Clueless editorial

**Posted by Phineas

Normally I like the Washington Examiner; it’s a great center-right paper and they feature some excellent columnists. I highly recommend it.

But, in an editorial saying Sarah Palin was right not to run, the editorial writer showed himself to be intellectually lazy and shallow:

As he bowed out of next year’s race, Christie said President Obama “has failed the leadership test.” Christie added: “Everything else you can be taught. You can’t be taught how to lead and how to make decisions.” The reality is that by resigning her post as governor of Alaska — citing as her reason an ethics law that she had championed — Palin failed the same leadership test as Obama. It does not matter how deeply unfair the press was toward her during the 2008 presidential cycle, when John McCain chose her as his running mate. By quitting the job she was elected to do, Palin essentially acknowledged her critics’ most essential contention — that she was not ready for higher office. Nothing she has done since then has changed this.

Oh, boy. Here we go. It’s the “quitter” argument, again, the favorite of people who look at one fact —“She quit!”— and then shut off their brains. They only look at it from a national perspective, not recognizing or acknowledging or perhaps even caring about differences between states and their laws.

To whomever wrote this editorial: it wasn’t the 2008 press coverage that made her quit. It was the campaign of unending and baseless ethics charges that were aimed at her political paralysis and financial ruin. As I wrote to a friend when we were discussing this yesterday:

The law in question was the Alaska ethics statute. Under it:

  • All complaints and charges had to be investigated. There was no preliminary vetting.
  • The accused had to pay for their own defense, no state resources. In other words, the state AG couldn’t lift a finger, unlike other states.
  • All document requests had to be honored. Given the number of requests filed, this ate up an enormous amount of staff time and public money.

By the time she resigned, the Palins had accumulated $700k of legal debt at least on a combined salary of (roughly) $200k. Again, there would be no reimbursement from the state, nor anything paid by losing complainants. I think asking someone to continue as governor and take bankruptcy on the chin is a bit much. (Regarding some sort of a legal defense fund, they tried that, a predecessor to SarahPac, and it was challenged under the ethics law, too. The money was locked up. I donated to it and was eventually given a refund.)

The ethics law was well-intentioned but (as is so often the case) poorly designed and fraught with unintended consequences. Not surprisingly (as I understand it), it was changed under her successor.

So I ask the editorial’s author: How would it be passing a test of leadership to hang on to an office at the price of it being paralyzed by the complaints (thus being unable to do “the job she was elected to do”) and her family being bankrupted? Would you seriously call that leadership? Honestly?

Sure, the rest of the editorial is largely complimentary, but the heart is in the quoted paragraph. This editorial wasn’t even a backhanded compliment; it was a thinly-disguised patronizing slap to Sarah Palin’s face from a mouthpiece for the Beltway Establishment.

Bah.

AFTERWORD: My understanding of the Alaska ethics law is based on several years hashing over this topic. My apologies for not having a link handy. If I’m wrong in my summary, I’ll gladly stand corrected if someone can cite the relevant text from the law as it existed during Palin’s administration.

RELATED: Stacy McCain has a good article on Palin’s decision at The American Spectator.

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

So, did you hear Sarah isn’t running?

**Posted by Phineas

Let me be upfront about this: I’m disappointed Sarah Palin decided not to run for president in 2012. She’s been my preferred candidate since she was introduced to the nation in 2008 by John McCain and then made her brilliant (and I do not use that word lightly) acceptance speech at the Republican convention. I thought then and I think now she has “it” — what it takes to be a great president: strength of character, the right understanding of what this nation is about, of the proper role of the government, of our unique place in the world, and what it would take to make us great, again. If she had run this year, I would have crawled over broken glass and through a nuclear holocaust to vote for her.

So my disappointment is with her decision, not with her. Just so we’re clear.

Meanwhile, this provides me with a good chance to get a few things off my chest:

(Sleeps on it)

Nah. I was going to go into a long rant and diatribe about Palin-fanatics and Palin-bashers, but what’s the point? I’ll just leave it at what I wrote on Twitter last night:

One thing I’ve learned: among both Palin-critics and Palin-fans, there is an incredible number of self-righteous jerks.

