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|Palin move means GOP wide open|
While most Americans were preparing themselves for the Fourth of July holiday weekend by stocking up on hotdogs, cheap fireworks and sunscreen, Sarah Palin was getting ready to shock the political world. On July 3, Palin announced that she would forego her last 18 months in office by resigning at the end of the month.
Although she is no stranger to making headlines, this one seems to have caught most pundits (on both sides of the political aisle) and her Alaskan supporters rather flatfooted. At first, I had to ask my wife if this was an SNL skit. Had Tina Fey taken the joke too far?
Apparently, Palin had grown tired of talk-show political prattle and unremitting misstatements from the media about alleged ethics violations that have marginal merit. In other words, Palin did not care for Letterman's abuse of her or her family and decided to surrender the governorship and move on.
Try to follow this line of thought: in order to advance the political agenda of socially conservative issues and better serve Alaska, she resigned from the very office she campaigned for that would have allowed her to fulfill those objectives. If we take that argument to an extreme, then maybe never serving in another capacity will ensure a brighter world for everyone.
While on a well-filmed family fishing trip in Dillingham, Alaska, Palin spoke to CNN saying, "I am not a quitter; I am a fighter."
Now, before you e-mail me with some tired analogy between what Palin did and when Nixon emerged from the wilderness, ask yourself (and be honest): do you really think that Palin has the same political savoir-faire as Nixon? Try this: could Katie Couric run circles around Nixon? Nope!
Again, maybe I am missing something here, but if you decide to quit doesn't that make you a quitter? The number of pundits offering an interpretation of the repercussions seems to be unending.
Republican media consultant Todd Harris made this clever remark, "I think Sarah Palin is on the verge of becoming the Miami Vice of American politics: Something a lot of people once thought was cool and then 20 years later look back, shake their heads and just kind of laugh." That may be a bit harsh.
Still, John Weaver, a former senior strategist for John McCain, may be closer to hitting the political nail on the head, "If this is her launching pad for 2012, it's a curious move. Policy is politics, and she has no real accomplishments as governor."
In another part of the GOP, two more budding stars landed face-down on the canvass and have been counted out. Nevada Sen. John Ensign stepped down from the Republican leadership last month after admitting he had an affair with a woman on his campaign staff. Then, a few days later, Gov. Mark Sanford explained why Evita was his favorite musical as he sang 'Don't Cry for Me South Carolina' and was properly censured.
This ostensibly leaves the national stage for the GOP wide-open. Or does it?
Was Sarah Palin really the odds-on favorite for the nomination in 2012?
Rich Killion, an adviser to former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, possibly a 2012 candidate himself, summed it up, "She has a national base of social conservatives she can count on for anything. But I can't get over how she convinces a general election audience how quitting on her constituents is a good thing."
My sense tells me that Sarah Palin will still be a force among 'value voters' and can play the role of a spoiler for the GOP. But President? I don't think so.
Panamanian Boxer Roberto Duran won more titles after his famous 'No Más' fight with Sugar Ray Leonard. But he never regained the stature and prestige that he had before that fight.
Democrats and Republicans alike continue to land one-two punches to this once "million dollar baby" who appears quite defenseless; and there is no sign of her answering the bell for another title fight. I think Sarah Palin is no longer a serious political player for the GOP.
Could Gov. Jindal be ready to step into the ring?
John W. Sutherlin, PhD, is an assistant professor of political science at the University of Louisiana-Monroe. He also is co-director at the ULM Social Science Research Lab. He can be reached by e-mailing Sutherlin@ulm.edu.