Monday, July 6, 2009

Sarah Shrugged

When I found out about Sarah Palin's decision to step down as Governor of Alaska later this month, I dropped a comment into the chatroom for Hot Air's Ed Morrissey Show that was immediately picked up by regular Friday co-host Duane Patterson as a STOP THE PRESSES moment, and dominated the remainder of the program.

It also stopped head chatroom moderator Jazz Shaw's vacation long enough for him to write a piece about it for PJTV. He doesn't much like Sarah Palin, so it's not surprising that he'd have unkind words about her. I'm used to it by now. But he really pressed my buttons with this dig:

You know, if you’re hoping to set your standard on a hill of quality, you might not want to focus on how much of your time has been spent fighting investigations into your ethical lapses.
A key word is missing from that sentence: "alleged". It presupposes that there have been such lapses. Even though every single one has been rejected by the ethics board, the accusations, by their sheer number they have become equivalent to convictions.

To really appreciate the extent of the problems Gov. Palin has had with the "anklebiters" requires some understanding of history. She campaigned on cleaning up the notoriously-corrupt AK politics, and a key part of her program was tougher ethics rules. Those rules are now used against her. The tactic could have come straight out of Alinsky's Rules for Radicals:
RULE 4: "Make the enemy live up to its own book of rules." If the rule is that every letter gets a reply, send 30,000 letters. You can kill them with this because no one can possibly obey all of their own rules. (This is a serious rule. The besieged entity's very credibility and reputation is at stake, because if activists catch it lying or not living up to its commitments, they can continue to chip away at the damage.)
. . .
RULE 8: "Keep the pressure on. Never let up." Keep trying new things to keep the opposition off balance. As the opposition masters one approach, hit them from the flank with something new. (Attack, attack, attack from all sides, never giving the reeling organization a chance to rest, regroup, recover and re-strategize.)
The people who file the ethics complaints have followed Alinsky's advice well. They bear no cost for doing so; the state is required to investigate each complaint, no matter how ridiculous they are, at great expense to the state and to the Governor personally. Thus far, she's run up a half million dollars in legal bills defending herself against these allegations. Perhaps the most bizarre was the charge that the very act of establishing a legal defense fund (despite the most stringent rules I've ever seen, including a limit of $150 per contributor) was itself an ethics violation. Recently, we highlighted the webathon organized to retire that debt. As can be seen in the sidebar, it has fallen far short of that goal. Palin has a book deal that might help her raise funds, but as soon as she saw a dime of it, it would have spawned yet another ethics charge. As long as Palin remains governor, she must hold up the weight of the endless ethics investigations. The solution to Palin's Predicament is clear:
"If you saw Atlas, the giant who holds the world on his shoulders, if you saw that he stood, blood running down his chest, his knees buckling, his arms trembling but still trying to hold the world aloft with the rest of his strength, and the greater his effort the heavier the world bore down upon his shoulders–what would you tell him to do?"

"I...don’t know. What...could he do? What would you tell him?"

"To shrug."

Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand
In a few weeks, Sarah Palin will no longer be subject to a process that by law forbids her or any of her representatives from publicly commenting on any pending ethics complaint, while empowering the complainers to tell whatever stories they want with impunity.

Her attorney has suggested that the gloves may be coming off very soon, in swatting down the "other shoe" theories being spun to explain the timing of the announcement. He points out in his closing paragraph that telling out-and-out lies about someone, even a public figure like Palin, is actionable. (You know, Jazz, you might want to keep that in mind.) He calls out Shannyn Moore, the blogger and Saturday-night Anchorage AM talker who has been spreading the stories on HuffPo, MSNBC, NY Times, and WaPo. She insists she "will not be muzzled", and dares the Palins to sue her. She may get her wish, say, about the day after Sean Parnell takes the oath as Governor?

Moore's response was entirely predictable, and I wouldn't be surprised if Palin's attorney had that letter (among others) written and saved on his laptop, just waiting to fill in the particulars of whoever was fool enough to try to resurrect a particular non-story. A lot of people have read the timing of the announcement as a sign that there must be "another shoe". Why else, the theory goes, would she make her announcement at 3 pm Friday of a holiday weekend?

Well, I can think of a lot of reasons why. David Letterman tapes his Friday shows on Thursdays. Jon Stewart and Steven Colbert don't do Friday shows, but they'll be in reruns next week, just dying because they can't cover this one now. Most of the big-shots on the cable networks were taking Friday night off, too. Poor Greta Van Susteren had to call in on her own show to discuss the shocking turn of events. Glenn Beck tweeted
Many write:Palin is done.U don't understand EVERYTHING is about to change. What you thought you knew, could trust or depend on is shifting
Even Rush Limbaugh felt compelled to comment while on vacation, if only to say that it's premature to write her off.

The holiday weekend was the best time to get the message out before the Journolist machinery could coalesce around the Official Talking Points, other than the reflexive "She's a quitter! She's erratic!" that would be expected in any event. The media can't comprehend a politician willingly giving up power. They didn't really understand when Bob Dole gave up his Senate seat to focus on his Presidential campaign. It didn't pay off for him, but the idea isn't unprecedented. Why, in Honduras, the Vice President resigned last year so that he would be legally allowed to run for President this year. They have a rule against people staying in power too long, which I rather like.

Meanwhile, she's directly connecting with people (over 63,000 followers for @AKGovSarahPalin on Twitter last I checked) and bypassing Charlie and Katie. If she hadn't already gotten offers from Rupert Murdoch to work for him, I'm sure she will shortly. And her career as a professional speaker is well underway. She's already booked for an August 8 Simi Valley Women's Republican Club appearance, according to an Insty reader.

I'd say she's shrugging off a lot. Perhaps even . . . a chrysalis.
[Click on the title above, or date stamp below, to see the full article.]

[Update] Corrected timing of Limbaugh's vacation

1 comment:

  1. "Meanwhile, she's directly connecting with people (over 63,000 followers for @AKGovSarahPalin on Twitter last I checked) and bypassing Charlie and Katie."

    She also has nearly 600,000 supporters on Facebook. I'd say that her notes reach a few people without the mud-colored glasses of the media.


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