In 1923, Sarah Bernhardt, 78, died a broken actress. Said a friend, “She should have retired at the top of her career.” This month, Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, 45, resigning, ended her career — or did she? As Yogi Berra mused, “It’s dangerous to make predictions — especially about the future.”
Palin’s term was to end next year. Instead, it ended in a resignation speech. Her children, she explained, had become unfair media game. GOP backbiting was endemic. “Lame duck” travel would deplete the State treasury. Instead of “milk[ing] it,” Palin was quitting it. Whether you buy her logic depends on where you shop.
As usual, Sarahphobes’ frothing resembled a rabid dog’s. Maureen Dowd scored “one nutty puppy.” Ellen Goodman ripped Palin’s “midlife meltdown.” The Left mocked her rhetoric: “troops don’t give up,” even as she did. Liberals once hailed the New Deal and New Frontier. Today their creed is lower: Anyone worth hating is worth hating well.
Conservatives see her differently: an extended member of the family — theirs. To them, Palin’s office is irrelevant to her appeal. Moreover, Juneau is four time zones from Washington, Alaska’s Girl now free to travel, speak, raise money, and write a memoir. Even history, The Right hopes, is on what Dowd calls “Caribou Barbie”’s side.
Since 1972, Richard Nixon’s going to China has been shorthand for surprise. Palin’s Nixon lesson is more political: turning adversity into triumph. Milhous used his 1960s twice-beaten wilderness to read, study, and reach the White House. Fact: America won’t elect a scattered mind. Therefore: Palin should hit the books, not liberalism, between now and 2012.
Who knows if she will? predictions being “dangerous.” Clearer is how Palin has become more Rorschach test than candidate. In a new Pew poll, 30 percent of Americans “strongly approve of Barack Obama”: special interests like ACLU, NEA, NOW, La Raza, bureaucrats, secularists, and trial lawyers. Loving the ex-Senator, they loathe the once-Governor more.
Buying and bullying, such groups hail celebrity, tax and spend, ethnic identity, and relativism. Most spurn the melting pot, border security, and American exceptionalism for Big Government, endless stimuli, and Sonia Sotomayor-type bigotry: a “wise Latina” trumping a “white male.” What a vision must exist in Palin: The DNA of everything they despise.
Charles Krauthammer has observed, “[Liberal elites] … and the mainstream media are one and the same.” Each reviles the small town (Wasilla, pop. 9,700), middle-brow and -class, traditional family (Palin has five children), and, above all, religion (gasp, evangelical). Ironically, elite bile clouds a looming anti-Big Brother backlash: 2012’s coalition of the winning will arguably be Palin’s, not theirs.
Twice as many Americans are now self-described “conservative” than “liberal.” Gallup says, “Our views [this year] have grown more conservative [v. liberal, 39-18 percent].” Thirty-eight percent “strongly disapprove” of Obama. In April, the media falsely termed his approval rating nonpareil for any recent first-year President. Now, it ignores his rookie lowest-since-Gerald Ford favorable 51 percent.
Palin’s curve differs. According to Pew, more (46-44 percent) view her favorably than unfavorably, including 46 percent of independents and high-for-a-GOP 48 percent sans college education. The Left dubs Palin an unmainstream messenger. In fact, her mainstream message eclipses race or creed. Eighty-seven percent back religious symbols on public property; 85, immigration enforcement; 80, equal opportunity, not reverse discrimination. Some media ignore this. Others distort it, diving deeper into Obama’s tank.
Last year the press smeared Palin’s then-17-year-old unmarried pregnant daughter. Recently, David Letterman lashed her for “being knocked up”: Over-the-hill comic, meet dirty old man. The New Republic likens Palin to a “cosmetic sales man at Macys.” CNN mocks her growing up Pentecostal. Liberal tolerance tars Palin’s “slutty looks” and “white trash concupiscence” and the “pretense that she is a woman.” Decency is a stranger in the Left’s foreign land.
In lockstep are GOPers who act like Nelson Rockefeller never died — and Ronald Reagan was never born. “Yes, [Palin] is the darling of a certain element of our party,” ex-McCain strategist John Weaver huffs, dismissively. Certain element? It is the party. In a Republican Fox survey, conservatives top liberals, 73 percent to 3! In a late-June poll, 21 percent wanted Palin in 2012, trailing only Mike Huckabee: likely to inherit her support if Palin stays unread.
Each grasps the lunacy of shunning value issues that once made the GOP a majority. Unlike Huckabee, Palin must show that she comes from a non-lower 48 State, not another planet. One prediction seems secure. Properly schooled, Palin can return to try and top her career.
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