is a public figure and office holder, making her fair game for almost any kind of coverage or commentary by the First Amendment’s guarantee to freedom of political speech. For any politician to win a lawsuit against the press for defamation would be almost impossible, and would certainly be an unprecedented decision that would change the way we cover politics in this country.

Aside from that, it really ruins Sarah Palin’s image as a fighter as a tough-as-nails maverick governor who swims upstream. Sarah Palin has fronted an onslaught of allegations over her political career – ranging from the solidly plausible to left-field baseless criticism. She and those in her camp have complained repeatedly about attacks on her personal spending habits, her daughter’s pregnancy, her intelligence and her competence and allegations of ties to Right-wing fringe or separatist groups. But this is something that all politicians deal with when they are widely known, and those on the far-right and far-left (Sarah Palin represents one of those camps) are most at fault. Barack Obama has faced repeated allegations that he isn’t really a U.S. citizen or that he is a Muslim in league with terrorists, President Clinton faced rape and murder allegations while in office by the very same political camp that Sarah Palin is most popular in, and George W. Bush was accused of Plotting September 11, which probably takes the cake for how theoretically “damaging” a false allegation (if everyone believed it) would be.

Of course the media is going to speculate on Palin’s resignation, because no politician in any prominent office in recent history has resigned without having faced a scandal or at least a serious personal issue equivalent to a cancer diagnosis. And Palin’s utter lack of explanation (she said she didn’t want to become a “lame duck” after informing everyone won’t run for office again – something that could have been avoided simply by waiting longer to announce she wasn’t running) for her move, coupled with her already divisive and controversial public image, make it one of the strangest political curiosities in recent history.

The threat from Palin is absurd, and is likely to spark another round of more intense speculation from the press rather than intimidate anyone into backing off. One thing her camp has continuously failed to do since she first emerged in prominence last year is to have any clue about what those outside the far-Right are thinking or doing. Most of the moves by her and the McCain campaign to seem bold or independent have come across as desperate or nonsensical to the American public. Her resigning from the governor’s office may have been the the most bizarre yet – and a lawsuit against any media organization for defamation would really take the cake.

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1 Comment »

  1. i daresay i’m going to miss sarah palin.

    Comment by somenights — July 4, 2009 @ 9:41 am | Reply


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