And then there’s the mainstream media, which has spent the last three years largely successfully destroying the reputation of a good person, and large swathes of the Republican establishment, which let them get away with it or even joined in. You both have my contempt.

As for what Sarah Palin will do in the future, I don’t know. One of Jim Geraghty‘s correspondents, a Palin fan, thinks this is the end:

I still admire and respect her, and still think she is one of the most potent natural political talents in the country, but I think this starts the decline of her influence in American politics. She no longer has an obvious platform. I would be very surprised if she starts appearing more on Fox News and would be shocked if her contract is renewed. It’s pretty clear that she’s pissed at them, and Ailes made it equally clear in his interview with Howard Kurtz that he considers her a “branding problem,” and FNC appears to have turned against her. I would also be very surprised if her speaking engagements continue at anywhere near the pace of the last two years, and she can’t believe that she will continue to get the media coverage she has been getting. The media hates her and covered her primarily because she had a chance, no matter how improbable they considered it, of being the GOP nominee for President or even winning. Same for her Facebook postings. I can’t believe anyone in the media, liberal or conservative, will pay any attention to her now, nor do I think she will be that much in demand as a stump speaker for other candidates.

Maybe, but maybe not. After defeats in 1960 and 1962, most people thought Nixon was finished (1). Six years later, it was “hail to the chief!” Sarah Palin may vanish into Quayle and Ferraro-land, or she may refresh, reload, and come back in a few years stronger than ever (2). We’ll see, and I hope it’s the latter.

Meanwhile, we have a candidate to decide on and an election to win. Sitting out or third party is not an option; the nation cannot afford four more years of Barack Obama, even if the Republicans take control of Congress. Here’s my take on the current serious candidates:

Mitt Romney: I want to like Mitt, but he has so many moments that make me slap my hand to my forehead that I’m developing a welt. Steven Hayward brings up a couple of Mitt’s recent clueless moments. As president, I don’t doubt that he’d try to “reach across the aisle,” McCain-like, on key issues, and that he’d need a conservative Congress and an active base to keep him on the reservation. I do think, however, he’d be solid on foreign and defense issues.

Rick Perry: My second choice after Palin, probably the closest of the serious candidates to me ideologically. Yes, he does have serious questions to answer about immigration and the Texas Dream Act, and I think his position is defensible, but he’s handled it wretchedly and now has to dig himself out of a large hole. He also needs to show he really wants the job and isn’t another Fred Thompson, running because everyone else told him it would be a great idea. And we need to see better debate prep, if only because the nominee will have to dismantle Obama at some point.

Herman Cain: I want to warm up to him, but I’m having hard time. His answers on foreign affairs have been awful, his 9-9-9 plan, while interesting, is seriously flawed (you do not want a national sales tax and an income tax both), and I can’t escape a nagging feeling that he has the wrong temperament for dealing with a more assertive Congress. I get a “my way or the highway” vibe. Still, I’m open to being convinced.

The rest of the field is just window-dressing.

What do the rest of you think? Since we have to deal with what is, rather than what we’d (well, I’d) like it to be, which candidate floats your boat?

LINKS: Michelle Malkin had some nice things to say about Sarah Palin in the wake of her announcement. Professor Jacobson at Legal Insurrection is both more concise and more eloquent than I, and I agree with everything he wrote about this.

PS: You can bet Palin’s phone is ringing off the hook with candidates seeking her endorsement for the nomination. I would suggest to these political suitors, if you want to please those of us who looked to her for intelligent leadership on energy policy and who are aghast at the policies of the Obama administration, keeping her in mind for the Energy or Interior chairs in the Cabinet would be a very good idea.

Footnotes:
(1) No, I’m not saying she’s another Nixon. That’s Obama, if anyone. But Tricky Dick is a prime example of someone resurrecting a political career thought to be ruined.
(2) If she’s willing to do the work. I honestly wouldn’t blame her for walking away forever.

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)