The Spectacle Blog

Palin’s Dereliction of Duty

By on 7.3.09 | 4:35PM

Knowing that many, many conservatives will absolutely dump on me for saying this, I can't help myself: Sarah Palin's resignation is an appalling dereliction of duty and a highly cynical move to set herself up for a presidental run for which she is manifestly unqualified.

I have written the same thing about other politicians who resigned their offices mid-term without any scandal or family crisis necessitating it: It is an absolute dereliction of duty to quit mid-term. When you run for office, you are making a promise to your constituents to serve out your term (unless you get elected to higher office or have one of the aforementioned compelling reasons not to do so). To do otherwise is, in effect, to break your word. It is a sign of a lack of integrity.

Now, I also have argued that being governor of Alaska is one of the easiest jobs in politics because Alaska is rolling in money and because its population is so low -- and also because it receives so much outrageous federal pork. I have therefore argued that Sarah Palin was not yet qualified for the presidency. Two years as governor of such a state, with very little other relevant experience beforehand, does not amount to qualification for the presidency. It has nothing to do with Ms. Palin, but everything to do with the nature of the respective jobs.

I have argued, also, that Bobby Jindal is not yet ready to be president, but getting closer. Why? Because almost anybody can get elected as a reformer under the right circumstances; the real test comes when the bad-ol'-boys have time to regroup, re-strategize, and make their counter-attack. If somebody not only gets elected as a reformer and does a few reformist things at the beginning of one's term, but THEN maintains enough political strength AND integrity to fight off the counterattack and remain a reformer four, five or six years into the office at hand -- THAT is when the person starts becoming a statesman. Just as a congressman isn't a legitimate conservative or reformer until AFTER he has been in office for at least six or eight years and still has NOT been Beltwayed, so too is a governor not a fully legitimate reformer and conservative until having remained one for a full cycle or more.

What Sarah Palin did today was get out before the real challenges of the job (whatever challenges there are for such an easy job) really rear their heads. The going got tough in terms of spurious ethics charges against her, and she took off. That's cowardly. That's not a sign of staying power. It's a sign of wanting to get out while the getting is good, in order to become a full-time candidate for a presidential race that won't culminate for 3 1/2 more years. It's a little too calculating, by half -- or more.

I just listened to her speech announcing her decision, and found it singularly unimpressive. "This was a rambling, bombastic, self-centered, 'poor me' kind of speech." That's how Mike Carey of the Anchorage Daily News just described her speech on Fox News. I agree. He then said it was, darn, I already can't remember if he said it was "pitiful" or "pathetic," but it was some word like that. Again, I agree. It was a speech in which she clearly made a bid for a national audience -- not a very effective bid, but a transparent one -- but didn't adequately explain to the people of Alaska why she was relinquishing her duty.

Again, I repeat: I have written the same criticisms of other candidates who left office early. If I remember rightly, I did so even at the report that U.S. Rep. Adam Putnam was doing so -- an erroneous report that I read on the 'Net -- before it became clear that Putnam was just announcing that he would not run again, not that he would actually leave mid-term.

The point is that the criticism here is not Palin-specific; it is a consistent theme of mine. Then again, I am rather old-fashioned, and have some old-fashioned notions of public service. I view a campaign as a commitment to serve. That commitment has now been broken by Sarah Palin.

Statesmen hang tough. Sarah Palin is cutting and running. 'Nuff said.

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