Poor put-upon Sarah Palin. As questions swirled around the suddenly announced resignation of Alaska's governor, it took no more than a day to wrap herself in the flag and unleash a Fourth of July rocket attack via Facebook squarely at a favorite target, the media.
"The response in the mainstream media has been most predictable, ironic, and as always, detached from the lives of ordinary Americans who are sick of the 'politics of personal destruction,' " she wrote, although the "irony" was all hers. What else can you say about a woman who boasted last year in her Republican National Convention speech of her "actual responsibilities," then this year walks away from them?
Good question, that one. Yet, instead of answering it, Palin waded deep into the moose droppings by laying one-size-fits-all shame and blame on the usual scoundrels, "Washington and the media."
"How sad that Washington and the media will never understand; it's about country," she wrote. "And though it's honorable for countless others to leave their positions for a higher calling and without finishing a term, of course we know by now, for some reason a different standard applies for the decisions I make."
"Countless others?" Like who? "Higher calling?" Like what? "Different standard?" Like how? So many questions, so few answers. Yet, when her coverage implies that she might not be ready for prime time on the national stage, Palin calls the media sexist, elitist and too dense to understand "it's about country." No, governor, it's about you.
Ah, how different her sorrowful tune sounds from her upbeat advice early last year at a Newsweek forum on Women in Leadership. Asked about Democratic candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton's complaints about the press, Palin said the New York senator should avoid any "perceived whine" about her coverage.
"Fair or unfair, I think she does herself a disservice to even mention it," Palin said. "You gotta to plow through that. You have to know what you're getting into, which, I say this with all due respect to Hillary Clinton ..., but when I hear a statement like that coming from a woman candidate with any kind of perceived whine about that excess criticism or, you know, maybe a sharper microscope put on her, I think, 'man that doesn't do us any good' women in politics, women in general wanting to progress this country."
Why doesn't Sarah Palin take Sarah Palin's advice? Because you can gain a lot more mileage these days as a victim, even if you have to inflate your victimization. As Slate's John Dickerson wrote during the heat of gaffes and "Gotcha!" moments in last year's presidential campaign, "Sometimes taking offense can be the best offense." A bounty of blessings flow to those who wear the victim crown, especially when they appear to represent a large constituency of fellow victims.
Enter Sarah Palin, champion of small-town Americans who work hard juggling job and family against impositions by those big city, Ivy League-educated elitists who populate "Washington and the media" and the like.
Now that Sarah Palin is dropping out of her job as Alaska's governor a lot of people including some in her own party are quick to write her off as a presidential hopeful. I don't. It's not that she's such a strong potential contender, but that the rest of her party's hopefuls look so weak.
In polls of Republican voters, Palin's approval ratings are running about even with former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, the current frontrunners. Among conservative Republicans and white evangelicals, a Pew Research Center poll in late June found her approval rating leading other names by 80 percent or more.
Palin's strengths as a potential Republican presidential nominee lie in the very qualities that cause the experts to write her off. She doesn't know enough to sound like a Washington expert, so she makes enemies of the experts among people who are wary of the "experts" anyway. Besides, she has star power. Who else could knock the run-up to Michael Jackson's funeral off the cable TV news as easily as her resignation announcement did?
Shades of Richard M. Nixon. After the former vice president lost races to be president and California governor, he famously announced to reporters, "You won't have Nixon to kick around anymore." But, of course, they did. He ran for president in 1968 and won. I don't think we've seen Sarah Palin's last news conference, either. The University of Idaho journalism graduate complains a lot about her media coverage. But, for all of its drawbacks, I think she prefers her coverage to not being covered at all.