TPM Reader MC checks in …
Am I living in Bizarro world? Does anyone really think that there is any realistic way Palin could be a candidate for President after resigning as governor? Yet pundit after pundit is saying this is a “risky” move that “may pay off”. This is absolutely preposterous, and any professional putting such ideas into print should be relegated to writing copy for infomercials. All one needs to do is imagine the campaign ads (Can we Trust S.P. to Finish What She Starts?; Palin Quits When She’s Tired, Winners Quit When They’re Done; or just string together a few clips from the Mistake by the Lake) to realize there is no recovering from this. This is no wily strategic move; it’s running from a scandal.
As I said earlier, I think there’s a small chance there’s no specific scandal and that Palin is just very mentally unstable. But MC is 100% correct that any pundit who thinks this is some risky but potentially brilliant strategic move is absolutely smoking crack. Hitting the crack pipe, or, just as likely, being witlessly contrarian to set themselves apart from the common herd of sane people. The kinds of ads MC mentions are right on the mark. But they’re really only the beginning.
To a degree it goes without saying. But it’s worth reviewing just how deeply preposterous Palin’s argument yesterday really was when she claimed that she refused to exploit the people of Alaska by serving out her full term.
When you run for governor, as for president, you run for a four year term. You commit, at least implicitly, to serving four years, though many people end up not doing that for various reasons. There’s nothing in the implied contract about running for reelection. Indeed it’s arguable that the public would be better served by a governor focusing for four years on running the state rather than laying the groundwork for their reelection.
In any case, Gov. Palin, who’s served only a little more than half her first term (remember, she was elected in 2006), announces she won’t run for reelection. And having decided that she won’t run for a second term, she concludes that it would be exploiting the people of Alaska to agree to serve out the remainder of the term they elected her to serve back in 2006. This is apparently because she’ll be a lame duck. And, she claims, lame ducks never get anything done and just spend a lot of money going on taxpayer funded junkets. So better to walk away from her job and pass it off to the Lt. Governor who no one hired to do the job at all.
You could keep plumbing the depths of this ridiculousness for some time. But as MC rightly notes it’s simply poisonous, toxic, fatal for anyone running for president. Setting side political and policy stances, the one thing really key about a president is that they be steady under pressure, not rash, and not prone to spur of the moment freak outs where they just walk away from the job to go to Disneyland. A lot of nonsense gets knocked around about ‘character’ in presidential elections. But this is the foundational question of character that really is critical. Assuming this isn’t about some soon-to-pop scandal and it’s really that Palin just decided on a moment’s notice (look at how much preparation went into the press conference to know how long this was in the works) to up and walk away from her responsibilities, that’s simply fatal for anyone’s presidential chances.
She may resurface as a latter-day Hannity or she may found some Palin-specific Anti-Defamation League dedicated to calling out obscure bloggers who’ve written mean things about her. But what very little shot she had as a future presidential candidate (and it was a much longer shot than I think many realized) is over. She’s done. She’s back to what she was — a small person looking for someone to be angry at.
Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.